Friday, January 25, 2002

Today's dailyLinks from contained one to a very interesting article with a provocative title: Let Them Eat IT: The Myth of the Global Village as an Interactive Utopia, by Songok Han Thornton, revisits Marshall McLuhans's notion of the "global village" in the context of the Internet.

I found the article interesting for many reasons, including:

  • I've always thought that McLuhan's theories relate well to the Web -- for me it makes sense to draw parallels between McLuhan's thoughts and writing about culture and the "global village" and the Internet
  • the article is "academic" in nature and contains extensive references (70) covering the width of theory on topics such as "the global village"; "online communities"; and the "digital divide"
  • the article provides a viewpoint that North Americans don't always encounter. For instance, we've come to believe that technology can and will solve all our problems as a society. The articles notes that access is far from universal. In fact, "most of the world's six billion people do not even have access to telephones, much less computers."

The article has provided food for thought on this issue and introduced me to a way of thinking that, while I may not be able to appreciate, I can try to understand.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Dr. Alain Breuleux -- Associate Professor in the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology in the Faculty of Education at McGill University and Director of Integration in the TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence -- is participating as a guest speaker in one of my courses at OISE. We are extremely fortunate to have Br. Breuleux participating in our group discussion.

Our class is in the midst of a discussion with Dr. Breuleux regarding his paper Imagining the present, interpreting the possible, cultivating the future: Technology and the renewal of teaching and learning which was published in the Fall 2001 edition of Education Canada.

Dr. Breuleux introduces the notion of a "dynamic knowledge base" in his article. Dr. Breuleux provided the following elaboration when asked about the characteristics of a "dynamic knowledge base" and how best to institute and foster such a "base".

A "dynamic knowledge base" is,
"a 'system' of people and artifacts that changes over time more quickly than in our current context, where there are long delays between the time a new tool appears and the time its pedagogical opportunities are explored and validated. How to make it happen: sharing with others certainly is part of the process, but it is easier said than done; sharing is a "cultural trait", in a sense, it is an attitude, a way of being that depends on the collective, cultural environment, and it will be difficult for a few individuals to achieve this "way of being" in a culture that doesn't agree with it (i.e., where knowledge is an individual possession and an instrument of social power).

And this culture is founded also on pragmatic considerations if we want our research and teaching practices to connect: we need processes, time, and tools for engaging in conversations about what we consider valuable, intriguing questions for for research and teaching."

While this statement is true in any environment, it seems especially relevant in the corporate world. Groups and departments within corporations often seem disinclined to share the knowledge they glean. Knowledge is held close to the vest for fear it -- and the budgets and project funding that come with it -- will slip away. Unfortunately, knowledge is all too often "an individual possession and an instrument of social power."

I suspect that there will, ultimately, be evolutionary, "natural selection" consequences for organizations that are unwilling or unable to adopt the "dynamic knowledge base" advocated by Dr. Breuleux. Failure to embrace a "collective, cultural environment" of building and sharing knowledge will lead to a competitive disadvantage for such organizations and will, ultimately, adversely affect the viability of such organizations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Today I had the opportunity to attend an online session hosted by Robert Greenleaf of Interwise . I was really impressed with the Interwise interface and the way it works.

The most significant, and new in my experience, is the "push" feature. Interwise "pushes" content to individual clients prior to the session. The "intelligent push" technology Interwise uses checks bandwidth on the individual client's computer and pushes when it can.

Files are stored in an Interwise directory on the C:/ drive of client computers. This ensures that all participants -- no matter how fast or slow -- are able to follow along with the rest of the group. Provided, of course, that they've signed-up for the conference early enough to allow for content to be pushed to clients.

Today's session included Voice over IP (VOIP), streaming video, application sharing and synchronous chat. I was very impressed by what I saw today and look forward to getting to know Interwise better.