Fill in the the gap: iPropaganda, iProprietary, i[[Propofol]], whatever.
Unlike most technologists I’m really not a device guy, I don’t have an iPhone (not because I don’t want one, but I just can’t afford it) and I don’t have three 22″ cinema displays. Why would I? I’m an International Web Worker of the World, I labor for an ideal of openness and sharing. I believe that at its core technology can be used to help us enable people to cooperate and share on a scale never before seen, and I think when this becomes an issue of higher and higher costs, and more and more proprietary lock-in, the further away we are from the power and promise of technology to augment human intellect. And to be honest, I know very little about both the iPhone and even less about the iPad, so this post isn’t really about either of them, though Andy Rush nails the idea of these devices in this post: they are devices geared towards consumption and the design of which make creation that much more difficult. That’s a very interesting statement, when you think about what that means for the web. And Mike Caulfield does an excellent job in this post talking about how the hype around the iPad for Newspapers and Journals might be grafted on education:
I think it’s quite likely the reason that mobile learning is consistently overhyped, despite its obvious defects, is that implicit in the image of a student watching a lecture on his phone in a bus is the idea of higher education as a distributor of content, rather than as a community hub. It’s a way of going forward technically while doubling down on the old paradigm.
I agree with this, and the idea of distribution of content for consumers who have that much less stake in the creation is the old paradigm we are talking about more specifically.
But it’s Brian Lamb’s brief, but evocative, mention of the future threats to open education in this post that have me continually questioning devices like the iPhone and iPad:
I see a number of other trends that strike me as far more threatening to the shared values of self-described open educators (and diverse as the movement is, I do think there are shared values, however broad) than what open really means. Over the next week or so, I intend to write about a few of these threats… Like the profoundly undemocratic process that is working to establish a shockingly awful global copyright scheme… I’ve also been brooding about the diminishment of the qualities that made Web 2.0 so genuinely interesting and innovative (I’m thinking of what Jonathan Zittrain describes as the generative web), endangered by the return of corporate-driven platform-based computing (hello mobile web) and a disturbingly passive and self-absorbed online culture. [My emphasis, which may just as well have been everything]
What we are seeing right now is “the return of the corporate-driven-platform-based computing” that is essentially killing the web, and endangering the open URL. And we all love it or hate it for what seems like all the wrong reasons: the device, not the under girding ideas of openness, freedom, and affordability.
I’ve been following Josh Kim’s blog for a while now, and I like much of what he says on there, but I don’t know what to do with quotes like this from his most recent post:
Nothing about a tool as wonderful as the iPad will lower the cost of constructing or delivering education. We will need to invest in buying iPads, developing apps for iPads, and experimenting with new pedagogies and training around iPads.
Are we really there yet? Have we decided to abdicate our Kingdom to the Gonerils and Regans of the commercial world for these “wonderful” devices we’ve never used? We must be careful to give away the kingdom of innovation too easily and quickly, for nothing comes of nothing, and lest we want to remain in the hovel of corporate-driven-platforms we need to realize and promote the open source solutions that allow us all to imagine the web as a “community hub” (to quote Mike Caulfield) for sharing and creating rather than a subscription to consume.