Replied to The impact of conformity in education by dave dave (

Social media is not a thing that needs to be fixed. People connecting with people is a thing. Jerks are a thing. Jerks are not a digital problem. Jerks are a real-world problem that has been around for a long time. We need to get past the digital and fix our real-world jerk problem. And, as we go along, we have to think about how our systems help create those jerks.

Really interesting post Dave. I have been thinking a lot about Twitter lately. Like Stewart Riddle, I have concerns about you describe as the ‘rise of the jerks’. Yet, as you touch upon, there are still good people able to connect on Twitter. For some the answer is owning your own domain, while for others it is decentralised networks. However, Ian Guest challenged me with three questions:

  1. What would happen (for you) if Twitter’s ‘fail whale’ reappeared tomorrow and suddenly Twitter was gone?
  2. What if you deactivated your original account and started afresh? Knowing what you know and bearing in mind what you wrote in this post, how would you do things differently, if at all? Is ‘making Twitter great again’ within your capacity?
  3. If Twitter is broken beyond repair and neither Mastodon nor quite cut it, if you had the wherewithall, what would you design as a replacement? What would it need to have or be able to do?

Along with your focus on working with people and problems, you have left me wondering what next. I wonder if post-digital is a time of ‘informed consent‘? Or maybe George Seimens suggests it is about ‘being’ skills?? Or maybe the ‘answer’ is having this conversation in the first place? Surely it is only through conversation that we are able to throw off the yoke of digital dogma? I feel that this is what Douglas Rushkoff’s book Team Human attempts.

Bookmarked Digital is Default by Steve Wheeler (

What does it mean to be digital today? For many it means they are connected to a much larger community of colleagues, friends and family than I would have been without digital. Without digital connection I am peripheral at best, isolated at worst. Being digital today means that bits are the currency in which I trade. Some still buy a newspaper every morning. Photographs may still be stored in an old shoe box. Artefacts do not lose their charm or value for many, but secure storage is now the Cloud, and it is synonymous with rapid access to information. The idea of content has shifted to one that is now malleable, negotiable, quickly revised, open to change and repurpose.

Steve Wheeler provides his own reflection on what it means to be digital today. This is something that Mal Lee and Roger Broadie also reflected upon. Vala Afshar recently looked at this from the point of view of the smartphone. Like Wheeler, I too wonder what the future may bring us. I also wonder about what future we want.
Replied to Recalibrate with Old Books (A Point of Contact)

One of the better books I’ve read in the past few years is Being Digital, a 1996 book about the digital age. It was informative because of the amount of information about basic digital infrastructures is presented so clearly. It was also fascinating to read an account of the digital state of of the world in 1996.

Glen, you might be interested in Mal Lee and Roger Broadie’s reflection on Being Digital. I probably should read the book, especially based on your point of simplifying the message.
Bookmarked Digitally Connected and Proficient at Three by Mal Lee; Roger Broadie (

The bit of being digital that is set in stone from age three is the absolute awareness that being connected aids their learning, and that connectedness is highly visual and aural, as well as being textual, and includes connection with people as well as information. They have probably also internalised that they can interact creatively with the digital environment and everything in it, to aid their learning.

Hence the comparison with learning to speak, in that it is messy, diverse, involves a lot of trial and error and has concepts built and rebuilt from a multitude of influences.

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie discuss the relationship between infants and the digital world. One of the points that they make is that, by three, children brought up in digital environments will be largely directing their own learning with the digital. This raises so many questions for me, such as what is lost in this transfer to swipping on a tablet and talking to search engines, as well as who or what the children are actually connecting with? It is interesting to think about this in regards to Google’s ‘selfish ledger’.
Liked Don’t fear complexity by Dave White (Digital – Learning – Culture)

At my institution, the University of the Arts London, we see the value in uncertainty. In many of our courses it is important that our students are in a liminal state for much of the time within which they are not quite sure of what they know. This is a key aspect of the process of creativity and it’s also central to my reframing, or extension of, information literacy. Questioning our self, our motivations and methods, for seeking and validating information is our only chance of maintaining our agency within complexity. Not being afraid of being immersed in complexity requires understanding the value of uncertainty. This is all the more important where we receive information as an effect of our interactions. To ask how what we engage with has arrived in front of us and why we are comfortable with it (in the context of our identity and position) has to be central to what it means to critically evaluate.

To maintain the agency of our students (and ourselves) and not fall into the trap of assuming a ‘natural order’ which just so happens to be our current worldview we must reveal, not simplify, complexity. In tandem with this we must provide the critical tools to navigate complexity without denying it.