OK, I am spoiled. Henry Jenkins, Bill Clinton, Vice President Gore, Danah Boyd, George Lucas, Ron Brown (he is deceased), Seymour Papert — and lots of other luminaries. In person and in your face. Wendy Pye face to face and online. More about that later.
Face-to-face, people intrigue me. I know Chris Dede and was mentored by him. I worked with Seymour Papert and was taught by him, and I have had tussles with people who are very well known about technology in schools, broadening engagement and digital equity. In courses, there are people who have watched my work and who know my personality, even when I shrink back from too much of everything in technology. Gently they beckon. I meekly follow. I think I only have the courage to continue to learn based on the friendship and encouragement of my educational friends. Vint Cerf has remained a friend and email keeps us in touch.
I sat around tables that contained important CEOs and learned to negotiate, I learned to listen well, I learned to push MY ideas.
If I had only met these people online, the relationship would be different and unreal, but the Facebook, and online communications cement our friendships and continue the dialogue. I loved talking with Henry Jenkins about New Orleans and our first impressions as children when we went.
I told him a story about a little boy who drew a picture of New Orleans that was sort of out of my understanding. It was x-rated. It was flagrantly different. But as an adult when I returned, I saw what he drew — 00. These big eyes let you know that I only went to New Orleans to the convent with nuns. I never saw anything but food on my visit and learned history. Certainly not reality.
I did meet a professor online from UCLA, and I never met him in person. I regret not meeting him in person before a terrible illness took his memory. I know what he wrote to me, and there was lots of encouragement, but I can’t say I really know him. The people I have met and been accepted by are known in some ways by me. OK, the Facebooking connections and news stream give me more personal information.
What I love about conferences is lighting the fire, the campfire conversations that happen. Forget the conference. I like talking to and exchanging ideas with people.
I am going to Harvard to a conference that will establish a new foundation for Lady Gaga. I don’t know Lady Gaga. But on a listserv I hold my ground about the lack of perception about minorities in cyberbullying. I spoke loudly online about cultural differences and the fact that there may be reasons for fear and concerns about race baiting. Most of the people don’t say much about these topics on the listserv. Danah Boyd, a Microsoft researcher, and I met at a gathering and complained again that there is a lack of understanding of the whole population of people on the Internet. (Hello, lots of people are still not connected at all or digitally literate.)
Online leads to some wonderful connections. Online also leads to a lot of BRAIN sucking. People share your ideas and market them as their own, without a lot of regard. It can be brutal and superficial. It can be heartbreaking when you find it out. I worked with a person who never taught, and it took some face to face with real teachers to understand that he did not get it. He had no idea of the background of most teachers, and I am not talking minority teachers here. Some of the people who shout from the mountaintops are not really caring about teachers. They are showmen, and they get paid well. Sometimes they teach but mostly they take.
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