I’ve been somewhat coy about what I’ve been working on the last few weeks, but it’s big and audacious, and I intend to talk about at DevLearn (preferably at a LETSI event) if it merits discussion. I mention this up front because the threads that are coming from Harold Jarche‘s brilliant post on killing the notion of curriculum , and they are solidifying my thinking.
Harold’s thesis, to me, at its core is one of how to manage the knowledge. He’s throwing it all in the same sink, which is fine at a high level, but when you get down to it there are deeper dives. Harold’s right on the money with how to deal with the challenge; I posit that the deeper dives are where we find bigger, fundamental challenges.
“Content” is one of those closest to the surface, and it’s the most obvious way we can talk about what’s not right with our struggles with the abundance of knowledge in the world; we all have the most experience and comfort with content. The last ten years have made it faster, cheaper and easier to creating good content. Filtering content is improving, and that’s in large part because aggregating relevant content before/after filtering is solid.
As one large human network, we’ve developed better-than-primitive tools (like sticks and stones turning into hatchets) to do these things for us (there’s my shout out to @moehlert, @dennisschleiche and other cultural anthropologists).
“Content” only presents one perspective. What about “community?”
We have constructed only primitive tools when it comes to managing knowledge, in terms of our relationships with people and the communities that form out of disparate (or even conjoined) networks of people.
We’re definitely aglow with the egalitarian nature of 140-character limits because it gives us a common perspective with which to observe the merits of connecting to other people, but Twitter is still about the content at least as much as it is about the people.
Facebook can connect you to your first kiss back in Kindergarten (Holly Konopka, btw) — but Facebook can’t connect me to sociologists who happen to have experience turning big-picture visions in my head into business capabilities (as an–ahem–example). To find such a person, he/she needs to be a friend of a friend (community) or they need to have published (content) stuff that would identify them through search engines.
We have workarounds, which may eventually help us in solving this problem, but these indirect means bypass people who don’t publish much (so SEO never picks them up–BRITNEY NAKED), or are otherwise inaccessible to me because I only know academics and nerds who have no business sense (present company excluded, of course).
We have primitive means of filtering and almost no means of aggregation of people.
So even with content and community, there’s potentially still ANOTHER view of the problem with “curriculum” Harold identified, which is that in addition to not being able to handle all the content and communities that exist, we also have no way of dealing with all the “context” needed to situate an understanding, individual or communal.
I mean, we don’t even have the primitive tools for this yet. Take for example this very thread of discussion: Harold presents one point of view regarding what he sees as a root cause to a problem (I’m paraphrasing here):
“Curriculum, as a concept feels outdated… why?”
I’m now presenting a potentially more complex point of view on the issue.
There are derivatives to be drawn from even what I’m presenting to you (remove comma?) as a reader and possible participant; yet you must manage all these perspectives, including Koreen Olbrish‘s and Mark Oehlert‘s and Clark Quinn‘s perspectives on this same issue. There are some tweets on this topic, and you can throw those in the mix.
You might be reading this and have the full advantage of being situated already in this discussion with an ample handle on context. What if this post is where you first jump in? What does anyone need to do to catch up to the discussion if you want to make sense of what Harold, Koreen, Mark, Clark and now I are all talking about?
Now go a step beyond: what would someone else, other than you, need to do in order to get themselves to a point where he or she could take these ideas and run with them?
We have difficulty in making context sharable in and of itself. Because of that we have almost no way of aggregating contexts let alone filtering them. We can only imagine what that would be like. Science Fiction (or even the last ten years of online search capability) models that if we can capture things, we can make them available in lots of ways. I can recall movies like Dreamscape and Brainstorm that deal with capturing and sharing experiences, but we’re a ways away from the Matrix style of downloading that degree of context.
Besides, the hard-line transfer mechanisms are awkward or look damn uncomfortable in The Matrix.
So this brings me back to the wall Harold alludes to. I believe the scope of the problem is more dense than just that there’s so much more to “know” than we can possibly ever learn. These statements are, if you connect the same dots I’m connecting, supported by Harold himself (thanks for the link, Harold!) in “What is Weighing Down Learning“:
- There are so many more people to get to know than we can possibly ever build a relationship with;
- There are so many more experiences happening in a single day than any one of us can possibly participate in, given a lifetime!
Our notion of connecting to each other is rooted in metaphors based on connecting to content. We need to flip this on its head. So what do we do about THAT?
One possible solution that some friends and I are actively working on is, at a very high level, to use the Internet itself as a giant database (rather than putting data in stovepipes like actual databases) to assign data to people, instead of digital artifacts. We think we’ve found a way to enable more complex social networking than we can currently accomplish under the conditions that networks are based solely on who you currently know and by extension through friend-of-a-friend relationships. If we get that right, we think we’ll be able to enable sharing contexts.
For future reference, we’re calling our solution a Brokered Anonymous acQuaintance Open Network, or BAQON for short.