Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens - Mar. 1 08

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Making sense of new technology and media: a weekly digest edited and written by educational technologies expert George Siemens brings to you some of the most interesting pointers, trends, reflections and issues to follow that have emerged during the last seven days.

Photo credit: Sgame

In this weekly digest these the media and technology news that George Siemens has selected:

a) One comprehensive wiki on 50 ways to tell a story could be the solution for teachers who don't have instructional designers.

b) Visualization of data has the potential to greatly improve how we handle information overload.

c) Copyright and other means of protecting intellectual property are being challenged, yet some still want to keep all the rights.

d) Download for your reading pleasure, a PDF on The Future of Reputation.

e) We don't have free will, as one new study suggests.

f) Free may well be the future of business, but that business model is still one concerned with generating revenue.

g) Robots: coming to a service near you.

h) Too much information is bad for innovation.


Sense-Making of Technology and Media: a George Siemens Weekly Digest

by George Siemens

50 Ways to Tell a Story

Photo credit: Daniel Wildman

I've linked to Alan Levine's site 50 web 2.0 ways to tell a story before. I just listened to a presentation that he delivered on ustream (it takes a minute or so until the audio starts).

The first time I came across his wiki, I was focused on the tools themselves. But, listening to Alan's presentation, it dawned on me that this model could be a great approach to curriculum development for faculty (or trainers) who might not have access to instructional designers... but are wanting to incorporate different technologies into their teaching.

Between Friends

Photo credit: Google

An interesting look at various networks, particularly revealing of the strong presence of a small minority in acquiring the majority of links - Between Friends:

"The idea of a social graph--a representation of a person's network of friends, family, and acquaintances--gained currency last year as the popularity of online social networks grew...The push to understand the nature and potential value of links between people online has led to imaginative ways to represent such networks."

The article focuses on social networks and ways they can be visualized. Obviously, those are two separate issues.

How and why social networks form online has not been extensively researched (social networking sites (SNS) is still only about four years into its popularity cycle). Sociologists such as Watts, Castells, and Wellman have extensively researched social networks, but the online component has not been fully considered in light of SNS tools.

The other aspect - visualization - is of far greater value than just exploring how people are connected through links. The visualization of data has the potential to significantly improve how capacity to handle information abundance, gain new insight and meaning, etc.

Plus, I have yet to see a significant focus on how network analysis can be utilized in education (Gruzd and Haythornthwaite offer a consideration (.pdf) of interaction patterns in online communities)

The Strength of Walled Gardens

Photo credit: Shune Pottier

The concept expressed in this post is reflective of a McLuhan-like notion of new tools being first adopted to do the work of the old.

Only after personal experience and time do we realize that some new media/technologies are fundamentally different and continued adoption and use forces systemic ripples of change. The Strength of Walled Gardens:

"What we end up seeing here are instructors who want to use wikis, but want to restrict access to them to their particular class. Most want to restrict write and edit access, some also want to restrict read access.

They want to use wikis behind the garden walls that LMS's have long offered. They want to use wikis on their terms.

To me, this is symptomatic of a growing disconnect of mindsets that we are witnessing as we move into an always accessible, open publishing, information saturated environment.

I don't want to assume this disconnect of mindsets is based on generational lines but I believe that the practice of protecting intellectual property through means such as copyright is a mindset that is being challenged in profound ways."

Future of Reputation


I haven't had time to read this book in its entirety, but from the sections I've skimmed, it's worth taking a look at:

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet. The entire book is available for download.

Free Will?


Rough day. Apparently new research suggests we don't have free will and the resulting deterministic messages have the potential to lead to general moral decay. I'd do something about it. But it wouldn't make a difference.

Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

Photo credit: Wired

Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business:

"Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies -- the shifting of costs from one product to another -- but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast. It's as if the price of steel had dropped so close to zero that King Gillette could give away both razor and blade, and make his money on something else entirely. (Shaving cream?)

You know this freaky land of free as the Web."

I wanted to like this article - it deals with concepts that many of us experience in our daily lives such as the reduced of cost for computing and online participation. But several aspects of the article don't resonate with me.

Software and content are free on the surface. What has happened, however, is not a full scale revolution as Anderson suggests (he is, after all, ramping up for publication of another book, so attendant hype and jargon are to be expected).

Instead, the value point of content has shifted. Google is definitely not a company built on freedom, openness, running through meadows holding hands, etc. Google is very much concerned with selling and revenue.

To compete, however, it has been forced to adopt a different model than what Microsoft was built on. It has managed, however, to adopt the television model - free for users but sponsors/advertisers pay.

Facebook is now in a similar position - they need a revenue stream as there current valuation is based on potential, not reality. When generic content is free, then we pay for other things - such as high quality content or first access (such as movies).

While certain examples of free-simply-because-it's-right exist (wikipedia and emerging discussion of P2P and gift-based economies), it is certainly not the norm. Just because something is free on one end of the value continuum does not mean it is no longer to be found on the continuum at all.


Photo credit: John

Robots, long common in industrial settings, are now approaching a degree of sophistication to perform jobs within the service sector. Is this where e-learning becomes r-learning?

The Downside of a Good Idea

Photo credit: Sylvia Bukovac

The Downside of a Good Idea - a short critique of the challenges of too much openness and sharing (to the point where innovation is negatively impacted as good ideas are overlooked while everyone is busy trying to manage and share).

Beinhocker makes a similar point in emphasizing that "densely connected networks become less adaptable as they grow" (p.152). But the study itself doesn't make much sense to me. Is it comparing connections? Or effective group size for solving certain problems? And what about trust?

I don't just randomly consume and share information. I do so in a context - or more accurately, a network of people I trust or have some familiarity with.

Upcoming Presentations


I've updated my conference presentation page with links to some previous conference recordings, as well as my presentation schedule for 2008. If I'm in your area, and you'd like to meet/chat/or have me present at a conference, let me know - always great to put faces to names I've only encountered online.

I should mention as well, two conference where I'm involved on the Steering Committee are both in "final call for papers" mode... see ALT-C 2008 in Leeds, UK, and ED-MEDIA in Vienna, Austria.

elearnspace in Chinese


Ken Carroll sent me this link to a Chinese translation of elearnspace. Not sure who is doing the translation... but, it's important to note that the ability for extending ideas starts with openness - i.e. Creative Commons license.

This type of translation (re-creation) is discouraged under traditional copyright. Result? A person might own the content, but in a context of limited influence and discourse.

I'm not suggesting that elearnspace will be widely read because it's open, but rather that a model of openness permits the extension of learning and idea sharing in a network manner. OLDaily is also translated... as is Infinite Thinking Machine and Weblogg-ed.


Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on February 29th 2008.


To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace
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posted by Patricia Mayo on Saturday, March 1 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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