Why isn't there a long line at the library?

The library gives away high value things every day. For free. Access to more useful information on virtually any subject than one can consume in a lifetime. So why isn’t there a line out the door?

Because you have to do the work. The books don’t read themselves, and there’s no shortcut.

Because the time between the effort and the return is often delayed and nonlinear.

Because you don’t get “credit” for education outside of institutions, in the sense of a degree or certification.

Feel free to swap “library” with “YouTube”, “MIT Open Courseware”, “Wikipedia”, “Jerry’s Brain” or any other freely accessible, roam-able, educational resource.

I think this is something to consider as we build information platforms. Is the problem the access, repository, the information? Or is it something bigger, like the mindset of potential patrons?


What’s the cause, purpose or benefit for waiting in a line?

Conventional libraries tend to not give something away, and instead lend out physical media.

Sure there’s a lot of work, but then one can’t do much of it because of the scarcity/limitations of the physical medium and copyright restrictions/demands and lack of tooling etc. Plus, not everybody labors in that particular domain/style; far more interest in borrowing movies, or libraries violating their mandate/purpose by “lending” e-books, etc.

YouTube mostly proprietary, don’t know about MIT Open Courseware, Wikipedia is fine.

My point is that the line indicates a desire (positive), not a pinch point (negative) due to the inefficiency of the physical library. Also, what I’m suggesting they are giving away is access to learn, not materials to own.

Perhaps another way to say it is that if a sign that says “free access to educational materials” doesn’t generate interest, it might be due to perceived effort, vague return, or no social credit, rather than the quality and accessibility of the educational materials themselves.

Or another way, is the right solution for a new educational platform to focus on the platform, or on the reasons most don’t make use of the current free platforms?

Important clarifications :wink:

Just because it’s gratis doesn’t mean that it’s good/useful/accessible. Just because it’s gratis doesn’t mean that there’s a demand/audience/interest.

In that regard, your inquiry is spot-on. No credit and/or delayed return for education outside of institutions, effort, etc. Then, there’s way too much material, very poorly organized, inadequate tooling/methodology.

Who’s the learner? What are learners trying/wanting to achieve, and how/why?

For the examples of Wikipedia and YouTube, isn’t there massive use of these? Like, REALLY long lines?

Valid point! I’ll add the following to my list of reasons…

Why no line for free educational materials? Because it’s difficult to assess quality before putting in the effort.

That’s made me wonder how much is a product of marketing, 24/7 access, and facade of “everything should be easy”.

Entities selling poor quality materials. Users get burned, and are now wary.

Entities selling very similar materials. Users can’t differentiate, so they choose none-of-the-above, or whatever is the first hit.

Entities selling lowest effort as highest value. Users expect if it’s difficult, there should be an easier solution.

Entities selling materials with implied guarantees. Users expect their results will be the same.

Entities offering access anytime, anywhere. Users learn to devalue otherwise valuable things simply because they can access them without effort.

I guess my original thought was wondering if building another source of information was a good idea, or if it would be better to understand and address why people pursue learning, or don’t.

I just looked this up out of curiosity. “The top 10 categories on YouTube for all viewers are Entertainment, Music, People & Blog, Film, Gaming, Education, Comedy, How-to, News, and Sports.” I was curious what people in the long line for YouTube were waiting to watch and potentially learn.

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Hi Scott!

The metaphor is cute, but it makes analysis tortured to distraction. I would observe that:

  • libraries aren’t the only source of information
  • measuring congestion at a local library does not measure consumption
  • (nobody is at the library anyway right now because of COVID)
  • information ≠ learning
  • even education ≠ learning

etc., etc.

I thought we were all working on sensemaking. Who is building another source of information?

Pete! I think you’ve presented a valuable clarification, and a potential forking of the subject. I offer this pencil sketch of a question…

What is sensemaking, and how does it best add value, utility, discrimination, and engagement to our vast sources of information?

I admit I had never heard the term “sensemaking” prior to joining the OGM calls less than 5 months ago.

