The Goods

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What's the value?

800px-Size of English Wikipedia in August 2007.svg.png

Using volumes 25cm high and 5cm thick (some 400 pages), each page having two columns, each columns having 80 rows, and each row having 50 characters, ≈ 6MB per volume. As English Wikipedia has around 7.5GB of text (August 2007, length of wikitext counted by myself) ≈ 1250 volumes. Note that this is a conservative estimate, as it doesn't include images, tables etc. which take up more surface than the text which describes them.

Wikipedia vs. britannica 2004.png

Adventures in Wikipedia (Tom Reeves discussed notion of "Authentic Task Design.")

Costs and Open Systems


Security is expensive, required models require intense standards. It is extraordinarily difficult to migrate or interoperate between learning management systems, even the non-proprietary ones.

Open source platforms such as weblogs and wikis make reuse much simpler, and allow for dynamic reuse between systems. [MediaWiki to WordPress].

A core attribute of the new information abundance (or "information exuberance") is the ability find what is needed, unknown, wanted, unanticipated... And then to link to it with some precision.

Free text searching in Google and other popular search engines on an under-recognized digital literacy skill most users have developed. Once we struggled to achieve federated search, linking online collections. Now, if the site is public and indexed, it is easy to create a custom search engine. You can place this search interface anywhere you want.

Costs of the existing model

  • It's been understood for some time there is a crisis in scholarly publishing (some stats).

"When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.

"When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable."

-- Kevin Kelly, Better than Free

"Embracing the social means embracing the abundant - and emphasizing instead the way an organization might actually help people on the periphery generate value for themselves."

-- Douglas Rushkoff, Real social

"If you blow your works into the net like a dandelion clock on the breeze, the net itself will take care of the copying costs."

-- Cory Doctorow, Think Like a Dandelion

New Learners? New Teachers?

As Thomas C. Reeves mentioned this morning, technical skills are often not matched by critical reflection on issues such as privacy, or corporate ethics.

A couple projects in which we try to promote informed student voices articulating these and other issues...

New literacies required of instructors as well.

The power of my network means I don't have to know everything. It's all just a cry for help away. Sociability begets a knowledge network.

  • Marshall McLuhan saw the educational system at the epicentre of the transformation he was heralding. He thought electronic means of teaching were inherently participatory because they offered inadequate information, and the social reach is global in scope.
  • Neil Postman, Technopoly: "For four hundred years, school teachers have been part of the knowledge monopoly created by printing, and they are now witnessing the breakup of that monopoly. It appears as if they can do little to prevent that breakup, but surely there is Something perverse about school teachers' being enthusiastic about what is happening. Such enthusiasm always calls to my mind an image of some turn-of-the-century blacksmith who not only sings the praises of the automobile but also believes that his business will be enhanced by it. We know now that his business was not enhanced by it; it was rendered obsolete by it, as perhaps the clearheaded blacksmiths knew. What could they have done? Weep, if nothing else..."