Alt-C had an inspiring conference keynote address yesterday from Michael Wesch, including extracts from his three excellent videos, all available on YouTube: The Machine is Us/ing Us, A Vision of Students Today, and An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube - the last two of which were the results of class projects. How cool must it be to study with him!
The keynote was pretty good too. I loved the idea of starting a conference about educational technology - in which every other person in the room had a netbook open and was madly blogging or tweeting - with an anthropologist talking about his fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, where there was not only no wi-fi or broadband, but no electricity or running water, and the people don't have fixed personal names (making census-taking - which is what Wesch was there to observe - highly problematic, until they invented the concept of the "census name").
His basic message - that media are not just tools but mediate relationships, so that when you change the medium you change the relationship, creating new ways of relating to others and knowing ourselves - was especially welcome to me, since I've been contending for a long time that we need to stop thinking of educational technology in the IT terms of information transfer or the liberal individualist terms of choice and consumption, and more in terms of the network of relationships in which all these activities happen.