Humanising the Real Wide Web – the mesh, widely distributed data and “Sensor-driven collective intelligence”

I wouldn’t want to presume to have thought of something before Tim O’Reilly (cf. ; ;, but in 2007 I wrote about Web3. I called it mesh networks and widely distributed databases ( and cited Dust Network’s ( sensors as part of the puzzle. Semantic language technologies are part of it, of course, but the ubiquitous mesh, and widely distributed data is what, now, is transforming the world.
For me the challenge is how to humanise this phase of Internet technology development.

Course Leader’s Blog

As we get ready for the academic year 2010-11, I am preparing our Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education.

This involves: updating the Handbook for this instance of the course for the last time. We will be revalidating a new PCTHE for 2011-12; updating the VLE (Brookes Virtual/Blackboard) and Wiki (Confluence).

There are a lot of new features on the VLE, particularly Voice Tools and related Wimba applications. I hope to start using these “for real” this year.

I am also resolving to keep a Course Leader’s blog here in my BrookesBlog site. A. J. Cann at University of Leicester has written a piece on “Why blog” ( on his excellent (for biologists) Microbiologybytes site. What he said …

I have to confess that I have become something of an on-line learning luddite. Fifteen years ago I was something of an Internet pioneer, developing Web-based support sites for professional development modules as part of a postgraduate certificate in in the management of the international energy industry. I did my MA in education by distance learning and wrote my PhD on community information technology centres. I am active in the social networking world (my Google Profile is here:

So, what gives? I feel an almost visceral antipathy to virtual learning environments (VLEs). OK, I know they are only sets of tools. James Clay keeps a wonderful blog on the virtues of using VLEs ( When Blackboard bought WebCT, the predecessor to the current BrookesVirtual, I wrote a few pieces on the political-economic implications as I saw them at the time (e.g. here: But, I don’t just feel an antipathy only to Blackboard. Moodle for all its open-source loveliness doesn’t do it for me any more, either.

I used to love VLEs. But as we all know, when you fall out of love it is really hard to re-ignite the flame. So, maybe me and the VLE need a little relationship counselling. I promise to listen more and sulk less, focus on the strengths and “accentuate the positive”. Maybe that is a lesson for my life in general!


Much retweeted abt retweeting; an emergent etiquette? apophenia: Understanding retweeting on Twitter

The purpose of this paper is simple. We wanted to explore retweeting as a conversational practice. In doing so, we highlight just how bloody messy retweeting is. Often, folks who are deeply embedded in the culture think that there are uniform syntax conventions, that everyone knows what they’re doing and agrees on how to do it. We found that this is blatantly untrue. When it comes to retweeting, things get messy.

This is a well written and useful paper for more than just the authors’ core aim of analysing retweeting. It provides a useful introduction to the sociology of Twitter and research into Twitter practices.

It is worth a cross link to Paul Carr’s comment in his Guardian blog on Twitter etiquette:

Though this is a very different genre it addresses the same phenomenon of emergent etiquette practices in new social media.

Though I was briefly a Twitter sceptic, I have been using the service for over two years and remain convinced that, with a few other key aspects and applications, it is among those things that makes the Internet uncontrovertably (for me) a *good* thing.

Dave Pollard slates corporate inter and intra net sites and the attitudes that drive them

the vast majority of the groupware/’community’ content, just like most of your Intranet content, is unused and possibly obsolete (and hence dangerous). And you’ll probably find that the vast majority of the CoPs are more or less dormant, or defunct.

Dave Pollard’s “practical guide to implementing Web 2.0…” is more a how-not-to than a how-to, but makes a good read for anyone designing and developing social networking and participatory media sites and services (like the Create team is trying to do for the JISC Institutional Innovation programme).

Reading Beth Kanter’s v useful conceptualisations on sociology of social networking

Essentially a repost via Downes OLD, but I found this article a very useful introduction to the sociology of social networking. Kanter provides tools and illustrations on their use which can help to understand, and to implement directed social networking strategies. (Note to self: can a strategy ever not be directed?)

tonight we suspended the Emerge Elgg service

After a long deliberation we decided that the Emerge Elgg site should not continue to operate in its current form.

From midnight 31 March/1 April 2009 we discontinued log-in to the Emerge Elgg site and suspended all feeds into the site.

I would like to thank all who have been instrumental in creating a vision a community of practice, supported by Web 2.0 technologies.

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Is there evidence of the use of Web2.0 to do deep learning?

It is sometimes asserted that while students are using web 2 tools extensively there is no evidence that they are using them to do deep learning. I believe this assertion should be questioned.

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Epigenetic phenomena

Thanks and a(nother) tippo to A J Cann for the link (via his soti bookmarks on delicious) to D’arcy Norman’s epigenetics and the institution. This hit me as an approach to conceptualising the relationship between individuals and institutions for a paper I am puzzling over writing, about the utility of participatory media (Web2.0/the social internet) to the support, synthesis and benefits realisation of educational R&D programmes.

Participatory media literacy: it does matter

This post is one small link in a chain started for me by A J Cann in a post on his Emerge blog, The P word, fed from Science of the Invisible that linked to Michael Wesch’s post, Participatory Media Literacy: why it matters, referring to “… Howard Rheingold’s great little article, Participative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies,” I am reminded of my colleagues at Brookes, who regularly observe that students show a highly uncritical approach to the media with which they saturate their world (and by which it is saturated). Undergraduate use of the Web for learning was studied in a large multi-method research project aimed to evaluate learner experience of e-learning at Oxford Brookes University, Exploring patterns of student learning technology use, reported at Networked Learning 2008.

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