Digital Continuum

Hans Rosling
Hans Rosling at ALT-C 2008

ALT-C 2008 kicked off in style yesterday with a keynote by Hans Rosling that delivered on many levels.  The buzz for the rest of the day was about the balancing act (right) and the great animations (see the gapminder website or the video below) but there was more to it than that.

The conference theme is rethinking the digital divide and one of Hans’ key points for me was to de-bunk the “myth” of divides and gaps. He put forward a digital continuum rather than digital divide.  It seems like common sense as I write that now, as there ‘s always a lot happening between two poles and phrases like digital divide can easily mislead.

In another excellent session yesterday the presenters staged a debate along the lines of Web 2.0 vs institutional VLE.  The positions put forward were purposely polarised to encourage debate, which they did.  I left thinking about where on the institutional-individual continuum an institution might want to be because in the real world it doesn’t have to be a case of one or the other.

Back to Hans before I sign off and another interesting comment he made.  He told us that the videos on the gapminder website were much more popular than the interactive presentations where you can do stuff.  Could this be a case of a preference for broadcast over doing? Or a need for more guidance on using the interactive stuff or something else entirely? Either way, Hans urged us to take advantage of this interest in short videos.

The following video is a shorter (!) 2006 version of Hans’ talk.  The software has improved since then, the jokes are the same 😉 Worth a look:

Photo (above):

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