Comments on ETS Talk #28: The Digital Commons

I listened to the podcast while riding home this afternoon, so I couldn't respond in real-time. Here's hoping my memory isn't completely jumbled, because there were several things I wanted to respond to. I couldn't find an entry for episode 28 on the ETS Talk site, so here goes...

iPhone - I agree that the iPhone is an amazingly compelling device. Even if it was just a wifi-enabled iPod that allowed web browsing and email, it would be worth the money. If I was in charge of a department, I would issue each staff/faculty member an iPhone (unactivated - they can activate or migrate their own cell phone plans if needed). It would be money well spent, in order to have everyone able to play with the various collaboration apps we all use, anytime/anywhere.

Digital Commons - this one has me very interested, and a bit puzzled. Unconventional wisdom suggests that students all (or at least largely) have their own gear - how many students don't already have laptops? How many don't have recent hardware available? The idea of the Digital Commons as an access point for site-licensed software is interesting, though.

I did start to wonder about the need for site-licensed installed application software, though, in light of available web based tools for story-telling as well as free and/or open source applications for website authoring, video editing, document editing, etc...

What is the role of the 15 Digital Commons? Are they primarily for faculty members? students? Are they primarily training facilities? workspaces? collaboration spaces? For classes, or individuals?

The original Learning Commons at UCalgary had a lab for faculty members to come to work on projects. It offered video editing, image editing, etc... stations, and was used pretty well. But, that was before it was common for these applications to run as well (or better) on the faculty members' own new hardware. The lab has been closed for almost 2 years now. There is a separate student "Information Commons" computer lab, as well as several computerless work/collaboration areas for students to work on stuff. I don't have any metrics, but it looks like most students are working in the campus food court with their own laptops, rather than camping out in labs.

If the Digital Commons is a place for accessing site licensed software, can they take it with them? Install on their own hardware?

I'm really not meaning to be negative here, just really curious about how the DC is positioned.

Hot Teams - striking up a hot team to look at Pligg in an educational setting. I'm very interested in that particular project. And I wish I had the clout to pull of similar projects here at the TLC. I mean, I can look at new tools, but it's largely informal and on my own. Being able to say "hey! let's assign a few staff members to investigate this" really means a lot to being able to take the time to properly make sense of things.

iPhone, redux - when conversation returned to the great custom iPhone web apps, my first reaction was "but, isn't the iPhone supposed to be the 'real web', not some custom version?" - I'm wondering if spawning a new generation of "built for iPhone" badges on websites might actually do more harm than good. We don't need another browser/platform war - we're still recovering from the last round.

Update: they've posted the show notes and info for episode 28.

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