Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

08 March 2007

My First Podcast Interview (Call Me A Luddite)

The Interview will be Podcast

I just came across my first podcast interview. Wesley Fryer (Director of Education Advocacy, AT&T-OK; author of the Blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity) interviewed me in one of his weekly podcasts).

Podcast105: Thinking Critically About Library and School Technologies

Fryer was one of the keynote speakers at the 2006 Hawaii Library Association conference. At the start of the interview he mentions that someone in his audience critiqued his talk. "Creativity and Updating Mindware: Hardware and software are not holding us back!" for demonstrating a lot of tech toys, but offering little content. Not surprisingly, I was the critic. On the other hand I tried to balance my critique with praise of his mention of Neil Postman, an education theorist who wrote such influential and highly readable books Amusing Ourselves to Death and Technopoly. He seemed to take my comments in good spirit, and asked to interview me along with another keynote speaker, super-librarian Jessamyn West. I'm not sure how many people will ever listen to this podcast, but it was a pleasure to talk together about ALA and Postman.

Wesley apparently posted the interview in December. He later filed it under "luddite," so maybe I haven't been forgiven. Oh well, I've been called worse things.

That HLA conference was a great chance to dive into Web 2.0 for libraries, but I strongly believe that we need to think carefully about each technological shift and the impact of each decision on society. Wesley's talk was a perfect example. He was a master of communication technology, using Skype, webcams, video and other tools to capture the audience's attention. In my opinion, the problem is that his talk revealed that you can talk with people all over the world for an hour, but never really say much of substance. I certainly don't mind chatting with friends that way, but don't think it should be the future of education. I'm sure Postman would agree!

It reminded me of my friends who were amateur ("ham") radio enthusiasts years ago. They were always excited to could talk with people abroad, but their content was usually limited to the weather or what type of equipment they were using. To me, that got old very quickly, so I only listened to shortwave radio after that (like BBC World Service or Radio France Internationale). These broadcasts were not interactive, but I learned much more from them, and also enjoyed them much more.

The bigger issue obviously is not about how I spent my teenage years listening to shortwave radio, but that we need to reflect on this technological shift, and its socio-economic impact on our fragile democracy. This was very well expressed in Part 3 of the PBS Frontline documentary NEWSWAR, which you can watch online. Check it out!

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