C'Mon Son: Star Wars Edition

Validating Blogs #4080: Indirect People Are Shadyyyy

Jose 9 Comments

C'Mon Son: Star Wars Edition

C'mon Son: Star Wars Edition

Last week, after attending the awesome TEDxNYED, I found myself yearning for more of that collaborative energy. Everytime I thought I was done reflecting on some of the ideas presented, I find another opportunity to immediately use the knowledge acquired to something I’d already thought.

For instance, I invited a group of educators and concerned citizens to blog here about a series of topics ranging from school choice for their children to the impact of great educators. Each has a passionate voice and a vibrant energy that resonates through their own writing. Upon assembling this team, I also hoped that we’d start building towards a collective of concerned citizens addressing issues pertaining to Black / Latino education in this country, and our common concerns and solutions. Most of the people responded positively, and I expected 1-2 people who wouldn’t. These people were busier than anything and I had to respect that.

One of them totally disappointed me. I invited her since she’d inspired great discussion on Twitter through her #blacked hashtag and her new Ning, At first, her reaction was positive enough. After clarifying the assignment in the same way that I clarified to everyone else, I heard no reply. I let it go. Then, I turned over to Twitter and found her writing a series of tweets positing that those who blog are wasting their time since blogs don’t affect change. She infers the dullard thoughts of bloggers don’t compare to more erudite people who write peer-reviewed articles (and, I’m assuming, other pieces published under similar restrictions).

At first, I giggled at the idea that someone (who I’ve deemed anonymous since her handle is also a pseudonym) would use social media to validate one platform of social media (Twitter) over a more validated form of social media (blogging), and thusly promotes another social platform (Ning) which is also a collection of collections of another social platform (blogging).

Then, I thought, “Man, maybe she has a point. We who write out here only write to cyberspace, contributing to the throngs of information out there but not seeing immediate change with our writing. Those of us looking for validation from media will surely miss out on the boat.”

Then I stopped, took a deep breath, and noticed the huge wave of academics flocking to get a slice of this new way of delivering information. Whereas once, people used to have to travel outside of their confines to find information, people now type in a few words in a bar and get most of the information they need, much of it accredited and prioritized in order of importance and popularity. At one point, a piece of writing might get about 5-10 people looking over it and helping to fill in the gaps. Now, everyone from the solo writing to the news corporation can throw their piece of writing into this vast space and have 100s of people view and edit their writing, filling in the gaps and adding new information wherever they can.

In other words, crowdsourcing is the new peer-review.

Jay Rosen spoke about this at length in his speech from TEDxNYED, and it made me think of all the professors, PhDs, politicians, mathematicians, scientists, and people from all fields put out 90% of their material in hopes of getting the best and worst feedback in real time instead of waiting around for weeks. Some of the most well-respected individuals, who’ve earned their cred through academia, now see the validity of this venue. (About time.)

It’s certainly not perfect. We’re humans, often led by misinformation, and we’re not writing academic papers, researching every bit of what we opine to the masses. When I hit that “Publish” button, I’m prone to a few grammatical errors, and a little hyperbole. Yet, and still, I’m confused about by this person’s assertions about blogging as some sort of replacement for validated and heavily-researched articles. I disagree with people without being disagreeable, but please understand, even the words here on this blog have been used for “old media,” so again, where is the argument?

Few bloggers see themselves as replacing these “wise, sacred” texts. We just ask that we get a chance to express our voice to the public. Especially in places that don’t always accept our voice. Especially in arenas where our voices have been suppressed for years through various devious mechanisms. Even in places willing to accept one or two of us, they eventually see the need for different passions and canticles.

Hopefully, after reading next week’s collection of stories, you too will join the chorus.

Jose, who will lead from behind …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonValidating Blogs #4080: Indirect People Are Shadyyyy

Comments 9

  1. Aaron Halford

    A 50:50 split of blogs and research material seems balanced enough.

