Justin Oberman of MoPocket is the midway barker at this week’s Carnival, which comes into cyberspace from Bangalore where Justin is presenting at a W3C conference.
Yesterday I attended Innovation & Growth in a Flat World, a leadership panel chaired by David Kirkpatrick of Fortune, with panelists Thomas Friedman, Tim O’Reilly, Brian Behlendorf and David Wenig. These men are genuine top thought leaders in business whose credentials are given on the above link. The audience that filled the hotel ballroom in New York’s Times Square was biz guys and girls. I did not notice one man among the perhaps 350 there who did not have on a suit. The few women scattered through the crowd were conservatively dressed as well. The occasion was sponsored by CollabNet as a treat for the audience to hear a top panel discuss the future of business in our newly flat world — a phrase coined by Thomas Friedman. Also to be discussed was Web 2.0 — a phrase defined by Tim O’Reilly.
In the most hopeful sign I have yet seen that education will actually be forced to submit to change—to becoming part of the flat world that is characterized by Web 2.0—the exchange with the audience turned away from business to the subject of education! Brian Behlendorf discussed a recent paper by John Seely Brown that described a college classroom in which screens were placed around the room to display what students were doing with their laptops. David Kirkpatrick agonized that nothing is really being done about K-12. Tim O’Reilly pointed out that credentialing is moving toward “what have you built?” and away from “what school did you graduate from?” Tom Friedman described completely revising his take on education in the new edition of The World Is Flat, using a new set of quotients.
The old cliches about kids coming from bad homes, needing to pour more money into education etc. did not come up. The panel looked to the new connected world instead, where I think answers to education’s woes are waiting.
Tom Friedman said a lot of very interesting and insightful things, but he did fall into the trap of one of the cliches that have served to hold education back from the flat world. He cautioned that “the Internet is a sewer.” He is wrong: the Internet is the golden swamp. The proof he offered was that the Internet had spread the rumor after 9/11 that all the Jews were told to stay home from the World Trade Center that day. Why does the Internet get the blame? In 2001, it was not widespread in Arab countries for one thing. And for sure, rumors spread in populations before the Internet came along. I would argue that the Internet is the most effect means we have ever had for diminishing rumors by providing optional points of view and access to sources.