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OCWC Global 2011: Tim O'Reilly keynote - perspectives on Open

Five lessons from open source for open content

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Patrick McAndrew
4 May 2011

O'Reilly as a company started as a book publisher, then organising conferences (not least the Web 2.0 summit), online provision of books and now venture capital to support innovation. Goal "Changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators".

Several firsts - first book on WWW (1992), first commercial web site (1993), web services (1997), Web 2.0 (2004), Make: Magazine (2005). "The future is here just not evenly distributed" (William Gibson).

Watch the hackers and see what they are doing:

  • screen scraping -> web services 
  • Wireless community networks -> wifi hotspots
  • Open source software -> open collaboration.

 

Pattern recognition - have maps of what are going on (though these can be wrong - "The map is not the territory" - Korzybiski). 

Free software - Stallman. Seen as radical. But followed by Raymond's view of open source as a development methodology - free software was about engagement in the open. Actually goes back to Unix - which was licence agnostic. e.g "The UNIX programming environment" - Kerringhan and Pike (for which Tim has written part of the Wikipedia entry in praise of its importance).

"The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think." - Edwin Schlossberg. Led to a rethinking of the free software concept - and the meeting in 1998 that defined open source. Tim wrote about this in "Remaking the peer to peer meme" with some concept maps that explained these different views. View of the PC revoultion - hardware, software and infoware. IBM was dominant in PCs - expansion broke the dominance of IBM: split to Intel, Dell, Microsoft.

Does this model apply to open source? e.g. open source software built on the same hardware and PCs. OR different view as stack of software as service, commodity software components, sub systems. Commodity intel hardware, protocols, and LAMP. BUT the key service layer (e.g. Google) is very much proprietary. So actually fairly complex mapping process.

Christensen "The Innovator's Solution" - when profits disappear at one stage, the reappear at another. So free software is basis for new proprietary empires - Google, facebook etc.

Advantage of open source is to drive down the barriers to participation: low barriers to experimentation, interoperability. Lock in then from benefits of services *not* control. 

Tim O'Reilly five lessons from open source for open courseware: 

1. Think deeply about what it is you *really* do.

As educators, researchers and innovators. What is the job we do for the learners of today and the future and why?

2. Smaller pieces, modular design.

Open courseware often brings the heritage of students assembling in one place for one time. Can we break this down? Wikipedia has a more atomic structure and standardised design. Youtube 5 minute instructional videos and how tos. Viewing falls off radically after 5 minutes: not the 45 minute lecture or semester long course. Challenge how we think people learn as they learn in new ways outside of university. Instructables.com: simple pictures with captions. Khan academy - 52 million lesson views based on small formats. Stackoverflow.com - answering very specific questions.

3. Develop in public

Going back to Cathedral and Bazaar principles. github - sharing open source development now aim to apply to books. Wikipedia talk pages that allow open discussion and views of how pages evolve all in public. ohloh tracking participation levels in the public to see what people have done. markmail that allows datamining of the mailing lists.

4. Provide affordances for community

Allow feedback,tracking. Egs Google pagerank and adwords that depend on user behaviour. Amazon adding participation to buying books. Instructables feeding back views and subscriptions. Make things social. Classics teachers in collaboration between 21 southern colleges led to second biggest classics programme.

Big message: an architecture of participation:

- don't just measure download, measure contribution

- design to be extensible

- small pieces loosely joined is the magic

5. Create more value than you capture.

This has been achieved by OCW. The Gift - Lewis Hyde. Status from what we give away. Enhanced value to the world by giving away so far - think about how to take it forward in a changing world. Not just expression of what we do now - but thinking about the future of the university.

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Patrick McAndrew
2:25pm 4 May 2011


Q&A

Recommend the "Power of pull" by John Seely Brown.

Code for America: how to get government to engage with Web2.0. The iPhone model of extensible platform applied to governement. Egs do happen of government being more open: GPS great example. So model of teach america with "geeks" - built a jobsite for veterans using lightweight tools to avoid huge procurement.

Control by institutions needs to change. Open architecture means anyone can start something. WWW did not have to ask permission - this is fundamental to how so much is happening. Credentialing may remain important but now movie makers mine Youtube, publishers blogs to look for talent. Changes what credentials mean. University needs to focus on how to add value to reputation of the instructor and of the student. E.g. Foo camp approach of unconference - famous professor finding his student was more famous because of internet presence. O'Reilly books need to think about this as well - self publish v O'Reilly publish.

Patrick McAndrew
2:30pm 4 May 2011


Figure out courseware lite approach. Work on the add ons as well as the core. Build small side presentations that are useful. Layer where students teach as well as instructors. Pick out the main subjects - how to create a contribution space: challenges, problems, extra needs, new information, supplementary materials.

How to convince Harvard President to join in? Say that it is better to be part of the future than to be part of the past. need to get with the future.

Patrick McAndrew
2:30pm 4 May 2011


Figure out courseware lite approach. Work on the add ons as well as the core. Build small side presentations that are useful. Layer where students teach as well as instructors. Pick out the main subjects - how to create a contribution space: challenges, problems, extra needs, new information, supplementary materials.

How to convince Harvard President to join in? Say that it is better to be part of the future than to be part of the past. need to get with the future.

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