20 October 2008

The Part We Have to Play

Perhaps you are wondering where the Sheck has been as of late? And I don't mean the Sheck Spot, because I have been posting tidbits, but where is THE SHECK? The thoughtful posts, that get me to flesh out a question or an experience?

I've been wondering that myself. And two things come to mind:
1. Teaching. I've just finished the IL sessions for the 2nd Year Core courses, Champlain's nascent Gen Ed curriculum, and I am meeting with the other librarians tomorrow to rehearse for the 1st year courses, which start next week. I've been putting a lot into the design of these sessions and to collaborating with the ever energetic and amazing Andy Burkhardt to make these suckers work. And not just work but interest the students. Invigorate them. Engage them. Did it work...I think so. I hope so. I think so.
2. The Election. No one should be that surprised to know I am an Obama supporter. But I also am passionately interested in the way in which the digital, media entrenched world shapes the election. Even more interesting is how the digital world shapes our understanding and participation in elections, in democracy. And without question, it has. Sarah Silverman, Don't Vote, Yes We Can, We Are the Ones...full of famous folks, yes. But also aimed at informing and empowering voters, young voters, to participate and think about the world we live in and the opportunities that are before us.

So when I read this post by Ryan Deschamps, the wheels really started turning. Perhaps it was the wikipedia analogy that got me thinking:
To me, voting is the Wikipedia of our government. If alot of people participate, putting in quality thought and decision, then a wiki will provide excellent content. If people let the system be taken over by folks who just happen to show up, our system crumbles and can even be used for serious wrong-doing.

Ryan, that's an idea worth running with. I mean, Forrest Gump style running.

But here's the part that I am stuck on. Ryan's analogy puts a hefty burden on everyday people: to educate themselves enough to make a quality decision. I am in no way suggesting that Joe the Plumber couldn't do that. My question is about WHERE they do that? HOW do they do that? Are we assuming that every one knows the difference between "good" information and "bad" information? Truth and lies? Facts and fiction?

If so, I'll be out of job.

If not...then we have a lot of work to do. And we is not just librarians. We is those of us that do know the difference. Those of us that have the skills and experience to discern between the shades of gray, at least as best as we are able. So videos that bring good looking people out to those of us in our pjs perusing YouTube is great. But we need more than just a Get Out the Vote campaign. We need everyone to have the tools and skills to make quality decisions. We need to find creative ways to educate more people about the issues in ways that they can understand and engage in, much like Andy and I have been trying to do with our students. We need to push our media, our politicians, our schools, but most importantly ourselves. Learning More Is Doing Something!

Which is why I am voting for Obama. Because in the end, the real message, the first message, and the one that still puts butterflies in my stomach is Yes WE Can. Not just him...Us. We. The People. We have a part to play, and it's time that we played it. Game on.

1 comment:

Von Burkhardt said...

Oooh. I really like that comparison of democracy to wikipedia as well. And I agree that change is needed, but not just from government. WE as citizens need to change. Like you say we need to be more educated and educate more, but also just to care more. This is our country.

I think about other democracies, like when the US was a young country. People cared much more because they did not know that they were going to stay a country or become the most powerful country in the world. They just had a drive to build their country into something good that worked.

As a nation we have become bloated. Not just our obesity, but we have it so well that we don't have that same drive that we once did. We have become lazy and take things for granted. Hopefully this election, this economy, and these wars will wake Americans up and light a fire under them.