Social Networking

I’m not a user of social networking services. I’ve checked them out, sure, but I haven’t been interested in sharing my personal life online (just the opposite, in fact). This is fine because my friends, who are mostly the same vintage as me, don’t use them either. I felt a little behind the times at the Amsterdam Sakai Conference, where everybody seemed to be discussing Myspace/Facebook, posting pictures to Flickr or sharing links on del.icio.us (and this last one particularly stings, as I remember using the word, completely earnestly, in it’s traditional sense and got back a snicker and a reference to links…sigh :-)).

Anyways, the one exception is LinkedIn, where I seem to be somewhat more networked than the average Sakai community member. This is because I’ve been a user from the early days of LinkedIn, have been in the computer-based learning field for 20 years, and have moved organizations a few times. I am fairly discriminating about who I accept connections with. Most of my connections are people I’ve actually worked with directly at some point or another and, if someone asks, I would have something substantive to say about them.

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The Innovator’s Dilemma & Sakai

As I’ve started talking to people in the Sakai community (only a couple of dozen so far, but picking up speed) I’ve been interested to hear how often the Sakai CLE is being used, sometime exclusively, for purposes other than teaching and learning. Several schools are primarily making use of the collaboration features for research and other work groups and others are mainly interested, for now, in the portfolio features. (Yes, I know, that portfolios have a lot to do with teaching and learning….perhaps I should have said “purposes other than support of formal class activities” or something…but I hope you take my point.)

This won’t be a surprise to anyone who has followed Sakai closely since, from the beginning, it was called a Collaboration and Learning Environment. But it did make me think about a business book I read some years back that I thought was actually pretty good: The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen (ugh…can’t say I like his website though). I normally dislike business books because they are full of reasonable sounding observations culled from a few hand-picked anecdotes. This book, though, is very empirical and touches on multiple industries.

The basic idea is that companies can go out of business by listening too well to their best customers. Continue reading

Sakai Wikipedia Edits

Based on a suggestion from Alice Brainerd at Johns Hopkins, I decided to start editing the Sakai Wikipedia entry. As the new Executive Director this is a good exercise–I’m certainly not as practiced as Chuck is on describing Sakai in a few short paragraphs. Luckily, the entry was a bit out of date so, even if what I’m doing won’t be “perfect,” I didn’t think I was at risk of going backwards. And, of course, I had help from Anthony Whyte.

I’ve only gotten a small start, but would love your feedback and suggestions. Or, in Wikipedia style, just start editing.

Remember that Wikipedia entries carry a copyleft license so don’t just cut and paste from any source. In fact, as part of this exercise, Anthony and I thought we would start from an OSS Watch article that Brad Wheeler wrote. We contacted them for permission (good on us), which they said they were likely to give, but wanted to review the entry first to make sure it was sufficiently different. At the end of the day, only minimally related to the potential delays related to an external review cycle, we decided not to start from the article. But it was, nonetheless, an instructive reminder of the complexity of intellectual property issues that have surfaced as a result of the growth of open source. And the need to consider these issues carefully in making decisions about Sakai…