The good thing about bad presentations, or how I came to love social software

So my last rant reflected my unhappiness at being inundated with crappy powerpointings, but that’s not the only dissatisfaction I’ve had with presentations I’ve sat through in conferences over the last few weeks.

In addition to the dull quality of the ‘lecture’ experience, I’ve been really disappointed with the vision of learning that’s been in the background of some of the presentations, e.g. too many talks on eportfolios that see them solely as a way to create a resume, or just another way to squish students into an artificial assessment framework, too many talks on more and better ways to generate reams of metadata and remove the humans from that sticky operation of sharing and reusing learning resources.

But the good thing about all of these is that I’ve had a series of small epiphanies that have made me a true believer in social software. What’s that brother’s and sisters, can you say it, I BULEAVE! Say it again, I BULEAVE!

Which may sound strange to some, but none who know me well. Yes, I’ve been a blogger for almost 3 years now. Yes, I use flickr, I use furl, yada yada yada. But I was always looking for holes and just a little bit sceptical. No longer. We need software that is obvious in the value it offers its end users so we aren’t forcing them to do things they don’t want to already do. We need software that recognizes users not just as the ‘operators’ of software, but as having identities that are important, identities that are the basis for rich connections and enabling possibilities. We need software that notices and records these conections and interactions in order to add even more value to those users and to other people trying to do similar things. Hallelujah!

And for all my past (and present and current) sins against this, mea cupla. Like Thomas Pynchon once wrote, I’m a slow learner. – SWL

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The good thing about bad presentations, or how I came to love social software