Martin’s Weblog

The Harlem Shake: The Network Event horizon

The Harlem Shake signals a new era and a new type of “mass” production

Traditional “modern” economics, culture, media and identity have been shaped and expressed within a framework of industrialisal standardised mass production and consumption – we see this everywhere from fashion, dance, music, politics, food and education – it has become pervasive – it has become culture.

However, the Internet changes everything. With so many people so well connected anyone who is connected can be heard globally and contribute – ideas travel quicker and faster than ever before. In “Apocalypse: The Network Event Horizon” I describe how the Internet has let “the Genie is out of the bottle  and “Too Big To Know” , Ruining Everything and helping a “generation to find its voice. We are approaching a point of no return – a network Event horizon – a Web Squared Technium where scale, scope and the self-reinforcing social and technology power laws of a technology mediated connectivist memetic (Cemetic) culture generate a cambrian explosion of diversity, uncertainty and non-linear emergent viral exponential change.”

Gangnum style represented a cross over point – it was a traditionally produced official product which people connected, copied – it was heavily choreographed and eminnetly reproduceable . Cross over was represented by its viral spread through the Internet and the way it was remixed in throusands of parodies and different contexts.

Harlem Shake is the cross over – there is no official video, instead there is a simple framework for people to make there own video. In the Harlem Shake we have a signal of a new type of “mass” production and consumption. Instead of a standard item being manufactured and consumed on scale we have differentiated and unique items being manufactured and consumed on scope. Harlem shake represents a shift from the old economies of scale to a new economy of scope.

Harlem shake signals the “Network Event horizon” a shift to a cemetic long-tailmaker – hacker economy of scope, creativity, non-linear, differentiated and personalised peer production and consumption.

It will be interesting to see how politics, economics, education, media and identity play out as the network event horizon approaches.


February 17, 2013 Posted by | culture, education, IT and society, media, social media, society | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Horizons, Steve Jobs and Education

“The three horizons model was first published in The Alchemy of Growth by Merhdad Baghai, Stephen Coley, and David White in 1999. The fundamental idea behind the model is that we need to be thinking about innovation across three time frames”  ~ Time Kastelle

Horizon 1 is about current business – gaining efficiencies and quality – involving analysis and intrepreneurship – its about business operators

Horizon 2 is about extending current business into new and related areas – involving
entrepreneurship and exploration – business builders

Horizon 3 is about radically new types of business – involving imagination and vision.

“Strategy” is often on Horizon 1 and 2 – operational and extension activities.  This is probably why the core of education has changed so little. All the narratives around e-learning, MLEs and such like are on Horizon 1 and Horizon 2 – they are about efficiences and extensions within the current paradigm of education – a reinforcement and extension of the current paradigm and reality.

Horizon 3 is about “creative destruction” in a sector to create radical new opportunities – it is where we find the radical narratives of de-institutionalisation and dis-intermediation.

The problem is that Horizon 3 is beyond the vision of so many and if it can be seen or imagined then it can appear more as an hallucination – a psychotic breakdown in reality. Looking forward horizon 3 is indeed a break from current reality but looking backwards the trends can be rationalised historically. Horizon three is full of uncertainity and the unknown – “sanity” can be maintained by the comforting Kodak moment poses in rituals of operational efficiency and business extension Shirkey principles. “There is no Line on the Horizon”  – horizon 3 creeps up exponentially – it is a paradigm change in the ecosystem –  horizon 1 and horizon 2 strategies of efficiency and extension may not apply in a new paradigm and may be counterprodictive and even toxic.

Steve Jobs is a classic example of someone with the vision to see beyond Horizon three – to see radical new business in the signals all around him.  The really distinguishing feature of Steve Jobs was his ability to match vision and imagination with innovation – to work at horizon 1 and horizon 2 in the world of efficiency and extension to actually build the world he could imagine – to combine things to create platforms, business relationships and ecosystems that gave us iTunes, iPods, iPhones and iPads – the new reality that connected cloud and mobile that we take for granted today.

Mediated by Information technology the world in which our formal and traditional education system exists is chaging more significantly than ever before – can education also change significantly – can education imagine what lies beyond horizon 3 aand adjust or will it face a Kodak moment?

