Friday, March 9, 2012

SxSW Tapscott

Today, most of the SXSW events started at 2:00. I started with badge pickup and the line wrapped completely around the Austin Convention Center. Those who have been there can imagine what that was like.

But Interactive is about being interactive so it was good to meet and talk with people in the line. Plus, we weren't in the cold rain so what was there to complain about?

After getting my badge (with built-in RFID tag), I setup camp on the fourth floor to scour my notes and put together the previous blogs you see before your eyes. Then I thought I would wander into one of the large exhibit rooms to get a good seat for the two sessions I was interested in being in.

But lo and behold, I was able to catch the tail end of a speaker I really wanted to see but had forgotten to put on my schedule. Author and speaker Don Tapscott was keynoting in the very room where I was! His topic "Rethinking Civilization for the Social Age" and he discussed 5 major principals in the age of networked intelligence: collaboration, transparency, sharing, interdependence and integrity.

I found his examples and ideas to be very similar to Clay Shirky's books and even tweeted that I felt these were quite similar. But he took us on a journey about the second wave of democracy involving policy wiki, deliberate polling, challenges, citizen reporting, micro actions,

He said "National state is the wrong size to solve big societal problems today" and that we are moving into a period in which division of labor in society is changing in terms of solving major challenges. Non-government players role will grow.

I thought his point about top-down leadership was really profound for education: "The person at the top can't learn for the entire organization anymore. We all have to be involved in this change."

I meet A LOT of directors. They are the lead person for innovation in their districts. But I believe in what Tapscott (and others are saying) that we need to direct the focus back onto others to commit real change in our districts. We should be providing the support to allow people to extend their creativity to their teaching and learning. We can be involved but we shouldn't take the helm to direct the change. Showcase the change taking place in your district but step back to let the real change-makers step forth.


  1. Very interesting...sounds like he understands the current culture quite well.

  2. Thanks! And yes Clay is one of my best students ;-)

  3. Joel,

    I think you are so right. Innovators in school districts can get frustrated because their ability to lead/contribute can get overlooked. Support for the grass-roots tech innovators/early adopters in an organization is sorely needed. Because unfortunately without that support, those people tend to leave our schools and they are the very people we need to retain to be the explorers and experimenters and to help those conversations move forward. It really is a critical problem for organizations--how do you support the people that are willing to experiment--not just in word only but from a policy standpoint? a structural standpoint? etc. Glad Don Tapscott raised that point!