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 …