Monday, 30 March 2009

Our walled gardens

Last week it was the Annual JISC Conference, and unfortunately due to other commitments, I couldn't get to it. However, I did manage to watch some of the sessions on the excellent live streaming service they had set up. I particularly enjoyed the closing keynote by Ewan McIntosh, Digital Commissioner for Channel Four's 4iP. They've invested £50m over 3 years to develop ideas in ddigtail media that will make a change to people's lives. New business models are being investigated which make content free to the public, whilst being sustainable in terms of income generation.

Ewan's main theme was the opening up of information. As he said, free is a hard price to beat. The release of public data, such as the Guardian's data store allows mashups to bring together information from disparate sources in an easy to use and understand way - sites like Theyworkforyou, and interactive maps that show whether you could afford to live in certain areas of London being good examples. But as well as information being open, it has to be available where people want it. He compared sites in your toolbar (facebook, Flickr, BBCNews), with a University's VLE. The former are sites that people want to go to, the latter that they have to go to. And because of that, students get in, get what they want and get out as quick as possible.

He had some interesting ideas about spaces - watching spaces, participating space, performing spaces, publishing spaces and group spaces. Those in the audience not using Twitter were in a watching space and not participating. Interestingly I was watching it on a live video stream and twittering to people in the audience as well as those watching from the outside.

His challenge to Universities was to change our ideas on pedagogy, to make our information more open and not hide it in our walled gardens, and encourage our students to be creative with it.

Well worth a watch - it's available here by clicking on the "closing keynote" link in the video section.

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