I think it depends somewhat on the type of learning/education. Certainly for mainstream materials produced and heavily advertised by a corresponding industry, also lobbying and a bit too entangled with public spending/policy, sure, that’s within the regular, conventional system. Apart and besides however is where it gets much more interesting/relevant IMHO.

Generally speaking, when YouTube was sort of new, many liked the idea of having their own TV station and producing shows or high-quality content of their own, but quickly it turned out to be much more easy to record + publish Let’s-Plays and similar entertainment, so the classical telelearning and tutorial videos are not that well overall actually. However, YouTube grants invaluable and unique access for everybody to conference recordings, interviews, lectures, other long-form, which is now not longer bound to a place/time, and can help a great deal with educating oneself about a particular field or topic. Organizing such or curation on the other hand still remains almost non-existent.

Just to add: probably rare that a Wikipedia lookup doesn’t lead to at least some sort of learning.

Is that really, actually the case? Who wants to make sense how, where, why? Of course, some sense is always inevitably made, but other than, beyond that?

What about looking at it as some form of systems/cybernetic analysis? :slight_smile:

There’s massive use, but of course, there’s “no line at all” because everyone gets instant access. If we refer to a “line” waiting for YouTube then it is only with reference to The New Collossus or similar.

Sorry, this is a “false question”, for the reason stated above, and a few others. Instead, you should look at the drop out rate of MOOCs.

I wonder if you are trying to pose the classical question “Can virtue be taught?” Consider that Spinoza defines virtue as power of acting.

Deleuze’s argument is that learning or apprenticeship is oriented toward the future, rather than the past. — Deleuze’s New Meno: On Learning, Time, and Thought

As such, the question about learning becomes a question of “where is the future”? If you flip this around, it is a question about the geography of death.

On this, I’ll close out with one of Britain’s greatest (living) philosophers :slight_smile:

Perhaps worth recalling:


sens m ( plural sens )

  1. sense
  2. meaning
  3. direction

(The third meaning is less typical in English, but I think useful in this context.)

Deleuze addresses the paradoxes of logic mainly in relation to language, but the French word sens — or meaning — also has an ethical nuance in terms of the direction taken in our practical lives. The meaning produced in experience affects our decision-making and choice of action, and we always have ‘to become worthy of the event’[.] — Inna Semetsky, “One, two, three… one: The edusemiotic self”, in Jung, Deleuze, and the Problematic Whole, p. 115.

As such if we’re going to talk about sense-making in this particular ethical “sense”, then we need to look at a “grammar” of action. I’ve tried to get a conversation about this going at Roles, redux and other places; maybe the conversation is actually taking place in the live meetings, but notes or distillation of those doesn’t yet flow into this forum. I’m hardly one to point fingers though, because I have a hard enough time writing distillations of the other forums and discussions that I’m part of! I wrote a little bit about this at Moby Dick (without whales).

Access to learn is only artificially restricted or because of the scarcity/limitations of the physical carrier medium, in other words: to support/improve learning, for everybody at any time, today there’s no reason why this shouldn’t/couldn’t include owning (non-exclusively or co-owning or everybody invited/enabled to co-own theirs) the materials, especially to actually work/learn with them.

Did interpret the latter to mean that @scottmoehring is not referring to literal waiting lines at a physical library building.

Practically, what’s the waiting line and application/use of Peeragogy patterns + materials outside of the Peeragogy project and even within? Similarly, of what use/application is Jerry’s TheBrain data, outside of OGM and even within? Given the current states these are in. Not to speak of any other resources, but for a closer look at our very “own”/near materials. Just as a question and case study? :slight_smile:

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Downstream “users” seem to be in relatively short supply for the Peeragogy project so far; or, put differently, this is one of the “problems to solve” in and around v4, and beyond.

To put some quantitative measures on this, my PhD thesis was not cited much beyond my immediate “friend group”, whereas the neologism “Peeragogy” is used 200+ times. The problem is that it is often just used as a neologism, rather than as a “system”!

