I like this piece on Education in the (Dis)Information Age for many reasons, but especially for its ode to hyperlinks. The hyperlink is a fundamental building block of the web. “Social-media platforms have worked hard to kill the hyperlink”, and it shows.
My posts on education, neurodiversity, the social model, and tech ethics are full of links. That’s what we should model to students. Link to your sources. Link to your biases and influences. Share research and process. Show your work. All of that can be done with a hyperlink. Hyperlinks add nuance during a disinformation age, a time when we should be “foregrounding complexity as the baseline“. They are a kindness to the reader and rabbit holes of learning and perspective for those who want to go deeper.
Do the platforms and interfaces you use to share online support hyperlinks? Try one that does. Do some small b blogging.
What’s going on here? I call it small b blogging. It’s a virtuous cycle of making interesting connections while also being a way to clarify and strengthen my own ideas. I’m not reaching a big audience by any measure but the direct impact and benefit is material.
Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”.
Think clearly about the many disparate networks you’re part of and think about the ideas you might want to offer those networks that you don’t want to get lost in the feed. Ideas you might want to return to. Think about how writing with and for the network might enable you to start blogging.
Come join the network. Bring a blog.
Source: Small b blogging
I struggle with the conflict between writing something new and building on existing ideas but shouldn’t; a blog is just as much a process, an evolution of thought, as an act of creation.
Source: Required – Colin Walker
Build a digital pedagogy around collaboration, blogging, and hyperlinking with indie ed-tech and backchannels. Begin the practice. Command+k on MacOS and iOS and Control+k on Windows brings up a link dialog in many editing apps and publishing interfaces, including web-based ones like WordPress.
“In fact, I’d argue that the hyperlink is our most potent weapon in the fight against disinformation.”
The oldest and simplest of internet technologies, the hyperlink and the “new” kind of text it affords — hypertext — is the foundational language of the internet, HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Hypertext connects all the disparate pieces of the web together. And it’s Sci-Fi name isn’t an accident. It’s hyperdrive for the internet, bending information space so that any user can travel galaxy-scale information distances with a small movement of a finger. The hyperlink still remains one of the most powerful elements of the web. In fact, I’d argue that the hyperlink is our most potent weapon in the fight against disinformation.
With experience in evaluating and distinguishing various kinds of sources, the critically minded student can parse these links and filter bias to pull nuanced meaning from these various texts. More importantly in our current information landscape, the student/professor/researcher-as-public-scholar/educated-graduate-as-mindful-citizen can curate the best primary and secondary sources as links, and use the opportunity not simply to prove their credentials and bolster their argument, but to educate the public, bringing more light than heat to whatever issue they are unpacking.
First, academic work — both for students and faculty — still tends to be centered around traditional, pre-web conventions of writing. The printed book/article/essay, with footnotes and a bibliography, does not speak the language of the web, and footnotes/endnotes on a website do not encourage an audience to engage with more material more deeply. Putting an academic paper on the web is nothing like writing for the web. Until more faculty help their students learn to do the latter (and until faculty promotion and retention policies encourage faculty themselves to be fluent in writing for a public audience on the web), we’ll continue to raise up future generations of graduates (including the next generation of professors) who aren’t ready for their role in the fight against disinformation.
Second, social-media platforms have worked hard to kill the hyperlink.
As propagandists and perpetrators of (dis)information operations find those social-media limitations amenable to their aims, we need to resist. And we resist not only with better information, and better interpretation, but in recovering the language of the internet — the language of (digital) scholarship.
It’s time we brought back the hyperlink and learned how to really use it. It’s time we used information abundance to our advantage. And it’s time we disentangled our communications from platforms tuned for the spread of disinformation. The health of our democracies just might depend on it.
Often when I say that I think that the “Domain of One’s Own” initiative is one of the most important education technologies, I always hear pushback from the Twitter riffraff. “What’s so special about a website?” folks will sneer.
Well, quite a lot, I’d contend. The Web itself is pretty special – Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of a global hyperlinked information system. A system that was – ideally at least – openly available and accessible to everyone, designed for the purpose of sharing information and collaborating on knowledge-building endeavors. That purpose was not, at the outset, commercial. The technologies were not, at the outset, proprietary.
I’m pretty resistant to framing “domains” as simply a matter of “skills.” Because I think its potential is far more radical than that. This isn’t about making sure literature students “learn to code” or history students “learn to code” or medical faculty “learn to code” or chemistry faculty “learn to code.”
Rather it’s about recognizing that the World Wide Web is site for scholarly activity. It’s about recognizing that students are scholars.
And that’s the Web. That’s your domain. You cultivate ideas there – quite carefully, no doubt, because others might pop by for a think. But also because it’s your space for a think.
As a Twitter thread: