an old king hoards… that is was the take away message for me from the last session I attended on the collaborative tools used in the courses that make up the MET program at UBC. And I must say, there are doing some really good things there.
The talk itself brought out the classic ideas of Web2.0 – the small content that would otherwise have been lost in years past is now becoming important though blogging and even more so by micro blogging. It reminds me of the time management story that many of us have heard about the big stones and the sand:
Start with a bucket, some big rocks enough to fill it, some small stones, some sand and water.
Put the big rocks in the bucket – is it full?
Put the small stones in around the big rocks – is it full?
Put the sand in and give it a shake – is it full?
Put the water in. Now it’s full.
The point is: unless you put the big rocks in first, you won’t get them in at all.
But what of the bloggers, traditional media and social network shares? I have an idea based on this model about how the “content” one needs should be supported. It goes in reverse of the time management idea – and in actuality only borrows the props. The big rocks are chunks of content that is relevant to you and what you need to get done, the jar is your knowledge space that is strong, but ultimately fragile. The water is mass media – flowing, shapeless, ubiquitous; the sand, blogging pundits or established alternative media; sand is the blogs that you trust and large stones are the content.
If you fill the jar with water, it won’t support a stone well if the jar is being shaken. There is a chance that if the stone is large enough, the stone will break the jar. If you fill it with only sand, you can support a larger stone better, but eventually it will rest on the top and again if jostled enough, the stone will break the jar. You need a mix of all kinds to fill the jar properly and in the one similarity to the time management origins, you need to put in the stones first. The entire system knits together to create a solid mass.
The content chunk that drives Web2.0 is the micro content of blog posts and status updates. But if it is not supported by the smaller parts – the less “important” resources available online, it’s not worth a whole lot and potentially dangerous. This ties well into the UBC presentation’s idea of informed analysis – something that should be at the core of any curriculum, web2.0 or not.
Getting back the the presentation, they went on to talk about game worlds and how they are being a new narrative (and in my mind, though very important, not THE narrative) form that incorporates many text types at the same time.
Overall, the real kicker for me was the idea that they presented about how all these texts that we have today and that we have generated over time are all technologies that every generation has seen as threatening the classic forms. Well, the most classic form is oral and yes, with the arrival of the printed word, the oral traditions started to die out as the bards fell to the scribes. But through all this transformation of oral to written, care was taken to archive elements of the old and make it “like it was” (new technology seems to always succeed when it’s “like the old one” but “better”). So in that manner, Web2.0 is very much all about that archiving as people bring texts from all parts of their lives and the lives of those around them together into a space that can be indexed and understood, privileging not the ones who own and hoard, but those who create and share.