23 December 2010

How knowledge commercialisation and commons can be friends

James and I (primary authors of the IP proposal for UC) were invited by the University of Canberra's Office of Development and Engagement, to present at the KCA Annual Conference in Canberra, 11 November 2010.
Throughout the 2 day conference, the key points of the proposal were discussed with many participants at the conference, all being IP Officers at Australian Universities, some being IP lawyers at Australian Universities. All initially responded with skepticism to the proposal, but discussion lead to the realisation of one critical benefit of this proposed policy:
By setting the over all standard copyright at the university to Creative Commons Attribution, staff, students and 3rd parties who are working on projects of commercial or other sensitivity, are compelled to opt out, thereby notifying the IP Officer and helping that office better target its services to projects most in need of close management. In other universities, the standard practice has been to claim university ownership over all work, and to restrict all work, believing it to be the best way to manage risks and capture commercialisable IP and investment opportunities. This approach compels no signal to the IP Office however, leaving them to use other, more fallible means to target and initiate their services, inefficiently spread across the vast majority of work in a university that will never need commercialisation or other IP management services.
Other critics mentioned that this proposal concerns itself primarily with copyright over patents. This may need addressing, because it is our belief that patents are addressed here as an end point, and all work leading to a patent, often involving many years of work, documentation and communications, are governed by copyright. The risk averse university will try to limit expressions of work deemed patentable, sometimes years after a project has begun, only to discover a tangle of due diligence not followed. Their restrictions often retard scientific progress by imposing non disclosure or other confidentiality agreements, and copyrights and other restrictions that are unacceptable or problematic for the scientists and their collaborators. This policy proposal does not discourage such management of IP however, rather it makes such restrictions and protections the responsibility of the people who own the IP and who first recognise the need. All work created in the lead up to such a decision point, if Creative Commons Attribution is assumed, does not compromise or limit work continuing in a restricted arrangement. Arguably it assists with IP discipline and due diligence, and possibly assists in the development of a prior art evidence base, should such a defense ever be needed.

20 December 2010

The War You Don't See

The War You Don't See (the full film on Youtube) is John Pilger's best. Stacked with high profile interviews, it exposes the sense of guilt and complacency that mainstream UK and US (and Australian and all else no doubt) television and newspaper media feel over the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Highlights include:

This film is hard viewing, but surely compulsory for all people whose government conducts this violence in their "democratic" name.Once again, the USA has lost control of its military industrial complex, and its allies and big media are complicit, and profiteering from it as well.

19 December 2010


Have you sat the Selective Attention Test yet?

As usual, distraction abounds in the Wikileaks saga, to the point I wonder if the whole thing is planted spin from the beginning. Early in the piece ProjectProject Blog posted on the number of Public Relations blunders that point to prior knowledge of the leaks, if not all together orchestrated.
To date I’ve been a staunch supporter of the wikileaks idea but recently, given my role in strategic communications, I could not help but consider seriously that what was unfolding before me was a massive integrated communications exercise – that is, a global campaign.
On a similar thread is this post on Voltairenet.org that unpacks some details about the main players, and questions their motives. Wikileaks: a Big Dangerous US Government Con Job by F. William Engdahl
The story on the surface makes for a script for a new Oliver Stone Hollywood thriller. However, a closer look at the details of what has so far been carefully leaked by the most ultra-establishment of international media such as the New York Times reveals a clear agenda. That agenda coincidentally serves to buttress the agenda of US geopolitics around the world from Iran to North Korea. The Wikileaks is a big and dangerous US intelligence Con Job which will likely be used to police the Internet.
There's a pretty good documentary about Wikileaks and the behind-the-scenes. Wikirebels.
Exclusive rough-cut of first in-depth documentary on WikiLeaks and the people behind it! From summer 2010 until now, Swedish Television has been following the secretive media network WikiLeaks and its enigmatic Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange. Reporters Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist have traveled to key countries where WikiLeaks operates, interviewing top members, such as Assange, new Spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, as well as people like Daniel Domscheit-Berg who now is starting his own version - Openleaks.org! Where is the secretive organization heading? Stronger than ever, or broken by the US? Who is Assange: champion of freedom, spy or rapist? What are his objectives? What are the consequences for the internet?
The Real News had an interesting panel with Gareth Porter, investigative Journalist and Ray McGovern, Retired CIA Analyst discussing Wikileaks.

As an example of investigative journalism outside the square, Daphne Wysham explained WikiLeaked cables revealing a Canadian government cover up on tar sands info, as well as US covert campaign at Copenhagen.

That is the more interesting coverage I've seen on the Wikileaks to date, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was all a coordinated communications exercise. More importantly, the mainstream media's coverage has been so shabby, making themselves easy game for Public Relations agencies tasked with handling or orchestrating the scandal. It is the smaller, more independent media that is holding people to account - and their web based. Regulating the internet would be an ideal outcome for those who'd seek to silence the real media.

So planted or not, Wikileaks is effectively turning into a coordinated communications exercise. We need more investigative journalists, pouring over the Cables and situating them into the appropriate context. Perhaps only crowd sourced journalism can do this now, so long as the Internet remains free.

13 December 2010

Social media workshop

The University of Canberra Research Education Program is hosting a social media workshop, all day, I'm giving it. Here is a link to the Social Media Wikiversity page, which I'll update with links and resources for this workshop.

