One of the best parts of the day after elections for me, is getting a break from political ads with the infernal "I approved this message" taglines. While the phrase complies with the "stand by your ad" provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act enacted in 2002, the tiresome insertion succeeds mainly in making candidates look foolish. Even attempts to personalize the phrase with extra words such as "I approved this message because it's time for a change" don't make it less hackneyed. And the negative ads continue.
But the diet of passive one-way messages is quickly losing ground to the interactive online communications power of what are called "Web 2.0" technologies, including wikis, podcasts and blogs. Users can now get whatever information they want, anytime, anywhere-even on hand-held devices-and publish their own content for the world to share. Web 2.0 revolutionizes school participation in the political process by giving users direct access to candidates and their ideas and letting staff and students join the conversations. Young people are flocking to the Web by the millions challenging traditional concepts of teaching and learning.
Web 2.0 also changes the interactions among electronic and print media. For example, discussions on our Web site and The Pulse-the recently launched blog where you can read up-to-the-minute expert opinion and comment on topics that affect schools-prompted us to invite David Thornburg to write an opinion column on "Free and Open Source Software" in this issue. Similarly, heated online exchanges about homework inspired an interview with Alfie Kohn that will run in the December issue along with excerpts from his new book The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. Content in the magazine also leads to the Web, since it is now possible to add comments to any article in the online version of District Administration, which represents a huge step in integrating print and electronic media to benefit readers.
You should bring your own voice to these informative and provocative online exchanges. For example, when one reader faulted The Pulse contributors for not interacting enough with each other, he was invited to become a contributor himself (by the way, as I write this letter in Connecticut, The Pulse Blog Editor Gary Stager is actually blogging from a rainforest in Australia-anytime, anywhere indeed!). Another reader responded to an article by introducing a related subject of video mail as "a path for parents to have more of a voice on behalf of their children's education and their schools," and an outreach director of the Public Education Network critiqued my magazine column on online fundraising for not sharing concerns on online privacy and equity. We love this interaction!
Specialized Web 2.0 tools also make it possible to know what other users feel are the most valuable resources. For example, Technorati.com lets you search specifically through blogs, Furl.net allows people to capture articles they want to remember in personal lists, and Digg.com lets you "vote" for articles that are particularly strong (note the convenient "Digg This Story" buttons next to The Pulse articles). So read this issue with new eyes, and when a column, article or posting inspires or irritates you, put those comments online!
It is a pleasure to announce changes at District Administration that reflect our developing staff and expanded responsibilities: Laura Dianis is now executive editor, Carolyn Johnson is the new marketing and events manager, Gary Stager is senior editor, and I accepted the position as editor-in-chief. Our e-mail addresses are on the Web site and in the magazine, so please keep in touch. And yes, I approved this message!
Odvard Egil Dyrli