In the digital world we live in, the main ground is possessed by the few, the Digital-Landlords. A whole paraphernalia of digital rights management, technologies, contracts, lawyers, regulations voted under influence and the cyber police make sure that we do not infringe their rights. To live on their lands often means accepting a relationship close to serfdom or digital slavery. To have a name, one has to pay a fee; that is if you want to have a domain of your own and not depend on someone else (a sub-domain) — come and join us at ePIC to hear what Jim Groom has to say on this!
The Emperor’s New Clothes has become The Commoner’s New Clothes: we believe that we are dressed-up, yet we walk naked
We, the digital-commoners, possess very little, if anything at all, at least nothing worth transmitting to our heirs. Not even our name… We should express our gratitude for having been relieved from the anxiety of inheritance, spared the burden of building the walls of our privacy and wearing clothes to protect our intimacy. In this world, the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes has become The Commoner’s New Clothes: we believe that we are dressed-up, yet we walk naked. As for Digital-Landlords, they simply see a flock of sheep waiting to be shorn.
But digital-commoners are no sheep. We know that if the real world is (almost) a sphere and its surface limited, the digital world has no predefined boundaries! We are free to add to it and establish our own fiefdom if that’s what we want. De-centralisation and aggregation of loosely coupled elements were at the core of the original design of the Internet. The way the Web has grown has obfuscated this central element, and Tim Berners-Lee, the person who is credited with having invented the World Wide Web (Stephen Downes disagrees with that characterisation) is calling for the re-decentralisation of the web.
Open Badges are the milestones of the roads we are tracing while exploring the New Territories
As learning practitioners and citizens, we, the digital-commoners, must take our own share in this re-decentralisation endeavour. In fact, as the development of Open Badges testifies, the work has already started: the enclosures of formal education credentials are now challenged to be open to the commoners. With Open Badges, digital-commoners now have the power to create their own verifiable claims, call on others’ endorsements and establish local and global trust networks. Open Badges are the milestones of the roads we are tracing while exploring the New Territories. We are now able to write our names on them without having to pay our dues to Digital-Landlords, nor their servants. And we can conquer new spaces without having to spoil it for anyone else as the re-decentralised World Wide Web is a land of plenty.
To explore further and charter the New Territories of learning recognition with other digital-commoners, join us in Bologna this October!
NB: this article is inspired by Audrey Water’s post: A Domain of One’s Own in a Post-Ownership Society