by Stephen Downes
Jul 14, 2016
This article makes the oft-made point that few people read terms-of-service. And that's why they are called "the biggest lie on the Internet" - "they are based on the idea that the people who trade their privacy and rights in exchange for a service are making a bargain that they understand and agree to." But suppose people took the hour or so required to read the terms-of-service for these web services. What would change? Could they ever enforce any of their own rights in these terms? If ey are accused of violating a term, could they ever defend themselves in court? Of course not. The "lie" in terms and service agreements is that this is any sort of contract at all. No enforcement means no contract. People know that companies are just going to do whatever they want, and that's why they don't bother reading the terms.
Good post from Audrey Watters representing a step forward in her thinking (as we write more, these steps become smaller and less frequent, and harder to take). She talks about the fragility of memory, even in the age of information, and challenges the assumption that new inventions are being more and more quickly adopted. From my perspective, being long in the tooth, the future seems to move forward at an agonizingly slow pace. I was ten years old, five decades ago, when we first stepped on the moon. The major incurable diseases of my childhood are the ones that loom over me today. Most of the information I have ever created was created, and stored, in my own brain, and it goes when I go. So much of my own digital legacy is already lost (it's absurd to say that the internet is a permanent record!). But - publishing isn't memory, and memory isn't knowledge.
I think there's some pretty good advice in this post, and it goes well beyond the warning in the title. It's this: "Do the work. Do it with complete and total commitment which means truly facing your truths through time, discussion and effort. You need to find your own voices…not ours." The same point should be applied to educators in general. As an educator, your only voice is your own voice, not that of your students. You can't 'give' them an education. They have to create their own education, and find their own voice, for themselves. Doing it for them disempowers them, and makes their own efforts less legitimate.
Good post looking at the concept of 'fleeting connections' in some detail. As suggested by VTE Live, one of the purposes of a MOOC, as opposed to a community of practice, is to create short-term low risk temporary networks where people can benefit from the diversity and interaction without making a lifelong commitment. As well, temporary networks are less intimidating to join, because they haven't developed in-groups, jargon and norms of practice yet. Peter Bryant says "t is in the fleeting connections that you are exposed to the ‘something different’ that are these newer, brighter contexts. They represent a sense of randomness, uniqueness and sometimes disquiet and discomfort that challenge the constructed reality of knowledge handed down through the generations."
I am not even remotely convinced that creating a 'Creative Commons Certification' is a good idea either as a means of education or promotion, but it's not my call and of course the organization can do what it wants. Of more interest to me here is the process of getting people worldwide to collaborate on the creation of the certification draft (which is, as nearly as I can judge, the content of the certification curriculum - "a structure of 'modules' each of which has a series of Performance Objectives"). The document itself can be edited by the team, but what about input? Commenting could get messy after more than a small number of participants. Feedback forms? What about GitHub? "Just saying GitHub, much less showing anyone the interface, is enough to send most people running back to their parchments." But here's what it looks like. I tried out the system, and yes it works, but my comment (collected by GitHub as an issue) basically disappears.
I've actually thought about this problem quite a bit. Not with respect to this particular document, but with sharing and feedback mechanisms generally. It will come as no surprise to readers that I think a centralized system (eg., with primary author(s) and comments) is inherently flawed, because you can't make sense of more than a few hundred comments. Additionally, the centralized 'consensus document' model (like, say, a Wikipedia page) is also flawed, because there will not be consensus on anything once you have more than a few contributors. The only thing that is viable in the long term, in my mind, would be a system in which each person gets their own version. The final version is then created by a (semantically neutral) algorithm from the hundred (or million) individual versions. Levine's article was also posted at Get CC Certified (see it there).
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