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Update: Vendor stuff

This is a quick update on the post I made earlier about setting up an Elearning Marketplace. I posted a similar message to some listservs…and received a response back from a moderator of a large list (who had deleted the post). A statement was made to the effect of “Why are you doing this? I looked at your site, and you have a lot of open source stuff. This appears to be a conflict.” Question was really two-fold: what’s your motive…and how does it reconcile with your other articles.

First – my motives. My intent for elearnspace is pretty straight forward. It’s stated here. I don’t offer a product or service. I have a website. That’s about it. It’s a source of personal interest. If I see something that I think may interest others, or provide a service, and if I can do…then I’ll do it. That’s what the marketplace is about. It’s weird – people will take some things for free (i.e. subscribe to a newsletter, download software)…but when it comes to a service that may be of use (a very relative concept), the question seems to be “what’s the catch?”. I wonder if people like Stephen, Maish, or Jay, get questions about why they do what they do (and what their angle is).

Second – in regards to software – open source in no way/shape/form says it doesn’t like money. Open source is about freedom…not free. Do some people actually think that by saying “open source” any thought of profit/money is to be excluded? Far from the truth. It’s about where on the “money chain” people make money. Traditionally, it’s been the creation of a physical product (because that is where the input costs were highest). Now, the costs are farther down the chain – the revenue is generated at the point of providing a service. My focus with elearnspace hasn’t been to generate revenue (it’s all licensed under Creative Commons)…but if others are trying to make a living – especially at the service provision level – fine by me. I make my choices. They make theirs. I advocate for what I believe in…and they do the same. Few things can be boxed black and white. There’s always some bleeding of color.

Third – I setup the Marketplace in response to the amount of requests I get for vendors to be added to the elearnspace site. I thought, the best way to address this was to give vendors control over their own identity. I want to be fair about who’s on the elearnspace site…but I don’t want it to become a commercial forum. While I have some vendors listed in certain areas, it’s tough to keep up with new…and I want elearnsapce to be a resource site with an educational slant. It seemed like a good idea to give vendors their own space as a resources/service to visitors of elearnspace site.

Fourth – my interest in Open Education is based on common sense. Copyright is crippling innovation. The stated purpose of Open Education is to provide an alternative – to give educators a choice about what they do with their content…with the hopeful impact of educators joining together to create an open market of idea and resource exchange. How does that conflict with the creation of a marketplace that offers hardware/consultants/software providers an opportunity to promote themselves?

Did I make a mistake by initiating Elearning Marketplace? I welcome thoughts.

One Comment

  1. Hiya George,

    I still get that sort of question from time to time, but mostly now people know where I’m coming from and the questions have subsided, mostly. Like you I’m not out to sell anything, not even services these days. But I think that people see that I have a clear point of view on a lot of this stuff, and so if they *really* need an angle, they can say to themselves, “Ah. He’s selling a message / idea / philosophy.” Which is fine, and it wouldn’t be me if there weren’t some deeper meaning attached. But it really is just about the sharing: my site began because bookmarks become unmanagable after you’ve collected a few hundred, and if I’m doing all this work anyways, why not share it?

    As for collecting commercial vendor data: nothing wrong with that – it is about freedom, not free, after all, and a service like this promotes the concept. It is consistent with, not contrary to, open source. But what I would prefer to see is each company maintaining its own vendor-specific XML file, something that can be harvested, to create a dynamic database with distributed resources. This allows a company to create and post its basic information once, and have it used in many applications and databases at the same time.

    Monday, July 28, 2003 at 1:34 pm | Permalink