Monday, March 08, 2010


Kill the ego

Recently I was a cry baby over Jon Mott not citing my writings on the LMS. Jon was quick to address my complaint and put a sentence and footnote in for one of my more well known 2005 rants.

A discussion has followed.

Jim Groom questions the need to give specific attribution in his post, Credit where credit is due?
I’m also not too sure the issue of credit isn’t in many ways at the root of some of the more problematic issues tied up with traditional ways we have thought about teaching, learning, and scholarship more generally.
Jim links to Joss Winn's post, Towards a Manifesto for Sharing to support the idea that a formal system of referencing works against the natural and social aspects of the mediums we are communicating in, and possibly reinforces the dogma we are railing against.

Stephen Downes picks the issue up equating the academic process as an inherent power play taking away from the communities that foster the original ideas, using the ideas but severing the original connection through notions of acceptable reference material.
...But I wouldn't feel too bad, Leigh - there's no reference to any of my work in their either. That's what academia does, though. It whitewashes the original work and presents it as a genuine made-in-the-USA "discovery" with corporate-friendly references, patents to follow, no doubt.
Mike Caulfield helps Stephen with his point
I think there is a problem with the system. If you want to get something published, you have to choose to source stuff to peer reviewed journals, not blogs. This results in a sort of idea laundering that serves to hide the fact these ideas are coming from those crazy bloggers that everyone derides. And because these articles don't redirect people into the conversation that produced the ideas in the first place, it keeps the people dependent on EDUCAUSE reports dependent on EDUCAUSE reports. Which is, of course, the entire point of the current conventions.
But earlier in the same post, Mike supports Jim's original sentiments:
I don’t want our blog world to become a copy of the frozen sterile and gridlocked academic discourse we are fleeing. I want it to continue to be a conversation, and not to start reaching a 1:1 content to footnote ratio. I don’t want us to start bulking up our posts with ridiculously detached prose in an effort to be “citable”. (Heck, this post is way too long by my standards).

But at the same time, you can’t imagine how painful it will be for me to now sit in meetings with people from IT and have them quite literally try to educate me about this new thing called “Loosely Coupled Assessment”. And believe me, this will happen. It has before.
Jon has been posting short sometimes sharp comments too.. this one back on Jim's blog raises an interesting side angle:
I wonder if this concern for credit had anything to do with the abject failure of my Wikipedia challenge a couple of years back.
In which he outs Jim's call for humility with a very poor track record of Wikipedia edits. What's equally interesting is Jon's investigation into other A-lister contributions (or lack there of) to Wikipedia.

On this front I'm happy to say I have a pretty good contribution record across a number of Wikimedia Foundation projects including Wikipedia, Books and Versity, and go as far as saying such a record is an important feature on one's credibility rating :)

There is a lot to think about in all this discussion, but really the original concern I had was that my work didn't rate a mention anymore, especially if the criticisms of the LMS are finally going to mean something :(

I've since been reassured, but how reassured?

While it is about integrity, the connections and historic record, its equally if not more about that moral and human need for recognition, for occasionally doing something remarkable, and for just knowing that people know you're there and what you did. We all need it, we should do more to give it, otherwise we all disappear in a cacophony of untraceable sound bites, academic make believe, and institutionalisation/corporatisation.


Jim Groom said...


To be clear, the Jon in the comments on the bava is Jon Beasley-Murray at UBC, not Jon Mott of BYU, who has been rightfully baiting us to work more in a commons space like Wikipedia for a while. His work with Wikipedia and his classroom is amazing and I really do see the difference in terms of ego when it comes to blogging versus wiki work, something Jon Maxwell (all these Jons!) did a wonderful Job of critiquing at OpenEd09. And the collaborative knowledge building of a wiki really does get at many of these issues in another way, so Jon Beasley Murray's comment was appropriate and poignant.

All this said, I make no apologies for my ego, and I will go as far as to take full credit for it :)

Leigh Blackall said...

My inability to distinguish between the jons says it all really! I can't even give credit properlly when I try! Made worse by the fact that ive used jbm's murder and mayhem project as an example many times! I'll try harder at remembering that in future.