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Seb Anthony

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Is this Democracy?


An editor's blog may not seem the most obvious example of democratisation of information on the internet, but this, and our new member's blog, has set me thinking.

There's a lot of discussion about the potential of blogs and sites such as utube to turn everyone into a journalist. Indeed as the tragic events of Virginia Tech were revealed last week, it was the internet that became the first source of information. Students had used their blogs to give information that, unconfirmed by the authorities, the crews of journalists camped out in Virginia could not yet reveal. These “digital natives” were sharing their first-hand experiences with the world in a way that just a few years ago they would only have been able to share with family, friends and aquaintances.

It is this kind of information sharing that of course holds the purpose and potential of the internet. The fact that its content may not be hindered by the need to be officially sanctioned or verified in whatever way, is the key to its great freedom and a potential note of caution. The codes, laws and scrutiny that old media has to abide by, while sometimes limiting and frustrating, evolved for reasons - often justified ones.

The internet was designed for academia and it has transformed how we learn, research and gather information. The ultimate learning mangement system - or should that be unmanaged learning system - is arguably Google. It is a portal to learning that is bite-sized and always just-in-time. Forums, such as our own Any Answers, can provide our informal learning when the person sitting next to us in the office just doesn't have the answer.

For learning and development professionals as educators there's the question of how to make sure that staff understand how to access the information “out there” and how to facilitate this great global learning community. There is also the need to help staff understand that in this era of democratisation of information, without the traditional scrutiny and verification of “old” media, we need to research the source often as much as the information itself.


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