Friday, March 5, 2010

Learning to Swim

We are always hearing about how our world is becoming so connected, and the production of web content so complex, that it is impossible to make sense of it all.

In a sense, the sheer amount of information available to us is so massive, we might as well have none at all because we can't seem to understand of any of it. Barry Schwartz writes and speaks a great deal on "The Paradox of Choice" where he argues that the near infinite variety of stuff available to us is paralyzing.

It makes you wonder: Can information make us ignorant?

The economic crisis of 2008 seems to suggest as much. How could so many people, with access to more information than has ever been available, have been so oblivious to the consequences of their actions?

But let's not throw up our hands just yet. This need to find new ways to represent complex information is being met--not in spite of technology but through it.

A few months ago, I discovered this informational graphic on the economic crisis by Jonathan Jarvis. With the expressive tools available to him, he has managed to take one of the most perplexing economic events in history, and present it in a way that even children could understand:

On The Crisis of Credit Visualized site Jonathan explains that this presentation is part of his larger mission dedicated to "exploring the use of new media to make sense of a increasingly complex world."

That is also the spirit of the Globaloria program: to cultivate the new media literacy and skills needed to makes sense of--and participate in-- our complex world. By creating educational games, Globaloria students are learning how to represent knowledge just like Jonathan, arming them with the ability to turn information into real knowledge as they navigate the uncharted territories of communication technologies.

Perhaps the great philosopher Democritus put it best around 400 BC when he said, "Water can be both good and bad; of use and dangerous. To the danger, however, a remedy has been found: learning to swim."


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