Escaping the Age of Speed: New Paradigms of Learning as Impacted by Social Technologies


This is a recording of a presentation I delivered at the SURF Education Days 2007, in Utrecht, Netherlands. I used VCASMO to sync the slides with the presentation afterwards.

The industrial revolution changed the meaning of the word “speed” from “good luck, success, prosperity and advancement” to something that resembles machine-like mechanical speed, effectively disconnecting context from time.

This thinking was later captured by increasing focus on efficiency in industrial organizations, a model that was also adopted by our educational system to meet the demands of efficient organizations of tomorrow. As we move towards a real-time economy, social software is shifting our thinking from efficiency to responsiveness and ability to adapt. Context is once again connecting with time and as a result, our system is facing increasing pressures to change. What opportunities, challenges and new ways of relating will emerge?

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  • http://members.optusnet.com.au/rlubensky Ron Lubensky

    Outstanding, Teemu!

    Now, how do we shift people from their certainty of a teleological future and the comfort of deterministic paths? Your suggestion of overload leading to emergent pattern-matching may work for some, but might push others into disengagement (including moral apathy)–isn’t that what we are seeing?

    Best,

  • http://ken-carroll.com/ Ken Carroll

    This is an excellent, thought provoking presentation.

    Pattern recognition and learning inductively, through almost random exposures to a subject leave us to fill in the gaps. (Information-gap activities are the most powerful activities in language learning, I beleive.) This is sound pedagogy, or learning theory, if you prefer. However, one of the problems with visitng blogs, for example, is that you can get confused as to the writer’s broader picture because all you have t ogo on is snippets. This presentation, then, was really helpful for me in coalsescing your posts into a more coherent context.

    I look forward to more discussion of this sort.

  • http://www.forlong.hu Sándor Héder

    That was a reverse mentoring for me!
    Thank you.

  • http://blog.hasslberger.com Sepp Hasslberger

    Great talk, Teemu.

    you are at the forefront of an ongoing change of how things are done – not only learning but also organization and, why not, living.

    You quote Marshall McLuhan several times. I remember a principle expressed in an old WIRED article titled “Channeling McLuhan” and we aren’t sure if it was really him saying this, but it does beautifully express the concept of having to look beyond mere speed.

    The central quote is “The worst thing for any organization is efficiency. You get moving very quickly, and you end up in the wrong place.”

    This expands and it’s actually the end of that article. The recipe seems to be to achieve progress through disorganization. Here is the rest…

    “The key to business in the aural/tactile space of the 21st century will be inefficiency, where inefficiency means a multiplicity of inputs and outputs.

    Tangents are key. The best businesses in the electronic age will be everywhere at once; i.e., they will be an essential part of the landscape. Their message will be vague but ubiquitous. Not discursive, but iconic and ironic. Only when there can be too many meanings and too many uses for a product will it succeed. If it works, it’s obsolete, I used to say. But I heard a new slogan recently that appears to be perfect for this new economy: “Welcome to the future – it’s broken.”

    This is not said in a tone of despair but in a bright, happy voice. Being broken is more productive. The difference between being productive and wasting time is disappearing, and we are returning to a preindustrial configuration. Businesses that imagine themselves to be efficiently pursuing their goals will wake up one day and find themselves utterly alone, profitless, and broke. This explains the current “merger mania.” The idea of “synergy” is illusionary. What these huge companies are really after in combining is inefficiency.

    That’s why the Net is the premier invention of the digital era. It is not about finding anything. It is about superfluous connections and wasting time. As you know, only the young, the primitive, and the eccentric waste time. That is why all the most useful inventions come from them. They are not bound to be productive, and can thus waste time pursuing the unpromising to find the truly new.

    The efficiency of the machine age cannot discover anything worthwhile now.”

    Love, light and inspiration
    Sepp