How come Educational?

The following text is numbered and set out in visible tables. Readability will be better at full (14") screen width and depth, and about 14pt display.
1. What is an 'Educational' website? This reminds me of a little paperback by Chanan and Gilchrist called 'What School is For', of A. S. Neill and the 70's radicals Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire.

No doubt ('waggishly') some websites ARE 'an education'. Perhaps Sellafield and BNFL produce 'educational' websites? Then there's The BBC.

Political and Business websites may strive to 'educate' their public. Are all websites produced by schools, colleges and universities 'educational websites'? And is this still true even if they are anything but educational, just a sales-pitch or showcases for student work?

2. As a piece of writing may be 'informational' (even informative!), 'instructional' (is this 'educational'?), 'entertaining' or 'persuasive', fictional and a great many other things, so might a web-page or website be any or all of these things.

Although (non-linear) 'hypertext' is the key feature of the web, and other aspects of the technology including 'multi-media' are important, a website, just like any other medium of communication and expression, should be considered in terms of its purpose, intended audience, authorial intent and authority, and its provenance. (ie., in English, "who wrote it, who for, when, where and why?").

3. Terms such as 'accuracy', 'realism', 'effectiveness', 'genre', 'style' and 'content' can also be applied to the web as they may be to writing, speech, film, TV, radio and theatre.

The present tendency to 'hype' the web and the internet as an entertainment, advertising/ marketing and broadcast, 'multicast' or 'nichecast' channel or medium entirely misses the point. Who cares if the Net is just another 200 or 20,000 'TV' channels or a more efficient method of delivering junk mail?

More of the 'same' (News International, or Virgin Music Group - one of the 'best' examples of how to abuse the internet and patronise your audience, even the BBC) is not the future of the Net.

4. Our global media and businesses see it largely in terms of the present, perhaps as 500 years ago the printing press was seen as just a cheap way of producing 'manuscripts'. The future will be as different because of the communication possibilities of the internet as our present has been because of the printing press and all the other technological, political, economic and 'educational' processes it made possible.

Whether your website is educational, commercial, personal, political, technical, social or academic, you should not lose sight of your purposes and intended audiences, however 'mixed' these may be. The potential is as varied as that of the printing press, TV, video, CD, radio and telephone combined and like the press, primarily a communication rather than just an entertainment medium.

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