...if NYC Educator hadn’t posted about it who would have even known Edwize was gone?"... EIA, Not With a Bang, Or Even a Whimper
A top-down union, uncomfortable with anything but command-and-control, will likely never succeed in cyberspace...." .... Journal of Labor Research on the union’s experiments in cyberspace, cited by EIA InterceptsNYC Educator reported on the late, unlamented and unnoticed death of the UFT's blog, Edwize (RIP Edwize).
Mike Antonucci connects some more dots at EIA and opens with a real knee slapper:
Remember Edwize? It was a blog started by the United Federation of Teachers in 2005 as an effort to engage the then-burgeoning education reform blogosphere on equal terms.We have to stop for a minute and clutch our sides as we laugh our heads off. Mike continues:
One of the first posts informed us “that teacher unions are democratic institutions, and that we consider dissent a necessary component of democratic conversation.”
Actual dissenters didn’t find this to be the case and thanks to one of them – NYC Educator – we learned that sometime in the last few months Edwize was shut down.
Of course various forms of social media have largely supplanted blogs as interactive methods of communication, but if NYC Educator hadn’t posted about it who would have even known Edwize was gone?
Teacher unions’ use of the Internet has much improved over the years (remember OWL.org?) AFT president Randi Weingarten has been tweeting 1,000 times a month for five years and has 53,000 followers. But they still fail to fully embrace two-way communication with their own members – a problem that predates blogs, Twitter and Facebook.Well, you can read about this on the blogs every day - and as there is a UFT Delegate Assembly on Wednesday I'm looking forward to more of this:
Mike hits on some interesting aspects of top-down unionism and how it is threatened by bottom up that touch home:
Back in 2002, three NEA staffers wrote an article for the Journal of Labor Research on the union’s experiments in cyberspace. They concluded, “With modern cyber software, in short, content creation can be decentralized and democratized. Members can be empowered. But first, of course, members need to be trusted. A top-down union, comfortable with command-and-control internal information-sharing processes, might be unnerved by this prospect. A top-down union, uncomfortable with anything but command-and-control, will likely never succeed in cyberspace.”And so it has come to pass as they predicted.
At the time, I felt this was an encouraging view, but didn’t go far enough.WOW! Mike gets the essence of bottom up unionism in ways that even some of our allies don't. He ends with this point linking to the social justice union movements.
Sigh. All NEA can think about is how cyberspace will help it get members to do something. Completely unexamined (perhaps even unimagined) is what if cyberspace helps members to get NEA to do something? What if members share internal information not previously filtered through the communications staff? What if they decide to support or reject legislation not included in the union’s legislative program? What if they become unhappy meeting once a year in a group of 9,000 and would prefer a different arrangement? A membership truly engaged in NEA’s workings might make it a stronger union, but it would be a fundamentally different union from the one that exists now, and in ways utterly unpredictable to those who hope to harness that power.
Even 13 years later we haven’t reached that point, but we’re closer to it than we have ever been.Note Mike's links to many of our pals. He is the only ed reporter to actually notice things brewing underneath. And that's something coming from a guy funded by anti-union forces. I can't imagine what he will write if that vision of the NEA ever came to pass in the UFT/NYSUT/AFT, but boy would I love live to see it.