Ok, the title’s a little broader-reaching than the post will be, but it’s some thinking that was prompted by Henry Jenkin’s presentation at the eLearning Guild conference, which Jay Cross has covered. The one new point I took away was the implications of “rip, mix, burn” for eLearning. What will learners do in the new read/write environment?
My first reaction was that many workers won’t have time or interest in messing with the information, but as someone (Mark Oehlert?) challenged me, the new generation will have it in their basic approach to life. And, of course, in my own approach to thinking how people work (warning, PDF) I want them to go back and edit resources if they find them inadequate. The final nail in my own reaction’s coffin, of course, is the fact that we want experts to collaborate. That’s part of the point of the learnscape (wish my own eLearning Strategy talk hadn’t been at the same time as Stephen Downes talking about PLE’s, which is getting lots of buzz, though I’ve checked out the PPT) where we share our own thoughts and work together to get new understandings.
What should our attitudes be about taking content and altering it satirically, ironically, etc? We want people to be innovative and constructive. On the other hand, various actions could be construed as destructive (e.g. personal attacks) or just wasteful. How do we deal with this? I originally was thinking that anything that wasn’t justifiable as constructive should be banned, but then I tried the other way around, that anything that isn’t obviously destructive should be tolerated (within bounds?), and that seemed even better.
We may not always be able to discern the contribution, but lateralness must, I think, tolerate some non-obvious experimentation. It’d be easier to force members of an organization to have to be at least able to make a case why some creation is a contribution, versus having to discern whether it’s actually a problem, but I think there’s a reason to do otherwise. In the latter case you’re putting the onus on the organization to find fault, but I think it would be supportive of a more productive culture than asking everyone to justify their actions. You’d just need a cultural rule that says “nothing personal about anyone, customers, bosses, peers, or subordinates… it can be about a particular thing they did, but not about them”, and so on.
The point being that we want people to feel like they can say anything as long as it’s not personal. They can challenge organizational decisions, whatever. However, quid pro quo is that they have to stand behind it, with attribution. Another unforgivable would be to misuse someone else’s identity. However, we should have a channel for anonymous comments. It’s about building trust, really. So we maybe our guide should be something like the Cluetrain Manifesto.
So, what other rules will we need? Ideally, we’ll want a culture that can not only acknowledge mistakes, but even reflect and propagate the resulting wisdom (you can’t celebrate error, but I heard a great story about a company that rings a bell when the lesson is learned, to promote the lesson). Where dissent is tolerated, but acceptance expected once a decision is made, even if it turns out to be wrong.
I don’t have all the answers, but I think the question is important.