Image: My Pinterest Board Intro to Comm

Digital Existential Crisis re: Teaching.

I have been feeling increasingly uneasy about teaching my Intro to Mass Comm class. Mass Comm. And, at the same time, I’ve been increasingly inspired. It took me this long (and maybe the cases of the Arab Spring, SOPA/PIPA/ACTA, and people’s Twitter reactions to  SONY’s pricing re: Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits…)  to really embrace the amazing changes. Two inspirations for COM 1001 tonight (when the course syllabus and the book would prompt me to discuss ‘The Internet’).

1) Medium Is the Message. As Mcluhanesque as the main thesis may be, I’m refreshed by the new book Too Big to Know (2012). Internet theorist David Weinberger discusses what happens to knowledge and expertise today, now that there is so much more to know than can be known by any individual. He argues that knowledge is not created and distributed by any one person or organization, but it is created and constantly re-configured online.  He claims that, consequently,

“…The smartest person in the room isn’t the person standing at the front lecturing us, and isn’t the collective wisdom of those in the room. The smartest person in the room is the room itself: the network that joins the people and ideas in the room, and connects to those outside of it… Knowledge is becoming inextricable from – literally unthinkable without – the network that enables it.”

The age of the experts is gone. How do we teach people knowledge — or build windows and doors to those rooms? Actually, I’m excited to trying to begin to figure it out, somehow.

2) Neo-Tribalism — and thus the Opportunity is NOW (a.k.a. Who Cares about the Next Big Revolution, We Are Now Living the Revolution of Participation). Another whiff of McLuhan, put to the context of making a living. I teach at a college for professional studies, and have been concerned about how to match theories with practice. Via a famous music industry blog, I stumbled upon this (well, again, inspiring) discussion on small businesses, digital platforms, marketing, innovation by Seth Godin.

To sum up, whether we discuss cognitive processes, politics, activism, marketing, or the music industry, this is the deal (I believe):

The old paradigm is gone. History. Public policy may still be driven by corporations, but entertainment is owned by the public. If you think you’re above the audience, you’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

Bob Lefsetz

How to best teach the best — critical, innovative — tools and skills for this new world?