I’m worried about ownership. I’m concerned about ‘intellectual property’. There’s two statements I never thought I’d make on this blog! Why am I thinking about these two topics? It’s a result of a combination of three things that have happened recently:
- The release of WordPress 2.7 that has made my use of the Disqus commenting system on this blog largely redundant. I’m now wondering why I’m using it as the comments aren’t backed up along with my blog posts. What if Disqus goes paid-for or bust? 😮
- TeachMeet09 at BETT was great. But what’s stopping people taking the name and patenting it, thereby trading off all the great (and free) work educators have done?
- Dai Barnes registered edtechroundup.co.uk last week to test out Jumpbox. Whilst that’s great and was fine, what was to stop someone else registering that name and spamming it?
So I suppose what I’m concerned about isn’t ‘ownership’ or ‘intellectual property’ at all, it’s safeguarding. To my mind, that’s something that’s got to be sorted out before we move from what has been called Web 2.0:
The second generation of the World Wide Web, especially the movement away from static webpages to dynamic and shareable content.
…to what, for the time being is known as Web 3.0 or the ‘semantic web’:
Web 3.0… refers to a supposed third generation of Internet-based services that collectively comprise what might be called ‘the intelligent Web’—such as those using semantic web, microformats, natural language search, data mining, machine learning, recommendation agents, and artificial intelligence technologies—which emphasize machine-facilitated understanding of information in order to provide a more productive and intuitive user experience.
For ‘intelligent agents’ and semantic web searches to be possible, there has to be an understanding of the relationship between spaces and identities on the Internet. There is an element of this with the FOAF (‘Friend Of A Friend’) protocol included in web applications and software such as WordPress, which powers this blog.
It’s going to be difficult to weigh-up and balance on the one hand, making sure that brands, identities and ideas aren’t hijacked, whilst on the other, giving individuals and groups freedom of expression. But without some change in safeguarding, I can’t see the change happening anytime soon.
Who’s going to be the guarddog that provides guarantees? Or can it be distributed?
In the beginning was ‘The Conversation’, ‘The New Story’, or how new technologies had the potential to change the educational landscape. What could we do with these new technologies. Did it mean the end of schools? This was from around 2003/4 up until 2006.
From around 2006 until 2008, conversations centred around applying these new technologies in the educational landscapes. What are the barriers to implementation? What’s the best tool for this particular learning outcome? I’ve just spotted this new Web 2.0 tool – has anyone used it in their classroom yet? Things got a lot quicker from 2007 onwards by many educators beginning to use Twitter.
At the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 a new conversation is starting. Perhaps as a consequence of what has been termed the ‘Credit Crunch‘, there’s a renewed focus on the signal/noise ratio. What’s important in education? What do we need to see in practice for things to change? Is literacy in the 21st century different?
I just hope this conversation doesn’t end before I finish my Ed.D. thesis! 😮
I’ve spent this afternoon and early evening at a ‘tweetmeet’. These are also known as ‘tweetups’ and are when people who have previously only met, or usually communicate, through the microblogging service Twitter meet up face-to-face. I’d actually met all of the people from the small tweetmeet we had today in Nottingham.* :-p
Such ‘unorganized’ meetings of people – TeachMeet is a similar, slightly more structured example – are the subject of this blog post. What prompted my thinking about organization was part of the discussion we had, foolowed up by listening to a Radio 4 podcast on the way home called Thinking Allowed. I suggest that you listen to it right now!
The whole point of organizations is to achieve something. These may be set in stone and known by all participants in the organizations, or there may be many (and possibly conflicting) objectives framed by participants. All organizations, therefore, have different degrees of productivity, both globally (as an organization) and, depending on their size, on a more micro-scale.
I say this because we discussed at the tweetmeet – which was itself a kind of exemplar – the concept of an ‘unconference’. This is defined by Wikipedia (as I write, anyway…) as ‘a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose.’ Our purpose, I suppose, was to discuss things face-to-face that we’d previously discussed online, and to get to know each other a little better. Then, on the way home, listening the Thinking Allowed podcast (above) it got me thinking more generally about organizational structures.
Michael Thompson, author of Organising and Disorganising, talked about going on a expedition to climb the South face of Mount Everest. He explained how there were two separate groups – ‘Team A’ and ‘Team B’ – with the leader and middle managers (as it were) in the former group and the rest in the latter. He explained how this rigid hierarchical structure led to those in Team B, despite being experienced and highly-motivated mountaineers, adopting a chaotic, somewhat anti-organizational structure.
The important thing, however, was that order in fact came out of this structure; order that depended on those involved. This is the thing that is missing in organizational planning these days: the role of individuality. Because, actually, someone who fulfils a role in an organization cannot simply be swapped-out for another person. The whole organizational structure depends on the talents, personality and individual attributes of that person. Change one part of the organization and the whole thing shifts. It may be a small amount in some cases – imperceptible to some – but a rearrangement and alteration does take place.
This helps to explain why organizations seemingly consisting of brilliant minds that should be amazingly productive and innovative fail to be so. An effective organizational structure is one that removes barriers and enables individuals within an organization to reach his or her potential. This, of course, cannot be at the expense of another, otherwise it is a futile exercise. One such way of going about organization, therefore, is to unorganize things, to mix things up a little.
So I’d encourage you, as Tom did me today, to once you’ve attended an unconference, to think about organizing (or un-organizing…) one of your own. You can’t really state in advance the specific things you’re likely to learn, but that’s part of the fun! I’ll leave you with a couple of things. The first is a Twitter message from @hrheingold which sums up in a far more eloquent way than I could ever manage the benefits of letting a little (controlled) chaos into organization:
The second is a link I came across, shared by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher), whilst writing this post. It’s called 8 Tips on How to Run Your Own UnConference. I hope that and this post change your thinking a bit and encourage you to think a little differently about organization, or the lack of it, and how it could impact the productivity of any organization of which you are part! 😀
* I knew Lisa Stevens originally from last year’s TeachMeet at BETT, Jose Picardo from an Open Source Schools event, and Tom Barrett from some work we did for a Becta-funded project into Web 2.0 in the classroom at Nottingham University a few months back. The reason it says #tweetmeet in the title is because on Twitter you can add tags by prefacing words with hash symbols. These then can be tracked by websites such as Twemes.com. You can see this in action on the front page of the tweetmeet.eu website!
Image credits: iPhone Matrix App -MoPhaic & Podcamp West, both from Flickr