by Stephen Downes
Sept 14, 2016
Jim Groom revisits a post from Michael Caulfield and points to "that first sentence 'but institutions, they are what make these things last” that I deeply question." He asks, "who, when all was said and done, saved more than a decade of web history in the form of Geocities from deletion at the hands of Yahoo! in 2010? Was it other corporations? Higher ed? The government? Nope, it was dozens of rogue archivists, technologists, artists, and librarians from around the world that cared." Exactly. See also his video, "Can we imagine tech infrastructure as an OER?"
Kelly Terrell shares her Alt-C presentation, which took place last week in Britain, and in so doing shares the "latest information on my work with the open source OER repository platform 'EdShare' as well as some of the key findings from my MSc thesis "Discoverability Strategies for Open Educational Resources". She writes, "EdShare is now behind a number of OER repositories in the UK HEI community including EdShare Soton, Humbox, LanguageBox, eShare and most recently edShare@GCU."
This is just one of several services available form various companies around the web, but I'm linking to it because it's illustrative. The mechanism is simple: first you create an identity (this later allows you to pay for the services), and then you take advantage of Microsoft's APIs to access advanced cognitive tools for your application. For example: somebody submits a photo to your website; you send the photo to Microsoft, and Microsoft tells you what emotion the photo is expressing. It's commodified artificial intelligence (AI) and it's here now. We were using the Bing API last year; here's the migration guide to the new search API.
The challenge of private investment in education is that companies see children primarily as potential markets and they seek to maximize that even if it's against the law. Case in point: "settlements Tuesday with Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart Games to stop them from using or allowing tracking technology on their popular children's websites." The point here is that these companies knew the tracking was illegal, and knew they should stop it, but didn't. Because companies (unlike people) will act contrary to law unless they are forced not to. That's one reason why it's so expensive to privatize public services; the companies must constantly be monitored for compliance. I wish there were something like a criminal record for companies, so (for example) if they break laws they no longer qualify for government contracts, or are no longer allowed to work with children, or something.
I don't usually link to Big Think because the articles are generally plugs for books, and the books (of course) are not open access and so I can't read them (because I have nowhere near the budget it would take). The same is the case with this post. But I'm linking to it for the video, and despite Amy Herman's third-grade level speaking style, it makes an important point: when you are looking at something - an artwork, say, or a medical diagnosis - what is not there can be as important as what is there. She calls this the 'pertinent negative'. She is by no means the first to make this observation - it dates back thousands of years - but her illustration is compelling and makes its importance clear.
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