Learning with the Fang

a place where I 'think out loud' and share stuff online

Entries Tagged as 'CLOSEDvOPEN'

Wikipedia can go CC:By

December 2, 2007 by mseyfang · 1 Comment · ccdrm, CLOSEDvOPEN, education

This announcement by Jimmy Wales could be HUGE. If the Wikipedia community does indeed license work as Creative Commons, Attribution some very interesting things will happen:

  • We will have a decent sized target to test if good will triumph over evil with regard to openly licensed work.
  • We will have a great role-model for those who want to know how to license work openly.
  • I will feel all warm and fuzzy that my decision to license my work CC:By is on the right track (along with others like Beth, Leigh and many more).

FangMike Seyfang


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eel podcast #30 – Chris from HayStack

August 1, 2007 by mseyfang · No Comments · CLOSEDvOPEN

In the light of all the recent Kerfuffle about FaceBook’s walled garden appearance at the moment, our recent chat with Chris Carfi from Haystack is very enlightening. Hear me discover the ‘pulse’ RSS feed for each haystack and mutter something like ‘that’s what facebook should have done from the get – go’.

Like Dave Says:

Christopher Carfi works for Cerado in California, who run the Haystack social networking service and writes The Social Customer Manifesto blog.

In this show, Mike and I talk to Chris about what is a socialcustomer, what is a haystack and lotsa other goodness like how canwomen with long fingernails use the iPhone’s touch screen!

Yet another show from my latest concept of speaking to people I readin my blogroll and trying to deepen the conversation and connection.

Grab the show here.

Blob » Extraordinary Everyday Lives Podcast #30 up.

Fang – Mike Seyfang

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CLOSEDvOPEN: FaceBook – Walled Garden or what?

July 30, 2007 by mseyfang · 4 Comments · CLOSEDvOPEN

My last few blog posts have hinted at this pattern forming in my brain around the need for a switch of defaults from CLOSED to OPEN in a range of things related to the Web. My frustrating experiences with my wifi enabled mobile phone have been a catalyst for a whole range of related thoughts. Over the next few months I want to share some of these thoughts out loud in this blog, and will try to remember to include the CLOSEDvOPEN tag in the title. With a bit of luck, someone more eloquent than me will see the patterns, describe them better and push this important conversation forward.

Laurel Papworth has already started doing this with relation to my grumblings about FaceBook feeling like a walled garden to me – first HERE and now HERE. It all started with my posting a QUESTION in FaceBook – is FaceBook a Walled Garden? (Which you can answer via my profile).

FaceBook feels very ‘Walled In’ to me because I find myself having to go to FaceBook.com just to find out what’s new. It is the only part of my Web2.0 universe that I cannot manage effectively in my beloved RSS Aggregator. Here are a couple of example thoughts:

  • Why is there no orange RSS button for every single item in FaceBook that generates a list. (Especially the ‘MiniFeed’ – hello – a feed without a feed!!) Furthermore, it would be cool if every facebook app automatically inherited this behavior from the underlying platform. Better still, some facebook UI to help manage, mash and remix a growing multitudes of (full not partial) RSS feeds of information flowing out.
  • What’s with those teasing e/mail notifications which tell you something has happened, but force me to go to facebook, then click around some to get what should have been delivered via RSS to my aggregator (and sitting inside the e/mail in the first place). Like this one: Mike Seyfang See how Laurel Papworth answered your Question.
  • When I joined FaceBook, why did I have to create yet another online identity, profile, then add friends one by one. Why couldn’t I have used my OpenID, said ‘grab my profile information from HayStack, plug into my network of friends from flickr, twitter and mySpace, invite everyone from this OPML file to join me and then start looking for new friends’ inside facebook?.
  • Like Dave Slusher, I am pretty much over ‘repeating the work’ of joining the latest shiny new community online. The next one I join will have to leverage some of the work I have done in the past.  (You know the meme – standing on the shoulders of Giants).
  • and now for the consipracy theory stuff:
  • What others are calling the hotel california syndrome – can I really never delete my profile and all associated data?
  • what is lurking in those terms and conditions if I make the killer app that really does drive people away from facebooks social graph?
  • why did I feel dirty when I created a popfly mashup to pull information out of facebook (what was the fineprint on the T&C’s I accepted on getting my application key?)

Now, Laurel’s first post that I linked to above politely points out the difference a walled garden and a gated community. Fair enough, if Laurel can give me a better handle to describe what I have been banging on about, I will use it (walled garden is overloaded and used too loosely anyway). But, there is a bigger issue than choosing the correct term – Laurel calls it the ‘Web2.0 burst‘ – and I will talk more about that later.

