Friday, June 18, 2010

Open Source – The End of Scarcity means More

IBM has estimated that the amount of digital information will double every 11 hours in 2010.

That’s an abundance of unlimited content, access, and information. Something barely imaginable. It is frightening and exciting at the same time. It is a huge paradigm shift for a culture used to a previous world driven by scarcity, preciousness and exclusivity.

The potential here is best understood in the context of education.

At Itunes U any number of amazing and free lectures from places like MIT, the Sorbonne, Cambridge and UNC Chapel Hill can be downloaded.

It’s a remix of the traditional idea of education: get some experts, people eager to learn and start a discussion. Where it takes place is less relevant, though to draw students the content must be strong and the sense of Bakhtinian sobornost – “togetherness” or “true sense of community” must still exist.

More control and choice for learners creates a P2P environment where students are both learners and teachers as well as creators and consumers. Knowledge flows freely rather than being stockpiled.

A unique example of this is happening at Purdue University. They have designed an app called Hotseat. It functions like Twitter for the lecture hall and in fact was developed with the idea that students were already texting anyway -- why not create a faculty endorsed distraction to focus that back channel discussion? With this app, students are commenting on the commentary and asking questions. Student to student sharing has been embraced by Purdue rather than seeing it as a threat for it’s potential to encourage cheating and non independent learning. In this way, redundant academic work becomes more vibrant and open. Hotseat is remediative - a new way of showing an old media form. Ie; the "class discussion" experience.

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At the intersection of art and new media, a place where the convergence emerges.