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16 ways to interact

Here’s a diagram that really worked, though of course it isn’t legible here. It shows a whole Amazon product page – which is long – as a very small image down the middle and then along the sides balloons pick up the 16 different social (or “cooperative”) features that Amazon now uses, or hopes visitors will use. Most of them don’t get used, of course, but they are familiar enough even to an occasional and hasty visitor like me (love that one-click purchasing) that I didn’t need to see details of the page itself. Though the event was billed as “the start of a conversation on how to optimise the potential social impact of networked technology,” which fit in perfectly with the discussion in Frankfurt about the business implications of social media, I didn’t hear much about commercial aspects. Howard Rheingold commented favorably on the way individuals can make “a little money” with Amazon and Google while the companies make “a lot of money.”

Howard’s use of slides was exemplary, by the way. They didn’t fade in and out in little blocks, but they did illustrate his discussion effectively. They were even amusing. There was one of him dressed in a monk’s hood and holding a quill pen that came up when he was talking about the transmission of ideas in writing. “Collective memory” is a concept that stuck with one person I spoke to afterwards. It’s strange and alarming to realize that we haven’t absorbed, collectively, the most basic information about human history. Collective memory certainly is that. It’s the basic of human culture and learning. Here, I think, is serious challenge for schools and teachers,  and parents: identifying vital concepts about who we are and how we got here (as well as knowledge from science and other fields) and finding a new way to convey these things to curious children – while they’re still curious.

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by KarenChristensen.


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