While smoking a cigarette on my back patio early this morning I got to thinking about the iPad (which I do not and will not own) and the cultural cache of designer clothing labels throughout my formative years in high school during the 80s. And keep in mind I grew up in possibly the most materialistic bastion within the most materialistic country on earth: Long Island.
Everyone flaunted their Guess jeans, Timberlands, Capezios, Champion sweatshirts, Ralph Lauren Polo shirts, etc. as they walked down the hallway, all of which immediately signaled an idea of attractiveness—if only through a sense of style under girded by both its cost and wide acceptance. It was conspicuous consumption on shameless parade any given day in my high school, and what I found as a teen is that punk provided me a way out of that insidious logic of self realization that was so directly linked to consumption. Punk music, and just about any art in my experience, provided a means to both question and challenge the dominant logic that thousands of people in my high school ate up like good little mannequins.
And, sadly enough, when I think about the iPad, I can’t help by draw the connection to my experience with designer labels in high school. I think, in some ways, edtech is regressing to the level of a high school hallway/catwalk taken right out of Long Island during the 1980s. Every one is prancing their little iPad around like their brand new Ton Ton sweatshirt, and rather than just trying to be noticed, they are tacking on to that claims that the newest sensation in designer computing will actually change everything forever. Hey, I just read a post tonight that links the iPad with the end of public education—what a depressing thought.
It’s funny how unthinkingly designer labels were accepted as the predominant logic for fashion in the 80s, kinda similar to how unthinkingly designer tech has become the predominant logic for the future of education. The way I see it, wishing the iPad on educational technology is like asking for a slicker BlackBoard. It is the same kind of pay-to-play lockin logic of the LMS, and while it has the open web and I can hear the detractors already, I just wonder how many of your super special apps will work on other platforms? Do all students need to wear the same designer labels? Will we come to see a stratification based on tools rather than standards and open platforms? Probably, but their are always alternatives, that’s what Heavy Metal, Punk, and New Wave provided in the 80s as a way out, and I would like to think we are building those alternative spaces to escape the clamor around designer technology so that we can get on with the open web, and leave designer labels to the tools.