Thursday, October 9, 2008

History of Networked Learning

“Networks are everywhere. All you need is an eye for them” - Barabási, 2002

Networked learning is not new – the areas of sociology, mathematics and physics all have long established research based on networks.

Networked learning has been occurring throughout time – for example: farmers have been sharing their knowledge with each other and with each new generation through social networks.

However, computer and telephonic technology and its physical infrastructure have brought to the forefront how networks facilitate learning.

2003 saw an explosion of social software sites such as Delicious, LinkedIN, MySpace, Second Life, Pbwiki, Podcasting became popular and Skype was released. The anonymous Iraq blogger Salam Pax started to report on the Iraq War, and Google started their ‘Adsense’ program to allow bloggers to monetize traffic on their site.

Even though in the years prior to 2003 the terms ‘social software’ and ‘folksonomy’ (2002) were coined, and popular sites and systems like RSS (2000), Wikipedia (2001) and Last.Fm, Technorati, Flickr (2002) were launched, the internet saw its beginnings derive from the fear of an attack by the Soviet Union on the US, (Paul Baran, 1964) and the need for a “communication (system) that could withstand a projected large-scale (possibly nuclear) attack”. Baran “proposed a distributed network which allowed sections of a distributed network to be destroyed while the message would still reach its destination.”

In 1988, two Swiss CERN employees, Tim Berners-Lee & Robert Cailliau, conceptualised the technology behind www, http, url, and html, which saw the developed of the web as we currently know it.

Throughout the development of the World Wide Web a number of influential internet innovators have progressively worked towards an internet which is ‘free’ and user driven. In more recent times, the influx of ‘free’ social networking websites has seen a massive increase in the use of the net for individuals to network with each other. However, these sites might not be as ‘free’ as their initially appear, with users not being able to delete their own accounts, who are ransomed by where there friends are online, who are hindered to export any of their own content and forego ownership of their own digital material and digital sovereignty.
“MySpace, which in 2006, makes it abundantly clear that "the company has 'a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license ... to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce,
transmit, and distribute' all content uploaded to their site.” A
History of the Social Web
- Trebor Scholz

Will the conflict between having ‘free’ online networking space, which readily supports networked learning, but has its content owned by large and unscrupulous corporations, effect who actually owns and controls this learning?

The English language can not be owned – but can networked learning?

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