How thinking is affected by new media tools :
- Criticisms of PowerPoint (Eg. ) http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~wilkins/group/powerpt.html )
Does collecting information becomes a substitute for processing it?
What does "processing" it mean? Is it something necessarily ineffible that goes on when we bring together a number of resources to write a beautiful essay? Or is it something that can happen personally as we surf from one page to another? The important thing is the connections between the ideas. And sometimes these are easier to organize in our own minds when we take the trouble to rewrite as a longer essay. But is the longer essay necessary?
Problem of measurement
It's the problem of examinations. We only know if X has a deep understanding if he can demonstrate by writing it for us to read. But if he doesn't take the time to write for us, and simply skims backwards and forwards through the pages of his PersonalWiki, does this mean he has no understanding? Or merely that he isn't taking the time to communicate that understanding with others?
How could we tell? Only if the other patterns of his behaviour seem to suggest that deep understanding. But as we're encountering TheEndOfConsensus it becomes harder and harder for us to give a rational interpretation to the behaviour of others. Hmmm...
Of course, it's important for people write things up as essays to optimise the time of millions of readers rather than a few writers (TradeOffBetweenReadingAndWriting). We should valorize people who write things up decently because it's far more efficient for them to take a bit more time writing and editing than for their many readers to have to independently do work sifting through multiple pages (IAmNeverGoingToGetFamousWithMyWiki)
But that's a mass-media view : assuming a few writers and many readers. You wouldn't make that argument about the telephone (eg. it's good for John to do more work to make Jane's life easier.) A more egalitarian observer might hope for an even distribution of reading and writing, and in such economies, there are few incentives for the writer to subsidize the reader. Only competition between writers for reader attention (TheAttentionEconomy) makes that worthwhile again.
Wikis vs. weblogs
Actually there may be a difference between WikiAndWeblogs here. (WikiIsFoldedProtein) Wiki is optimized for writing, but you do need to think where to put information into a wiki, and how to wire it up to other content. When I'm lazy I post to my blog because it's easier to have something automatically addressed by date than for me to think where to put it in ThoughtStorms. And yet, when I've been back putting links into this wiki, which inevitably requires me to make some decisions and look for something to hook a link or idea up to, I definitely learn more and have more interesting and inspired ideas. I'm smarter today because I read 10 things on the web and tried to tie them in here, than on a day where I read 20 things on blogs and simply forwarded them to my blogs.
Ok course, there's a whole stack of ideas about ReconnectingTheSmallPieces which are attempts to help people rebuild the big picture, reconstruct the context.