How would you create education today if it didn’t already exist?

As Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying “The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create It”

Related reading
Innovation for Now and for the Future By @Tim Kastelle This was the first article I read that mentioned the three horizon’s idea

How Apple disrupts markets and then goes on to dominate By Greg Satell Extends Tim’s Blog post and uses Steve Jobs and Apple as examples

Exploitation Across Different Innovation Horizons By Paul Hobcraft The 5th in a super series about the three horizon model

“High Anxiety” – Anxiety as a dimension in organisational culture By Martin King  About the comforting rituals performed in organisations

The last Kodak moment? – Economist article about technological change and failing to adapt

The Shirky Principle By Kevin Kelly About how institutions perpetuate the problems to which they are the solution – failure to change radically.

How to Think About the Future  By @Tim Kastelle  On the importance of exploring  the future horizon through experiments.

August 5, 2012 Posted by | education, future | | 2 Comments

Education: How to Look Good Naked

Education in its Suite of Armour

One response to anything new is to attempt to  assimilate it – to fit it into existing models. While it could be argued that Education has attention blindness to technology I think the problem with education and technology goes deeper – a combination of the Shirky Principlecausing education to become stuck into attempting to assimilate technology to reinforce existing models. – the end result being a system that is robust to change yet ever more expensive and irrelevant. One meaning for the E in E-learning is “Expensive”.

However, when context change is so radical attempts to assimilate it leave one disconnected from reality (psychotic) and sustained by rituals and delusions.

Technology can flip our reality:
That which was once scarce becomes abundant
That which was once difficult becomes easy
That which was once once expensive becomes cheap (or free)
That which was once large becomes small
That which was once institutional becomes personal

The technology context within which education operates has changed so radically over the last decade that education must find ways of altering its existing models to accommodate a changing reality – educated learning needs to find a way to accommodate its flip side – uneducated learning or risk increasing irrelevance.

Lets have a look at just two of these  flipping changes.

Flipping Space – Time

Educational space and time is a scheduled batch process in specified locations – the meeting – otherwise know as timetabled classes.

Classrooms and timetables were a necessary batch process to distribute scarce resources and time to abundant learners – move the learners to resources to meet at specified  times in specified  places.

Nowadays learning resources can be accessed almost anytime and anyplace – learners no longer need to wait to be batch processed in a timetabled classroom – learning can happen anyplace, anytime in real-time on demand – Indeed, better learning happens this way.

Flipping resources
Technology resources were once expensive and scarce and education quite rightly provided these for learning – computers, email, storage space and applications.

Nowadays many learners have their own personal technology resources and they are usually much easier and better than those provided by education yet education often chooses to ignore or even ban learners personal technology. Education must accommodate to the reality that learning can take place using learners own resources –  Indeed, better learning happens this way.

Haile Gebrselassie - Marathon Runner

How to accommodate – strip down

Education has used technology to build a suite of armour – a lumbering and reinforced steampunk monstrosity of defence – sucking in increasing resources to reinforce, maintain and move. Within its suite of armour education is blind to the world around it and unable to move fast enough it will become isolated and left behind in a world of its own.

Education needs to strip down – throw off its suite of armour – become part of the world in which it exists and use the resources of its environment.

Education needs to flip from institutional to personal – the conditions to do this are emerging from cheaper, pervasive, abundant, personal and connected mobile computing.

How to look good Naked

Here are some Rules Of Thumb – ROT to do

*  Go Web
Use the web – avoid platform and paper dependencies.

* Go Mobile
Resources have to be useable on a smartphone anyplace and anytime

* Go Free
Use free open web based resources – the sort that any learner and teacher can use anywhere with no support overheads.

* Go Wild
Think of teaching and learning as wilderness survival – a lifelong skill in how to find and use the natural resources of the web. Think of the smartphone as a survival multi-tool.

* Go Open 

Use and produce public open resources

* Go Connected

“The network is our computer” – Invest in your networks – especially wireless, guest and Internet connections.

