User:Blamb/Wide Open Web

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Why open? It's the end of the world as we know it...

Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Ingenuity Gap

Most of us suspect that the "experts" don't really know what's going on and that as a species we've released forces that are neither managed nor manageable. This is the ingenuity gap, the critical gap between our need for ideas to solve complex problems and our actual supply of those ideas.

...we're all caught dangerously between a soaring requirement for ingenuity and an increasingly uncertain supply. As the gap widens, the result can be political disintegration and violent upheaval.

Given that, it seems to me there is a moral imperative to openness. It may be naive, but it seems like dangerous and blinkered thinking to consider openness as an add-on, or as a form of charity. We need to share our best ideas for our own selfish reasons.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, The Upside of Down

Sees breakdown as inevitable. However, sees potential for web as means to manage breakdown, and Wikipedia and open source as models for the type of problem-solving we need for survival.

Speaking of Wikipedia...

Using volumes 25cm high and 5cm thick (some 400 pages), each page having two columns, each columns having 80 rows, and each row having 50 characters, ≈ 6MB per volume. As English Wikipedia has around 7.5GB of text (August 2007, length of wikitext counted by myself) ≈ 1250 volumes. Note that this is a conservative estimate, as it doesn't include images, tables etc. which take up more surface than the text which describes them.

My favorite project: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem Project Page

The work of UBC Professor Jon Beasley-Murray, (Wikipedia Page, Blog)

Why does this work appeal so much?

  • fast, cheap, and out of control...
  • augments traditional literacy with new media literacy
  • results in genuinely useful public knowledge resources (perhaps the essence of open education resources)
  • students will respond to tasks that are authentic
  • We will be doing this at TRU!
  • The support of the Wikipedia Education Project will be crucial. In many ways, entering an environment such as Wikipedia is like traveling to a foreign country.

Case Study: The UBC Wiki

UBC Wiki: A collaborative space for creating and sharing resources

Main space,

Documentation, can explicitly share process


  • Can be syndicated inside WebCT Vista (or most other HTML environments) via cut-and-paste code.

Keys to adoption and development

  • heaps of consultation
  • combination of structure/purpose and emergence/serendipity
  • identify and celebrate mavericks and champions
  • templates!
  • special needs may provide opportunities for development, capacity building - and partnership, ie OERu, Wikimedia

Can we have an open TRU Wiki?


Change in education coming from profit motives, and hyped by people who are not exactly friendly to higher education -- innovation can be a problematic concept these days.


Rather than ask, "how is the web changing the higher education?" can higher education change the web? Image via