Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gardener Campbell and the Personal Cyber Infrastructure

This is an assignment for DS 106. We are to read the essay "A Personal Cyberinfrastructure" and the video at the bottom of this posting, both by Gardener Campbell. I first saw the video at an Open Education conference in Utah last year. I like this guy. Being in lower-middle management in a college, I totally relate to the "what part of 'bag of gold' don't you understand."

I have always been a fan of McLuhan. There are so many things that he got right. "We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us." and another favorite quote: "We drive into the future using only our rear-view mirror."

A lot of the way that colleges are set up work against implementing innovation and change. You do not get tenure by being a mavrick. You get it by playing well with others. You do not get funded for trying something that no one has done before. If you are getting funding for something completely new, it is because you wrote the grant application in such a way that it assured everyone reading it that things were going to tick along the same old way as before.

Networking skills are now metacognitive skills.

I am not sure how I feel about the idea of having students set up their own domains. This is just going to keep the cost of education up. I am constantly working on open textbooks, OERs, and free resources - it feels counter to all of that to now send them to GoDaddy. It is important to have the students understand the infrastructure of the internet. They need the knowledge and some of those skills to allow them ownership of the experience. But I would like to see free domains for education. If we can have open textbooks, why can't we have an open internet? How is wrestling with (and paying them) going to really help? How domains are set up should not be a mystery. Someone should do that if they want and not fear the technology. But then again, we are not making them build a PBX board to manage their phone calls.

I am not sure how much control students really have over their domains just by paying for a hosting service that is running scripts. No one ever made me take a typewriter repair class when I became an English major in the 80s.

I signed up for a free webhosting service. I think it is called or something like that. It made a big deal about having the c panel available. When you get into your free account and try to click on the Fantastico installer, a message pops up that says that "this upgrade is coming soon to the free accounts. You can access it now in a paid account."

Lets get some colleges together and build our own freaking internet. I miss gopher space and I got all misty-eyed when I was in IRC last week via the DS106 web interface.

As Nietzsche writes, one must have chaos in one to give birth to a dancing star.

The essay made me think about my own relationship and history with technology. I was one of those folks who gave workshops on HTML for instructors. There were a lot of grants in those days for that kind of thing. Before then though, as a student in the late 70s and early 80s, I used to walk to the local community college with a cassette tape in one pocket and some xeroxed programs in BASIC stuffed into another. The computers were TRS-80s (black screen, white letters, feel the love). They had tape drives. There were no log-ins or usernames.


Ben Harwood said...

There are some insightful nuggets in your post. Why do you think that students having their own domains will drive the cost of education up?

Geoff Cain said...

I think it will drive up the costs because some of these hosting services cost a $100 a year. And what do the students really learn from it - why are we paying for hosting? I think hosting should be free - there are enough ways for folks to monetize the net besides hosting.