“Value is in the network not the nodes”
MASH and connect your own and others content.
Develop Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

* Go Outside
– Think and Design systems outside the classroom and outside the school or college – think Web, Mobile and Global.

* Go Personal
Encourage and use people’s own personal resources and identity.

* Go Equal
Invest and focus on digital equality

August 28, 2011 Posted by | education, IT and education, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Future of Education

The Education system as we know it today has been shaped by the forces of the last 150 years – it is very much a product of the industrial revolution and the industrial age. Education, like industrialisation, has become driven by quantitative metrics of production and consumption predicated on specialisation, division of labour, standardisation, consistency and quality control. While the production of test grades has been dramatically successful the economics of their production are changing significantly.

Resource costs

Information is the natural resource of the education system – during the industrial era access to information was relatively controlled and scarce. The Web has upset the “economy” of information – with the web information has become abundant and uncontrolled.

Production costs

Production methods in education have remained largely unchanged over 150 years (institutions and teachers) while the costs of these operation have increased. The application of technology, while not altering operational methods, has added massively to production costs.

Currency Inflation

If test results are the “currency” of education then the very success of education in producing test results has led to a type of test result inflation.

A Future

Education systems are complicated and the effects of “economic” pressures are difficult to predict – there are many scenarios.

The future of education described here is predicated on the strength of institutional-power  – the Machiavellian like “Shirky Principle”  that “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.

Production cost: Solution

While technology has been a key factor in reducing production costs in industry through automation efficiencies this hasn’t happened in education. The resource of education is information but the types and uses of information technology used so far have only added to production costs.

Educational technologists may get excited about the prospect of increasing use of information technology in educated learning but  it may not be the future they are expecting.

A Machiavellian education system will seek ways to reduce labour and production costs through particular uses of information technology.

The future of education will be automated through information technology

The future of education will be increasingly measured, specialised, standardised, consistent and quality controlled through information technology.

Education will be produced and available through Managed Learning Environments with automated testing and resource delivery. Help with the education product (MLE) will be available through support operatives (teachers) able to coach users through the system, get test scores and progress to the next level. Ultimately this user support will be provided through automated guidance or globalised “call centre” operators.

Resource costs: Solution

A Machiavellian education system will seek ways to define and control the value of and access to its own resources. The education system will create increasingly self referencing resources, processes, tests and measures to maintain control of its own “currency” and resources. While it may be possible to take an automated test without an associated course it is unlikely that you will be able to achieve as well as those who have had access to the specialised resources and teaching that support the test. Ultimately it will not be possible to take a test without first enrolling on a course where you can be properly processed for the test and it will not be possible to enrol without first having been processed through lower level courses.

Currency Inflation: Solution

If test grades are the “currency” and purpose of education then a Machiavellian education system will seek “monetary” policies to maintain control. “Exchange rates” and “denominations” willbe defined as required to alter the value of the currency rather than the value of the system – for example, if too many people achieve grade A then the system can define additional sub units such as A*  Ultimately testing will feedback and through the entire system so that all experiences are properly aligned for maximum production. Exam boards will produce automated managed learning environments to align and process learners through to final testing.


The education system is like a self contained bubble from the the past industrial era. If institutional-power factors shape the response of the education system to future pressures then the future may be an expanding education bubble – self contained and reinforced by technology

May 1, 2011 Posted by | education | Leave a comment

Uneducated learning: A Martian’s Guide Learning Without Our Education System

Uneducated learning is the type of learning which takes place without our education system.Uneducated learning is

Uneducated learning can take place almost anywhere the learner is able to learn according to circumstance – often at a location of the learners choice or best suited to the learning depending on circumstances. For example, uneducated learning can take place at home; while travelling; in the workplace or even at an institution of educated learning.

Uneducated learning can combine any area of learning in any way the learner is able to – uneducated learning is undetermined and can lead anywhere.

Uneducated learners are able to both “consume” and produce learning resources and opportunities – they are able to be both “learners” and “teachers”.

Undeducated learning can take place at any time the learner is able to learn and be of any duration the learner chooses according to circumstances.

Undeducated learning can occur in any sequence the learner is able to learn and at any age they are able to according to circumstances.

