New Ideas and Getting Scolded by JSB

At the iCampus meeting last weekend I had the chance to catchup with one of my favorite folks, John Seely Brown. He asked what I was doing these days that was interesting, and I told him about a “competency-based learning 2.0” mashup I’m working on. When he asked where he could read about it, I said “nowhere since I haven’t finished it yet.” He then scolded me, saying, “Do I have to tell you what a blog is for? Come on…” So, correctly chided, here’s what I’ve got cooking.

Instead of the traditional taxonomy / formal standards based approach to defining competencies, take a folksonomic approach. In fact, someone already has! This is exactly what 43things is about – real things that real people really want to do. It just so happens that on this site people are trying to figure out how to do over 750k things, as expressed by themselves in language that is meaningful to them.

It occurred to me that there’s a great opportunity to let people in the community support themselves by providing (more and less formal educational) resources to each other in the context of the things they are trying to learn to do. Soon visions of and Greasemonkey danced in my head…

Didily is a service that lets people express relations between any two URLs. You can get these relations out as HTML (like in the nifty screenshot below), RSS (slurp them into your aggregator), and RDF (do something that smells like the semantic web with them).


You can also search for relations by keywords, tags, and URLs. (If you visit the site, don’t bother trying to install the Extension… it’s not currently working. Try the Plain Jane Form Interface (PJFI) if you want to play around some.)

For 43Helps, the temporary name of this little experiment, I use Greasemonkey as follows: when the browser lands on a page describing something someone wants to do, pass that URL as a search term to Didily, get the RSS feed back, and then parse the feed out to show the user other sites that people think are related to the thing you’re looking at (as per this nifty screenshot):


So even though I can’t share the code yet, the idea is out here now… Thanks, John! The idea obviously generalizes in all kinds of ways… This is the same mechanism we’ll use to recommend related learning objects when you’re looking at an OCW page, for example. Many good times to come.

I hope to have 43Helps out by the beginning of the year.

Comments are closed.