by Stephen Downes
Mar 06, 2017
The University of California, Berkeley, is responding to a U.S. Justice Department order to make it educational content accessible to people with disabilities by removing the content from the internet. According to a letter distributed by the university, the removal also serves to "better protect instructor intellectual property from 'pirates' who have reused content for personal profit without consent." This is an example of what I once called the 'high bar' attack on open content, whereby commercial interests make offering open content too expensive by imposing stringent legal requirements against it.
I once wrote a paper called 'Could Hume Play Billiards?' to which the answer was "Yes, but he would have to practice." So I am predisposed to endorse the approach championed by K. Anders Ericsson as described in this article whereby he argues that the difference between exceptional achievement and the rest of us is focused and deliberate practice. It makes sense to me because I was the same height and weight as Wayne Gretzky, I am the same age, I am as smart as Wayne Gretzky, but one of us was the world's best hockey player and one of us wasn't. The difference was practice. Anyhow, this article is an extended defense of the thesis, and as I said, I am sympathetic.
I'll begin by referencing Samuel Delaney's classic Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the connectedness metaphor that predates this particular discussion and whose themes echo through Jon Udell's post and (no doubt) many of my own. I've had the same experience when I hear my own work quoted back to me as an interesting idea I might want to consider. You cast your ideas out in the the great and increasingly unresponsive deep galaxy of the internet and hope they bear fruit. And these ideas are rediscovered over and over again, often by astute meme-riders like Jon (hey now) Udell. I wouldn't call this the core of digital literacy, but its a strand, a thread, a string in time. (p.s. the first line of Campbell's post is unadulterated formulaic clickbait, and he should be ashamed. Reeling? Really?)
I am partially in agreement with danah boyd and partially in disagreement. Let me begin with the latter: the piece reads to me that we should sympathize with the plight of the rich or privileged because perception is more important than statistical reality. The important thing is that people feel hard done by, she says, not whether they are actually hard done by. On the other hand, my disagreeable experience at the panel on the ethics of care on Saturday reminds me that simply shutting out dissenting voices from the conversation does more harm than good, especially when it is done by a moderator and panel stressing the virtue of attentiveness. In sum, my view is: being rich or privileged doesn't automatically make you right, and being poor or oppressed doesn't automatically make you right. This applies especially to social, political and ethical discourse.
This is a terrific article and well worth the time it will take to read it. It tells the story of the Mozilla Operating System (Mozilla OS) for smart phones. Mozilla OS was designed to promote an 'open web' environment for mobile apps, rather than proprietary App Stores. Eventually, though, it had an app store, too few apps, an unsuccessful bare-bones version, and internal disagreements about direction. It's an excellent case study in project management, and I see a lot of parallels with my own LPSS program. In the case of Mozilla, I place the seeds of failure at Qualcomm's refusal to license chipset APIs directly to Mozilla, which meant they had to work through hardware manufacturers (OEMs) and telecomm companies. My making the distributors their clients, instead of end users, they lost sight of the benefit Mozilla OS was intended to produce, and ultimately became just another mobile OS. Via Doug Belshaw.
“Investing in educating girls in subjects like coding, where we expect there to be abundant, good-paying jobs is key to the future of Afghanistan. With a full range of talent to tap into, Afghanistan’s economy can grow and become less reliant on foreign aid and retain ambitious young women."
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