Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
Ulises Mejias is talking about online games, but his critique of rationalism is delicious: "The thing with rationalism is that it inverts the problem-solution relation in such a way that only problems that have solutions it can handle are made relevant. Problems, in other words, are subordinated to solutions." Quite right. Now consider this observation in the light of the current testing and outcomes phenomenon. Then go read John Ralston Saul's Voltaire's Bastards.

A large part of my objection to the standard approach - you know, semantic web, ontologies, curriculum, outcomes, standards, imstructional management - is that I am an empiricist. Always have been. Not a logical positivist, but an empiricist in the sense of David Hume, John Stuart Mill, maybe even William James.

The problem with the Rationalist approach is that it is rooted in language. And it is language itself that is changing. Mejias writes, "Not sure I see the connection between democracy and literacy as appropriation." But look: "Appropriation and annotation are becoming our new forms of literacy." What does that mean? I've said this before: these multimedeia objects (images, videos, animations, blog posts), which have to be appropriated to be used, are becoming the new vocabulary, the new words in a post-textual language. Like this. It is a language that could only be spoken by the media elite (the directors, the filmmakers, the musicians) before. Before the internet.

Now, this language belongs to the masses; a mass literacy is developing. And with literacy comes... democracy. Via Brian Lamb.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jun 17, 2021 4:09 p.m.