Post-Mortem Conference Mashup: The Internet as Playground and Factory
January 5th, 2010

Howard Rheingold was a featured speaker at The Internet as Playground and Factory conference, held in November 2009 in New York City. The conference leader Trebor Scholz has written a Post-Mortem Mashup which is available online. Trevor’s report begins:

In mid-November 2009, one hundred media scholars, lawyers, historians, artists, social media experts, students, programmers, and activists came together for three days at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts to discuss digital labor. Seven hundred messages on the conference mailing list, 400 new subscribers to this forum (the iDC), hundreds of tweets, 52 video interviews, 1200 conference registrations, and 1000 views of the live stream show that participants engaged with The Internet as Playground and Factory conference intensely and on various levels. . . .

[Summary from the report of Howard’s session:]

Suggesting new literacies for the future, Howard Rheingold contributed the most participatory presentation at IPF. Digital natives are familiar with digital systems but they often lack essential competencies, he argued. Pointing to self-organized educational projects like The School of Everything and The Supercool School, Rheingold questioned the future of brick and mortar institutions for higher learning. Alexander Halavais reported that his former employer, a research university, had posed a challenge to the faculty: think of your students as hamburgers and tell us how you can turn out more hamburgers with fewer resources. How would you like your student today?

But while Rheingold and Halavais did not idealize the mentioned educational alternatives; they did allude to problems, namely branding and accreditation. More specifically, Rheingold suggested “crap detection” as one of the most vitally important literacies for today’s students. How do you –as a student or teacher– detect when you are being manipulated? What are the ethics of encountering others in mediated social milieus? In my own presentation I specifically argued for the term expropriation literacy. . .

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