Opportunity, Collaboration & Discovery


CJ Westerberg, January 11, 2010 2:56 PM



By C.J. Westerberg (6:30 PM 1/13/10);  Updated 10:07 AM 1/14/10

We thought, "What a great commercial!"  (30 sec. vid below).  

We also thought "What a great way for students to share their experiences globally" (this case just happened to feature the U.S. and Chinese) especially those without the means or opportunity to travel - at a time when it is increasingly important.

Then, in a moment, it happened.

The Daily Riff was about to publish an important, yet feel-good story about a virtual collaboration between U.S. and Chinese students using tele-conferencing.   Then, politics got in the way, and not in a minor way, sadly. 

As we were about to "go to press", we had this gnawing feeling about news that Google may be pulling out of China.  So we checked last second, and it was rolling  into a bigger story still.

In an instant, the entire concept of the original story fell apart.  POOF.

Long story short.  We have to adapt.  Last minute.  Last second.  We must be teaching our kids this adaptability factor more than ever.  Sure, in media this may be the most obvious.  But, are you sure it doesn't relate to everything?

Welcome to the new world of everything.  Including education.

What happened was the fun video clip we intended to use (all of 30 seconds below)  suddenly did not work because the context changed having to do with China and the unfolding news made a millisecond. 

With all the talk about how education must understand the global world;

with all the talk about how education must understand technology;

with all the talk about how education is affecting business & politics,

and with how business & politics affect education. 

Get real.  Context matters. 

Here are the three must-read context links (underlined) that changed the game:

Huffington Post is posting a live-blog for minute-to-minute updates here.
Google is more than considering pulling its business with China, as reported by The New York Times:

"Google linked its decision to sophisticated cyberattacks on its computer systems that it suspected originated in China and that were aimed, at least in part, at the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists."

The Daily Beast reports today (1/14/10)  here which points to new conclusions (Google using story as opportunity for PR spin/smokescreen).    

From the Beast's Posner post 1/13/10 here:

"A classified FBI report indicates that China has secretly developed an army of 180,000 cyberspies that "poses the largest single threat to the United States for cyberterrorism and has the potential to destroy vital infrastructure, interrupt banking and commerce, and compromise sensitive military and defense databases." (1/13/10)

From the Beast's Rushkoff post 1/14/10 here:

"Google's actions just don't add up. In response to what they say they suspect was a Chinese government-supported cyberattack, including hacking into the Gmail accounts of human-rights activists . . ."

This scenario speaks volumes of the importance of our cyber-knowledge in a global world, for the good and the not, as this unfolding story illustrates most directly and indirectly.  It also is an example of how the marriage of skills such as critical thinking and accessing and analyzing information must co-exist with knowledge.

Context and adaptability.  Does it matter? 

Should we be circling around checking various sources, updates, evidence, and weighing in? 

Sounds like education-talk? 

You bet.


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It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci
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