My copy of Wired came in the mail last week. As is my habit with magazines, I put it in a pile in a corner of my room, planning to look at it at some point when I just couldn’t stand to read something more “productive.” (Read: when I can’t stand to look at another History book.)
Gary Wolf’s article on Craigslist is an interesting read, and provides (at least in my reading) an interesting insight into how maintaining a purity in organizational culture and delivering a product that just plain works can be even more important than keeping current and offering the latest bells and whistles.
But then I read Robert Capps’s The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine. It’s a really good article about how sometimes low-def, cheap, and simple is actually better than high-fidelity, premium, and blinged-out. Capps gives a lot of great examples, and it’s a good article.
Just one thing, though: I already wrote about the same thing. Months ago.
Back in August, without being clever enough to coin the phrase “good enough tech,” I talked about exactly this sort of approach to educational technology. I argued that it’s precisely this DIY, kludgey, corners-cutting mentality that is what’s so “punk” about EDUPUNK. Quick and dirty, cheap and simple is just better for certain things, and these qualities better match the needs, budgets, and time constraints of digital educators.
So yeah, I know not many people read this, but I like to think that– to a certain extent– I scooped Wired.
Similarly, I was listening yesterday to the most recent episode of This Week in Google— my new favorite podcast– and the subject of Brown announcing that they’re testing the idea of switching their university email to Gmail came up. The discussion– while I usually find the show to be quite thought provoking– was brief and somewhat superficial.
And I couldn’t help but notice that it was much less nuanced and thought-out than a similar discussion that Tom Scheinfeldt, Dan Cohen, and Mills Kelly had last November on the Digital Campus podcast.
These two things, in the last two days, have gotten me thinking– does EdTech have a visibility problem? Are the people working in or on Educational Technology actually somewhat ahead of the curve, and just not being heard in the greater tech community? Does throwing “Educational” in front of Tech somehow take you out of the tech discussion? And is this a positive or a negative?
I just watched the Marx Brothers’ 1932 movie Horse Feathers, and was struck at how little public perception of Academia has really changed in the years between 1932– the year of Hitler’s unsuccessful run for president against Hindenburg– and now. And by how, compared to the rest of the world, postsecondary education really is relatively unchanged since then.
Then as now, academics were seen as dull, myopic, entrenched in a culture that was deeply out of touch with everyday life. And there’s some truth behind those perceptions. It’s part of what makes pushing forward an agenda of technologically progressive, student-oriented education so tough.
But are the EdTechers being taken out of the dialog in the larger tech world because they’re being lumped with precisely the people they have to constantly struggle to try to convert to the new realities of education in the 21st century?
When can we get someone from EdTech as a guest host on This Week in Tech or This Week in Google?
How can we start getting Education coverage in Wired?
Why can’t TechCrunch get Blackboard’s internal documents, like it did Twitter’s?
Or am I asking the wrong questions? Should we revel in our relative obscurity? Can you do more damage when you’re off the radar?