June 1, 2011
Connections: Virtual Learning Communities ebook launch
Rick's Café Canadien, June 1, 2011.
Richard Schwier has just released a new e-book, Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. He writes that this "is an eBook that explores how online communities form, who joins them, and how they operate in learning environments." Just to make life interesting, the book is in .epub format, which means you can't just read it in your browser; you need an e-book reader such as Calibre (here's more information on e-book readers). But do make the effort. It's an extensive work, 283 pages of goodness, drawn from a team of researchers, and imbued with Schwier's rich sense of perspective. I've only been able to skim it in the hour or so since it was released, but I will spend some warm time with it this week, drinking it in. Schweir advises us, "Be present. Purposefully present. Whether you are in a formal online learning environment, or you are building your own informal learning environment, it is important to deliberately and explicitly express your presence." The book, I think, exemplifies this advice. Via Alec Couros.
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Future of Scholarly Communications Roundtable
JISC Research Communications Strategy / YouTube, June 1, 2011.
I listened this afternoon to this interesting discussion (8 parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) on the future of open access to academic literature. Good, educated discussion considering new models for scientific publication, including (from part 2) for example the idea of articles being published in a post-journal model. "In a sense journals are dead technology... what's interesting about them is the title, the brand, but nothing else about them is interesting." There's the usual discussion about the rigor of the review meaning something, and the desire of authors and departments to obtain 'prestige' publications. Starting in part three we move into a discussion of economic models, green and gold open access. Part five looks at the possibility of radical change in the field, as for example, when journal brand no longer confers prestige on an article, and we see things like Faculty of 1000 or Mendelay come to the fore. Finally, part eight wraps up looking at the differences between the sciences and the humanities and philosophy, where there may be more scope for leveraging social media. And of course there's the ubiquitous defense of serendipity - as though you could only get serendipity in a journal (and not, say, things like this newsletter).
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All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace - Episode 2
BBC, June 1, 2011.
"We have come to believe that the old hierarchies of power can be replaced by self organizing networks... we dream of systems that can balance and stabilize themselves without the intervention of authoritarian power. But in reality this is the dream of the machines... as a model for human society and for politics it is wholly inadequate in the face of the powerful dynamic forces that really dominate the world today."
So begins part two of All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (See the full version on YouTube, DailyMotion), which explores the idea of organization by ecosystems or networks (Arthur Tansley). The video traces the development of systems theory of cybernetics, focusing in particular on the balance of nature through feedback mechanisms (Howard and Eugene Odum). This then maps to the idea of humans, not as members of tribes or nations, but as nodes in the network. The idea that governments cannot manage society. The idea of ecotechnics and free communes. Stewart Brand: "It was going to be 'power to the people' in a very direct sense." All watched over by machines of loving grace.
Enter the world environmental crisis. Jay Forrester and the Club of Rome, predictions of the population bomb, the idea that the Earth was out of balance. But while on the one hand we have ecology as preservation of the status quo, Jan Smuts and holism, the idea that growth is killing the planet sustainability, etc, on the other hand critics argue that this is an entrenchment of existing inequalities and power relations. Moreover, there are in fact no stable patterns in ecosystems, there is no 'balance of nature', as shown, eg., by George van Dyne (see also). And the revolutions of 1989, like the communes, began to fail, and for the same reason - the dynamics of power.
Also: Joss Winn tweets that Adam Curtis's other documentary videos can be found on Open Archives. Also interesting: Tony Hirst's cloud of links between people tweeting using the #awobmolg tag.
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