Connecting 131016


I saw a Frances Bell tweet a couple of days ago.

She linked to a post by Martin Hall at Salford University.

In his post, Martin shared the impact of a presentation made by Helen Keegan:

# changes everything by serving as a readily available aggregator across the massive, dynamic database that is connected together through Twitter.

I enjoyed learning about a collaborative program, Entertainment Lab for the Very Small Screen (ELVSS12). I noted Michael’s observation:

Look for ELVSS12 with a conventional search engine and you wont find very much.  But use #ELVSS12 in Twitter and a wealth of live links comes together, with comment, critique and direct links to the films that can, in turn, be shared with anyone else across a global network.

This reminded me of a presentation I made to a Computer Science in Sport Conference in 2009. I used #IACSS09 as the title. My hope then was to encourage discussion about how we create and share resources. I thought (and do think) that # gives enormous scope for the development of a folksonomy to support open access.

In preparation for the 2009 presentation, I was delighted to find the elegance of Thomas Vander Wal’s writing about Folksonomy in his 2007 document (“a static permanent web document … written to provide a place to cite the coinage of folksonomy … (it) pulls together bits of conversations and ideas I wrote regarding folksonomy on listserves, e-mail, in my blogs and in blog comments on other’s sites in 2004”).

Thomas suggests:

  • “Folksonomy is the result of personal free tagging of information and objects (anything with a URL) for one’s own retrieval. The tagging is done in a social environment (usually shared and open to others). Folksonomy is created from the act of tagging by the person consuming the information.”
  • “The value in this external tagging is derived from people using their own vocabulary and adding explicit meaning, which may come from inferred understanding of the information/object. People are not so much categorizing, as providing a means to connect items (placing hooks) to provide their meaning in their own understanding.”

I think my presentation had very little impact with my computer science colleagues but I have persisted. Like Helen and Michael, I see immense benefits in using tags. One of the maxims of the digital age is “capture once, use infinitely”. Tagging at the point of production helps us create, share, aggregate and curate with a small investment in #.

Serendipitously, Zach Steward has posted this week about the first ever hashtag, @-reply and retweet, as twitter users invented them. Hashtags became an official Twitter feature in July 2009, just two months before my presentation.

Earlier this week, in another Connecting post, I mentioned Tom Standage’s discussion of Cicero. When I visited Tom’s blog, I was delighted to see his use of a London underground tube map to illustrate the diffusion of a shared book. I think it is a great way to share a journey.


Last year, my son Sam redesigned Clyde Street with a transport map theme. He wrote about this process earlier this year. He came up with the following ideas:

  • Simple – Clyde Street is a place where people come to read. The articles vary in length and complexity so we needed to make the layout uncluttered and the reading experience as nice as possible.
  • Modern – As an “educational technologist”, Keith’s blog needed to utilise current web standards (such as html 5 and css 3) as well as embrace open source tools.
  • Reflect – I have often heard people say that this blog was a “journey of discovery”. Prior to the redesign it had very little personality in terms of branding to reflect this. Without going overboard we wanted to change that.

I welcomed his observation that “In the end, a blog is driven by its content, people do not keep coming back to see a fancy design, they keep coming back to read new ideas. My aim was to make it is as easy as possible for people to get to those ideas”.

I have been wondering of late if the impetus for my writing is to be a cartographer of the changing landscape of connecting and sharing. I do think I need to have some disciplined approach to curation to make this mapping possible.

Steve Rosenbaum has written this week about the Curation Economy. He postulates five laws of this economy:

1. People don’t want more content, they want less. We’re overwhelmed in raw, unfiltered, context-free data. Humans want it to stop.

2. Curators come in three shapes.

  • Experts — people whose background and depth of understanding makes their curatorial choices valid.
  • Editors, who manage the voice and the collections of the publications and sites they organize.
  • Passion-Driven who love their particular area of focus and attention and bring that single-minded focus to every piece of content they touch.

