Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Prescient or Curmudgeon?

Posted by lpearle on 8 November 2006

Bill Joy, at the The Aspen Ideas Festival:

Bill Joy on the Internet and education

Joy, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems, dismissed the suggestion that the online communities formed around Internet games and LiveJournal pages could provide an educational boost for America’s young people.

This all … sounds like a gigantic waste of time. If I was competing with the United States, I would love to have the students I was competing with spending their time on this kind of crap … [P]eople are fooling themselves that they’re being creative in these spaces … [T]he standard of creativity in the world, to be competitive and be a great designer, is very hard: you have to go to school; you have to apprentice; you have to do hard things. It’s not about, your friends like something you did. So I think this is setting a false expectation: you can create your own island and people come to it in a video game … and I don’t see any correlation between that and what it’s gonna take to be a designer and have a skill set to succeed in the world. So I go back to what I said before: we’re amusing ourselves to death; there are good uses of this technology, and I don’t see this as a good use of the technology …

[T]he real problem is, by democratizing speech and the ability to post, we’ve lost the gradation for quality. The gradation of quality was always based on the fact that words had weight—it cost money to move them around. So there was back pressure against … junk …

[U]ltimately, not everyone can have a million readers, because all the readers have run out of time. So it’s a false promise to people, that they can get the big audience. Because in the end—once [you’ve] gotten to the years when you’ve got a job, you’ve gotta raise your kids—you’re not gonna have time for this.

(from The Atlantic Monthlylogin required)

At NYSAIS, I’ll be hearing from Will Richardson. He doesn’t agree with Mr. Joy. I wonder if he’s thought about it from this perspective. I know it’s one of the things that worries me.

One Response to “Prescient or Curmudgeon?”

  1. Nancy White said

    Joy’s points seemed largely focused on the idea that the audience (and the size of the audience – I could make a sexist comment here, but I won’t) is the central issue. Learning can be solo. It can be with a cohort of 2. Or thousands. But just because it is done “in public” (on the web”) doesn’t mean it is in pursuit of audience. Or maybe I’m missing Joy’s point. That said, I don’t think we should underestimate the seductive nature of the IDEA of an audience, and how it can divert us from learning.

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