As I mentioned in my description of a “Peeragogy Quest” one of the current deficiencies of the project’s implementation to date is that the book hasn’t yet been used as a textbook in any formal course. We’ve tried proposing one… and that reminds me that today is the deadline to apply again at Tufts (at Midnight local time). Patterns were a major focus in the most recent version of the course I proposed, but it wasn’t accepted, perhaps partly due to complexities of Coronavirus, though one shouldn’t rule out quality considerations!

By the way, if(?) people at OGM or others wanted to walk through this material or a variant as a course (informally) or otherwise, I could help with that. Maybe I’ll also mention it also to the Head of School at Oxford Brookes when I speak with her (tomorrow) about some other teaching. To contextualise, there’s a clear demand for “survey methods” at Brookes, so if surveys could be connected with patterns, maybe I could sneak some of the material in (… if I do end up teaching the survey methods course). But it would be better to find context(s) in which this kind of thinking and learning really fits.

I’ll also mention that what you wrote above is pretty much exactly the question that my friend asked me when critiquing my NYPL fellowship application, when I was proposing to get funding to work on v5. Clearly it would make a nice argument to say “we have lots of meaningful traction & some funding will make it much better”, but we’re not really there yet.

That said, another more optimistic way of talking about “the waiting line” would be to discuss the “perceived need for something like peeragogy” (without necessarily using that terminology). When I was talking about the future above, I didn’t mention that we’ve attempted to explain how and why something like peeragogy (but without the neologism!) could be useful for Futures studies, in Patterns, anticipation and participatory futures. Hopefully that paper does a reasonably good job of describing the perceived “demand”, though this could no doubt be improved, and firmed up.

It’s certainly within our capability to use the patterns ourselves… and to add more patterns that have to do with sharing and spreading the materials and techniques (insofar as they are useful for us).

Concretely, the plan continues to be to “patternize” the book in v4; in other words, v4 will be written around the same outline as the Project Action Reviews (viz., Moby Dick (without whales)), so the whole book is one “big” pattern", with lots of little patterns inside. The patterns are meant to have Next Steps which are used for accounting of all of the work in the project. That’s not been maintained since 2015, but the refurbishments are in progress! In terms of actual “use” of the patterns, I’d say that they are used allusively, e.g., Newcomer pattern at OGM?, and anyone in the project will know the basic terminology — Newcomers, Heartbeat, and so on — and I think it’s used this fairly often way, in lieu of any more systematic use. Of course, various patterns are also applied in a more concrete sense, e.g., the PARs instantiate some version of a “Scrapbook” pattern, and these are used fairly frequently:

Anything that isn’t receiving active attention should be moved to a Scrapbook. This may encompass:

Retired patterns that are tabled or completed (no more next steps);
Proto-patterns made of problems, issues, and concerns;
A back-catalog of publications, reports, or other artifacts

Though, another brief comment here is that it’s not all about “downstream” users: “upstream” users are also important (given the notion of patterns); so, e.g., we used Wikimedia as a running example in the “Patterns of Peeragogy” paper.

I came across multiple events, and attended some that came with “CPD points/credits”.
CPD Explained and The CPD Standards Office - would be interesting to explore this space, and what similar options exist in other countries.

Couple of years ago there was a period of "badge hype" (e.g. MOOC providers offering such badges, some of the course platforms, and even some US universities). Initially developed & launched by Mozilla Foundation with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Open Badges was a really promising idea, and there was an ecosystem around digital badges, including “backpack services” (like Mozilla Backpack. But Mozilla exited this space, Open Badges was overtaken by IMS Global and as I notice, the original intent faded into oblivion. See also: Mozilla Wiki > Badges and Why Open Badges?.

There are various commercial edu tech solutions in this space, including Degreed (which has a “free” option for individuals), or EdCast. There are open source alternatives as well, with a more modest amount of curated materials, like Learn Anything. Our intent is very similar with AsWeThink KnowHub, but so far there wasn’t much interest among OGM members in this.

Based on my experience with MOOCs, many courses on Coursera, NovoEd, Udacity used to rely on YouTube videos - some produced in-house, others curated and/or re-licensed (which were usually set as “unlisted”, so not available for the broader YouTube audience).