Uneducated learning has no formal or central authority to control learning content and opportunity – the uneducated learner can choose to learn anything from anywhere they are able to according to circumstance.

Question Based
Uneducated learning generally starts with the learner seeking answers to questions and continues with more questions – there are no limits as to where the questions might lead and the learners questions determine the learning experience.

Uneducated learning is intimately connected and situated in the learner’s world – the learners work, play, family, interests, friends relationships, culture etc at aparticlualt times and circumstances.

Uneducated learning uses any available resources from anyone and any uneducated learner can contribute to uneducated learning resources – learners decide which to use and how.

April 24, 2011 Posted by | education | 1 Comment

Educated Learning: A Martian’s Guide To Our Education System

Educated learning is the type of learning which takes place within our education system.

Educated learning is

Educated learning generally takes place through necessity. The state requires educated learning to the age of 16 and most work and further education requires tested grades from the education system

Educated learning generally takes place within the structure institutions called schools, colleges or universities.

Educated learning follows prescribed standardised schemes called syllabi, schemes of work and lesson plans.

Quality Controlled
Educated learning is quality controlled. Learner tests before and during courses help match courses and learners and ensure that course quality and achievements are as high as possible.

Educated learning takes place within the standardised quality controlled bounds that institution subject and timetable combinations of a curriculum makes possible.

Educational learning takes place with the environment and resources of the institution external connections are not necessary and learners are deliberately disconnected during periods of testing.

Closed and Private
Educated learning is closed and private. Many resources are kept closed by educators and accessed provided to learners as needed.  Learners generally work alone on assignments and submit them for marking in private for grading by a subject expert.

Subject Based
Educated learning is organised around subjects and subject cluster/combinations. Subjects have names like chemistry or history and define what can be learned.

Expert Based
Educated learning is based upon expertise and expert knowledge. Learning is judged and graded by experts against expert criteria. Experts have names like teacher, lecturer and professor.

In Educated learning those who do the learning are called pupils, students or learners. Those who teach are called teachers, lecturers or professors.

Answer Based
Educated learning is based around finding the right answers to the questions set by teachers.. Learners are tested and graded on the answers to questions.

Hierarchical and Elitist
Educated learning is organised and accessed in a hierarchy. Learners progress through levels –  higher levels are less available and accessible than lower levels. Higher levels are more respected than lower levels.

Educated learning is organised sequential through a course. A course is usually delivered to the learning through period of time known a a term and associated with the calendar. Access to educated learning is often associated with the learners age.

Content based
Educated learning generally involves the learning of specific content, skills and techniques upon which the learner is assessed.

Educated learning generally takes place at specific times in specific locations – usually in meetings called lessons or lectures. Learning is usually tested by answering questions on specific content or performance of specific skills within a specific time and at a specific place.

Educated learners must attend. Learners are marked on their attendance and may not be able entered for final testing unless a minimum standard for attendance has been achieved.

April 22, 2011 Posted by | education | 1 Comment

The Purpose of Education

A major purpose of our education system is (has become) the testing and grading of people for social economic function – for work, for more education or ……

Education has been very successful in meeting the supply side of the demand for test grades – through considerable focus on quality, control, targets and achievement outcomes overall test grades get better every year.

Maximising test grades has become the purpose of education – we can’t fault the system for effectively meeting demand. Learners demand test grades – to get a job;  to get on a course, or as consumers as a return on investment for tuition fees. Education itself demands test grades – as  input quality controls to maintain course achievement levels for competition and to secure funding.

So, what’s wrong with teaching to the test – the system is effectively meeting demand for test results.

The purpose of education is to supply demand.

April 17, 2011 Posted by | education | 4 Comments

Education: What technology wants

Suppliers and institutions may want technology to enable a control, expensive rarity model with proprietary and protected features. People may want technology to enable freedom and choice with a cheap abundance model with open features (except of course where rarity and expensive are a feature of identity rather than function – think “designer” fashion). Initial phases of new technology are often balanced towards the supplier/institution and then competition shifts balance towards what people want from technology. The balance between supplier/institution and people will continue to play out into the future according to contexts but ultimately what technology wants ends up being what people want.

