Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pokemon and source criticism

It's maybe a sign of the times that in a summer of conflict, terrorist attacks and political turmoil, millions of people are running around searching for virtual cartoon characters. I admit I find it hard to relate to Pokemon Go, just as the first wave of Pokemon in the mid-nineties escaped me, but one positive result of the trend is that it will be much easier to talk about augmented reality from now on. AR is already being used in education, simulation, tourism and gaming but Pokemon will push it into the mainstream and I expect to see a boom in the field in the coming year.

However maybe we can see Pokemon Go as more than just a fun game but a useful metaphor for the times we live in. We no longer see the world as it is (maybe we never did) but our view of reality is augmented or filtered through different lenses; media channels, politicians, populists, advertising etc. Every day we are met by competing and often wildly differing narratives where demons, trolls, half-truths and fantasy appear before us. It's all too easy to mix reality with these superimposed virtual figures. We need to raise our awareness that the information we get is augmented by the channel that conveys it. Educators need to focus more than ever on source criticism and the ability to assess the credibility of information. Indeed in my view this is the most important skill in all levels of education today. We need to be able to distinguish between the real world and the Pokemon figures that appear to inhabit it.


  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I have never played Pokemon Go, although I have downloaded the app onto my phone out of curiosity. I find myself wanting to go back to a time where all of us weren't so interconnected and comfortable with breaching others' personal space without any qualms. Online media hides the faces of authors who create these augmented realities, which makes it that much easier to mindlessly trust anyone. With all of this information, I also believe that identifying credibility is an important skill, but this should be in addition to being able to condense information tidily. Attempting to learn online is often too overwhelming, especially for me, when there are many opinions and too much to digest.

  2. Thanks for your comments. The important skills today are source criticism and the ability to filter information. These help you to swim in today's media torrent.