Content IS Infrastructure (Welcome to the club, Chris)

Chris Lott’s recent post Open Content is So, Like, Yesterday has earned him Stephen’s attention and misinterpretation. Well, that’s happened to many of us. =)

I want to remix a little of his post and provide some supporting comments:

Good open content is a vital part of creating a vital open education apparatus… Content is just one piece of the open education mosaic that is worth a lot less on its own than in concert with practices, context, artifacts.

Opening content up isn’t the sexiest activity. But I would argue that in one way if it’s not the most important, it’s still to be ranked first among equals. (Emphasis added)

Yes, yes, yes! The way I’ve tried to communicate this idea is “content is infrastructure.” Now, everyone knows that infrastructure is not the sexiest thing to work on. Who grows up thinking “I want to build better roads when I grow up!” or “I want to squeeze more bits down a piece of glass faster when I grow up!”? Infrastructure is generally hidden away in the background, and we all just assume that it will be there and will work. Most people would rather ride the Harleys and launch the Web 2.0 startups, not lay the asphalt and improve routing efficiency.

Creating and sharing content is certainly not the sexiest part of the open education movement. But the open education movement is going nowhere fast without open content. And while infrastructure / content work generally doesn’t excite anyone, the results of innovation in the infrastructure space do excite people. What would you say if I told you that “fiber to the curb” internet service was going to be available at your house/apt in January!”? Probably the same thing you would say if I told you that “content complete, interactive courses – including assessments with feedback – will be available from BYU’s Open Learning pilot in January!”

Infrastructure is critical; open content is the infrastructure of the open education movement; and open content deserves the respect Chris is trying to give it.