Laurel’s second post claims that FaceBook is NOT a walled garden – bollocks!! It is, is, is and is. She’s wrong and I’m right. Well, sort of. The point she makes is that at the moment there are more ways to get stuff into FaceBook than out of it, but that is beginning to change and likely to swing the other way in the future. She has even created this FaceBook group to keep track of (all 3) applications that pull data out. Now even if people write a squilion more really cool apps, (and the facebook team doesnt do evil things to them) it will probably be too little, too late to prevent the Web2.0 apocalypse that Laurel predicts. Here’s why:

  • People will have to do a whole bunch of work to add and configure the apps that provide functionality that should be part of the platform in the first place.
  • The work to add all the apps, and the work required to make them perform useful work just contributes to the inevitable atrophy of which Dave Slusher speaks – one day people are just gunna stop because the work of joining all these communitiies actually prevents us from spending more time with those we love (either online or offline).
  • Until we see some robust services which enable us to build on the work done in each community we join, and to provide continuity of service when our favourite site goes away (or changes its terms of service, or just goes out of fashion) we are sitting on a time bomb for what Laurel calls the Web 2.0 burst (or bust or boom). Think about it – what will happen when a few key sites with large chunks of our identity, work, fun, portfolio, even lives – goes away.

The antidote to all the evil things mentioned above requires a flip of defaults – from CLOSED to OPEN – which is substantially different to a bit more openness or a few more apps.

Here endeth the lesson.

FangMike Seyfang


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CEGSA – Reflective chat with Gerry White

July 26, 2007 by mseyfang · No Comments · CLOSEDvOPEN


After Stephen Downes linked to the fruity language in my brief report on Gerry White’s kenote at the CEGSA conference (in my hometown of Adelaide, South Australia), I promised to post a more considered reflection. Well, dear reader(s), here it is! Gerry kindly sent me some images from his presentation and agreed to me recording the audio of THIS SKYPE call with him – in which we discuss various things which inspired my CLOSEDvOPEN series of thoughts.

The ‘SA education report card’ (above) implies there is an immediate need for remedial action here in my hometown. This is what provked my fruity response – as a parent I would want better for my child, as a citizen working in education, I need to work hard to become part of the solution.

Like all conversations with Gerry, the skype call rambles nicely and has me saying things before I am aware of thinking them – reflecting on these conversations is always instructive for me! We started talking about the location of published slides (unfortunately no audio was recorded) from the keynote. They are allegedly published somewhere in edna (but I can’t find em!! – maybe an OPEN ness issue).

After explaining my tale of woe from my CEGSA Day 1 – where I couldn’t connect to the internet using WiFi on my mobile phone (and Garry’s response to it), we move on to some discussion about the root cause of my issues. Even though a lot of work was done to provide me access to the CLOSED network, my experience was not one of serendipitous engaged learning. A shift in default from CLOSED to OPEN will be required before schools can make effective educational use of the equipment they will soon be sending their kids to school with. Gerry is ‘cheesed off’ by the obstacles, and thinks leadership is the answer to dealing with the issues that are (and will contintue to be) raised when kids interact over the intertubes.

We move on to OPENNESS and OPEN SOURCE and talk about the differences. OPEN Networks, Services and Content require a re-think about business models. (That would be post-scarcity economics as apply to ‘bits’ as opposed to atoms). As Gerry says ‘it works in reverse on the internet’ – we dig into bits/atoms and scarcity/abundance and show that our friend Telstra needs to shoot itself in the foot. Artificial scarcity makes me think of this post by JP, who writes with much more eloquence and authority on telco business models than I can.

Our ramble thru post scarcity business models.. RSS feeds.. creates the notion of a a series of concentric circles – that would guide business models through the creation of value in a world of OPEN Networks, content and services.

I then get all sychophantic about Gerry’s broad approach to OPENness in his keynote. From Devices->Internet->Content->Connections … -> Practice (or Pedagogy). We pay homage to the leadership of Stephen Downes who has long modelled the stuff we are talking about. After a brief philosophical ramble that bumps its way to the history of the church and US prohibition we talk about other parts of the CEGSA conference.

This brings us back to Stephen’s OLDAILY newsletter and his interesting delivery of keynote over our education network. Some quick thinking ad-hockery with butchers paper at the presenter’s end and some good old fashioned unauthorised user generated content at the listner’s end saved the day. Thanks to Graham’s recording I was able to hear Stephen’s keynote and might even post a reflection on that some day.

We talk about other CEGSA sessions, including the session by Peter Simmonds that inspired THIS POST (and the reason for the Harry Potter isms).

Get over the cost of computers. We should be spending our money on PD for teachers. Parents will eventually fund (at low cost) the equipment the kids bring into the class. Schools should make sure those devices can connect to the intertubes and then work to equip educators to use this stuff for education. More ruminations on what one might see walking into a school of the future.

Cultural change, cluetrain – the return of markets to conversations (what will the equivalent in education be?). If the role of Education Departments is to restrict and control, what will they be needed for? What will they do in a flattened world?? Where are the educators in senior roles today???

A brief return to reality via Copyright, some criticism of a couple of Gerry’s keynote slides (that may convey the wrong idea), we get onto the ‘distributed, messy mesh’ and the picture of the ‘Challenges for management’ slide attributed to Prof Hargreaves. (JUST noticed the first comment on this image in Flickr (go on take a look) Dave LifeKludger Wallace is spot on – what would happen if you lay that image over a sphere – very geodesic – very connected to Prof Kroto!)

