ICT & Computing in Education

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A Map of the Internet

I recently discovered this map of the internet through Stephen Downes’ newsletter, OLDaily. Downes says, “It’s mostly eye-candy, but it’s good eye-candy”. I prefer to think of it as “interesting” eye-candy. It’s visually attractive, but what I find interesting is the fact that the descriptions are not necessarily value-free.

Before I go any further, have a look for yourself:

Now, I don’t wish to get too serious about this – after all, it was probably intended as a bit if fun – but it strikes me that teachers could use this as a starting point for some really good discussions with their pupils.

For example, Paypal is described as a “giant octupus (sic) that eats your money”. Hmm. I think Paypal is merely one of the means by which your money can be “eaten”.

Or how about “NY Times and other Brainwash Dishes”? When I get to read them, I find NY Times articles quite interesting and incisive, and no more “brainwashing” (=biased?) than most other newspapers.

Even the “Pile of Google Docs” has slightly pejorative connotations, as it conjures up an image of a whole stack of unread, and possibly unreadable, documents – which is probably accurate come to think of it!

One I definitely like is “Urban Dictionary Circus”. I happen to think the Urban Dictionary is farcical, for two reasons. First, although it’s good fun coining new words and definitions, and sharing them with others, and to read people’s new words and definitions, I wouldn’t necessarily rely on this dictionary for serious definitions. It has the unique quality of being a dictionary whose definitions you can’t trust!

Second, I don’t really understand why people submit words/definitions to it when the T&S clearly state that by doing so you are handing over your intellectual property. I don’t mind sharing stuff, but I don’t agree with giving away my ownership rights.

While this particular map is light-hearted, you could use it as a starting point to discuss bias (eg in language), accuracy and plausibility.

Or do you think I am taking this way too seriously?

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(c) Terry Freedman