Dialogue between Expert Panels and Networked Collective Intelligence
This space is reserved for a discussion to consider the merits of placing material mediated by experts alongside completely open and democratic wiki materials so that each has the benefit of learning from the other while exerting their knowledge and judgement in their own way to create distinctive outcomes.
This exercise raises questions about different kinds of knowledge and where they are located, as well as about processes of acquiring, refining, enhancing and distributing knowledge. There are also technical questions concerning how we would go about facilitating both approaches and interaction between them on this platform.
Wayne is a fountain of knowledge with years of experience facilitating this environment and watching it grow and so I propose to ask him some simple/dumb questions. In so doing I hope to create opportunities for newcomers such as myself to understand this complex and promising method of empowering people and tapping into widely dispersed intellectual resources (that would, but for this technology, remain largely inaccessible).
Wayne may migrate this discussion to a wider forum but this is meant to make a start.
A question: what kind of material, if any, lends itself to expert mediation and what is best left completely open to wiki democratic processes?
I should qualify my biases before saying anything <smile> --
I am an educator and I believe that the fundamental purpose of education is to share knowledge freely. Consequently, I am of the opinion that all teaching materials should be released as part of the intellectual commons -- especially those materials which are indirectly funded by public money. Digital "knowledge" is infinitely scalable -- if you share a little of your knowedge with me, you still have it for yourself to use.
I have seen that open authoring approaches (like wikis) can produce very high quality materials and in WikiEducator we support open authoring approaches. I think all content is enriched by expert mediation where democratic processes and rules of engagement derived from consensus formulation produce high quality materials. I don't see that processes of expert mediation are at odds with open democratic authoring. Transparency is key -- i.e. transparency in the processes and consensus decisions we take on the rules of engagement.
I think we start treading on dangerous ground when we try to define who is "expert" and then restrict participation by those who don't meet our specified criteria of "expert". For example, I am by no means an expert on governance. I have had no formal training in the area of Governance, but have experienced governance as a layperson. I think I'm in a position to make valuable contributions to the governance discourse -- bu my contributions must be validated, for instance "rules" of substantiation and justification of the argument.
So I don't think open authoring approaches exclude expert mediation -- in fact I think they are encouraged in these environment, with the added advantage of creating opportunities for "experts" we may not have imagined participating. The counter argument in open authoring ecosystems is the fact that it's not in the interests of sustainable communities to develop poor quality content. From an evolutionary perspective -- communities producing questionable content would not sustain themselves.
For me, quality is not a binary argument between closed and open systems. I think quality is a process and has multiple perspectives.