Wouldn’t it be better if we just could meet face-to-face at places like Olney or Circle Pines?

One of the reasons for my interest in critical thinking is that I think it’s a useful skill to have if one wants to communicate productively with those who do not share your background – i.e. with those who are outside of your information bubble. We all live in information bubbles to one extent or another. I know I certainly do.

One way to promote productive communication is to give people the opportunity to communicate face-to-face in comfortable, pleasant surroundings. Further, it’s very good to give them an opportunity to work together on projects that will benefit all of those involved. Another good idea is to give them a chance to enjoy one another’s company with recreational activities – e.g. folk dancing – that help build the bonds of community.

Places like my old summer camp Circle Pines Center and Olney, the Friends Boarding School I attended, are good examples of institutions that excel at promoting these productive forms of communication. My guess is that it’s highly probably that the Kazoo School does as well, but here I cannot speak from personal experience.

One limitation of institutions such as Circle Pines, Olney, and the Kazoo School, however, it that it’s very hard to scale up the wonderful experiences they offer to people who can afford to spend time at places like this. Hence my interest in remote education, computer supported collaborative work/education, etc. My hope is that we will find ways to build shared understanding through these virtual environments as well. In my opinion, the advance of writing down through the ages (since 3,100 BCE in the West) and the invention of printing press (in 1,440 AD in the West) have both been, on balance, very advantageous to humanity. My guess is that we will eventually see that the same has been true of networked computers when we look back a few hundred years hence. But, that’s just a conjecture.

For now, I’ll just leave you with a blog post on a parable that helps explain why we need to reach out beyond our own information bubble. I like the moral of this story, but in the discussion section that follows you’ll see this is not true for everyone. My debate there is with someone who self-identifies as both a Christian and a Libertarian. We did not end up seeing eye-to-eye, but, nevertheless, I’m hoping that online discussions like this help people see beyond their own information bubble.


Beshears, Fred

World Views as Blind Men Trying to Understand An Elephant

Circle Pines Center

Kazoo School

Olney Friends School

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