Wayne Hodgins and I chatted for 2 1/2 hours today. Wayne lives in the future and thinks waaaaaaaaaay out of the box. Friends have told me they can't understand a word he says. Some of us find him a visionary and inspiration.
With apologies to Steve Martin, Wayne suggests, "Let's get small." Granular. So small that we can glue the grains together to construct anything we can dream up. Like configuring personalized lessons for everyone in the world.
Metaphor #1. Dell Computer. You build your own computer. They get it to you fast because they maintain an inventory of standard components. Dell doesn't have factories that make things; it has warehouses that assemble things. Question: Is Dell selling products or services? Can we do a Dell on learning?
Metaphor #2. Planeload of soldiers flying to the battlefield. As they take off, they don't know where they're going or what role they'll be expected to play. They must be ready to handle the unexpected. How can the military make sure the troops have right competencies? Or can learn them on the way? Competency is more important than content because the objective is to accomplish the mission.
Metaphor #3. Personalized lessons for each of the 6.3 billion people on earth. ("What if the impossible isn't?" Wayne is underwhelmed by our expectations.) Modular assemblies, open architecture, Web services/interoperability, and learning grains as small as possible but no smaller, are all parts of the solution. But how can we avoid the manual tweaking and closed-system mentality that held back Performance Support?
We count on emergence -- organization and structure that are already there but not yet visible. That's what underpins the automated collection of metadata, expert locators, pattern recognition, smart graphics... self-organization.
Metaphor #4. Parameterized design, AKA emergent design. Feed the parameters of the desired output into CAD and have it instruct the computer to create a 3D prototype. Or design a boat hull on the screen and the computer-controlled mold shapes itself to the pattern. One-off's become as economical as mass-producted. (This gets me thinking that Business Process Modeling will evolve into parameterized workflow. It's all in your head. Or on your hard disk.)
How small can we get? What do the atoms look like? Wayne considers Bob Horn's information blocks the minimum. They're as small as you can go with and still have them stand alone. Any atom has four distinct elements. Each atom, or grain, is composed of four basic pieces: "pure" content, presentation, sequencing, and meta-data.
You want to play with these things, you need IMOTO,
Wayne's and my thinking overlap in numerous areas. (And, having written that, I realize it's akin to saying that I agree with Hawking about string theory and Gell-Mann about quarks.)
Turning hurredly to the Edinburgh Scenarios, Wayne suggests we consider our linear dimensions as if they were loops:
I'm still puzzling over that one. Mobius strips?
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