Chris Anderson’s latest book, FREE, is available for free on GoogleBooks or on iTunes as an audiobook. It’s an interesting read (and listen) and presents many concepts related to software, copyright, pricing, and open source that are worth thinking and talking about.
In general, he highlights the counter-intuitive changes that occur when the price of anything becomes near-zero, and provides plenty of examples to support this claim. Getting close to or at free can be good, because then we can “afford to waste” those ideas, products, services or bits. (Wasting is using them in unintended ways for unintended purposes. In instructional systems/design, this is also called Subversive Use and Volatile Design; pdf).
When “waste” is affordable, innovations occur.
Of Alan Kay, the well-known Xerox PARC engineer, Anderson writes,
What Kay realized was that a technologist’s job is not to figure out what technology is good for. Instead it is to make technology so cheap, easy to use, and ubiquitous that anybody can use it, so that it propagates around the world and into every possible niche. We, the users, will figure out what to do with it, because each of us is different: different needs, different ideas, different knowledge, and different ways of interacting with the world.
Consider the incredible explosion of free or near-free web 2.0 applications as well as the growth of flourishing open source communities like Sakai, Creative Commons and the Open Educational Resources movement. If software, ideas, content, and services become free (both in terms of monetary value as well as licensing restrictions), what innovations (and positive social impact) may result? What does all of this have to do with the LMS?
We certainly don’t have all the answers but we invite you to join us on the journey in learning more!
To that end, you are invited to a (free!) Educause Live webinar on August 5: Selecting and Implementing a Course Management System for Your Campus. Three guests will speaking about Blackboard, Moodle, and Sakai. Learn how others are using learning management systems or “collaborative learning environments” to enhance the mission of their universities. (Registration is required.)