Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Life Skills Instead of Resolutions

A resolution is a solution to a problem. Some of us have been making resolutions to the same goals and problems going on five or more years. I say chuck it. How about instead we start thinking about developing and enhancing the life skills we need to invoke the change?

The Age of Verification

Our informational life needs are a changing. For example, think about what we talked about and debated in 2009. Issues such as health care, the federal budget, large scale fraud and free enterprise versus social responsibilities.

In 2009 we didn’t just talk feeling and fears. Ok, some of you did and that is ok up to a point. Some people used their education and the technology available to find answers. I would love to know from the Library of Congress how many people visited and accessed H.R. 3200.

Not reporters. Not pundits or PR spinners. That is a huge shift in how information is retrieved and consumed.

Many average people and certainly hundreds of bloggers did not wait for the news media to interpret and filter the content. Quite frankly, some of the mainstream media mucked it up big time.

And for every legitimate source there was a source for disinformation too. Some of those disinformation sources were found in the U.S. House and Senate. A few could be found on the radio. I don’t watch terrestrial television anymore but I hear things are mighty pitiful in that neck of the woods.

It is not that we don’t need journalists, we do. We need informed non-partisan access to information as well as perspectives from a variety of points of view.

Newspapers are so busy wrapping columnists as bloggers and purging their senior knowledge staff that they really don’t know or can’t see fundamental changes in what use to be their customers.

We aren’t passive anymore.

How Do We Do That?

In 2010 there will be more of a need to verify and examine what is being presented as truth. You don’t have to be a super smart. However continuing to ignore the changes in communication, society and informational access might be a mighty dumb thing to do.

There is an added importance with the rise in social media technology. It has nothing to do with race or class. It has nothing to do with income. It doesn’t matter how much or how little money you make. Trust without continuous verification of people and facts can be costly.

Ask the victims of Bernard Madoff if I’m lying. Ask the victims of Joy Jackson and Kurt Fordham if what they didn’t know cost them everything they had and then some.

I, a liberal leaning person, will now quote from a Republican president, Ronald Regan. Trust, but verify.

A Few Easy Steps to Begin

I think it starts with awareness. Education and learning is life long process. You stop learning and you put yourself at risk.

Or let me put it to you this way. Have you ever had a conversation with a person who is proud that they only have one source of information? Or that they have no need for anything other than a limited range of entertainment programs or games?

Painful, right?

Take advantage of open source education opportunities. There are great podcasts and vlogs that offer so much more dynamic content than YouTube and Hulu. I'm talking serious brain food. How do you find it?

Learn How to Search Better

As bloggers and consumers of web content we see a lot of drek. How do you find the quality user generated content instead of repackage mainstream media? There are more effective ways to search than just popping a tern in a search box. You can visit the help pages of, Bing, Google and Yahoo for ideas on how to use search engines better.

There is also BlogPulse, Justia for law legal searches and Collecta. Name a topic and there is probably a specialized search engine for it.

Evaluate What You Find On and Off the Internet

Cornell University Library has information on how to evaluate a web site. Read it. UC Berkeley Library has a good page on the topic as well.

And finally I leave you with Blue Girl in a Red State who reminds all of us to take the time and just chill out. Veg. Relax. Do what you can when you can.


Erin Schreyer at Authentic Leadership has 10 Treasures To Take Away from 2009. These are her treasures but you might have something in common.

Gwen Harris at keeps an eye out for news about search engines and the changes that can help you make better use of them.

Laura Cococcia at The Journal of Cultural Conversation is thinking about 2010 and what is your learning goal of the year? It is a short post but she ask really good questions that we all should consider.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

1 comment:

  1. Gena - thank you for the mention! I love your comment: "You stop learning and you put yourself at risk." That made such an impact on how I see the process of lifelong learning - and the critical importance of it. No need for a formal education, in my opinion. It's all at our fingertips if we want to see it that way. Happy New Year!