Technology Imperialism, the Californian Ideology, and the Future of Higher Education

Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Oct 15, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Your new word for the day is 'synecdochal'. It's a lovely word, used by Audrey Watters in this talk. It was new to me, and means "Using an inclusive term for something included, or vice versa; using something spoken of as the whole (hand for laborer) or vice-versa (the court for the judge)." Or 'Facebook' for 'internet'? Well, that's the issue, isn't it? Facebook (synedoche for 'Silicon Valley', synedoche for 'internet', or America (your pick)) is "is interested in data extraction and monetization and standardization and scale. It is interested in markets and return on investment. 'Education is broken,' and technology will fix it. It’s an old and tired refrain, but it’s a refrain nonetheless, repeated over and over. It’s a core theme in the “Silicon Valley narrative.” Of course, the previous narrative ('the brains in Harvard and MIT will save us') is no better than the new narrative. Resisting doesn't mean going backward, in my mind. As Watters says, though, "we can resist in the name of freedom and justice and a future that isn’t dictated by the wealthiest white men in Hollywood or Silicon Valley."

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