Wednesday, 7 November 2012

EDUCAUSE opening, Clay Shirky

So EDUCAUSE proper is about to start. Huge theatre, about 6,000 delegates and many thousands of wireless connections. Eduroam coping quite well! Opening remarks as usual from Diana Oblinger, introducing EDUCAUSE as Uncommon Thinking for the Common Good.

Then it's the opening keynote, Clay Shirky on "IT as a Core Academic Competence"

Degree of connectivity we now have is so large that we can make impossible problems trivial. It changes how we approach our jobs. IT is increasingly the place where we collaborate, research etc.

Used the DARPA network challenge as an example. 10 weather balloons put up in different locations in US. Had 30 days to find them to win $40,000. MIT found them in 9 hours using social media. Read about it here.

There's a new resource we can take advantage of, the cognitive surplus. Made up of two things: the free time and talent of every one In world, and a communications infrastructure which is based on collaboration and groups.
To take advantage of this means doing more sharing, being more open.

For example, Smithsonian Institute took several thousand of their photos and put them on Flikr. Users tagged them, thousands of different free-form tags. Tags that professional catalogers would never have used, eg moustache, steampunk. Made the collection so much more valuable.
Photos were also put into different databases.
Only done by opening it up to see what people will do with it. Don't need to know what will happen to data sets before you open them up. Need to see what users will do. This collection had been sitting in the institute for years, and is now being used.

Experiment in openness in academic mathematical community, the polymath blog. Problems posted, community throw out ideas about how it might be tackled. One such problem solved, submitted to journal, but journal wanted list of authors! But it wasn't clear who authors were, it was so large and so collaborative. So they put up a wiki page and said add your name if you think you were an author! The old system has to change to adapt to new ways.

Music industry in 2000 was selling playback quality. Then MP3 came up. Music industry laughed at it because of quality. Then Napster became fastest selling piece of software in history. They sued them, closed them down. But still lost, didn't take control. They couldn't kill the story that Napster told, that the user is in charge. Now hundreds of legal music distribution channels. Music industry didn't see the changed paradigm.

Student set up Facebook group to study chemistry, college charged him with cheating. They said all collaborative study is cheating. He said if this is, then so are tutorials. Google Chris Avenir, Clay has a couple of YouTube videos talking about this case.

Journal Register Company, newspaper chain. Struggling with transition from paper to digital. CEO said everyone has to publish something digitally in their town. No budget. Can't buy new tools etc. We've all sat in meetings talking about whether something might be a good idea, and it's cost more than just trying it. So, they used YouTube, etc. It hugely improved the level of communication by staff between departments and different papers. This was the big win, collaboration.

Rapgenius web page, page for annotating rap lyrics. Someone noticed that it was just an annotating tool and posted a paper on the Mayflower project. Which was promptly annotated. This morning Obama's acceptance speech was there and being annotated.

Big change is openness. If you want to do something, don't put a multidisciplinary team of 20 together with a budget of 200k and a 6 month timescale. Ask 5 people what they can do in a month, for free.

Great opening talk by Clay. Lots of him on YouTube and TED, he's worth a look.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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