It wasn’t that long ago that I thought “disruption” was a word with some utility. But almost instantly “disrupt” has become a badge representing all manner of noxious attitudes and dangerously simplistic thinking.
Disruption is easy… Raging toddlers do it. Drunken frat boys do it. Megalomaniac neo-cons do it. It’s not hard to knock something down and loot whatever looks shiny, especially if you have money and power. So until you’ve made something real, I’m not going to be impressed that’ve you’ve managed to disrupt something else, even if that something else is in need of a shakeup.
It’s increasingly clear that disruption is a code word for blowing up everything public about education. Everything, that is, except for those dwindling pockets of public money that will enrich the social media ninjas who can engineer revolutions like rock stars while ensuring a thirty percent annualised ROI for their angel capital investors… These are scary times to be old media, and public education has certainly made some clumsy moves as new media has evolved. Confidence is shaken, and ivory tower self-satisfaction has rapidly given way to a panicked search for easy solutions.
That said, I don’t think I’ve seen a more ostentatious display of oblivious triumphalism masking dangerous ignorance (except maybe the Rumsfeld Doctrine on the eve of the Iraq War, or maybe this) than what’s been on display via TechCrunch Disrupt (tagged #TCDisrupt on Twitter) the past couple days. Its been so deliriously obnoxious I haven’t been able to stop reading, even as it deranges my thinking and makes me physically ill. (Yeah… I’m kinda messed up.)
Twitter is the perfect medium for an event like this. None of these inexplicably euphoric jackasses can sustain cognition beyond 140 characters of nuance. So it’s unsurprising that the best analysis I’ve seen so far has been presented by the increasingly-essential Audrey Watters, via the Twitterish tool Storify.
There are so many pieces of Watter’s narrative that literally made my jaw drop, but none more than the fee to hop on this carousel whirligig –
$2000 $3000. And that’s with an endless list of presumably lucrative corporate sponsorships padding the bottom line. Power to the people — right on. If you want a sense of the ethics that will animate post-public education, look no further. “Accessibility” is not even a phoney value for these creeps. And let’s not forget what it takes to enter the Ed Tech Innovation Summit ($2000 if I recall correctly), or TED ($7500 if you are deemed worthy).
This is a rather long and intemperate preamble to my main point. This is the last week to register for the 2012 Open Education Conference for the insanely low price of $200. And that fee includes a (sing along with me now) three hour tour on the Love Boat (while spaces last, not all conference registrants will fit on the boat).
This conference began nearly a decade ago, and I haven’t missed one yet. In conference Godfather David Wiley’s long-standing but still-accurate phrase, this is the “annual reunion of the open education family” and it’s an unparalleled opportunity to spend quality time with the finest and most committed minds in the field in an intimate, informal and very fun setting. As a long-time organizer, I can assure you that we will spend every dollar from registration and our wonderful sponsors carefully to provide the best attendee experience possible. (Scott Leslie has really stepped up as lead organizing host this year with some truly inspired work.)
We have an incredible program, vitally important topics considered by people for whom openness is a way of being, not just a means to venture capital funding. People with a wealth of experience in classrooms, running schools, divisions, projects, programs and yes, start-ups. Deep thinkers and accomplished do-ers. They were into open education before Rupert Murdoch got interested and they won’t leave now just because he is.