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Real LMS Revolutionaries Burn Zombies

This morning’s RSS buzz, or rippling murmur, is the web video from upstart LMS Instructure announcing the open-sourceness of their Canvas platform, and with it, a literal parody of Apple’s then ground breaking 1984 video:

As a frequently off target metaphor users, I step blindly into pot calling kettle black, but is the 1984 really the parallel? Sure Blackboard has a large corner, but they are hardly that dominant, and frankly, seem to be teetering unaware of the sign taped on their back “Kick Me, I am Obsolete”.

I did like the use of flame throwers in the Instructure video, even the fun out takes at the end, looking like they had some fun there.

But if you want a real message, listen to this clip from perhaps the most memorable NMC presentation we hosted when doing our conferences in Second Life. This was Jim Groom and Tom Woodward titled The Revolution will be Syndicated:

The coming revolution will be syndicated through a web of feeds making ideas ever easier to find. Sharing will no longer be the exception, but the rule. Enduring these hard, transitional times takes not only a revolutionary mindset, but the resourcefulness of a survivalist, therefore the methods we will examine are not only mind altering, but they are also very cheap, flexible, and open.

This presentation will involve some performance art in an effort to “revolutionize” how we imagine web-based publishing in higher education. Come to this session ready to doff the chains of LMS slavery and join the brave new world of web-publishing in the Age of Syndication.

Check out the opening–

Jim and Tom had cast the vision of LMS zombies on the train, LMS zombies eating at McDonalds (maybe LMS zombies suing each other in court)– in Tom Woodward’s epic line describing LMS’s “like artery clogging document warehouses where engagement goes to die.”

Their theatric pyrotechnics suggested that LMS zombies sit among us, at meetings, in the hallways, in the classrooms– now that was some flamethrowing (even if was cheap tricks in Second Life).

You can get the whole video and more at

This was back in November 2008, and honestly, it is sure looking like burned zombie flesh when I look at what is bubbling over at ds106, Jim’s open digital storytelling course- which, among other such open courses- is the least “course-ish” thing out there. It is barely 2 weeks in and there have already been about 700 blog contributions. To those who doubt the ability for ordinary learners to become “system administrators”, look at how many of them are adorning their digital lockers.

We think usually of revolutionaries as the building burning, flag stomping radicals with the bull horns, but often the real revolution happens within, and not with the fanfare of flamethrowers. And that is no secret.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


  1. Yeah,
    I thought of that too, and I am not a fan of the LMS. That said we saw instructure two weeks ago because no university can be without one!! And, i must say, of the four we say, Instructure was interesting, and had some real deep syndication, disaggregation, and decoupling goodness going on. It’s no ds106 mind you, but I would say the undead might be a little less so there.

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