I have been increasingly invited to take part in events, conferences and even keynotes. So far so good – it means people deem I have something to give and share. However, with very few exceptions, I notice a recurring pattern – the invitations are one way only – not only you are not paid for the time you spend on preparing and presenting your work, but in many cases you have to disburse money from your own savings to share your knowledge.
While in the past big conferences were the only opportunity to meet people and share knowledge, they have now become a ripoff for independent teachers who are not funded by the institutions they work for, have a business or sell the wares of a publishing house. Technology has facilitated access and you apparently can now “build on your social capital” through the web. Increased cooperation on wiki farms with experts from different fields is a more efficient way of discussing “potential collaborative, learning, or creative applications of emerging technologies”. You can do all this from home – wonderful – saves on flights, lodging and food – and you contribute to the common good. “The primary costs are the investment of time required for participation”. Now, I do not want to sound materialistic or utilitarian but haven’t you heard an expression somewhere that time is money?
During a recent conference on digital citizenship, there were debates on how information networks, digital communication in an increasingly mobile scenario alter political practices and challenge us to defend and expand citizen rights. Professors Quéralto and Andoni Alonso bring to attention that we live today in an eras of strong pragmatic rationality and would like immediate results so as to change the world. However, we are progressively being alienated by an increasing number of activities which take time. We are now not only our own marketeers but also our own bureaucrats and have even more work in shadow time which consumes our rest, family and pleasure and does not fill the supermarket trolley at the end of the month. Knowledgeable digital educators and ” visionaries” furnish complex and specialized work in a totally abstract system which apparently does not envisage survival.
Catherine Fitzpatrick in one of the Connectivism forum threads mentions “One of the deep problems with Creative Commons is that it provides no easy way to say “use a copy of this if you pay me here: _”. Instead, it lays social pressure on people to make their content free and copyable for attribution only, with a vague notion that this will lead to…consulting or something. If no one can make a living from their content and the economy, if their intellectual property is always under pressure from “wanting to be free” for others to grab, they walk away. They stop making content. This has played out in Second Life with all the problems of IP and ripping of content there and people simply going out of business.”
So the nagging question at the back of the mind persists. Is this the price of reinventing yourself permanently, sharing and trying to remain creative, free and independent?