Complexity and the Collapse of Western Civilisation [...]

Rachel Nuwer makes some predictions about the collapse of Western Civilisation. One of the points that she makes is the challenge of 'complexity':

According to Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University and author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, one of the most important lessons from Rome’s fall is that complexity has a cost. As stated in the laws of thermodynamics, it takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state – and human society is no exception. By the 3rd Century, Rome was increasingly adding new things – an army double the size, a cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defences – just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up those heightened complexities. It was fiscal weakness, not war, that did the Empire in. (Source)

Privacy vs Security [...]

Ian O'Byrne provides a comparison between privacy and security:

Privacy is often defined as the right of an individual to keep his/her individual information from being disclosed. This is typically achieved through policies and procedures. Privacy encompasses controlling who is authorized to access your information; and under what conditions information may be accessed, used and/or disclosed to a third party.Security is defined as the mechanism in place to protect the privacy of information. This includes the ability to control access to information, as well as to safeguard information from unauthorized disclosure, alteration, loss or destruction. Security is typically accomplished through operational and technical controls. (Source)

Doug Belshaw visually represents this to get the point home:

Mike Caulfield discusses the future of privacy and suggests that there is work that needs to be done in regards to participatory culture:

I’m sure that the powers that be in Silicon Valley believe in “the end of privacy”, just like they believe in technocratic meritocracy. The most attractive thing for any programmer to believe is that new technologies will render the messiness of social relations obsolete. But this idea, that privacy is antiquated, will lead to institutional and organizational collapse on a massive scale, which is why a transparency organization like Wikileaks is the favorite tool of dictators.(Source)

Technological Trust [...]

Tim Wu reflects on the rise of Bitcoin and wonders about the wider implications for society. He suggests that it may herald a move away from trust in sovereign entities to a trust in code:

Yet as Bitcoin continues to grow, there’s reason to think something deeper and more important is going on. Bitcoin’s rise may reflect, for better or worse, a monumental transfer of social trust: away from human institutions backed by government and to systems reliant on well-tested computer code. It is a trend that transcends finance: In our fear of human error, we are putting an increasingly deep faith in technology. (Source)

The concern that this raises is that it implies that 'code' is somehow pure and unbiased. Audrey Watters' work around the Blockchain paints a different picture, while Cathy O'Neil's book Weapons of Mass Destruction highlights many concerns too.

Silicon Valley Seasteads Technology is never neutral

Questions for NAPLAN [...]

In response to a presentations from Ray Adams (ACER), Sara Ruto (PAL), Anil Kanjee (Tshwane University of Technology), Sue Thompson (ACER), Hans Wagemaker (ex-IEA), Sam Sellar (MMU), and Barry McGaw (ex-ACARA), Greg Thompson asks the following questions:

If NAPLAN is impactful, and I think on this we agree, why is it only ever impactful in positive ways such as in the anecdote that you shared? Why aren’t we equally interested in the negative impacts including trying to understand all of those schools that have gone backwards?Given the objective of this event, I am wondering which qualitative researchers you have read on the effects of NAPLAN that informed your attempts to make the assessments better through designing responses to the unintended consequences of the assessment?Results across Australia have flatlined since 2010*, how do you justify that NAPLAN has been a success in its own terms?I’m always concerned when people mischaracterise the unattended consequences of tests as being ‘teaching to the test’. It would be better to see a hierarchy of unintended consequences ranging from:making decisions about people’s livelihoods such as whether to renew contracts for teachers based on NAPLAN resultsmaking decisions about who to enroll in a school or a particular program based on NAPLAN resultsa narrowed curriculum focus where some subjects are largely ignored, or worse, not taught at all so that schools can focus on NAPLAN prepteaching to the test which may or may not be a problem depending upon how closely the test aligns with curriculum etcThe problem with the branched design for online tests is not whether students will like it or not, it is a) whether schools have the computational capacity to run the tests, extending to whether or not BYOD schools advantage/disadvantage some students depending upon the type of device they use, problems of internet connection in rural and remote schools, bandwidth in large school etc. I am interested how you characterise this as a success?** (Source)

Questions for Data

Examples of Developing a Blog [...]

Blogs change over time:

I was recently asked by someone online how they could get their blog up and running again, beyond simply posting more often. My initial ideas were to tell a story about what you are learning right now, make something new, be the connection that gives other’s a voice or return to why. However, what matters most is where you are at right now. (Source)

Here then are a collection of examples from various bloggers capturing how they have 'developed'

Chris Munro reflects on his move to coaching and sharing within a more professional space:

I’ll continue to share my writing by posting links here for the time being and I may still do the occasional reflective piece (Source)

Peter DeWitt talks about he the changes to his blog from more informal beginnings to quite purposeful and structured posts. This has included his move from Principal to Consultant and now to author and editor.

I am not totally going away though. I will be writing a monthly column for Education Week. There will be more information to follow, but the columns will begin in September. With the changes from 3 times a week to a monthly column, we needed you to know why the format will look a bit different and will be less frequent. Stay tuned.(Source)

Greg Ashman blogged under the pseudonym 'Harry Webb'. After some pressure, he archived it to focus on his own site.

