on the nature of conversation on the social web

Just substitute the word “conversation” in your head each time they say “argument”

Monty Python: Argument Clinic

So much of the “conversation” on the social web slash web 2.0 isn’t really conversation. At best, it’s a series of parallel monologues, occasionally overlapping or feeding each other. Or, they are (almost) nothing but superficial fluff, with the puffed up posture of “making a difference” or “changing the world” or “doing my part”.

Bullshit. Text posted to the internet (including this post) is just text. It’s not changing the world. It’s not making a real difference in the way we actually live our lives. It’s what we choose to do with the ideas floated around that can make a difference.

Conversation, on the social web, doesn’t really exist. It’s a mirage. An illusion. A shared mass delusion. And as long as we continue to participate in that delusion, we’re preventing any real, deep, meaningful conversations from taking place.

on the future of education

I’ll keep this rant short. I don’t know what the future of education is, or will be, but I do know that it’s not “web 2.0” despite the hype.

Education is, always has been, and always will be, about the acts of teaching and learning. It is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, a form of technology. It is not a suite of distributed online tools, no matter how buzzword compliant they might be.

We need to move past this infatuation with technology, this desire for shiny things to change everything, and get back to basics. To storytelling. To valuing and respecting the work of all participants (students, teachers, and others). To working together to teach our children, and ourselves. To extending the activity outside of some industrialized classroom and into the community.

Sure, “web 2.0” has a role in this – in providing tools to enable individual publishing and collaboration – but it is NOT the technology that is the future of education. It’s people. Without proper philosophies and pedagogies, all the shiny websites on the planet don’t add up to a hill of beans.

(donning asbestos underoos in preparation for ensuing deluge of fire and brimstone)

twitter’s business model?

Twitter’s been flakier than usual this week, and supposedly the twitgineers are busy fixing database borkage and scaling stuff up and twiddling bits and furiously adjusting the machine that goes PING!

And yeah, they’ve had investors temporarily filling bank accounts to pay for the lavish web 2.0 drug binge parties development of a more robust and scalable nanoblogging platform.

But… Where is the money really coming from? It’s not advertising. It’s not subscription fees. The only other reasonably viable option is that they’re building it up to hope to sell it to some web 2.0 behemoth. And I can’t see why Yacrosoft! would pay $millions for it. Or anyone else, for that matter.

So, where will the money come from to pay for the server farms, pool tables, and cocaine parties growing workforce?

Twitter’s been a pretty stellar example of the power of community momentum. Even though the software is technically and demonstrably inferior to its competitors. The Twitter community stays put because nobody wants to be the first rat to jump ship, in case it doesn’t sink after all. Twitter works JUST well enough, and JUST often enough to keep us all coming back. “maybe it’s working now… how about… NOW! hmmm… now?  or… now? YES!” The power of intermittent reinforcement in action. And none of the alternatives are dramatically better – they all suffer the same lack of clear business model that reeks of profound inability to scale sustainably.

A viable business model doesn’t look like this:

K12 Online – More than cool tools

I had the chance to work on a presentation for the K12 Online 2007 conference. Alan, Brian and I started by thinking of doing an updated “Small Pieces” piece, and we wound up creating a 53 minute video presentation touching on 9 trends in successful online tools, and how they might be used effectively.

The trends are, in no real order:

  1. embed
  2. connect
  3. socialize
  4. collaborate
  5. share
  6. remix
  7. filter
  8. liberate
  9. disrupt

Here’s the presentation, hosted in chunky Google Video transcoded format. There are links to higher (and lower) res versions on the K12 conference page for the presentation.

There’s a live “fireside chat” Elluminate session scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20 at 1pm GMT (which is 7am here in Calgary – so much for my day to sleep in…)

I’m thinking of writing up a blog post describing the process we used, which worked out surprisingly well (except for my inability to properly normalize all of the audio – sorry!). Final Cut Pro was used to pull together audio, images, and video from 3 presenters, and spit out the final product. I learned a LOT about using FCP during the process, and think I could do it much quicker (and better) next time around…