Wikipedia defines the media echochamber effect as “any situation in which information, ideas or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission inside an “enclosed” space.” Discussions in online media are prone to fall into this chamber where, for example, a twitter user will share ideas only to have them echoed back to her from like-minded people which results in that idea being reinforced in her mind rather than being challenged and changed.
So how do we escape from educational professionals talking only to each other about the purpose of education and reach out to EVERYONE?
Here’s an example from the world of UK Libraries. Back in July 2010 Ned Potter @therealwikiman and Laura Woods @woodsiegirl identified the “echochamber” of how the media talk inaccurately about libraries, only librarians notice and only librarians explain what’s wrong to …you’ve guessed it .. other librarians. They produced a brilliant Prezi (updated Jan 2011) called Escaping the Echochamber and spoke to a group of newly qualified librarians about what to do to change this situation. There was a sense of urgency as so many public libraries were under threat of closure and these professionals knew they needed to do something radically different to meet the challenge.
It can be no co-incidence that many of the people at this event, or sharing it through Twitter, were the instigators of the Voices for the Library campaign to which BBC Radio 4, Newsnight, The Guardian and other traditional media outlets turn when discussing the current local government library cuts in the UK.
To escape the echo chamber and get their message out to the wider community they decided they needed to:
avoid mixed messages
engage in stealth advocacy
deal with criticism
build a brand
orientate/ align themselves
If we follow these librarians’ example then perhaps we can achieve the level of positivity around the #purposed debate that they have achieved. Just yesterday I saw a great success reverberating out to the wider community through an article in the Observer entitled The Secret Life of Libraries
I have to say that as a School Librarian involving myself in wider educational campaigns like #purposed is, I hope, my way of successfully escaping the echochamber