09 December 2010

Uni of Canberra to host another RCC Wiki Conference

The University of Canberra will host another RCC Wiki Conference 28-30 January, 2011.

UCNISS PhD candidate Laura Hale is the driving force behind the University of Canberra RCC Wiki conferences. We hosted a one dayer in August. It was such a success, we're emboldened to host a full 3 day event.

The event is free and catered, and basic accommodation can be arranged if needed. Register on the site, or send me an email and I'll register for you.

Here's what we recorded from the last RCC in Canberra. See you there!

  • Yesterday was a great event - the dialogue was thought provoking, interesting and inspiring. I'm looking forward to sharing it with my colleagues and the documentation from everyone really helps with that. Kirsty Sharp. Resource Development Manager Tasmanian Polytechnic
  • It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I'd like to see the VET, University, not-for-profit and other sectors do this sort of thing more often. There's so much to learn with and from each other. And of course, the unconference context means that we leave our occupational/professional hats at the door and collaborate, argue and opine freely and openly. A great learning environment and a worthwhile day. Thanks Leigh for organising it. Rose Grozdanic, Australian Flexible Learning Framework
  • A tremendously edifying experience. It's a pity it wasn't a two day event. I especially enjoyed the 'real world' tales of planning and integration that the unconference participants brought with them and shared with the rest of us. The event re-shaped my thinking about open content and its place in formal education Peter Shanks, Skills Tasmania
  • The day captured such wide-ranging discussion from so many viewpoints. Very refreshing! Great to see so many newcomers not only to the format but to the discussion of wikis. I'd love to see more events of this kind permeate the often 'dry' walls of our educational sites... Why not a student based forum of this kind too? Marg O'Connell, Canberra Institute of Technology
  • Having people from the community come to the University of Canberra is a very good thing. In many ways, here at this University, we're developing a key group of people who are very innovative in their approach to teaching and open education, and I think on a National scale we're really starting to lead the pack in regards to some of the approaches to teaching... a real kick start for UC becoming a leader in this area. Well done... Michael de Percy. Lecturer in Government-Business Relations, UC
  • As newcomers to the Wiki sphere, we found the unconference very helpful and informative - it was fantastic to talk with people using this platform in their work and opened our eyes to the current and future possibilities of Wiki. It's great to see Wikis being used as educational tools for social and collaborative learning in universities. We hope one day they will be as prolific in the health sector. Thank you very much for hosting such a valuable workshop. Christine Vuletich and Alice Winter-Irving, Cancer Council Australia
  • A great opportunity to meet all of those wiki people and to understand some of the challenges that they're facing. A lot of the people here are from the educational realm, and a lot of their challenges are the same challenges they we're facing at Wikimedia Projects... its been a really great experience. Andrew Garrett, Wikimedia Foundation

06 December 2010

Towards the critical study of educational technology

Joss Winn recently posted rich notes on his interest in a critical study of educational technology. One of the readings he recommended to this effect was N. Selwyn. Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Special Issue: ‘CAL’– Past, Present and Beyond, Volume 26, Issue 1, pages 65–73, February 2010.

My quoted summary of that paper is as follows:
"The paper therefore concludes by proposing a broadening of the academic ‘technological imagination’ to include issues of democracy, social justice and empowerment."
"These ambitions are perhaps best summarized by Amin and Thrift's (2005, p. 221) four-point agenda for critical scholarship, i.e.:
First, a powerful sense of engagement with politics and the political. Second, and following on, a consistent belief that there must be better ways of doing things than are currently found in the world. Third, a necessary orientation to a critique of power and exploitation that both blight people's current lives and stop better ways of doing things from coming into existence. Fourth, a constant and unremitting critical reflexivity towards our own practices: no one is allowed to claim that they have the one and only answer or the one and only privileged vantage point. Indeed, to make such a claim is to become a part of the problem."
"What is the use of technology in educational settings actually like? Why is technology use in educational settings the way it is? What are the consequences of what happens with technologies in educational settings?"
"the critical approach attempts to examine the use of technology in educational settings from the perspectives of all of the various contexts that shape and define educational technology – from the concerns of government and industry, to the concerns of the classroom and the home."
"The critical take on educational technology is therefore often driven by a desire to redress the imbalances of power that reside within most educational uses of technology. In this sense, the act of critical research and writing strives for what Ernest House describes as ‘deliberative democratic’ outcomes, where academics ‘use procedures that incorporate the views of insiders and outsiders, give voice to the marginal and excluded, employ reasoned criteria in extended deliberation, and engage in dialogical interactions with significant audiences and stakeholders in the evaluation’ (House 1999, p. xix)."
"In this spirit, the academic study of educational technology can be used to identify spaces where opportunities exist to resist, disrupt and alter the technology-based reproduction of the ‘power differential that runs through capitalist society’ (Kirkpatrick 2004, p. 10)."

I found this paper challenging, inspiring and troubling. Challenging in that I more often than not side with the technology determinists, finding it hard to understand the arguments against such logic. Inspiring in that it introduces a conceptual framework and academic background to the sort of critiques I have attempted here over the years, helping me to perhaps go deeper with it. Troubling in that it finishes with a notion of fairness and social justice limited to a space it calls educational technology, or technology within educational settings. I'm troubled by this not only because I'm not sure what Selwyn thinks is fair or just in these settings, and I'm not even sure if such settings are fair or just at all! That all said, I'm inspired enough to go further, and have included this reference and these notes to my research wiki.