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Web 2.0 and the Evolution of Instructional Design
By Jay Cross The culture of the Internet is blowing back at us, merging the real and the virtual, and shaping how we think and act. Advertising Age reports that web 2.0 was the most cited definition on Wikipedia for 2006.However, I find that the term web 2.0 is like a Rorschach ink blot test: You see what you want to see. Here's my take: Internet culture is a mash-up of three interlinked schools of thought: The Cluetrain Manifesto + Kevin Kelly/Wired/New Economy + Tim O'Reilly/Web 2.0/Open Source.

Jay Cross is chief scientist at Internet Time Group LLC in Berkeley, California. Jay is the author of Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance and co-author of Implementing E-Learning. Reach him at jaycross@internettime.com.

The Cluetrain Manifesto
In my opinion, The Cluetrain Manifesto is the most revolutionary business book of the late twentieth century. The clue is that the Internet enables person-to-person conversation, and everyone is the wiser for it. The entire book and a bit of its history are available for free at cluetrain.com. Some key concepts from the book include honesty, authenticity, and transparency: Markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view. Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge.

Kevin Kelly/Wired/New Economy
Kevin Kelly is the pied piper of the new economy. As the founding editor of Wired magazine, author of Out of Control and New Rules for the New Economy, and cohort of Steward Brand, Kelly's technophilic philosophy has become the new business gospel. Kelly's books and past issues of Wired magazine are available on the web for free (at kk.org and wired.com.) Key Kelly concepts include connections, push the edges, power to peers.

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Some apt maxims from New Rules: The tricks of the intangible trade will become the tricks of your trade. Communication – which in the end is what the digital technology and media are all about – is not just a sector of the economy. Communication IS the economy. We are connecting everything to everything. At present there is far more to be gained by pushing the boundaries of what can be done by the bottom than by focusing on what can be done at the top. When information is plentiful, peers take over.

Tim O'Reilly/Networks/Open Source
Tim O'Reilly publishes books about the net and open source software. But O'Reilly is more than a publisher, his goal is "to become the information provider of choice to the people who are shaping the future of our planet, and to enable change by capturing and transmitting the knowledge of innovators and innovative communities." O'Reilly and his colleagues coined the term Web 2.0. Earlier on, they repositioned free software as Open Software. A dozen years ago, when the web was on its early, wobbly legs, O'Reilly offered "Internet in a Box," the software you needed to get on the net if you had a PC running DOS 3.0. Key O'Reilly concepts include perpetual beta, the long tail, user-centered development, loose coupling. From O'Reilly's personal web site and reports of his conference presentations: Open source licensing began as an attempt to preserve a culture of sharing, and only later led to an expanded awareness of the value of that sharing. Open source licensing is a means of encouraging Internet-enabled collaboration. The fundamental architecture of hyperlinking ensures that the value of the web is created by its users. A successful open source software project consists of "small pieces loosely joined". Therefore architect your software or service in such a way as to be used easily as a component of a larger system. Keep it modular, document your interfaces, and use a license that doesn’t hinder recombination. There is great benefit in sharing your development efforts and processes with your users. Therefore release early and often. Set up mechanisms for user feedback, bug reports and patch contribution. When devices and programs are connected to the Internet, applications are no longer software artifacts, they’re ongoing services. Amazon, eBay, and Google just roll in new features, unsure whether they even want them… therefore don’t package up new features into monolithic releases: rather, fold them in on a regular basis. So if you’re not already thinking this way: operate as if you’re in perpetual beta.

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Many of the limiting factors from the physical world are absent on the Internet. Therefore use the power of the computer to monetize niches formerly too small to be commercial. Find the long tail in your own – or someone else’s! – business. Google Adsense figured out you could monetize all these too-small-for-usual-advertisers pages.