Information technology wants to be personal, abundant, cheap, easy, convenient, open, small, mobile and connected – “resistance is futile”.

The balance of technology in education is weighted to the institution – we depend upon institutionally provisioned hardware and software from data centres and servers to “end user” computers – this is an expensive, resource intensive, centralised and locked down model struggling to meet the demands of what people want from technology.

Continuing on the current trajectory every room will be eventually be an IT suite or every student will have a college computer – how could I provision, support, maintain and secure up to 20,000 computers – we need a new approach. Educational technology must seek a lighter, simpler less resource intensive approach to technology – it must learn to let go of technology, step away from the diminishing returns on the technology treadmill. Instead, education should provide a platform for technology use – a feasible and sustainable model for the next era – the “fifth wave of computing” – personal, abundant, cheap, easy, convenient, open, small, mobile and connected.

The traditional response is for education to provide resources but better choices can usually be readily selected by people from the web. Education needs to de-institutionalise and reduce its own technology – allow the balance to shift to personal  technology by exploring DIY and self service approaches.

All our learners have on-line presence and identities – why provide institutional versions – allow learners to use their own resources and on-line identity. Allow learners to select their own email and their own applications – some will use Google apps, some will use Microsoft Live apps while others might prefer Zoho, Facebook office or local apps such as Openoffice or even Microsoft office. If learners don’t have on-line resources then this is an area for education, for education should be about learning for life.

Shift investment from computers and servers to the network. Shake off the ghost of internal client-server thinking – think global – think open – think web only. Create pervasive wireless guest access and increase both internal and Internet bandwidth. Encourage learners and staff to use their own IT on your guest network – let the network be our computer – let the network be the technology platform for learning

Education teaching and Education IT could both share a common new approach – facilitation. Facilitate the use of resources rather than the resources themselves. In the same way that teaching is considering facilitation, coaching, guidance styles so too could education IT.

September 26, 2010 Posted by | education, ICT, IT and education | 3 Comments

Education and technology – doing the Monster Mash

Education and technology are necessary partners but the relationship can be far from comfortable or functional.

Technologists often have an almost obsessive addiction about “the next big thing” and a technology fetishism and determination about the power of technology to transform education.

Education is stressed by the need to balance a great many competing factors including finance, legal regulations, government requirements,  market competition  as well as  learning needs – a stress that often results in organisational anxiety a conservative approach to new technology.

The conflux of educational anxiety and technology addiction has in many cases created an addicted, anxiety ridden institutionalised educational technology monster.

The Monster
The monster mash is depressive, agoraphobic, addictive, obsessive compulsive ritual dance.

Dead and decaying technology is toxic and harmful but the monster is addicted and craves increasing doses to sustain itself in an all consuming self destructive habit.

Technology pushers fool the monster to try ever toxic technologies to keep it and its “users” dependent.

Education has become dependent on technology and has to purchase, power, support and maintain more and more equipment, computers, servers, storage and software each year to satisfy an expanding desire for technology in education.

Education has to deploy ever more complex and expensive technology in order to cope – increasingly needing expensive external specialists.

Education’s dependency on technology is almost 24/7/365 – how long could a typical institution last without a technology fix.

The monster seeks comfort from the familiar, private and closed places – it fears and avoids large, open, public and/or unfamiliar places where there are few places to hide.

Education perpetuates familiar first phase technologies and applications such as locally installed, local area network client and server products.

Obsessive Compulsive
The monster comforts itself with repetitive self-reinforcing ritualistic behaviours.

Education seeks comfort in conforming to self-constructed norms of technology use – learner:computer ratios; e-boards installations, VLE/MLE and the use of technology in lessons. Ritualised technology becomes repetitive, rigid, self-reinforcing and difficult to change. Education becomes focused on preserving the rituals f technology rather than the function.

Despite all its hard work the monster cannot find love.

For technologists education doesn’t go far enough and for eduction the technology is too wild and risky.

The Monster Mash
The monster mash is a complex, expensive, rigid, and slow moving dance –  increasingly  ridiculous yet scary and increasingly damaging to education and learning.

