Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Society for Useful Information Opens Doors

... For the business of knowing

... For the pleasure of learning

... For the purpose of taking offline action from what we learn online

The Society for Useful Information opens its doors (and perhaps yours) this Thursday evening from 7 to 9 pm at the Montague Bookmill in the home of the newly formed Sawmill River Arts -- a partnership of Pioneer Valley painters and crafters.

The program each weekly meeting will form around the project and information-seeking requirements of the participants. Each research project presented will act as a use case for Internet research tools and methods. Like the scenarios we draw from no two classes will be the same. However the frameworks and models that underpin them form a solid foundation for launching new investigations and plugging long festering gaps.

What kind of gap exactly?

The one formed between the black hole of an information surplus and the golden opportunity for using it to close our knowledge deficits. That's why skillful researchers and independent thinkers go hand-in-hand. A healthy dose of curiosity, skepticism, and diligence channels the necessary focus to source information, determine the motives of its providers, and best apply it to our own evidence-gathering and decision-making.

I've done this for many years in corporate, regulatory, and academic worlds and am now coming full circle to my adopted community of Western Massachusetts -- a region that attracts D-I-Y community-building and community-based problem-solving. "The Valley" is the nickname bestowed by its citizenry and the valley is a magnet for marketers, business owners, advocates, and educators who share this strong independent streak.

Several years back I asked my celebrated food historian and agribusiness cousin his take on the seminal nature of his works; mainly which tender nerve stems he had struck both in America's heartland (and head). He said that the American human mouth was basically the last respite of autonomy from the manipulations that line our cultural landscapes. Deciding what we eat has in effect become the ultimate expression of our personal will and individual expression.

I would like to think that this contest of will can be extended up from the mouth to our ears and eyes. We can't determine what we're witness to. That's not what I'm arguing. But that through attentive sourcing and analysis we can determine what filters out of our brains in the priorities we set and the actions we take. In Pioneer Valley we insist on the ultimate demonstration of growing local – thinking for ourselves

The bookmill affords all the missing ingredients from past workshops I've led: beautiful surroundings, eye contact, and strong WIFI -- without the distractive constraints that belie our smart phone fetishes. To those of you within drivable range I look forward to the Thursday evening research communion in our future.

1 comment:

Eileen Weston Latshang said...

So glad I made it to the last class, and I look forward to any future ones. Thank you, Eileen Weston Latshang

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