The value of being open

Moving into the “web 2.0″/social media/online world can be confronting for people. Especially the “open” part. With blogs, photo sharing, social bookmarking etc a lot of what used to be private (or closed) becomes public (or open). This can challenge people. Damien talked about this and other problems with social media in a blog post from late last year.

In the last week three separate things have happened that have reinforced the value of being open. They are:

  • Finding out about an Instructional design group on Slideshare.
    Last week I ran some sessions on Course analysis and design. I used powerpoint slides to structure the sessions and like all of my presentations, uploaded them to slideshare. Within a few hours someone else on Slideshare had seen these presentations and suggested (via slideshare) that I add them to the Instructional design group. Consequently, these presentations have been viewed many more times than might have happened otherwise. For example, the slides on teacher thinking, which includes audio, has been viewed 81 times in under a week.
  • Making a connection with a “name” and enhancing the PhD
    A couple of days ago I posted something related to the PhD. This post arose out of some work I did for the course analysis and design sessions and was only possible because a keynote presentation was publicly available and because Google revealed a blog post that expanded more on this presentation and highlight a particular point.

    The ideas in this work connected with my PhD work and has led to an enhancement of the ideas within it. Also, within 40 minutes of publishing the blog post, one of the presenters of the keynote had made a comment on my post.

  • WordPress’ auto-generated related posts highlighting other interesting stories.

    A few days ago a friend asked whether I had any ideas for iPhone applications. Apparently one of the folk we know of has made a bit of money out of a fairly simple iPhone application. I said I didn’t know of any. I have some ideas now.

    Those ideas have been sparked by this story from Standford. It’s at least a month and a half old but I hadn’t heard of it. At least not until I published this post this morning. I viewed the post after publishing to check formatting and WordPress had automatically included a link to the “Can iStanford take on Facebook mobile?” story from Time.

Making technology more protean?

Taking up the last point, the “Can iStanford take on Facebook mobile?” story highlights a few things related to making technology more protean.

First, there’s a university information technology group that actually gets this stuff. At least to some extent. They realise that they don’t have to provide all the tools for students to access institutional services.

Second, iStanford, based on the little I learnt from the article in Time, is an example of a “small-step” towards making systems more protean. I’m going to assume that iStanford is a traditional application. Only the original developers can modify it. It can’t be easily mashed up and modified by others. Chances are it’s going to be more difficult for other people to go to Stanford and say can we get access to the same information.

A much larger step might have been Stanford making student information available via open APIs or RSS feeds so anyone could produce their own application.

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One thought on “The value of being open

  1. Pingback: Barriers to innovation in organisations: teleological processes, organisational structures and stepwise refinement « The Weblog of (a) David Jones

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