Finally some self-indulgent reflection on the fun of connecting with clever people over the intertubes, and some geeky DSL/Phone/Modem talk and we are out of here.

Thanks for listening.

FangMike Seyfang


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CEGSA reflection – VISION for school of the future

July 24, 2007 by mseyfang · 2 Comments · CLOSEDvOPEN

The final presentation I attended at the CEGSA conference got me thinking, really thinking – about a vision for a school of the future. Peter Simmonds leveraged his considerable experience and a couple of well chosen web videos to suggest that we should think beyond adding the latest equipment to the model of industrialised efficiency engines we call classrooms today. The 1950′s propaganda piece from the UK showcasing shiny new lathes (for boys to learn how to make weapons and other industrial components) and ovens (for girls to master the art of subservient cookery) would have been funny if it did not bear such a strong resemblance to the room full of shiny new computers downstairs. After showing us a couple more video clips (a UK prototype school featuring shiny unisex toilets, with visible washroom area behind glass) and the popular ‘Shift Happens‘ clip, Peter challenged us to think about our vision for a school of the future. Well here goes, thought in progress, messy, inarticulate:

  • Equip kids to cope with the world they are heading for, not the one we messed up for them
  • Emulate the best bits of the market’s return to (global) conversation because of the web
  • Resist tendency to return to industrialised models of MASS (production, media, marketing)
  • Nurture the OPEN approach to everthing from internet connectivity to pedagogy
  • Strongly resist tendencies to CLOSE, LOCK, CONTROL the flow of OPEN connections, content and pratice

While thinking about these things, listening to some excellent podcasts (Stephen Downes CEGSA keynote, Wow2.0.#34-2007-10-07, and others) and reflecting on Gerry White’s CEGSA KeyNote, I took my daughter to see the new Harry Potter movie (the order of the phoenix). While watching the scene in which 28 self directed learners use the the ‘room of requirement’ to teach themselves defence against the dark arts – I had one of those ‘AHA’ moments. A picture of interconnections between all the thoughs swimming round my brain formed instantly – I wish I had a camera to show you – instead I will struggle to bang out some hopelessly inadequate TEXT. (If you are unfamiliar with this scene from Harry Potter, the order of the Phoenix – its on P343 of my hardback edition).

My school of the future would be a lot more like ‘the room of requirement’ than Hogwarts itself – but it would exist in the context of something like Hogwarts. That is to say, the radically new learning space and practice needs to exist in the context of something familiar that can evolve slowly from what we have now. We can’t (and shouldn’t try to) throw out everything old just because it isn’t new. Whenever I watch a Harry Potter movie, I feel ‘at home’ when I see scenes of HogWarts school – rather than shiny and new, the oldness brings feelings of warmth and safety, along with a strong sense of curiosity to explore its many interesting, messy, organically grown (and quite often risky) features. There is a good balace of bounded safety and seemingly limitless danger – a feeling that if I hurt myself I will be properly cared for (certainly no clinical stench of over-protective playgrounds designed to appeal to committees of risk averse middle managers).

As for the ‘room of requirement‘ – or the ‘come and go room’ as Dobby describes it to Harry & Co. – you can only enter the room when you really need it and you will find exactly what you need there. (Hermione points out that ‘Dobby’s plans arent always safe – remember when you lost all the bones in your arm, Harry …). So with that Harry takes the calculated risk of assembling a group of 25 kids from various ages, classes and cliques – to learn defence against the dark arts. On entering the room of requrement they find exactly what they need for Harry to Model/Demonstrate what he has learnt (both from classes at HogWarts and from fighting the dark lord himself and for the others to Practice/Reflect together. The ensuing scenes show some very engaged and motivated learning indeed.

The motiviation for this subversive act of spontaneous learning was interference by the controlling powers – the Ministry of Magic had appointed a career manager to take over the defence against the dark arts class (and eventually the school – nailing hundreds of proclamations and bans to the wall) – reducing this previously vibrant class to a perfunctory (but efficient) excercise in theoretical futility. Almost prophetic parallels to the nervous reaction of most education ministries to bold web experiments by some excellent teachers. One key ingredient in my school of the future would be mechanisms to provide ‘air cover’ for responsible teachers who take risks.

There is one more feature of my vision for a school of the future that is much more subtle and difficult to explain. While it is easy to see that unfettered internet access closely resembles the room of requirement, and that after some initial ups and downs the powers to be will eventually find ways to make it more accessible, there is a more sinister foe lurking in the background. This foe is quietly muddying the waters between OPEN and CLOSED saying things like ‘sure we can open up a few Web2.0 sites thru the firewall’, ‘we must secure our wireless networks’, ‘relax – we will make sure every student can login’, ‘we must put DRM on files to protect Copyright’, ‘you can put those pictures on the web, but make sure they are secure’ … My school of the future will figure out how to flip the default from CLOSED to OPEN for everything in the learning chain – so I can use my brand new wireless tamagochi to connect my class with Mr. White and Prof. Kroto for a robust and engaging discussion on my student’s idea for using nanowidgets to cure cancer.

FangMike Seyfang


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