Thursday, November 19, 2009

let's all agree to pretend it's not ironic that we ask experts to weigh in on the changing nature of expertise

An astounding phenomenon of participatory culture is this: If you toss yourself around in it enough, and you bang hard enough on everything you think might be a door, and you try to do your very best to toss yourself around and bang on doors in articulate, responsible, and interesting ways, sometimes you get lucky and someone opens the door to figure out what all the ruckus is about.

I got lucky this week, when CBC Radio called to interview me about new media literacy. The resulting interview, posted to the CBC program Spark, was my chance to try to say something reasonably articulate and unembarrassing about strategies for navigating the new credibility issues that emerge out of a cultural moment in which, as National Writing Project Co-Director Elyse Eidman-Aadahl put it in a recent panel on digital writing, we have the technologies and the potential to foster universal authorship in tandem with universal literacy.

The interview, with Spark host Nora Young, has been posted in full online (here and here). A shorter version will air on CBC Radio soon. Try not to pay attention to the eye-crossing, jaw-dropping irony of the argument I make that the very nature of expertise and credibility have changed, all the while acting as if I were an expert on the issue of expertise.

Another interesting feature of participatory culture is that there are still plenty of opportunities for people to act as the Sage on the Stage, despite the fact that the wisdom they impart often comes through deep collaboration and interaction with many people. In this case, the ideas I brought to this interview came through conversation with my buddies Rafi Santo, Katie Clinton, Michelle Honeyford and Becky Rupert. It's strange to me sometimes that the person who makes the most noise so often ends up being the one who gets handed the bullhorn and an audience to address.

By the way, the example I give of the stakes in finding out the year Mickey Mantle was born came directly from Rafi Santo. I stole it and he deserves all the credit.

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