Never mind the day job, what’s your project? What dent are you trying to make in the universe? How are you making the world a better place?
Here’s Vinay Gupta’s about page with one of the clearest meta-level lifelong goals I’ve seen:
I am trying to keep you alive.
There are lots of threats which governments are either ignoring or causing. I am filling in the gaps.
I’m currently reading his blog post archive. It’s such a rich seam that I’m only a couple of years through. I really like the way Vinay rabbitholes on something but then zooms back out to see the bigger picture.
Deep reexamination of my field of projects, figuring out what stays and what goes, what prospers and what should be killed.
I’m feeling very close to the end of this round of work on household infrastructure and called back towards the state level infrastructure stuff.
I like the idea of seeing oneself as a (networked) one man think tank. However I tend to over-rotate on a single piece of a larger jigsaw puzzle, missing how all the parts fit together. Perhaps I need to sort out my information aesthetics:
I’ve been doing a broad “read the highlights” strategy now for about 10 years, with occasional binges of hundreds-of-pages-a-day web scraping. In theory this social software stuff ought to make that process less time consuming. Instead, what happens is that it becomes more rewarding, producing greater connectedness with the high-level good-stuff in other fields, because of the prefiltering and information percolation functions, resulting in greater and greater rewards for maintaining a hyper-extended awareness of the network feeds.
And the task can’t be effectively farmed, because no two people have identical information aesthetics. Nobody knows that I have a puzzle that requires… XYZ to fit the pieces together – and if I could express XYZ, I’d already have XYZ, and there would be no issue.
At some level, there’s no substitute for reading the stream yourself, and that gets to be overloading. A task that plausibly can’t be collectivized, and probably can’t be mechanized without implying a Strong-AI system.
That, to me, implies that this kind of feed-monitoring, world-modelling function will become a profession. It probably won’t be called Blogger, but I think it’s clear that far-sighted organizations would have people in the Crow’s Nest, looking all over the world, looking at the future, modeling.
I’d need to get in that Crow’s Nest more often. Thankfully, Vinay’s got some thoughts on how to do that:
If you want to change the world, get serious, get educated, and get to work. Pick a problem, whether it’s water quality or organic agriculture, and get good and educated. A lot you can get online – start with TED talks for an overview, then progress to UN reports and similar documents. It might take a year or two to master the language and get a sense of what’s going on in the field because, well, it’s a hobby – you’re doing this in the time you might be fishing.
I’m really interested in the work being done around learning pathways at the moment, especially by the team being led by my colleague Chloe Varelidi. I think I’m going to start paying more attention to that. It might not change the world on the level that Vinay’s aiming at, but if it improves the way people learn it’s got to be a good thing. 🙂
Next week I was going to be in Berlin to run an Open Badges workshop with Tim Riches, but now I’m just going to be in London on Sunday night/Monday for ePIC conference (where I’ll be running three workshops). I also need to get planned a Maker Party event at the Centre for Life that I’ve booked for August 17th.
Update: I don’t think I make it clear enough in this post that this is an example of Mozilla ‘eating it’s own dogfood’. We’re using a Mozilla-developed technology (Open Badges) for a particular purpose (to badge Webmaker skills). Hope that makes sense!
I work for the Mozilla Foundation as part of the Learning team. More specifically, I’m part of the recently-created Open Badges subset of that team. In practice, however, there’s enough cross-pollination to make the boundaries between sub-teams very hard to see.
Mozilla wants to create a generation of webmakers. As it states at webmaker.org:
The goal:help millions of people move from using the web to making the web. As part of Mozilla’s non-profit mission, we want to help the world increase their understanding of the web, take greater control of their online lives, and create a more web literate planet.
That web literacies piece is at least half of my time as Badges & Skills Lead. But what does that mean in practice?
It means a lot of Skype calls . That’s for sure. Oh, and more Etherpads than you can stick a shake at. 😉
Mozilla Webmaker Badges
The Open Badges ecosystem is a new way of signalling and credentialing achievements on the web. You can see me attempt to explain it quickly and concisely in this video.
What we’re trying to do as a Learning team is to identify Web Literacies, Competencies and Skills that can be badged. We’re organising these into ‘constellations’ as my colleague Chloe Varelidi so eloquently puts it – learning pathways that allow learners to follow their interests.
(click on image to enlarge)
Chloe’s post has more gorgeous visuals than mine, but the mindmap I above (made using XMind) gives a widescreen view of what we’re trying to do:
Granular skills badges are awarded for micro-achievements whilst using, for example, Mozilla Thimble (e.g. adding three <p> tags)
The granular skills badges count towards accumulative Web Skills badges (e.g. HTML Basics)
These Web Skills badges collectively count toward Web Competencies badges
In turn, these (after peer assessment) lead to the awarding of one of five different Web Literacies badges
We’re going to be iterating this in the open, because that’s how Mozilla rolls. So we’ll have some Web Skills badges ready for the Mozilla Festival 2012 (London), with Web Competencies badges in place for the DML Conference 2013 (Chicago).
At the same time as all of this, Jess Klein has been working on the user experience (UX). She’s got a great idea for what she calls Webmaker+ (inspired by Nike+) which would provide a dashboard for learners within their Open Badges backpack. She’s working on the first sketches (including the one below) which you should definitely go and take a look at:
The dashboard would suggest badges to learners as well as show them various analytics and data about what they’ve achieved so far. The inspiration here is (to my mind) Khan Academy’s knowledge map and Duolingo’s learning pathways.