Bought by Some Chinese Concern

As I was preparing today’s Connected Courses discussion about the intersecting ideas that link Connected Learning and the Indie Web I came across Ignatia De Waard’s post about Stephen Downes’s presentation on Personal Learning he gave at Online Educa Berlin earlier today. I was struck by this by bit of her summary of the talk:

Reclaiming the web, means it is important to have his own space, this is what is meant by reclaiming. The concept of bringing back to us of what is ours.
….
The web is not a platform, it is a bunch of personal spaces. This is the basis for the cMOOCs in 2008. The fact that these mooc were distributed added to the fact that this learning was personal. This created a network where the participants genuiinly owned their learning. But what followed took the learning away from the personal to the personalized again, where the data was no longer personal.

I really like the framing of the web as a series of distributed, personal spaces versus the vision of it as a platform. Linguistically I am often lazy about the difference, and reading Ignatia’s summary of Downes’s talk helped me fine tune this distinction for our discussion about many of these very concerns. It was nice to read this because it reinforces a movement currently afoot on the web that is challenging the long term value of  platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. How can we rethink the flow of publishing wherein the content originates in our personal spaces, and we decide upon the site and context wherein we share it—what is referred to by the indie web folks as publish on your own site and syndicate elsewhere (POSSE).

The ideas circulating within certain corners of the edtech communities overlap with those that are driving the indie web. This might have been why I really enjoyed the conversation today with Mikhail Gershovich, Ben Werdmuller, Erin Jo Richey, and Simon Thomson. The conversation was central to so many of the concerns I’m occupied with on a daily basis. Admittedly, I was a bit selfish in framing this panel discussion, but I felt Connected Courses (and Connected Learning more generally) could be well served to consider itself within a broader context of certain technical principles that remain crucial to helping us think like web.

Simon Thomson did an excellent job capturing that spirit when suggesting indie web applications like Known, at their best, encourage people to take responsibility for their own data.  This is where the technology is constitutive, applications like Known embody those principles so that they become part of how we experience the web. This is where Erin Jo Richey and Ben Werdmüller represent a breath of fresh air. They’re building an application that is grounded in some of the core principles of the indie web that might also be understood as happen to as core principles of connected learning. So here’s to hoping, as Mikhail suggested, Known isn’t “bought by some Chinese concern” anytime soon 🙂

But even if it were, it wouldn’t necessarily matter because the indie web, connected learning, thinking like the web, or whatever you want to call it is rooted in the idea that you need to take responsibility for your digital identity. You need to become the “master of your own domain,” and that might be why I really enjoyed this discussion. It represents just another attempt to try and make sense of the forces and factors that are defining the way we understand the web for teaching and learning—and this is a vector of inquiry and possibility that I have a lot of faith and hope in.

Special thanks to Jamieson Pond for making these sessions happen, it all worked so smoothly thanks to him. Big fan!

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