Ok, time for my annual supporting what I use post. For those of you who have followed my blog for the past few years, you’ll know this is an annual event around the holiday season where I encourage you to financially support the free and open tools & services you use to help keep them free & open.
This whole annual supporting what I use series of posts goes back to a blog post that George Siemens wrote in 2012 where he singled out the important work that Audrey Watters brings to the EdTech community; work that, unlike many of us, is not underwritten or supported by an institution or company. Audrey is an independent agent, making a living off her writing, speaking and related events. This year, I’ve gone back to supporting Audrey with an ongoing monthly contribution that can hopefully help her concentrate on publishing important pieces, like her annual top EdTech Trends of the Year posts (essential EdTech reading). I encourage you to do the same.
In addition to supporting Audrey’s independent work, I am renewing my commitment to Open Media for their work in advocating for internet rights and freedoms in Canada. And, as this past year has shown us so clearly, more work needs to be done in the area of critical digital and media literacy, which is why MediaSmarts is also getting a donation from me.
Which brings me to my last choice, which is a bit different this year in that it is a business.
I’ve subscribed to a daily newspaper.
I have done this for a couple of reasons. First, in reaction to the recent election in the US (built on the back of Brexit in the UK) and the war on truth we are facing. Propaganda and misinforamtion have always been a staples in politics, but these recent results have shown that now, more than ever, I need to step up and support organizations committed to fair and accurate journalism, and (for me) that means a daily newspaper.
And I am getting a physical copy delivered to my home. This is part of the second (and perhaps less obvious) reason I am subscribing to a daily paper. For my kids. I want to have newspapers in the house that they can pick up and read.
As my kids get older, I am finding I have increasingly less control over their digital environments, and have to rely on the critical media and digital literacy skills they are developing to make good decisions about the media they consume. In a digital household where our media choices are often highly individual based on the devices we each have in front of us, there is little chance for serendipitous happenstance for my kids to discover information outside of their mediated filter bubble. It is something I worry about with digital books, too. As much as I love reading books electronically, there is something about not having my collection public on the bookshelf within my own home that reduces the random discoverability of topics and subjects to the other people in my house. Sure, there are plenty of ways for me to make my digital collections known, but my kids aren’t really cruising past my Goodreads account on a daily basis on the way to the breakfast table like they do our family bookshelf.
When I was a kid living in northern Alberta, the daily Edmonton Journal subscription was a critical part of my media diet for the simple fact that it was just left lying around in the house. Same goes for the books on my family bookshelf. I often read things that were outside of my normal areas of interest simply because I had proximity to books that I would not have picked myself. So, I want to have a general daily newspaper lying around the house that they can just pick up and read to both widen their horizons, and to help understand what good journalism looks like.
If you are interested in seeing what I have supported in the past (to perhaps give you some ideas of your own), you can read my previous posts here, here and here.
Image: Newspapers by Alan Foster CC-BY-NC-ND