Chorus Of Voices

Ward Cunningham idea around Smallest Federated Wiki.

Four distinct concerns surface when designing federated wiki based information communities. We identify each and suggest forces that must be resolved before creative Collaboration will take place.

cf Society Of Mind

Related Mike Caulfield framing: ChoralExplanation-s

  • May13'2016: Wikipedia is no longer the undisputed champion of collaborative sites, at least in the English-language world. Stack Exchange, the question and answer (QnA) site launched just six years ago, has surpassed Wikipedia by some measures. In September 2015, there were 32,025 users who posted five times or more on the Stack Exchange network. Wikipedia, on the other hand, had 29,434 five-time editors (editing five times a month is seen as a “frequent editor” in this formulation)... These newer sites do not work like older QnA sites. older QnA sites are simple variants of general Discussion Forum architecture... Quora and Stack Exchange turned this process on its head. Instead of envisioning the QnA site as a single-purpose forum, the new breed of QnA site saw the model as half-wiki/half-forum... as with wiki, answers posted are meant to be complete answers, not lazy responses to the original poster.Each answer is self-sufficient (a pattern I have termed elsewhere as “hospitable”). Posting a question on these sites is really not about starting a conversation at all. It’s saying “Let’s gather our community knowledge on this particular issue,” just as one might do with wiki. Unlike wiki, however, individual control of writing is preserved, and multiple unique passes at a subject are appreciated. And big questions get a lot of passes. Here’s a snapshot of a few of the sixty-eight responses to Quora’s question of why many physicists believe in a multiverse... As you can see, people get into it at a level that often exceeds what one can find on wiki. Yet each response takes a different approach to providing an answer... The key for me the reader is that these “choral explanations”: combine to push me to a deep understanding no single explanation can, and; give me multiple routes into the content. From the production side, choral explanations have benefits as well. Unlike in pure wiki, I can write with a coherent voice... One of the moments I truly got what federated wiki was was when Ward Cunningham was explaining how the federated wiki system used the name of documents to match up different versions of a document.... “Ah,” said Ward, “but I love a good NameSpace collision!”... You can imagine either an instructor or recommendation software (or some combination) defining an initial path through the chorus.
  • Jun02: The idea that these sites are based on is that there may be better and worse answers for individuals but we benefit when we have access to a wide range of explanations and example, because the explanation that may work for someone else may not work for someone else... In my dream world, sites like this start becoming the protoplasm out of which OER gets made, by both students and teachers. But here’s where Bracken thoughtfully slows me down — how could we leverage existing OER to build this community in a smaller way?.. Take a textbook on Biology. Let’s take a chapter on mitosis... Instuctors (and perhaps students eventually as well) answer these questions, but not in wiki form... These explanations are rated up by other answer authors (for accuracy) and by students (for usefulness)... This starts to get instructors and students contributing to open textbooks without having to edit the main narrative of the text. When editing the main narrative of the text, the many voices can sound incoherent, with Prism, the many voices and perspectives becomes a strength... All text on Prism would be CC-BY. Use of Prism would be free. But instructors might want to write answers that they don’t share with the general public, but just with their class. Or they might want to customize the answers their students see. Or perhaps they’d want to see the answers that their particular students found most helpful. A small per class charge for these features, even if it was paid for by only a fraction of those using it, could finance the operation of the central site, just as those on GitHub...
  • Jul12 biggest summary: This post is my attempt to pull together in one place my thinking about choral explanations as a way of approaching educational materials: why it’s important, and what opportunities it provides. We’ll start by talking about how textbooks are currently produced, move on to new collaboration models we’re seeing on the web, walk through a specific example, and finish by talking about the long-term vision... A little over a decade ago, award-winning author Tamim Ansary wrote an article on the way commercial Text-Book-s get made... Key to the process that Ansary describes is an obsession with eliminating individual voice, originality, and viewpoint... Oddly, when I read the Ansary’s piece I was reminded most of Wikipedia (NPOV)... two questions arise when we look at these processes. First, are there more efficient ways to put together articles than this endless process of pulping things into a single narrative? And second, is it possible that those ways might make for a better experience for the reader as well? I believe the answer to both questions is yes... I spent many years, from the early aughts onward, promoting Wiki as the prime example of networked collaboration... The problem, said Ward Cunningham, was that wiki was a relentless consensus engine... Consensus can be off-putting to contributors. It often suppresses important minority viewpoints. The process of document-by-consensus tends to value the bureaucratic over the human... Encyclopedic voice is expensive: expensive in terms of time involved, coordination cost, and toll on the production community... Ward looked at these problems in 2011 and proposed a new direction for wiki, one he termed the “chorus of voices.” The idea of the chorus was that a wiki page’s title could form a hub for a number of individual, personal takes on a single idea... The more radical piece of the vision was making peace with “the chorus”; understanding that the “meaning” of a given page in wiki was the intersection of all the work individual authors had written against that title... When I watched JoelSpolsky’s presentation to the WikiMedia foundation last fall — I saw more in it than I might have three years ago... Stack Exchange (founded 2010) had actually surpassed the number of active editors found on English Wikipedia (founded 2001). And unlike English Wikipedia, Stack Exchange was still growing... the new breed of Q&A site sees the model as half-wiki/half-forum. The question asked is analogous to the title of a wiki page; it’s not transactional but communal... On Quora, in fact, the question can (and often is) edited by the community for clarity, and on Stack Exchange posters who pose badly formulated questions are pushed by moderators to reformulate their question in ways more beneficial to the site... Posting a question on these sites is really not about starting a conversation at all. It’s saying “Let’s gather our community knowledge on this particular issue,” just as one might do with wiki. Unlike Wiki, however, individual control of writing is preserved, and multiple unique passes at a subject are appreciated... It’s not about the best or first adequate answer. People looking to learn a theory or a skill find seeing the multiple explanations a benefit... For years we have imagined (or at least most people I know have imagined) an approach to OER production that looks like Wiki... even though these methods are open and Stigmergic, in these models we risk replicating the pulping process that Ansary describes... It’s interesting that Ansary, in the latter part of his article, doesn’t want to throw away the encyclopedic style of the textbook completely. The “view from nowhere”, as ThomasNagel has called it, has its applications... I’m not proposing that material be removed from the textbook, but rather that It be separated in to two separate tracks, an encyclopedic, carefully sequenced core and a marketplace of choral explanations... The idea of choral explanations in OER is that the textbook becomes an operating system on which multiple parallel community-provided explanations run. From the student perspective, the text branches off into multiple available explanations of the same concept, explanations authored individually by a wide range of instructors, researchers, and students. You can keep reading until you find the explanation that makes sense... Our process begins with the writers of the core textbooks who identify initial productive questions and link to them in the text.... this is also a way to accomplish a long-standing goal of the OER community: to bring students more fully into the production of OER... the most fitting artifact to demonstrate competency is in fact an explanation... Students have been involved with production of web-published educational materials many times before... Most of these web projects were accomplished through running special class wikis that aim to cover a subject thoroughly in a separate site... from the moment they were completed they began to decay... More recently a movement has grown up around having students contribute to Wikipedia pages... Yet two major problems occur repeatedly with this model. The first is the problem of other people. Editing on Wikipedia, students spend a disproportionate amount time defending their changes to other Wikipedia editors... only a few students (if any) will have the chance to explain these things on Wikipedia from scratch... Choral explanations provides for a third way that promises some of the benefits of wiki without the drawbacks.

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