ELI 2010: Liveblogging Palfrey’s Keynote

I love Palfrey’s book and I’m taking notes anyway so might as well share them…

John Palfrey, author of Born Digital.

  • Today’s USA Today: breathless article about youths’ use of technology
  • Wrote BD to “bust myths” and combay fears (“this can’t be good”)
  • Not all young people use technology in the same way; carefully defined their subject as a subset of the entire population, not an entire generation, including the digital divide and participation gap
  • Creating a culture where students can develop technology skills (i.e. reducing/eliminating the participation gap) is our biggest challenge
  • Social media opportunities: digital identities, interoperability, and creativity
  • Will spend much of talk on the fears and negative dialogue
  • Youths don’t see a difference between their offline and online lives
  • Many tools are starting to work together; “it’s less wrenching [to get students to use new tools]“
  • Social media problems: security, privacy, intellectual property, credibility, and information overload
  • Common fears: use of social tools makes kids vulnerable (especially to sexual predators) or make available to them “bad” information
  • Review of literature for Internet safety task force: no increase in sexual predation due to social media use
  • Kids need to be able to identify bad situations/people on- and offline; don’t blame the technology
  • Not a significantly greater likelihood of kids finding “bad” information (unless they’re already looking for it)
  • Bullying is something that is on the increase online; may not be an increase in bullying but an increase in its visibility and the creation of records of bullying
  • Use of public backchannel in Palfrey’s classroom this month resulted in nasty, anonymous comments
  • Kids share too much information about themselves online; they have unintended audiences, replicability, searchability, and persistence (nice reference to “digital tattoos” that they might want to remove later) (explicit references to danah boyd)
  • Myth: Kids don’t care about privacy.  Not true!  They just think about it differently.  And many of them just aren’t sophisticated or mature (they’re kids!).
  • Myth: Kids “steal” music and movies.  True.  Those who legally purchase music do so because they were gifted it (i.e. iTunes giftcards).
  • Kids presume that the media are free.  And they know that it’s unlawful.
  • Lots of confusion about the legality of reuse and remixing.
  • Palfrey is defending Shepard Fairey (the artist who created the Obama “HOPE” image using a photograph) to help reduce the confusion about fair use.  Some of Palfrey’s Harvard Law colleagues disagree with Palfrey so even the “experts” disagree/exhibit confusion.
  • Credibility problem: With the vast amount of information out there, how do we what’s credible?  (Authorship is a confounding problem.)
  • Consistent with other research, Palfrey’s subjects reported that they would use Google as their first stop to learn about new things, looking for the Wikipedia article first.  Broad deviation after that step (some skeptics thought their classmates may arrive there first and change the information :) ).  Few would look at history or Talk tabs but many look at the cited sources.
  • Some “advanced” students would go further: grazing, deep dive, then feedback.
  • Asked audience how many edit Wikipedia.  About 20% in this audience, the highest Palfrey has ever seen.  But none of the students in his study make more than trivial edits; they’re consumers, not creators, of Wikipedia.
  • Probably some truth to the concerns about information overload.
  • We can’t just think about things at the tool level; we have to think of the system.  We have to figure out our vision of the ideal learning environment in a fast-moving time (hence the broad focus).
  • The trick: Take the cue from architects and plan the design.
  • Ended talk with video created by one of his students.  The printed version of Born Digital is only one way to present the information.  This video is an alternative presentation of one of the chapters.
  • “We have to have the guts to trust these kids.  We have to give them the opportunity to show us how wonderful they are.”
  • Question: The students have the capabilities.  But what about the faculty?
  • Answer: Hugely challenging issue.  The key is to make it easier for them.  Maybe 5 of the 100 Harvard Law faculty really, really want to do this.  But most will only do if it’s easy and useful.  Emphasizing the “gee whiz” factor won’t sell the faculty.  Work with the faculty who are willing.
  • Question: “Born Digital” was an excellent synthesis of a great deal of very good research. What ongoing research or new researchers are you keeping an eye on now?
  • Answer: Mimi Ito’s new book and research.  Most interesting work being done by the MacArthur Foundation DML group.  Follow links from DML hub. (This was my question.  I was hoping that he would share something new to me but his answers are spot on even if they’re not new.)
  • Question: Does the Socratic method preclude the use of new media?
  • Answer: No.  Can use media to provide background information.  And the method can be used via technology.  But there are times when technology is not needed and may not improve things.

Check out ELI’s official resource page for this talk; it includes a link to a video recording of the entire talk.

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  • April Lindala

    Shepard Fairey is the spelling I found.

  • http://mistakengoal.com Kevin R. Guidry

    Thanks April! I made the correction.

  • April Lindala

    Sure thing. Thanks for the concise notes. My handwriting was getting too wild for me to read. Have a great one.

  • http://eportfolio.uoregon.edu/Members/nyc Nancy Cheng

    Thanks, this is really useful – I missed the beginning of the talk. You captured key ideas & references..