You may think “TMI” is an acronym for innuendo or a trivial amusing anecdotal incident. I would like to use it in a different context, one that points out the fact that Too Much Information is now the state in which we live.
Do you ever feel like you have reached your limit of information intake?
It is over the top…too many social networks, apps, upgrades, blogs, cloud content sites, and on and on.
Just today, I read about a school in California that has a NO Technology policy which reminded me of the Amish way of life. (I dare you to NOT click the hyperlink!) Would it be possible to turn off all of our technology applications? Could we live and teach the next generation with pencils, chalkboards, and a garden outside our window?
A few points to consider:
1. Innovation– New media technology trends are growing exponentially at this very moment. How can we give the next generation all the tools they need? For the past 5 years, I have been learning at the “speed of light!” My own children are grown and I have an interest in new media as I see my career as a school librarian totally disintegrating around me. Not to worry- I have moved on into the “e” world and so has my library, but the physical space of the library will never be the same. I have diligently embraced innovation and yet, I must admit, there is no way to keep up.
2.Prediction-I follow some futurists who predict both wonderful future trends and frightening ones (see Sherry Turkle and Nicholas Carr). How can we manage to utilize best practices when they change every single day? Academic publishing is extremely slow, yet the world is changing quickly. This topsy-turvey dilemma causes a problem of contradictions. The information hierarchy has flipped in the past 5 years. I keep saying that “the hierarchy of information has toppled” and education will never be the same.
Crowd-sourcing and user-generated content (wikipedia and youtube) are at the top of the hierarchy and the experts who have spent years studying a topic are not. How can we predict the ramifications of this toppled hierarchy? Certainly, there are both positive and negative effects.
3. Protection- Can we block the next generation from this ensaught of cyberspace, new media, and ever-changing technology? Could we be like the Amish and strive for a calmer lifestyle, modeled after an historical period prior to the hectic state in which we live? Or, would it be a disservice to deprive them of the latest technology?
4.Balance– Can we have it both ways? Can we learn to balance a high tech virtual world with a healthy physical world? The next generation has no choice but to live with technological advancement. You may agree that turning it off would be forcing our youth to live in an outdated mode. Not that I don’t appreciate the slow pace of times past! I have always said (ask my husband) that I should have been born a few hundred years ago…I love the pioneers! But the world is not taking place in the year 1825…it is the 21st century. Is a balance between the old (tradition) and the new (innovation) possible?
Our Challenge: our responsibility as librarians, educators, parents, and good citizens, is to prepare our youth for the future in the 21st century- but the skills needed are changing before our eyes! How can we prepare our youth for a future that requires skills never before seen, skills we do not posses or understand? Perhaps the answer lies within the toppled hierarchy. Perhaps the answer lies in what used to be a library- a collection of the best of mankind. The best of mankind (humankind or the collective heroic deeds accomplished throughout history) is now crowd-sourced and user-generated. Our role as information providers is to point the way toward what is meaningful. Ironically, that has always been the goal; however, since the “topple” the structure appears chaotic or blurry.
One thing remains clear- people are still people. The human brain is still the most amazing and complex thing in our universe. Two things are natural to the human brain: learning and reflection. The brain is built to learn and the brain automatically reflects learning through memories, knowledge and emotion. In this new age, on the otherside of the toppled hierarchy, each individual has the opportunity to learn, to reflect, and to contribute.
Let’s hope the contribution is more than a photo of a pizza from lunch uploaded to the latest social network tool.
Wait- maybe there have always been tons of pizza pictures surrounding, drowning each exquisite poem. Maybe we have always had to be on the lookout for a glimpse of something worthwhile amidst the clutter of the mundane.