Mediactive: the Next Generation

I have just finished reading Dan Gillmor‘s book Mediactive and you know what, it’s bloomin’ brilliant. I don’t want to over-sensationalise things but it’s kind of the bible of being a consumer and producer of media (of any kind) on the web.

I’m lucky in a sense that I was finding myself nodding while reading as it was a sort of “preachin’ to the choir-sister” moment. But I still have taken away some valuable advice when it comes to using the web as a resource for research; building online communities and of course solidifying my own profile and making it more transparent.

When it comes to research, I have to thank my A-Level history teachers who really drilled in that sources have to be judged on its reliability and authenticity as a grounds for building an argument. What Gillmor does in the first part of Mediactive is break down these skills for web-based media and how we should question (pretty much) everything. Even going to the basics of grammar and spelling should help you identify the reliability of a source, without even going into the content: where have the journalists/bloggers got their information? Are they credible sources with real faces? Are their posts balanced and not completely bias? It goes on.

I think that there is a huge lesson to be learnt here- not for us who are already old enough to know better and should be a little more switched on with regards to online credibility and security- but the generation just (and I say just because I feel I sit on the edge of this group) below mine. Or really, the kids who don’t really remember dial-up internet and mobile phones without cameras. The ones that grow up in this world where their baby pictures live in a Facebook album- their whole lives have been groomed around media consumption and production, just not necessarily with trained eyes or mind. This generation needs to learn and apply critical thinking. Gillmor talks about danah boyd and her experience that teachers want to teach students how to think, but feel like they are out of their depth.

I’ve been looking at danah’s website and am intrigued to find out more about her take on youth’s take on online privacy and security…

Anyhow, back to teaching kids how to think differently? I was going over Phonar Nation with my Mum yesterday to adapt the course for primary school children to improve their writing both in literacy and journalism. But when going through it and breaking up the bits which can be really useful for story-telling, I explained that in particular Telling Someone’s Story task really makes you think about representation. How do the children want to be represented? And if they are the ones who represent their peers, how would they expect it to be done? It is back to the idea of ‘treat others as you would expect to be treated,’ and encouraging this way of thinking when writing stories (especially about real people).


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