December 13, 2005

Whenever Hearts Collide...

Jack Wagner wrote that song. And Doug Symington from who uses elgg has succinctly summed up an emerging issue in the blogosphere in his MP3cast. As the long tail gets longer, as more and more people blog and podcast their thoughts, eventually our worlds will either meet or, in the case of James, Stephen and I, collide.

Why collide? Because at some point in every renaissance or revolution comes the very Web 1.0 issue of "whose idea was it?" There is a growing tendency in Web 2.0 to share and sharealike, reference where you can with hyperlinks, but above all to share and remix ideas. Where some folk feel they've been left out of the loop or out of some non-existent rolling-credits, collision seems likely at the moment. Is there a way to move forward from this? Can we seriously expect all edubloggers to write several paragraphs of edublogging history before they are 'allowed' to give their thoughts? (Or for that matter speak for 20 minutes about it at conferences and patronise the already blogvangelised audience?)

There's an interesting question for our edublogging futures on if it matters who did what or whether looking at the here and now is more important. Anyone care to have a stab at answering it?

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Here and now wins hands down every time. Otherwise egos get in the way of real progress. I don't want to know who first thought of anything - that's for the historians. I just want it to work. Rather like my car. Or my laptop.

Ewan,

Much as I enjoyed the little spat you became involved in with James, I think your question might actually have two answers (yes I know it shows that I'm an academic!!).

a - YES "it matters who did what"

To me as an academic researcher, yes it does. When I look at the way we use blogs today and in the future I need to understand the roots of that experience from both the blogosphere and the other traditions (Knowledge management, organisational learning, personal learning etc) that inform it.

b - "looking at the here and now is more important"

As a teacher, and someone who supports others in developing a range of blended learning solutions, this is my position. I care how people use it and the way it helps learning. I care how we can make it more pervasive and easy to access. I care not at all what has gone before as I'm teaching in a subject discipline not teaching computing and/or technology's impact on learning.

Sorry for declaring my split personality in such an open forum. But both are most important to me depending who I am being at the time!!

As someone who has researched blogging in education I can honestly say that I am also of the split personality persuasion. The problem is that in the blogosphere people tend to go for black and white because those are the messages that people 'get' the easiest. I love it when blogging gets down to the complicated, grey nitty-gritty but sometimes it takes a 'spat' like this to push that to the fore.

'Where some folk feel they've been left out of the loop or out of some non-existent rolling-credits, collision seems likely at the moment. Is there a way to move forward from this?'

I really hope you are wrong on this one Ewan. Otherwise we are going to enter a claustrophobic phase of navel-gazing and trumpet-blowing in the mutual appreciation societies of the edublogosphere and I just can't be arsed with that. I genuinely would like to think that the spat with James was just that - a spat but reading some of the dismissive commentary from some of the big names of the edublogosphere it seems that you might have touched a nerve! Anyway let's indulge ourselves with the edublogging conversations, safe in the knowledge that we are effecting real teachers and learners on the ground...

Ewan says "go for black and white because those are the messages that people 'get' the easiest."

Yes this happens in every learning context I've encountered. In the Business discipline the 'blue sky' theorists are a long way from the practical users, but don't recognise this themselves. So there needs to be a mediating function - the mediators can themselves be researchers or practitioners, or indeed both as we seem to be, but the blue sky ads value to no one other than other researchers until it is grounded.

Peter captures this in saying that "Otherwise we are going to enter a claustrophobic phase of navel-gazing and trumpet-blowing in the mutual appreciation societies of the edublogosphere and I just can't be arsed with that", most disciplines do exactly this as an attempt to set boundaries, to exclude those who are not the 'expert' community. You'd hope that a Web 2.0 enabled world would break away from this, but tradition weighs a heavy burden on developing our preferences and styles. And thus we might just have to put up with the trumpet-blowing and get on with the job!

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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