Open Source

Free knowledge and digital divide

Some 15 years ago I did some very basic studies on journalism. So, I know the basics: find a hook and catchy one-liners, use citations… etc. Still a journalists can surprise me – positively and negatively. This time positively.

In November I made a short trip to Barcelona to visit the Unversitat Oberta de Catalunya to take part in the UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning Seminar.

During the seminar I did three very fast interviews with my bad English, terrible Spanish and non-existing Catalan. One of them was for a broadcasting radio, one for some video online site and one for the University’s site. I haven’t come a cross with the radio or the video, but a friend sent me a link to the University site’s press room section with an interview with me.

It is a great interview, I think. The writer has brought up from my bubbling speaking style some great points. Here are my favorites and some explanations about them:

“The beauty of any wiki is that it is a flow of information. It is like a river: you can’t step into the same river twice in the same way you can’t step into the same wiki twice.”

I actually heard the metaphor about the impossibility to step in a same wiki twice some time ago from Tere Vadén. I think it is so well said that I have used it since then in number of occasions. The original “river wisdom” comes – according to Wikiquote – from a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Heraclitus.

“… when it comes to learning, the teacher or mentor – or even the community itself – is taking a subjective point of view. There is no need for neutrality.”

Everybody who is familiar with the Wikipedia-politics will understand what I am trying to say with this. In Wikiversity one should not have “neutral point of view” -rule and for sure not any rule asking people not to publish original research (these are probably the most important rules in the Wikipedia). To make it possible not to have these rules in the Wikiversity we must have some other rules and practice in place. These will guarantee that the site will be a meaningful place for learning. For instance in the Wikiversity one should always be transparent with the “point of view” taken in the course – say it openly. To publish original research there should be a peer-review system in place.

“I’m not looking for what will happen in a year or two. I prefer to think about what will happen in five hundred years.”

I am serious about this, too. A year or two is of course an interesting time span, because our possibilities to be in place to see what then finally did happen are much greater than with a longer time span. However, the point we are looking for should always be at least over four generations. We should all plan our action by thinking how our grand grandchildren will live? Even 500 years is nothing. It is only about seven generations.

“The best thing with these new technologies, like wikis or blogs, is not that they exist but that they are opening us up to talk about what learning is. We would not have this kind of debate in the educational sector without them.”

This is a bit of paradox, but on the other hand very obvious thing to happen. In a way we are developing technology to improve our ability to learn. Same time the technology developed is challenging many of us to reconsider our conventional and common believes about teaching and learning. Good. It was about the time.

The interview in English, Spanish and Catalan are here:

Interview with Teemu Leinonen: If there is free knowledge available on the Web, it will make more sense for governments to invest in connectivity

Entrevista con Teemu Leinonen: Si hay conocimiento libre disponible en el web, tendrá más sentido que los gobiernos inviertan en conectividad

Entrevista amb Teemu Leinonen: Si hi ha coneixement lliure disponible al web, tindrà més sentit que els governs inverteixin en connectivitat

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