Re: Beyond these walls...

Bob King (
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 22:27:27 -0400

On Fri, 27 Sep 1996, Beth W. Baldwin wrote:

> Yes Nick -- both of these things will have to happen at the same time:
> 1. We think about what we have to offer and what ethos we want to
> project.
> 2. We think about the needs and wants of our audience.
> Then:
> We think of creative ways to match 1 and 2.

This is where it gets good! What are the needs and wants of our audience
once we step outside of the captive audiences we are used to?? Do they
really want to learn how to write (which they already know how to do)?

Many amazing things to see in the space of these questions! In the
industrialization of mental labor we're seeing and participating in, the
teacher is mainly useful as a resource person -- how to find information,
how to find people to talk about the information with.

Frank Smith and others tell us in no uncertain terms that you can't
teach people to write, nor to read, you can only hope to create an
environment in which people can learn these things.

John Dewey says the same thing about citizenship! -- the only way to
"teach" it is to let the kids, or the folks of any age, learn it by
doing, in an environment which doesn't prevent it.

Most of the previously missing environmental conditions for learning
reading, writing, and citizenship are now supplied by the Internet.
Once we start thinking about what we have to offer that our audience
wants, it comes down to a couple of things, I think:

-- access to computer networks.

-- computer "skills" which enable people to make their own connections to
information and people, so they can decide for themselves what to
pursue. Two directions: how to acquire information, and how to make

An irony in our recent discussions around employment in academia is that
it looks to me like the hooked up folks on rhetnt will be in pretty good
shape starting right about now if they/we forefront the tech part of the
resume. I think Steve already mentioned that his familiarity with tech
was probably a factor in his being hired. There will maybe be work
available to us as "middleware" -- in the transition time between mass and
personal tech paradigms -- for a long time, mainly as helpmates for others
to make the transition themselves. Beyond the transition, though, is
where Eric's vision kicks in.

Major broadcast industries, including education as we've all known it,
are in major meltdown once we begin to "pants" the emperor by allowing the
question "what do we have to offer our audience that they actually want."

Broadcast industies will crumble from within and/or diversify their
holdings. Microsoft-NBC is one big example. In education it's
Continuing Ed. and Distance Learning. These are the equivalent of
environmentally polluting industries buying stock in environmental cleanup
companies! CE and DL are academia's diversification. It's the
institution itself that is not taking a stand, the captains of industry
never go down with their ships, they jump ship when the seas change.

Marshall McLuhan put it this way:

"Once a new technology comes into a social milieu it cannot cease to
permeate that milieu until every institution is saturated."

We're in in liquifying age, in other words, and whole institutions will
either transform of rust, but either way the process will be slow!