Wonder Twins activate, form of “Write To Reply”

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I just wanted to applaud Tony Hirst and Joss Winn for the amazing work they are doing with Write to Reply. These two British cats did nothing short of re-imagine the possibilities for an open, accessible discourse around documents that are made available for public review. What they have effectively done is create a site for re-publishing these public documents—which at the moment are Digital Britain’s Interim Report and the recently released Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan (which Ars technica just reported on today)—that allows a line-by-line commentary by anyone who has something to say about the direction of these initiatives.

They also have a twitter account, a blog, Wiki, etc. It’s a remarkable example using free and (mostly) open tools like WordPress Multi-User, MediaWiki, and the like to quickly implement a space whereby people can publicly discuss, debate, and become informed about the ideas and decisions the British government is framing about their shared future. This is a model for fast, cheap, and loosely-joined civic engagement, and it wasn’t done by committee or through the organizations and leaders that be. It was done by a couple of British edtech edupunks who just wanna rock out! So, what have you done lately, honcho?

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6 Responses to Wonder Twins activate, form of “Write To Reply”

  1. Ed Webb says:

    They’re rocking pretty hard.

    One important factor here is that the British government is (belatedly) getting the material out there in a format that allows this. In the US, too, the field is opening up to such possibilities of mashups, community engagement etc. – here’s a good example: http://is.gd/l11N

    Your challenge at the end there should be taken seriously by all honchos. Now, I’m not an edtech guy, coding scares me – I’m lucky to have access to people who can do that stuff. But I think educators as well as edtechs should be thinking about the possibilities here, for education in its broad as well as narrow sense, for promoting engaged learning across society. And, of course, for having fun and rocking out.

  2. Tony Hirst says:

    @edweeb “But I think educators as well as edtechs should be thinking about the possibilities here, for education in its broad as well as narrow sense, for promoting engaged learning across society.”

    One of the things that interests me going forwards is how we might find ways of linking to relevant educational materials at particular points in the consultation docs so that people who don’t necessarily understand the issues raised by the consultation can learn about it in context and at point of need…

    I’m increasingly into the idea of guerrilla education, spotting learning and teaching opportunities and just delivering. We can work about monetisation, the business and making it play once we know it’s successful, right…? And if it isn’t successful, maybe a few people will learn stuff along the way?

    Oh, and PS Jim – we’ve started experimenting with fake, have your own say/in your own words reports too:

    The Fake Digital Britain Report
    http://wiki.writetoreply.org/wiki/The_Fake_Digital_Britain_Report

    Not sure how well it’ll do… but that’s partly the point, right?;-) heh heh

  3. Scott Leslie says:

    I second this applause, especially because it brings home the point I’ve been trying to make to people in institutions for years, do this or we’ll do it for you. It will be a great day when, without scraping and munging we get the data we want in the formats we want. Until then, I anxiously await the next post from these two (and others) to learn ever new ways to free the data.

  4. Scott Leslie says:

    Tony, would Calais help do you think? The OER Recommender stuff? Freebase? Interested to hear more about the auto-linking ideas.

  5. Ed Webb says:

    @Tony re: @edweeb – brings back fond memories of when I was British Embassy spokeshoncho in Cairo in the 1990s, and the Arabic press (particularly Al-Hayat, for some reason) had terrible trouble with my name. I was Edward Dweeb more than once, and Edward Diib (translates as “Wolf”), and others. Fun times.

    Guerrilla education sounds good to me – time for edudada, eduhappenings?

  6. Reverend says:

    @Ed Webb:
    I’ll tell you, that Google Map of the “Pork in the Commerce Justice State Bill” is awesome. I’ve never seen such expensive blue balloons in my life. And what is trippy is that it is all going to supe up police technologies of surveillance and control, which might rightly be considering a priority in our current social and economic climate. I’ll be using that example again soon, scary!

    @Tony:
    I really like what you are saying about seeing if the stuff works and then worry about monetising it (although that word always makes me cringe). This makes a ton of sense to me, especially after talking to Jon Udell about a recommendation for a grant, to which he ever politely said no, then explained how the grant system was ass backwards. One should experiment and build the model they are talking about and if it makes sense and achieves its purposes and shows promise, it should then be funded. Not funding an idea that isn’t fleshed out or manifest and proven effective in some way. I think part of his thinking is right on this and I applaud him, at the same time I think often having a certain amount of freedom with a little security to dream through an idea may also have its benefits–even if it is a bit costly.

    Be that as it may, in this moment I think his model will make a lot more sense to people than a running faucet might. And none of this should take a way from the amazing model you and Joss have been whipping together over the last few weeks. I have been watching intently, and just got around to gushing. I really love what you are doing. Where are the forums and BuddyPress? 😉

    @Scott
    What it also highlights beautifully is another clarion call from EdTech Post that really captures the spirit of this whole thing:
    http://www.edtechpost.ca/wordpress/2008/11/08/just-share-already/
    Masterpiece!

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