What can happen

I'm enjoying David Eaves' blog and his top 10 personal blogging moments for 2007. So far he's made it to #7, and given the date of this post, I think #1 may well be: "finishing my top 10 before midnight New Year's Eve...just!"

I like David's writing in general, but these posts are important for another reason. A lot of what I do is try to convince skeptical students (and professors) that they should embrace open and public forms of discourse and collaboration. Whether that means blogging, writing in wikis, putting code in public revision control, working on bugs in open bugzillas--they all require you to take risks. It's hard to get students to take risks when they don't understand the motivation.

I try to model this behaviour as much as I can. As a good Girardian, I'm convinced of the need for models and the importance of copying others. I try to demonstrate (not 'tell them') that when you operate in this way, you open the door to something happening. That's an odd and difficult thing to teach: do this and something will happen. "How will I know if I'm doing it right?" "What will it look like?" I've done my job when I can show them models like David, and get them to see that the web is nothing more than a space where things can happen.

So I'm enjoying David's blog, as I always do, because he's putting himself out there and taking risks in full view. In my mind there's no better way to teach, no better way to learn.

The web is a place where things can happen, and contrary to what some people will tell you, this means that you need to do things. The web is a place where you make things happen.

I have no authority to make such claims or to tell you to do this. I can only offer you my own experience. And yet I am bold enough to define what the web is, not because I know, but because I'm involved in creating it. The web is what you'll do with this, what I'm doing with David's posts. I know exactly what David is talking about, and that connects us, that creates the web.