New technologies allow Education to provide increasing amounts of IT provisioned faster and more flexibly while also exerting traditional practices for availability, security, control and standardisation. However, there is a price – these new technologies are far more complex than before. Consider the complexity of load balanced server clustering, Storage area networking or a typical institutional email system.

The complexity of our systems is expensive – not only in terms of capital but also in terms of time, skills and increasingly in terms of external support and maintenance.

The scale of educational IT is expensive – the rise in quantity outweighs the fall in unit costs – while the cost of computer hardware has fallen we use many more and while the cost of software has fallen over the years we use more.

The scale of educational IT is expensive to support and maintain – we need increasing numbers of technical people to keep all this ticking over.

There is also a cost in terms of preparing and delivering education doing the monster mash – consider the amount of time spent preparing attractive powerpoint presentations or populating a VLE for classroom use. This is the old e-board and VLE debate where for me the “E” stands for expensive – consider the opportunity costs of these technologies alone.

To deploy, support and maintain on scale institutional IT is pretty standardised – new technologies such as virtualised clients may allow some variety around a standard theme but they are all generally predefined menu selections.

To protect and secure on scale institutional IT is pretty locked down – people often can’t install programs of their choice on educational computers.

Consider the effect of this standardised lock down on learning. A learner may not be familiar with tools you provide so must first learn your tools before they can apply them to their learning – the tools become a stumbling block and get in the way of learning.

Slow Moving
Traditional institutional IT is designed for providing a fixed standardised and controlled provision on scale – it is not well suited to providing a personalised flexible provision on scope. New features appear in free public consumer IT regularly and often yet consider the process of upgrading an institutional application or email system for all your people.

Free the Monster
However comforting the monster mash may be it now has an existential problem and risks harming everyone around it. The Monster mash is a big turn off for many people these days.

While slow moving, rigid, complex and expensive its addictive, depressed, agoraphobic obsessive compulsive nature make the monster parasitic and difficult to escape

Shock tactics and cold turkey could be fatal for both the monster and the host – we must treat the underlying problems of addiction and anxiety appropriately with exposure and response prevention. With support the monster must confront its fears and discontinue its escape and avoidance responses. The Monster must learn that it can be safe in open, public spaces and that it can reduce and maybe one day eliminate its dependence on tradition and ritual. Over time educational technology may once again lead a less complex, expensive, rigid and slow moving life – one day the monster may lead a happy and fulfilling life.

I hope to explore some technology and education for the monster in future blogs.

September 18, 2010 Posted by | education, ICT, IT and education | Leave a comment

The Future of Technology in Education – The Big Switch

Technology adoption often starts with big, rare and expensive institutional models that technologise existing practice – this is particularly the case with Information technology and has been the case with Information technology in education.

Initially, computers were rare and education provided a handful of computer terminals in specialist suites for relatively specialist access to mainframes. Over time, Mainframe terminals were replaced with desktop “personal” computers and the same model expanded and applied mainstream such that a typical school or college may have thousands of “terminals” and a great many IT suites. Such desktop models are supported and maintained on an institutional model – they are generally standardised and locked down – they really are more like mainframe terminals than personal computers.

Initially, education assimilated computers were a rare resource and teachers could book time in the IT suite for specialist sessions. Over time large machines (desktop computer “terminals”) have been placed on the desks in front of learners. Classrooms have attempted to accommodate these machines by providing benching and computer chairs and often arranging conveniently along and facing walls – in many cases, learners all have their backs to the teacher.

Education’s very long and expansive initial assimilation of IT while already problematic is now under real pressure from radical  technology and cultural changes. Where computers were once big, rare, expensive and institutional  they are now small, common, relatively cheap and personal. Where information was once relatively rare, expensive and institutional it is now abundant, free and personal. Learners are increasingly carrying around in their pockets or bags real personal computers with access to as much information as they need – the typical educational technology provision is an anachronistic steampunk concoction of IT rarity in an age of IT abundance.

The future of technology in education will be mobile and personal but is less about technology and more about education – Education must learn to accommodate new technology and culture with new practice – I hope to explore some of these issues in future blogs.

August 22, 2010 Posted by | education, IT and education | Leave a comment