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Know Your Rights: Blogging in College

January 28, 2014

In March 2012, I attended the Triiibes Conference in my hometown of Ventura CA. The conference was inspired by Seth Godin’s book, Triiibes, from which an online ning community was formed. That ning is full of Linchpins, whom Godin described in his next book on the same name; however, readers of this blog may be most familiar with Godin from his manifesto on education Stop Stealing Dreams.

That March, while Godin was unable to travel across the country in person from NYC to CA, thanks to technology, he Skyped in to speak with us about being Linchpins and creating and leading Triiibes. We also had the chance to ask him questions; since I am a college teacher who has also taught undergraduate and graduate classes in educational philosophy and had just read Stop Stealing Dreams, I asked him for his advice.

Get your students blogging, Godin said adamantly. On anything.

I already do that, I replied.

Good! he said.

We talked a bit more about blogging and education, and he recommended that I read Cathy Davidson’s ideas on blogging (which I’ll get to in another post hopefully this week), plus some of the benefits I’ve discovered from having students use blogging in a college composition classroom.

But for today, I want to highlight some ideas from Matt Mullenweg, the person who started WordPress which is the platform that I use for my blogs, the one I require my students to use, and one which is used by journalists, media organizations like CNN and more.

Because today, my students will start their blogs, and because this semester, we’ve already discussed the impact of technology and its impact on our relationship with nature as outlined by Richard Louv.

In a blog post based on a recent talk Mullenweg gave in Las Vegas, he quotes  President Franklin D. Roosevelt pointing out that “As men do not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone.” Roosevelt made this point just before declaring war on Japan during World War Two, and argued that everyone in the world needs:

  1. Freedom of speech.
  2. Freedom of worship.
  3. Freedom from want.
  4. Freedom from fear.

Mullenweg connects this to how technology has now “permeated every aspect of our lives, from how we are born to how we die and everything in between. In this co-evolution of society and technology, what it means to be truly “free” is no longer about just the country we live in, or even its laws, but is shaped by the products we live on.”

Mullenweg then quotes  Marc Andreessen saying that “software is eating the world” –Mullenweg’s point being that “if you don’t control the software, the software controls you” to the extent that “It influences the very way your brain works, as you process the creative gale of distraction that interrupts us all hundreds of times each day. With every ping, software burrows deeper into our lives.”

According to Mullenweg, MIT engineer Richard Stallman,  proposed a set of four”software” freedoms

  1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  2. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.
  3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
  4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions, giving the community a chance to benefit from your changes.

Notes Mullenweg, “I originally thought Stallman started counting with zero instead of one because he’s a geek. He is, but that wasn’t the reason. Freedoms one, two, and three came first, but later he wanted to add something to supercede all of them. So: freedom zero. The geekness is a happy accident.”

Learn more about WordPress, discover its origins and philosophy and more –keep reading Mullenweg’s post  here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 28, 2014 4:16 pm

    Reblogged this on whisper down the write alley and commented:

    The advice Seth Godin gave me on teaching college & how that connects with WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and Pearl Jam…

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