Highlights from the 2015 AAP General Annual Meeting

In an occasional series, PreK-12 Learning Group staff will offer their observations from industry events. Stacey Pusey, Editorial Director, shares key themes from the 2015 AAP General Annual Meeting.

The digital revolution has brought myriad ways for individuals to share their opinions whether through traditional website comment areas or on social media. It’s also given businesses and governments terabytes of data about our behavior online. The speakers at the 2015 AAP General Annual Meeting talked about the impact of the Internet on freedom of expression, personal responsibility, and the role of the publisher.

Professor Irshad Manji, New York Times bestselling Author and Founder, The Moral Courage Project

  • People who belong to the same identity communities do not always think alike. Diversity is not always about skin color and religion. Diversity is also about thought and viewpoint. Sometimes for the sake of real diversity you have to offend with diabolically decent acts.
  • If we are smoothing out the roughest edges of legitimate debate, we don’t know what any of us are up against. This is about intellectual honesty and diversity of expression. It’s precisely because offense is everywhere, the question no longer is, where’s line? We each draw it somewhere different, so it will be repeatedly crossed. In an era where the line is visibly transgressed, how do we make differences work for us? How do we turn conflict into constructive conflict
  • Kids have it in them to be critical thinkers. As educators we need to create a space to let them say what’s in their hearts without fear of repercussion.

Dr. Cornel West, Professor, Union Theological Seminary; author of Black Prophetic Fire (Beacon Press)

  • Publishers are the caretakers of the idea and the mind. Let the phones be smart; we need wise publishers. The issue of quality is always a difficult one in a market driven society focused on short term gain rather than long term ones.
  • We need to make the case for intellectual diversity and to allow for all views to be heard. I fight for the right to be wrong. I fight for the right of Rush Limbaugh to be wrong. We need to foster intellectual diversity in children.

G. Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management and Hodson Director of the Digital Research and Curation Center at The Sheridan Libraries, John Hopkins University

  • There is now a sense that data is a natural resource that can be mined and used to better society. But it’s not just about collecting data—it’s how you use it. While many typically worry about the three V’s of big data–Velocity, Variety, Volume—that is data-centric focus that just serves to describe the data. But it’s more about the M’s—the Methods used to analyze the data.
  • We need fundamentally new systems and infrastructures (national and global) for long-term solutions to data collection and analysis. In addition, we need human-mediated services on top of machine-based services. Railroad tracks don’t interpret the railroad cars. But there is interpretation in data; it’s a fundamental part of big data. That is where human expertise enters the conversation.

Andrew Keen, entrepreneur and author of “The Internet Is Not The Answer” (Atlantic Monthly Press)

  • Today we are living at a time of equally profound technological and intellectual change. The Internet is more than just pipes or technology: it’s a profound shift in our social, cultural, and economic organizations.
  • We were promised a lot with this Internet revolution. We are going to do away with the gatekeepers. We are going to knock down the walls. We are going to democratize. Has it made things better, creating more democracy, equality, and fairness? Has it made the world a better place? At this moment, it’s not the answer, but it has to become the answer. We can’t go back. We can’t go back to the days when publishers were the filter.
  • We have to figure out where our value is. We need to figure out how to feature the author more without losing the role of the publisher. Social media and big data are not the answer. Most important, we need to look at what’s missing on the Internet: the culture of responsibility.

David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times and author of the forthcoming The Road To Character (Random House)

  • What books do that nothing else does is create a different world. Only a book can introduce you to another culture and way of looking at the world. When you get outside of the flux, you can step aside and look on it.
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