My brief comment in response to the thread.
What strikes me odd about this is that there are thousands of (apparently) companies that keep pointing to youth and (maybe) understanding the technology that connects people together, but they seem to have no respect (or clue) to what people do after they are young. I don’t need another friend and friending as a verb is ridiculous to people who are married with children.
What would be transformational is if someone took another look at the most important things people do in life and built tools around the individual, especially the information intensive individual.
I work in the business intelligence business, and started out with at Xerox long ago under the influence of people like JSB. What I have come to learn is that people interacting with computing systems do indeed come up with verbs, and the most intense interactive experiences end up having their own verbs. Podcasting is an example, as is ‘friending’, ’surfing’. And yet it has only been recently that we have been ‘buying’ or ‘banking’ and obviously nobody has been ‘voting’.
None of these things work as transactions as well as they do as interactions. It’s not just a simple set of verbs but a set of interactions around important functions - this is the approach that works best, when a person’s activities become describable as a workflow. The problem is that we’ve got a bunch of discrete actions in most of our social computing - rather like old video games before the invention of the sandbox, or old top-down programming before simulation loops - that don’t give us the sensation of swimming or anything continuous, like life itself.
I would argue a la Chesterton that we not tear down walls before we understand why they were erected. I’ve enjoyed auditing video lectures of physics ‘at’ Berkeley as much as any student in that classroom. But I doubt many students would be comfortable with my voyeurism - there is a temporal wall in the non-live rebroadcast that gives some propriety, and we all need a certain amount of that.
I would also be wary of giving over to a Friereian view of ‘equality’ in the exchange of information from teacher to student and vice versa. I say so as an old man who is not entirely convinced that all questioning of experience is useful, moral or productive. Pay very close attention to what is given and what is taken, because whatever arrangements we conclude are superior must inevitably be sustained in order for them to be anything more than academic. Keep that in mind especially in view of the factoid about how much laptops cost vis a vis wages in the Third World.
One of the things that was fresh in my mind as I blasted through that comment was this set of improvisations and meditations on the improvement of the Bloomberg Terminal. As you all know I'm very much into Bloomberg these days - information monks from way back, they are, Yoda like in their inscrutable wonkiness. But also I'm thinking of sandbox decision making and how the shape of an environment is determined by the rules many of which are invisible.
We don't often have sandbox-like decision making abilities in our compute environments. They are very discrete. We simply don't have the economics to achieve that yet. Not until the price of sandbox environment development comes way down are we going to be able to break down walls of education and have real simulations of important interactions with realworld implications. I can visualize it all myself - I've been working in the environment forever - but it is only beginning to become economical for SMB much less the general public.