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The (changed) information cycle

The traditional information cycle looks like this:

Information is created through research and then disseminated through conferences, discussions with colleagues, etc. Validation of the value and accuracy (both loaded terms) of the information is achieved through expert peer review. If deemed to be of suitable quality, information is then published in journals, conference proceedings, and books. And, if the information/research has longevity, it is re-created in later publications and used as a basis for advancing a field of knowledge.

Interestingly, the elements of the information cycle has not been substantially changed due to technology. The process, however, has been greatly altered. Creation is now as simple as a podcast or blog post. Dissemination and peer review occur through “crowd sourcing” methods such as digg links, ratings on Amazon, comments on Diigo…and sharing resources occurs through online articles/open access journals/blogs/videos/podcasts/Second Life builds, etc. Re-creation – when resources are licensing to permit it – occurs through mashups and repurposing content in various media and languages.

Information is now mutable, participatory, democratic, and rapidly re-created. It is here that we should be building a new model of education. Not on the “web 2.0″ tools that are at best and instantiation of these trends (and at worst deceptive in ignoring core changes while pursuing “shiny new objects”).


  1. Alan Levine wrote:

    I like this sentiment in te closing paragraph, of perhaps suggesting we focus on the flow in your diagram rather than the things that make it flow. You will likely see someone’s re-use of this at a conference you are attending in the future ;-)

    Some thoughts– “Information is created through research” seems limited of where it comes from. Some comes from experimentation (which you may argue is research); it may come from just thought/reflectiion, it may come from re-mixing prior information, and frankly, sometimes information is just made up.

    Also, in previous eras, the validation was done *for* us by “trusted” entities. The validation now comes *by* us (or others) and we have these new layers of needing to (or ought ti be needed to) validate more than we have ever done before.

    And also, maybe part of validation, is the newer important role of filtering, picking our sources that filter information for us.

    Dissemination bears some thought too, as your “etc” has a lot more in it than previously, but also we have potentially much broader and wider participating than pre networked learning days.

    I liked just thinking about this, and I’d suggest it would be interesting to explore more of what is on the bubbles and the connectors in your diagram (processes, and yes maybe tools- tools are not the end, but they can be enablers for sure).

    Friday, April 17, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  2. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi Alan – thanks for your comments.

    All I can say is “I agree”. What is currently a short blog post (note the paragraphs – I should think that alone should have impressed you :) ) should really be an article or book. In higher ed in particular, research/experimentation is the key to information creation. But that is a limited perspective. As you note, information is created through many forms (including good-ol’-thinking).

    Good point about validation increasingly including filtering and resource selection. Important to consider in this regard is the role that networked technologies permit (i.e. networked-sensemaking – what occurs on blogs/twitter where we rely on a network to assist in making sense of trends).

    Your suggestion of exploring more of the “in” and “in-between” bubbles is important. I’m still trying to grasp a foundation for advocating for educational reform that is deeper than “let them blog”.


    Friday, April 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  3. Alan Levine wrote:

    Let ‘em twitter!

    Friday, April 17, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  4. Ken Allan wrote:

    Kia ora tātou!

    I must say I am pleasantly relieved to read what’s being said here. For some years I’ve been following where it’s all been taking us. And enjoying the ride.

    But the ‘twitter’ing and the ‘shiny new objects’ are exactly how I’ve viewed a lot of this. Sure it’s fun. Isn’t anything that’s new, glittery and wizzy fun? Who would deny that? And who would deny it to kids? I wouldn’t.

    I see the Web2.0 tools much like the glittering, beeping pocket-hand-held $2 Nintendo games that came out at the beginning of the 80s – a development of the hand-held calculator (I know, I know, last century stuff! So?)
    They had their chance to beep. And they did.

    But hey, graphene is on the way! That’ll give us more than a gig or two to play the mashups on when it arrives.

    “Repurposing”? Shades of the old rlo there! Tut tut! Only joking :-)

    Catchya later
    from Middle-earth

    Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 4:43 am | Permalink