Let me begin this story by saying, the despite a recent experience, I love my Apple computers, past, present, and hopefully future. My work flows in Apple colors, where I do all my development, and use other systems to deal with how the other pitiful 95% of the web sees my content. I know less about the company, nor care, nor am a Steve-fanatic, nor tune into the latest fad-casts and likely have some fantasy concept that its a cool place full of cool people who just spend all day making cool stuff. I rarely dwell on it, as it does not mean much to my daily work.
That’s the shiny skin of the Apple.
Some recent actions have my wonder about my naive picture. A number of months ago, New Media Consortium leader Larry Johnson invited me to “co-blog” within a newly developed Apple/Education thing called the Apple Digital Campus Exchange… there was an impressive list of names of people I respect like Carl Berger, D’Arcy Norman, Cole Camplese, John Ittelson, and more. They were even using WordPress to power the blogging, which struck me as interesting that Apple would use an open source, outside Cupertino software. I’ve been posting stuff here and there to the Future Present blog.
If you click that link, you run into the walls of the orchard. There is a big old locked gate at the front.
To read content posted in the ADCE blogs, you must actually register and get an account, just to read a blog.
So I cannot provide any direct links to anything I wrote, since all links are re-channeled to a login screen. I am not even sure if your do have an ADCE account and do manage to log in, if it even manages to follow the link through (I think it dumps you to their main page).
I barked at that back in May 2005, see Oxymoron: Master Planned Blogging Communities. That’s how 99% of blogs work, anyone can directly link to a previously published item. Not so at ADCE. You’ve got to get through the gates.
Two weeks ago I noticed that their gets even blocked XML-RPC requests, so I could not even use ecto to do my blog writing (whihc I use to post to my array of WordPress, MovableType, and even Blogger sites). I asked the groups, complained, and finally someone unclogged that. At the same time, I emailed to the other ADCE folks that I was against this “gate keeper” login:
I am reluctant to take time developing content inside a closed community, see:
A major downfall is exposed right there, while I can direct link to my own blog, I cannot provide anyone a direct link to an interesting post inide ADCE if I want to tell them about a great idea or resource… I would have to say:
“Hey, you should see this great scneraio based game learning activity they are doing at Penn State! Just log in to ADCE… no wait, you need to create an account first, then go to the ______ blog and then click….”
Forget about it.
Direct linking to content is the currency of the connected net. Any of the current books that analyze the notion of social and information network is built upon the humble link. It’s the links that provide the fuel for making Google work. It’s the open link that makes the medium of the net different from any previous environment,
Others have referred it to the neurons in our brains. Put barriers in there and the consequences are dire, deadly. Open the gate for reading. Put it up if you want a little control over the writing.
I lost track, but at least 6 other colleagues chimed in and said, “Yeah! Take down the gates!”
Eventually came a response from within the gate keepers of the Apple orchard, which I will not quote, but boils down to “fuggedbaoudit- for something to appear on an Apple.com site, we need to control it”. I felt like that’s fine, but not the type of “community” I want to be engaged in. While there are propositions in the work to make these blogs public, and it all may work out fine, I am just wondering about the core of corporate command and control that is below the shiny skin. I’m a bit insulted that I would be invited to write under the Apple banner due to my so-called reputation (that will change soon), but I am treated like a suspect who might write subversive things.
And to me, spending time writing in a place that does not add more links, more content to the external web as a whole, is not worthwhile. It’s what we all do as little players, individuals to add to this network of linkages. Links are what its all about, baby; its what connects me to people and places I do not know, it is the neural backbone of the web. Bloggers do their bit to add to the net in a public fashion. Links inside a closed community add little to the big mix.
And it gets back to what is key about the success of blogging, the personal publishing power. I have no one but myself to answer to when I write here at CogDogBlog; I am a Committee of One. There are things I choose not to write about, and I respect and follow the rules of usage of the provider of my service (my college); I am granted a privilege and given the trust to do so. They go hand in hand. But apparently not so at Apple, and now I am getting confused between Cupertino and Redmond.
So ADCE’s big kickoff is Friday, and we’ll see how the closed orchard flies. I could be dead wrong and silly as I sit on the fence deciding whether it is worth my time to roam inside or outside the walls.
Heck, I might already be fired.