How Internet culture impacts learning design

The Internet stew created by those sources is made of perpetual beta, the long tail, user-centered development, loose coupling, intangibles, connections, push the edges, power to peers, honesty, authenticity, and transparency. Each of these concepts has an impact on the way workplace learning and performance practitioners look at next-generation learning. Perpetual beta. Nothing is ever finished. Hence, it's better to put an unfinished offering out there before dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Instead the mantra is: "Do it, try it, fix it." Practitioners should drive changes with feedback from learners themselves. More frequent reviews translate into less time invested in going down the wrong path. If someone says a project is finished, it is. The Long Tail. When it comes to learning opportunities, small businesses, esoteric specialists, and fast-moving teams have traditionally been short-changed. You couldn't reach critical mass, so it wasn't worth the effort. Now you can because web technology scales. Five-person companies can use Salesforce.com for customer relationship management. Expect to see a learning equivalent soon. As for the esoterica, distance no longer keeps specialists from conversing with one another. Rich niches imply that a need to assess upside opportunities more closely than out-of-pocket costs. Loose coupling. A specific case is Cluetrain author David Weinberger's conceptualization of the web as "small pieces, loosely joined." I've been doing an increasing amount of my work on the web, and I am astounded how the ability to work with small chunks improves my productivity. What once took a rewrite now requires simply changing a link. No learning environment need resist improvements until it bites the dust. What we once thought of as "maintenance" is becoming more important than the initial "deliverable." Pieces of any system morph into plug-compatible chunks that can be swapped in and out without disrupting the ecosystem. Changing a small item does not require unpacking the whole apparatus. Intangibles. More and more of the world's wealth is intangible. You can't see patents, brands, good will, expertise, culture, and so forth, but they account for more and more of corporations' value. Forget about measuring only what's visible to the naked eye, and begin assessing transfers of value. Connections. Connections are everything. They create networks, and networks are growing exponentially. If your learning plans don't embrace the power of networks, go back the drawing board for another look. Learning occurs in conversations, collaboration, knowledge transfer, focused news, and other network phenomena. A prime directive in any evolving learnscape is to increase the throughput of personal network connections such as instant messenger, higher bandwidth, searchable directories, optimized organizational channels, and watercoolers, both virtual and real. Push the edges. Twenty years ago, training departments fretted about consistency: providing precisely the same training experience to everyone in

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the organization. Previously, a hyper-proficient worker might outperform the average by 20 or 30 percent. Now that products are intangible, mindware knows no limits. Google figures a superlative engineer creates 200 times as much value as his middle-tier peer. Back the superlative worker, wild ideas, and the weirdness of the new. Experiment continuously. As IBM's Tom Watson said, "If you want to succeed, double your failure-rate." Power to the peers. Networks subvert hierarchy. Users create value, and when information is plentiful, peers take over. Abundant knowledge dethrones kings and fosters democracy. In a knowledge era, knowledge workers are the means of production. Forget command and control. Encourage bottom-up learning where people share and solve problems with their peers. Knowledge workers want you to show them the dots but demand that they connect them on their own. Think of learning as a partnership with the learners, not delivery. Honesty and authenticity. Simpler is better. The spirit of the Internet is to tell is like it is, to peel away the facade and be authentic. In learning, being authentic means admitting that we don't have all the answers. It's hooking people up so they may learn from and with one another. Transparency. Seeing the inside of an organization enables us to collaborate with them to make things better. People who hoard information shoot themselves in the foot; nobody will know who they are. You must know an organization or person to form a relationship with them. You cannot make friends with someone hidden behind an opaque wall.

Manifesto for learnscape development
Some points from the Manifesto for Agile Software Development are relevant. Consider which of these you would buy into: Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable facilitators of learning. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Our processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage. Deliver working prototypes frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation. Our processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Practical application
My philosophy of informal learning rests on my beliefs that people are fundamentally good, the future is uncertain, the universe is one immense system, business is biological, intangibles trump hard assets, connections are power, and everything is relative. The mind is a trickster, oversimplifying

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reality to give us comfort that we understand it. A holistic view is the best view; I always try to look at the bigger picture. Of course, I didn't come by this worldview on my own. In fact, I used to be a pessimist. When I sold mainframes in the late sixties, computers had earned a malevolent reputation. They were the epitome of command and control. If we weren’t careful, the computers might get together and take over the world. Yet when personal computers were born a years later, they were friendly and benevolent. Computers empowered the people. A recent book, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, describes the remarkable transformation. Stewart Brand began the first Whole Earth Catalog with these words: "We are as gods and might as well get used to it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested." Talk about empowerment. Brand was infecting his readers with systems theory, ecology, decentralization of power, and distributed knowledge. The Internet was built on these concepts. Respect for the individual and individual freedom are cornerstones of assembling learnscapes on the web.

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