    Lazily reading a few blogs will not contribute to one’s true enlightenment in a topic; however, it will give people a false sense of knowledge. Likewise, the use of data without personal perspective is problematic too. (No Child Left Behind for example…)

    I’d be interested in hearing an elaboration directly from the person who disagreed with the usefulness of “blogging.” The other side of the story may reveal something useful.

  2. Monise

    “We just ask that we get a chance to express our voice to the public. Especially in places that don’t always accept our voice. Especially in arenas where our voices have been suppressed for years through various devious mechanisms. Even in places willing to accept one or two of us, they eventually see the need for different passions and canticles.”

    Very well stated. This is part of the reason I started to blog. I needed to get some things off my chest and since I am taking a break in my studies, one of the professors I admire and respect told me to ‘keep writing.’ I know no one from the NYT or WSJ will ever stumble upon my blog and make me a ‘somebody’ overnight, but I do know that there are teachers and parents out there who have experienced/felt the same things I have expressed in my blog and they did not know what to do. I wish I had been ‘hip’ to blogging while I was teaching, I probably would have lasted longer and had fewer fantasies about choking the hell out of some little-ass administrator with a Napolean complex.

    In the words of the great JVL: That is all.

    Looking forward to next week!

  3. JP

    I would never say this to your face, or as a response on your blog, but my validation is more valid than yours! Neener….neener….neener!! er…uh..At least I hope it is, and uh, I really need it to be.

  4. Jovan

    My only question is….why can’t we use both to move this thing forward ?

    And I also believe is putting out the best and worst to get feedback from the public. I’ve gotten positive feedback on things I’ve written on the blog that I later refined in order to submit to a peer reviewed journal.

    Knocking one media platform…particularly the newer social media platforms in favor of old media is short sighted and the sign of a dinosaur.

    Just my thoughts…

  5. MzVirgo

    Sigh.

    I think the problem with blogging these days is that people think that bloggers are journalists. They come down pretty hard on us when we don’t have accurate information, when we don’t credit the source and so on and so forth. Some of us have relied on blogs for current events and not actual news sites like CNN or New York Times.

    However, I do think blogging can be a tool to convey a message and promote change, if done properly. Not all blogs are entertainment/gossip sites. I love that I can come to your site and read about a life of a teacher/activist.

    As for the person who flaked out on you, Jose, shame on her. In the words of James Brown it sounded like she was “talking loud and ain’t saying nothing.”

  6. David B. Cohen

    Having just started blogging myself, I wanted to spin through some TLN-related blogs, and found this one quite relevant to my situation. I think the fact that so many people who have access to traditional publishing have also embraced blogging shows some recognition that blogs can have an influence. Then, this week, when Larry Cuban wrote all about Bill Ferriter, I think that confirmed it pretty clearly.
    http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/
    http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/

  7. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Thanks everyone for their awesome comments.

    David, welcome to the fore. I knew little of Larry Cuban until a few weeks ago, but it’s good to know that these WWWs are actually getting people together and bringing a little more equity to the big discussions we need to have.

    Jovan, it’s like you know exactly how I wanted you to feel.

    JP, hilarious. That is all.

  8. pre_k

    interesting discussion here. I don’t really get into the whole education debate the way I used to for various reasons. I read enough peered reviewed stuff to know that some of the facts and generalizations reached from a sample data set sometimes do not reach some of the subtle truths out there on the ground. Personally, I have no problem with academic peer reviewed writing other than it can be a little bland. Sometimes peer reviewed writing can give some element of scientific credence. However, the truth will always remain that for as many situations where mass generalizations of sample studies apply (scientific and non-scientific) there are just as many where it may not apply. Sets of semi-descriptive facts are a lot easier to deal with than some of the subtleties of the whole truth which sometimes contains some shades of gray and not just black and white.

    At the end of the day humans are going to use whatever piece of information they find relevant to advance their specific cause. There are some of us who rather remain ignorant to some of the context surrounding the facts and make decision in technical vacuum. Then there are some of us who do not want to deal with the facts as they are. In order to better ourselves as a people in any arena of life we must find a way to deal with the facts and truths as they apply.

    I guess i will come back to see what some of these educators have to say.

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