Since mentioning Marshall McLuhan and his theories a few posts ago, I have seen his name mentioned in a number of blogs. I feel like I definitely need to read his books - but when? The whole concept of network theories is fascinating to me and there are new books coming out almost daily on the subject. But when will I have time to find out what they have to say?
I'm taking a second course through Plymouth State University, titled Intercultural Communication in Multicultural Classrooms. A couple of weeks ago the assigned textbook chapter was on the topic of religion. One of the "what if?" examples (What if this happened in your classroom/school? What would you do? How would you go about it?) was on the topic of Intelligent Design and what if your school board directed you to present it in science classes as an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution?
My comments included this..."There are two factions of evolutionary theorists - the gradualists, who believe evolution has been proceeding at a generally uniform pace through the millenia and the catastrophists, who believe evolution proceeds slowly but then makes sudden leaps when catastrophic natural events cause mass extinctions and new species evolve rapidly to take advantage of resources that are newly made available in the process."
It was at that point that I had one of those "Eureka!" moments. I'm sure it's not news to lots of other people, but I suddenly realized that we're seeing the whole catastrophist vs. gradualist view of evolutionary theory happening in the realm of information! It seems crystal clear that the development of the medium of the internet is one of those "sudden catastrophic natural events." I guess that puts me pretty firmly in the catastrophism camp, seeing the newly available resources as things like access to information, ways of storing and processing information, abilities to share information, all of that.
The gradualists are the ones who see all this change as technological fluff and don't see any need to change their ways of doing things. Their considered opinion is that the ways that have served us well for so long will continue to serve us just as well in the future.
Historically the fossil records have indicated that at physical catastrophe points the surviving species are those that are most flexible and opportunistic. As a result, they are able to adapt to and benefit from the rapid and unanticipated changes that are occurring.
What does that tell us about the importance of attitude and an open mind?
What does that tell us about the importance of teaching students how to learn instead of what to learn?
What does that tell us about the importance of teaching students how to find information rather than what information to find?
What does that tell us about the current difficulties of The Boston Globe and other traditional news and information providers?