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April 22, 2007



Great pointers to the "paper" stuff...makes me think about one of my favorite historians, Robert Darnton, and a piece he wrote for the New York Review of Books all the way back in 1999 called "the New Age of the Book." (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/546)

In this great article, Darnton laments the limits imposed on the publishing of academic mongraphs by the paper-based, university press-controlled world of academic printing. He looks to e-books as a way to salvage monographic publishing from an increasing shrinking channel.

Couldn't agree with you more on the beer vs speech distinction. I have railed repeatedly about the fact that what companies could never win in an open battle, they are quietly taking (with our own assistance!) through "Terms of Service" agreements like Wal-Mart's online musice store where you don't actually "buy" music but merely obtain a sub-license which can be revoked at their discretion. Unholy.

Last point in what I agree is a great chat...I'm still not clear on the "margins" note...I'm fully embroiled in working with clients in helping them define these environments for their employees and how they will have to grapple with issues of control to make full use of the productivity possible with these new toolsets. I guess I'm asking, who is on the margins?

Hi Mark...

Yup... bit of a sloppy comment on my part. Deadlining and couldn't resist getting a few words in :). Here are my opening thoughts about paper http://davecormier.com/edblog/?p=93 founded on work done by my now partner/best friend http://www.egs.edu/mediaphi/main/bonnie-stewart-techknowledge.html

sidelines should say 'margin'.

as to tools... you said "people to use a variety of tools to build their own PLEs" and I read 'online tools' and 'free tools' into that sentence because i wasn't reading closely enough. I too have a sensitivity to the differences, and am becoming more and more concerned about people confusing the difference between 'free' as in beer and 'free' as in speech when they talk about tools. Too much very important Open Source space is being co-opted by large corporations that are offering 'free' services with very long legal declarations that people are not reading.

great chat. thanks for your patience with my bumbling.


Thanks for the comments...replies and questions follow...

-I don't understand the 'sidelines' comment...

-I do agree on the 'let's not tear down one dualith only to erect another' point though...in fact, having worked on an e-learning technical standards project for many years, I almost chipped in with the somewhat counter-intuitive point that standards themselves can freeing...your point about language makes it better than I probably would have...

-I also find interesting and challenging the idea that course-based instruction is a reaction to the weakness of paper as a medium. The archaeologist in me finds that attractive, that the entire course of western education was shaped by the faculties of a physical artifact. The historian in me wants to dig deeper and ask how closely entwined are the development of paper and the move to course-based instruction? Also if an artifact could have such an impact once, could another medium/artifact have a countervailing impact now? Are we living thru the locus of the digital moving past the paper-based as the dominant educational medium of the realm?

-finally, I was looking back thru my post and did I actually mention 'free' tools or just tools? I appreciate the fine point between those two and just wondered about the comment

Thanks for a thought-provoking comment Dave..


And the problem about being on the sidelines, speaking for change is that we need to be very cautious about how we speak in opposition to formative/normative/control mechanisms.

I hear Michele creating a dualith "Conformity is the antithesis of creativity and innovation" juxtaposing conformity/creativity. Without conformity, we have no language. Conformity is necessary to assess goals towards which we want to move in a society. The other end of the spectrum/continuum from conformity is, in my mind, something closer to anarchy. Spreading them out as a yes/no proposition is the fast track towards the kind of polarization that keeps change from happening.

I do however, completely agree that allowing the tools to flex to the user if far better than a normative course based system... which is really built to respond to the weaknesses of paper as a medium for recording and distributing knowledge.

I'll have to read around this blog a little more, but I do wonder if the 'free tools' powered by corporations are the tools that Mark is talking about... Would love to have you come out for an interview to talk about it!



I certainly hope you are not in the minority although I suspect we both are...but I am hopeful that the percentages are changing. I am struck however by yet another Foucault thought cribbed from the SEP.. "The premise of the archaeological method is that systems of thought and knowledge (epistemes or discursive formations, in Foucault's terminology) are governed by rules, beyond those of grammar and logic, that operate beneath the consciousness of individual subjects and define a system of conceptual possibilities that determines the boundaries of thought in a given domain and period."

That thought makes me wonder what will be required to move our industry past its current boundaries and open up our range of "conceptual possibilities."

I'm probably in the minority on this, but I'm of the belief that as knowledge proliferates and its half-life grows shorter, we are chasing our tails if ID and training are about structuring courses. I think that what we do has to shift into helping individual learners and organizations figure out how to learn themselves. To me this means facilitating the use of various tools, accessing knowledge resources and helping people learn to learn.

In a knowledge economy that is supposedly built on individual ability to create and learn, we are making a big mistake if we continue to focus on systems that are designed to get people to conform. Conformity is the antithesis of creativity and innovation. And in the global economy, Americans in particular will only benefit if we figure out how to do the "higher level," non-rules based work. Work that is based on applying rules and conforming is either being automated or sent to other countries where it can be done more cheaply. Our competitive advantage as a country and as individuals lies in our ability to create value through creativity and innovation, which to my mind can only happen if we're supporting individual learners in tapping into their own learning and creativity processes.

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Quoth she/he...

  • "The hallmark of revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the society they live in. As a result, either the revolutionaries are put down, or some of those institutions are transmogrified, replaced, or simply destroyed. We are plainly witnessing a restructuring of the music and newspaper businesses, but their suffering isn’t unique, it’s prophetic." --Clay Shirky

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