Master of Your Universe

 

Sifting through the sheer volume of material – good, bad, useless, tasteless, or otherwise – is a daunting task. It is even difficult to keep track of what I post, save, download, and view. Yet the computer is the largest component of my personal learning network. This is part of a trend that began with simple innovations like personalized start pages, RSS aggregation, and customizable widgets, the personal web is a term coined to represent a collection of technologies that confer the ability to reorganize, configure and manage online content rather than just viewing it. It is now easy to create customized, personal web-based learning network — a personal web — that explicitly supports my social, professional, and learning needs. My online material can be saved, tagged, categorized, and repurposed without difficulty and without any special knowledge of how web pages are put together. In fact, the underlying technology that supports the web has all but vanished and all that is necessary is to know is which tools to use, and any task — from creating and distributing content, to organizing one’s personal and professional time, to developing a library of resources that constantly refresh and update themselves —becomes point-and-click trivial. The vast collection of content that makes up the web can be tamed, filtered, and organized, and anyone can publish as much or as little as they wish: the web has become personal. Is this important to me? Yes, because I was not an early adapter. I hobbled into the information age with nothing but a desire to be better connected. It is now possible for those of us who previously had nothing but a library card to be as well-informed as Bill Gates. (On a side note, it’s sad that I can no longer reference Steve Jobs in the present.) I like being able to tame part of the world wide web into my own personal learning network because without a way to control the flow, it can quickly become a beast of technology that is more scary than helpful.