The balkanisation threat to network learning

As part of NGL the plan was to play with Mendely as a medium, but some limitations of Mendeley meant it didn’t quite fit the bill.

Disconnected by larsomat, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  larsomat 

Undeterred, Tracey’s spent some time exploring and sharing more about Mendeley and its possibilities for network learning. Including a journal article that explains how a tool like Mendely responds to the changes happening in science research (and perhaps research more broadly). Interesting to see Mendeley’s PKM related process (7 parts, rather than 3) –

  1. Organise
  2. Manage
  3. Read
  4. and Write
  5. Collaborate
  6. Discover
  7. Participate

Another alternative

Earlier this morning, as it happens, I received a “cold call” about colwiz that has the goal to

accelerate research by providing a robust reference manager with data sharing and collaboration capabilities

Sounds an awful lot like Mendeley. I could perhaps take the time to do an in-depth comparison – I might do that one day as I can see some interesting applications in terms of learning and teaching – but I don’t have the time just right now.

But what worries me is this as yet another example of the balkanization of the network world. I wonder how easily I – as a current Mendeley user – interact with a research group using colwiz (and vice versa)? My guess is that we’d all have to standardise on one reference manager. This tendency for the commercial imperative to focus on getting everyone into their tool at the expense of interconnections between tools. I’m pretty sure this will get a mention at some stage in connected courses.

As it happens the movie “A Beautiful Mind” was on TV last night which begs the question whether this commercial tendency might benefit from understanding of “Governing Dynamics”?

Further illustration of the potential silliness of some responses to a network world is illustrated by my initial searches for an image or clip from the movie. My first find comes up with the message

The clip you are trying to watch is unavailable in your region. We periodically let studios know which clips are in high demand so please check back soon

A later search reveals this blog post which has the same clip embedded but via YouTube.

The network routes/works around blockages or breakdowns. Wasn’t that one of the aims behind the design of the Internet?

Which begs the next question, Is there anyone designing some software to allow connections to be made between disparate reference management software? Will making connections between balkanized commercial interests become a demand that another entity will have to satisfy? Perhaps, a commercial opportunity?

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