Relevant is different if you were born before the 80s

by Mr. Sheehy

Two-thirds of the way through the TIE conference and the evening following Will Richardson’s talk (a talk, by the way, that was much more conducive to convincing hard-liners about the need to move in a 2.0 direction than I thought it would be – nice job, Will), and I’ve been searching for what is missing. I believe I’ve discovered part of it.

Here’s the scenario:

Will comes and inspires people to reconsider how they view the web – he throws down that fittingly descriptive term, Read/Write Web, and people begin to understand. Unfortunately, my canceled wiki presentation from Sunday (lack of interest) gains relevant currency the moment Will finishes (especially considering that he talks down his wiki page instead of using Power Point – another tidbit I was tickled to see, since I’ve been doing this in some of my classes and am glad I’m not the only one who isn’t bothering to reprint content just because Power Point makes the letters move).

A few sessions discuss podcasting and blogging (I’m not sure there were any breakout sessions for wikis – too bad, I would have been willing), and people gain a bit of the concept. But they’re still missing something. You see, I think they’re intimidated by the likes of Richardson and me and people like us, because we seem to have our veins tapped into this flow of information and when they hear about all this stuff and about all these conversations, they feel left out.

But here’s the part that’s missing: if I were to quit blogging tonight and never post another entry to my wiki, Web2.0 would still have completely changed the way I use the Internet. Nobody is teaching people about RSS, feeds, and aggregators. And THAT’s the stuff that allows people to tap into these conversations. All these bloggers probably have people’s heads spinning – “How do you read all that? How do you keep track of it?” I don’t! The technology does it for me, and I simply scan for useful information. Until people see how easy some of these most fundamental tools work – like RSS readers and social bookmarks – I predict they’ll be intimidated by the web.

The way we’re doing it suggests that if they don’t have a blog, they aren’t using the Read/Write Web. Will, by the way, does not imply this in his presentation, but the way the conversations are structured around this conference do. RSS and blogs have to go together, and with the prevalence of feeds on the regular content pages, I am beginning to think we should begin there, with the Read, rather than with blogging and the Write, because for our over-25 crowd, the read part will strike them as more relevant. And whether we admit to being like our students or not, we crave relevancy even more than they do.