And everyone assumed that I was out to convince; that I was making a case in order to persuade. It wasn’t that at all. It gave me the freedom to talk into the void. That’s why it was anonymous; freedom. As it grew, I saw it as a resource for those people who already agreed with me: Do you think knowledge is important too? Great. Here are some useful links.(Source)

Clint Lalonde reflects on ten years of blogging and explains why he is splitting his writing between and EdTech Factotum.

his’ll be the last EdTech’ish post here. I’ll be moving much of my professional life to EdTech Factotum. This site will have more of some of the other stuff I used to blog about mentioned above. Likely some politics, a lot of soccer, parenting, media criticism and bikes. So, stick around if that is up your alley. Still like to have you here. But if it is mostly EdTech, OpenEd, online learning and that stuff, EdTech Factotum is the spot to be.(Source)

Dave Winer reflects on the beginnings of blogging and how things have changed over time:

22 years ago today I wrote my first blog post. It went out via email to people I had met at tech conferences over the years, and was published to the web. I didn't know it would catch on, but I did know it was something new. I was just telling my business friends that there was a product rollout in San Francisco that they might want to go to.(Source)

Richard Byrne reflects on ten years blogging and identifies some of the things that have changed:

Windows netbooks are a thing of the past. Although you could argue that a Chromebook is really just a netbook. Windows and Mac operating systems have changed. Android phones and tablets are plentiful and affordable. Mobile phones are much more capable than they were ten years ago. We consume more information through social media than we do through newspapers and traditional television programming. More schools have 1:1 programs than ten years ago. Cloud computing is more prevalent than ever.(Source)

Gill Light discusses the interest in writing, but in different spaces:

This blog has been around for rather a long time. I believe I started it nearly 8 years ago which, in internet years, makes it at least 25. However it hasn’t held the allure in recent years and I have been pondering why. I still love writing and am a lot more prolific on my running blog. I still love teaching and learning, both within and beyond my classroom walls. For some reason, the spark doesn’t seem to carry through to writing about it once I’m at home. And there are lots of reasons for that – some simple and some a lot more complex. Perhaps they should become blog posts of their own.(Source)

Harold Jarche discusses his experience of blogging over time, highlighting some of the changes and challenges:

Starting this blog in 2004 helped me connect with a global audience and share ideas with many people who over the years have become friends and colleagues. I was more optimistic at that time because we were not dealing with constant outrage on social media, fake news, surveillance capitalism, and the extinguishing of net neutrality. Given the online land grab by the platform monopolists it is becoming even more important for individuals to have a space they control on the web. It seems fewer of us are blogging because there are many more convenient options that require less time and thought. But we need thoughtful bloggers, unconstrained by platforms and publishers, now more than ever before. An aggressively engaged citizenry is essential to democracy.(Source)

Two Collaborative Roles – Critical and Creative [...]

Reflecting on the collaboration between Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Austin Kleon talks about the importance of playing different roles. He suggests that when working alone that one strategy is to be conscious with your time:

This is a terrific argument for collaboration, and the power of two, but for those of us who work solo, we have to try to split ourselves into two different people. We have to play the two different roles, inhabit the two different mindsets, wear the two hats. The easiest way do this, I’ve found, is to split up the modes in time: Write something without stopping, let it sit for 24 hours, or even a week, or even a year, then come back to it with the red pen. Or, make something in one space, then take it over to another space to fiddle with it. (This is why I have separate analog and digital desks in my studio: analog for creative mode, digital for editing mode.) (Source)

Collaboration Should be Natural

Diversity and Perspective

Purpose [...]

Simon Sinek discusses the difference between rationalising a decision and finding real purpose:

Providing jobs, driving the economy, serving the shareholder are not purposes. They are rationalizations used when a greater cause or purpose is not clear or not there.  Real purpose has a clear and definitive direction. It is a path that points towards a very specific vision of the future. Rationalizations have no destination, they are simply a calculation to demonstrate some benefit to justify the actions. (Source)

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Innovation and Dynamic Systems [...]

As part of the investigation of systems, Julian Stodd provides a definition for innovation:

Innovation is an emergent feature of a dynamic system, not a process within a system, or a target set upon it. Innovation may be nurtured, but is equally often provoked, and here’s the funny thing: innovation itself is rarely enough, unless accompanied by the ability to exploit it. We have to be able to hear weak voices within the system, to develop, nurture, sense make, and prototype, before we can exploit.

The challenge is nuturing it, rather than pushing and provoking it:

If we want to avoid the innovation trap, we must understand the two spaces, and everything that comes with them: innovate, broadly, at scale, and exploit it, when you have raced the ideas. But do not try to constrain the race: by doing so, we build our own failure, we engineer our own constraint.(Source)

Diversity and Resistence [...]

Providing two separate case studies, Kisha Tracy and Katharine Covino explain why diversity is so important now and offers us an opportunity to resist:

Embracing diversity, in all its forms, promotes critical thinking and empathy ... In such a place and time, forefronting diversity takes on an overtly political mien, becomes an overtly political act. Promoting diversity in a time when diversity is viewed negatively offers educators an avenue of resistance. It is imperative that we not shrink from this duty, but rather that we embrace it. We must model through our pedagogy that we see, know, and value each and every student sitting in front of us not in spite of their differences, but because of them. (Source)

Another take on the topic is Ellen Ullman and her discussion of diversity and perspective.