I'm but a bit character in this story. That I played any part in it at all is a true honor. I hope the story is as meaningful for you as it is for me.
A little over a month ago, we all heard that EtherPad was shutting down. As is typical for me, I overreacted and got all worked up that I was being stripped of such an excellent free resource. The irony of that reaction is not lost on me, and will certainly be a topic for a future post. We've come to expect so much for free, and I'm not sure that's good for any of us. I'll leave that for the future.
In my state of disbelief that EtherPad had so suddenly shuttered its service, I went over to their blog to read their account of what had happened. I did not expect to find what I did.
Amongst the explanation of Google purchasing AppJet, the parent company of EtherPad, I somehow managed to stumble upon the name Aaron Iba, the cofounder of AppJet. As often happens when we wander the internet, I serendipitously stumbled somewhere I hadn't meant to. I found myself on Aaron's website. I wasn't sure if this was the EtherPad Aaron, so I hit the "About Me" link. And I was floored.
I wrote about what I found here. It remains, in my estimation, the most significant post I've yet to write.
Again, the serendipity of the internet worked its way into this story. I still find myself amazed daily at the connections we make because of the bits that we share with one another over connections that span the globe.
Lisa Nielsen saw the tweet I sent out about my blog post, and clicked on it hoping to find some ideas for her own About Me page. She too found more than she had expected. She tells her story here.
She was so intrigued by Aaron's story, that she tried to contact him to find out more. And once again, the modern miracle that is the internet obliged. She wanted to know more about why a person would post their psychological evaluation from primary school as an About Me page. Aaron provided the explanation.
If you haven't clicked any of the links yet in this post, there is not an option on this one. You simply must read Aaron's explanation in his words about his experience in school.
Many times we're asked what technology can do for education. We're told to justify the cost in a time when everything is being cut. We're told the technology is nice, but the basics are what is really important.
To anyone who has ever said such, I encourage you to look at the students in the world like Aaron Iba. There are many. And we lose too many of them. They are stolen from us by a system that leaves no room for their originality. As I said in my original post, I think it's time we start stealing them back.