Education, technology, a better world

I was in the BART the other day, and noticed a young woman wearing a bright blue T-shirt with a quote on the back.  The quote was this:

Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.

— Marian Wright Edelman

I was just back from ALA, feeling tired and idealistic, and the quote really struck me.  That’s right, I thought.  That’s the best encapsulation I’ve seen of why I’m in this business.

Then I noticed that the BART was full of young men and women wearing these T-shirts.  They must have been part of some kind of summer education program.  It was pretty incredible:  blue shirts everywhere up and down the platform, on all these high-school or junior-college-aged kids, all with this quote on the back.

I had a brief vision of a better world, where public transit would be the norm, where money would be heaved at health and planning and education the way it’s currently heaved at corporations and the military, and where young people would grow up with some idea of who Marian Wright Edelman is.  (And yes, it’s funny and hopeful that I linked to Wikipedia there.  Wikipedia, for all its faults, is a utopian education project, and I’m very fond of it.)

And then, walking into the library this morning, I noticed this headline on The Washington Post (yesterday’s paper):  “Text Messages Giving Voice to Chinese : Opponents of Chemical Factory Found Way Around Censors.”  Activists opposing the construction of a chemical plant used cell phone text messages to mass thousands of protesters and stop the project.

Stories like this give me hope that we can actually be sensible about the tools we create.

Just a little idealism for a Friday morning.

2 thoughts on “Education, technology, a better world

  1. caleb says:

    “utopian education project” – it’s so rare that anyone says anything new about Wikipedia – thanks for this, I’ll give you credit even if you didn’t dream it up

  2. […] is a utopian experiment in education* which we all know is rife with error. The interesting thing about Wikipedia is that it preserves […]

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