3. Curation isn’t a hobby, it’s both a profession and a calling.

Curation requires technology and tools to find, filter, and validate content at the speed of the real-time web.

5. Curation within narrow, focused, high-quality categories will emerge to compete with the mass-media copycats who are filling the curation space with lists, cat videos, and meme links.

With regard to the Fourth Law, I do use aggregation tools. I enjoy the alerts I receive too through Stephen Downes’ OLDaily. Today I was linked to Stian Håklev’s post on R.

I have started following Ben Mayhew’s visualisations of football performance through my aggregator. I thought that he and Stian might have some fascinating conversations about outliers in data sets.

I am mindful that my Connecting posts are very personal curations. I remain intrigued that much of what I can access is triggered by someone’s willingness to use a symbol (#) to help share their insights or to do so openly in blog posts.

Photo Credit

Crossroads (Joseph, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Book Journey (Tom Standage)

SOOC 001

I have been thinking about a SOOC, Observing and Analysing Performance in Sport, that will start on 5 November.

It is being hosted by Adam Brimo on the Open Learning platform.

I have a number of colleagues who are volunteering their time to the SOOC and who will be sharing open access resources.

There are lots of conversations about and developments in online courses at the moment and I am grateful that Stephen Downes gives me an OLDaily lead on these.

Part of my musing of late has been about the kind of environment we might create in the SOOC. I have been delighted to discover that others are thinking about these issues too.

I liked Helen Keegan’s approach to a new academic year. In her Not a Mooc post, she observes:

I want to carry on developing our current model-which-has-no-name. I’m not sure what it is – it’s not a MOOC, but it’s certainly pretty open, multi-disciplinary, multi-level and networked, and builds on existing communities of practice and the mentoring that has emerged over the past six years (staff and ex-students -> current students). Most importantly, it’s creative, occasionally anarchic and relatively ad hoc …

 Helen mentioned ds106 in her post. I really enjoy Alan Levine’s posts about ds106. A few days ago he wrote Just ds106.  He noted:

Digital Storytelling (also affectionately known as ds106) is an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington… but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster.

ds106 offers advice about becoming an open course participant

First of all, in ds106, there are multiple levels of participation- but most importantly, it is designed so you can pick and choose the when and where. We have a subtle rule of NO APOLOGIES for not being able to participate when other parts of life intrude. There is no concept in ds106 of “dropping out” c.f. Groom, Jim (2010-present), “ds106 is #4life”.

There is an Openness in Education MOOC running at the moment too. The How This Course Works page helped me with my thinking.

Openness in Education is an unusual course. It does not consist of a body of content you are supposed to remember. Rather, the learning in the course results from the activities you undertake, and will be different for each person. In addition, this course is not conducted in a single place or environment. It is distributed across the web. We will provide some facilities. But we expect your activities to take place all over the internet on blogs, tumblr, Diigo, social network sites, Twitter, and other spaces. We will ask you to visit other people’s web pages, and even to create some of your own. This type of course is called a ‘connectivist’ course and is based on four major types of activity:

  • Aggregate
  • Remix
  • Repurpose
  • Feed forward

I was relieved to read Alec Couros’s discussion of the #unmooc. He concludes his post with these observations:

We are losing the ownership of our own conversations and learning spaces. Though admittedly a grand ambition, I hope that the process of developing an #unmooc, while providing a rich place for learning, can help us become more thoughtful and considerate of our learning spaces and the control of our discourse.

I am delighted that there is lots of discussion about open learning. At the end of a day of musing I am thinking that our SOOC will give us the opportunity to compile some resources to share openly in a non-linear way. I am happy that the S in SOOC enables small numbers of participants. It is a very modest manifestation of connectivist thinking.

I see this as the start of a fascinating journey that might lead to unplugged conversations as well as plugged ones.

Photo Credits

Crowd at the train for the Royal Adelaide Show

Open Window