Information Abundance

As we continue to collaborate to prepare for the HASTAC P3 event, Kim has asked me a couple more questions

Kim: What do you believe are the challenges and barriers entry scholars will have to navigate as they attempt to make a lifelong career in the Academy?

In a 2007 conversation with Dennis Haarsager, Interim CEO of National Public Radio, he described the Internet as “‘anti-scarcity’, it’s about information abundance. The way to obtain value is not in controlling a scarce resource, the value is to be had in the ability to extract value from the mass of information, by organizing it, filtering it, ‘chunking’ it” What he called an ‘information [organization] theory of value.’

I believe that the shift from information scarcity to information abundance, and from scarcity of feedback from a community of practice to abundance of  feedback alters the dynamic of the university as an institution and the role of the new scholar seeking to make a career there. The “Academy” is a concept from a time of information scarcity that needs to adapt itself to the world of information abundance.

In a previous blog post we discussed connected these scarcity/abundance ideas related to learners working in public spaces and said that in “order to gain any learning value from working in public, the learner must participate in collaborative efforts to extract (or make) value from the information richness of the Internet. This kind of strategy has been called Learning 2.0 by Stephen Downes, who has created this diagram to describe differences between groups and networks as organizational strategies for learning (original sketch midway down this post).

Group (Learning 1.0) Network (Learning 2.0)
Groups require unity Networks require diversity
Groups require coherence Networks require autonomy
Groups require privacy or segregation Networks require openness
Groups require focus of voice Networks require interaction

So the new scholar needs to understand new norms and practices related to information abundance. One of these, I think, is teaching in public, with a community involved in giving feedback to learners. Cathy Davidson has explored one aspect of public teaching, “crowdsourcing grading” here and here.

The HASTAC P3 event will be a place to further explore the implications of crowd sourcing feedback and how to use that feedback to credential learning in a community.


4 Responses

  1. […] response to a post on Information Abundance at Community-based […]

  2. The experience of curation — sifting through the abundance of knowledge about a topic and making decisions about what is most meaningful — is rapidly becoming a core skill, whether one is in Academia or not.

    Just as Web 1.0 (publishing) and Web 2.0 (connecting) reached a threshold where they became part of the basic online experience, so too can curation. Web 1.0 had Blogger, Web 2.0 had Facebook. Web 3.0 has had “Liking” on Facebook and WordPress (and the Google Buzz concept), I wonder where the killer app that pushes curation into the cultural mainstream will come from.

    A Twitter search for “wordpress learning community” brought me to your blog, so there’s part of my answer.

    I look forward to reading more about your important work.

  3. […] Excerpts from Community-based learning […]

  4. If information abundance implies the need for “the ability to extract value from the mass of information” then another challenge is complexity – e.g. information clusters that are dynamically changing and cannot be “summarized” by prevalent methods used today, and multicoherence mechanisms in the networks. The challenge for all (not just new scholars) may be the transformation of worldview, and the new scholar has to figure out when and where to take the risks of learning, utilizing and articulating the new perspective while all around, the rest of the field’s knowledge level might be spotty at best in understanding and accepting of the emerging change.

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