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Us Now (a documentary)

September 3rd, 2009

A few weeks ago Josie and I watched a documentary called Us Now. Good news – if you’ve got an hour or so to spare – you can watch it too (streaming over the Internet).

Briefly: Us Now is about how new social media technologies are enabling people to share, collaborate, help each other, and make stuff happen (in ways that significantly “scale-up” from our long human history of sharing, collaborating, helping each other, and making stuff happen). The documentary begins to go in the direction of asking if we are able to organise ourselves so efficiently and effectively, and if we are able to make things happen directly (rather than having intermediaries like organisations and institutions acting on our behalf), what does this mean for the future, particularly our ideas about governing and government? Is it about time we moved towards a more deliberative style of democracy with much more direct community engagement?

The documentary fits nicely into Josie’s and my ongoing exploration of the nature and potential of “self-generating networks for knowledge building, learning, and change”, and what these might have to teach us about learning and education for the 21st century. The documentary features a few famous faces, such as Clay Shirky (author of Here comes everybody, my favourite book of 2009) and Charles Leadbeter (author of The rise of the social entrepreneur and many other think-pieces on social innovation). If you don’t want to spend a whole hour watching Us Now you can get a taste of some of Leadbeter and Shirky’s ideas in these shorter YouTube clips

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  1. | #1

    Hi Robyn – I’ll be happy to lend you my post-it-flagged copy of Here Comes Everybody! That’s a great question – I would say 1) the Internet , and 2) (more importantly)the self-generating groups and networks that are forming, with the aid of networking technologies, due to the low cost of “getting organised”. The first challenges the traditional role of professional educators as the gatekeepers of knowledge/information, while the second challenges the professional role of educators in a different way – perhaps instead of replacing something educators already do, it challenges educators to look to these groups to explore how they coordinate/choreograph learning and action around people’s particular real-world interests, issues, passions, etc.

  2. Robyn
    | #2

    I enjoyed the short interview clip with Shirky and will need to read his book. I am interested in the idea that blogging is reframing – challenging? – the work of the professional journalist – the “expert”. In thinking about communities in the 21st century there was a suggestion by one writer (blogger!) that there may be a need to “de-professionalise” teachers/educators so that the work of educators was more accessible, and understandable, to the wider community of interest. I am wondering what might be the community activities (and actions)that will challenge the boundaries of the professional educator in the way that appears to be happening to journalism?

  1. | #1
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