Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Walled Gardens are dead!

Walled GardenI got a little carried away in my presentation on Saturday at the KAMALL/KSET conference. At one point, I declared, "Walled Gardens are dead!" While I really do believe this, I should know better than to say it that way. Luckily, nobody called me on it during the presentation, though someone did afterwards.

The reason that I shouldn't have said it like that is that it's impossible to defend and it's not true. There will always be walled gardens. Organizations will always have some sort of closed system for the sake of security, either of the data or of the participants. It's a wild world out there and I can see the need to keep student data in a closed system because it really can be used for nasty purposes.

However, this doesn't mean that the concept isn't dying. There are surely benefits for users with technologies (or services) can play nicely together. More and more, people are providing their content to the world. Whether this be videos, pictures, or ideas, users expect to be able to share this content with the world and set restrictions themselves (not the organizations/services).

I might be an idealist, but I think that ideas should be free (as in free beer AND as in freely expressed). We have both a right to benefit from the sharing of information (instructional or other) and the responsibility to share information that we possess.

Many teachers are walking the walk. They are putting their ideas in terms of lectures, activities, lesson plans, and so forth out there for public consumption. This can only benefit other teachers (and learners) who can incorporate these ideas and products in to their instruction. In this way, the sharing of ideas has moved (or is moving) from the break rooms to the ether Net. These ideas are them being collected from the ether, organized, and re-shared with others. This is where services/technologies like blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, and others come in. They enable anyone to collect, organize, and re-distribute these ideas (content) in any way they see fit. We then develop connections with these re-mixers of ideas, which forms our personal (learning) networks.

There will come a point when the walled gardens simply can't compete. They will be (or already are) relegated to spaces with a minor impact on learning/working/playing and will be seen as just another place that users have to remember to go to get the occasional message or tidbit of institutional treasures (information that can't be shared).

Call me deluded, call me a dreamer, but please call me :) Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


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