This is a bit of a theme for today: large companies working to monetize the open web by commercializing previously open content formats (podcasting, mailing lists, blogs) while commentators lament the loss of the open web in content posted using these commercial services. Or, in a word, irony. We've written previously about Spotify's acquisition of podcasting services for creators like Anchor. This article covers a similar focus on replacing open content with subscription revenue from Apple. "One thing is for certain: Apple and Spotify have given us a glimpse of a podcasting future where the walled gardens of platform-exclusive, premium content become the norm." As someone who has been podcasting since before there was podcasting, I will continue to publish open audio content by RSS - though you as listeners may find it harder and harder to find a way to listen to it.
Ironically writing on Substack, which is busily monetizing longer-form web content, Jeet Heer asks, "Can we bring back blogging?" From where I sit, I would observe that it actually wouldn't take very much work - all people would need to do is start blogging again (like I have been since 1995). It's not hard, but you do need to avoid services that throw up paywalls or worse in front of readers. In this response, Chris Aldrich cites with approval a comment about the need for "a sort of flywheel of engagement" and writes, "if we want a real resurgence of thought and discourse online, we’re going to need some new tools to do it." Perhaps, he suggests, "some of the building blocks the IndieWeb movement has built." Maybe. But in the end, I think, we ourselves have to choose openness. Image: Aggressive Growth Marketing, Can blogging be automated?
It's not surprising that students favour more online options while professors and administrators are much more reluctant. " When asked how well their Spring 2021 courses met their educational needs, 47 percent of students gave the semester an 'A' grade, compared to 43 percent of faculty and 25 percent of administrators." Twas ever so; institutions, not students, are the ones dragging their feet here. And the survey doesn't even measure the input from non-students who would access higher learning if only there weren't so many barriers. The full report is available from Cengage but is behind a spamwall.
Today's a good day for irony in blog posts. In this example we have Doc Searls writing from Harvard blogs saying we should "blame the cookie" for the unequal distribution of power on the internet. "The Web back then was still peer-to-peer and welcoming to individuals who wished to operate at full agency. It even stayed that way through the Age of Blogs in the early ’00s. But gradually a poison disabled personal agency. That poison was the cookie." No. Not so. The feudal system that emerged in the form of Google and Facebook an such came to us from places like Stanford and Harvard, and these institutions had one unifying message: let's make money. It wasn't the cookie that destroyed the web, it was the cookie factory.
The IEEE P1484.2 Integrated Learner Records (ILR) working group makes recommendations on how to describe what someone has achieved. In this way it's more than an activity record but less than a credential. As I read this post (your interpretation may vary) I see two major sets of issues: one regarding the use of linked data (such as RDF or JSON-LD) which may not translate well to stand-alone context-free statements; and the other regarding the use of vendor-specific or application-specific technologies such as the W3C's Verifiable Credentials (see also the W3C vc-ed task force page or the Credential Engine's Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL)).
This story is incredibly cool, of course, but what intrigues me is that once again the mid-machine interface isn't located at the thought itself, but rather at the expression of the thought. "Brain signals induced by thoughts associated with handwriting were translated into text in real time, allowing a paralyzed man to text at a rate of 16 words per minute." This once again suggests that we don't think in words, but rather, use words to express (much more complex) thoughts.
I am not the only one to note the irony of Cory Doctorow using a closed blogging service like Medium to tout the benefits of open blogging and the 'commonplace book' approach to writing (his open site isn't a blog at all, just a link dump without commentary). It's too bad, because the content of his post (aside from being the opposite of what he practices) is quite good. For example, "In the traditional world, an editor selects and then publishes... But for blog readers, the process is inverted: bloggers publish and then readers select." Also: "Traditionally, a writer identifies a subject of interest and researches it, then writes about it. In the (my) blogging method, the writer blogs about everything that seems interesting, until a subject gels out of all of those disparate, short pieces."
Mark Britz offers a short and accurate characterization of why collaboration isn't the golden calf in organizations it appears to be. Collaboration is "two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing." But that's not how most of our interactions work. "When we stop and consider how much of our interactions at work are really cooperative rather than collaborative, we might want to better call it what it is." Agreed.
This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.
Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.
Copyright 2021 Stephen Downes Contact: email@example.comThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.