Wikiversity

Paul Raven @ 19-10-2010

What would further education look like if it was run more like Wikipedia? That’s the question asked by a chap called David J Staley at the Educause conference in Anaheim, California last week, who thinks it’s a pretty good idea [via SlashDot]:

First, it wouldn’t have formal admissions, said Mr. Staley, director of the Harvey Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching at Ohio State University. People could enter and exit as they wished. It would consist of voluntary and self-organizing associations of teachers and students “not unlike the original idea for the university, in the Middle Ages,” he said. Its curriculum would be intellectually fluid.

[ Those of you who’ve read Zen & The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance may be reminded of Phaedrus’ University… ]

And instead of tenure, it would have professors “whose longevity would be determined by the community,” Mr. Staley said, and who would move back and forth between the “real world” and the university.

Universities “seem to be becoming more top-down and hierarchical at a time when more and more organizations are looking more like networks,” said Mr. Staley…

Not everyone agrees with Staley, of course:

“… he clearly understands Wikipedia about as well as he understands universities. That is, not very well. Wikipedia is peculiar. Its brilliance is in its peculiarity. It’s also more static, intellectually conservative, and elite-governed than most people believe.”

Valid points, but I think the problem is due to Staley using a specific institution as a placeholder for a more general set of ideas and methods; yes, Wikipedia is flawed (just like any human institution), but its underlying principles are symptomatic of a phase change in the way we look at organisation, which is what I suspect Staley was getting at.

We’ve discussed further education’s increasing unsuitability-for-purpose before, and much of that unsuitability comes from the rigidity of its hierarchical approach to both organisation and the categorisation of knowledge; a more open, flexible and fluid system might not produce the same numbers of people equipped with expensive pieces of vellum, but I suspect it would produce a lot more people with knowledge that was actually useful to them in the chaos of the contemporary economy. That said, until you manage to convince employers to hire people on the basis of their actual skillsets instead of their paper qualifications, you’re going to struggle to convince academia to abandon the business-like model that it currently operates under.

Interestingly, this chimes with a UK-based project I’ve been invited to get involved with, which I will discuss further when it’s more fully developed…


A more honest and open society?

Tom James @ 15-04-2009

networkPaul Carr hits the nail on the head concerning the ongoing hysteria amongst many mainstream journos as to the relevance of Twitter, social networking et al to political culture:

…every time a scandal emerges involving the technology – be it McBride’s email or American teenagers ‘sexting‘ naked photos to each other, we hear the same crap from journalists – that the web, and email and mobile phones are making everyone behave in scandalous ways they never did before. If that’s true then I have some amazing YouTube footage of a bear shitting in the woods, which I found next to a damning video of the Pope taking communion.

The only difference between the way humans have been behaving badly for years, and how they behave badly in the internet age is the fact that now there’s always someone else watching.

And that seems to be the key point that politicians and more traditional media sources seem to have yet to properly absorb.

As networked recording devices become ubiquitous we’re going to have to learn to deal with a reduction in personal privacy. Further Carr adds:

…as a generation grows up that has never known true privacy, things will start to change. And they’ll change for the better.

This is something that’s been bothering me recently: like many people I’ve always had the vague idea I can be one person online and another in real life. This idea, however, is false. My generation and every generation hence will go through life leaving a sticky trail of hyperlinks, tweets, and FaceBook photos; an online miasma that everyone will possess and everyone will have to accept.

As privacy is reduced maybe prurient voyeurism and hypocrisy will also diminish. Part of the enjoyment of gossip is the secretive aspect of it: but if everything about everyone is out in the open then there will be no need to fear slur and innuendo.

So maybe the rise of ubiquitous recording and surveillance will lead to a more caring, more honest, and less hypocritical society?

[Paul Carr in The Guardian][image from jonbell has no h on flickr]


Futurismic re-opens to fiction submissions for 2009!

Paul Raven @ 05-01-2009

The title says it all, fictioneers – hard-workin’ fiction editor Chris East’s batteries are fully recharged, and so Futurismic is open to fiction submissions once again. Don’t forget to give the guidelines a thorough read before you submit – good luck!


Futurismic re-opens to fiction submissions!

Paul Raven @ 05-04-2008

Yes indeed – you enquired, cajoled and begged, and the day has finally arrived – Futurismic is open to fiction submissions once again!

Chris East, our hard-working Fiction Editor, is a busy man – and with the submissions coming in he’s going to be even more busy than usual. So please be considerate: read the entirety of the Guidelines page thoroughly – twice – and check your story is a good fit before clicking through to the submissions webform (linked from the Guidelines page).

That way you save Chris time and save yourself from a rejection you didn’t need to get, right? Right!

Also, a few words on file formatting. Three words, actually, or rather two words and an acronym:

RTF files only!

The webform shouldn’t let you upload anything else; if you manage to subvert the process, your submission will just be deleted anyway, so just convert in your favourite word processor package first.

And finally – we will ONLY accept fiction submissions through the webform. All attempted submissions by regular email, comment fields, Twitter, psychic projection, good old-fashioned snail-mail or any other channels WILL BE IGNORED AND DELETED/DESTROYED UNREAD AND UNREPLIED TO.

OK, with all that out of the way, get to work! Do you think you can beat Leonard Richardson‘s 37-deep comments thread? Because that’s the caliber of work we’re looking for – and we’re looking forward to your submissions!