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Tony Hirst

"I'll go along with Twitter and Facebook saying they have open APIs"

Thy are open in the sense that:
a) folk can use them to access platform services;
b) folk can reimplement them (as Wordpress did with the Twitter API recently).

But they are not open standards because:
I) their definition is controlled by a private commercial entity,

which means that:
Ia) the API may be changed as the owners see fit, without the 'open' community having a say.
IIb) License conditions on use of the API may be changed.

I'm not sure if it's possible to claim copyright over the definition of an API? Wordpress' lawyers presumably didn't seem to think that would present a problem though?


@Tony - yes, absolutely, but at the moment I think their approach to openness has been useful. Whatever we think of FB it was their opening up of the API that really got a lot of people excited about the use of widgets and moving data about. So I think we just have to stay 'open aware' and if companies move away from open we move away from them.

Mike Caulfield

Thanks Martin, I liked this.

Joseph Thibault

I'm in agreement with your conclusion 100%: I know that slideshare isn't OER (by many definitions) but as far as openness goes, they're doing awesome. Where ever learning is only a link away (without bring prompted to login, register, etc.) then it's open (in my humble opinion).

If commercial sites figure out a way to do it best, kudos to them (and lesson be learned for anyone wanting "open" their educational resources).

Joel Greenberg

Sitting here at my desk at home looking out at the lovely white stuff, an image comes into my head of colleagues passionately advocating openness. Yet many of them will be surrounded by their beloved Apple kit. As Apple is one of the most proprietary of vendors, yet does produce excellent technology, do we boycott it?

So the words "fit for purpose" spring to mind. Interesting that the words used by one of the Google guys at the launch of the Nexus phone were - " we are just giving people a choice". What else could he say?

George Siemens

Hi Martin,

Thanks for diving in!

Yes, you're right in stating that I would like educators to take control of the "openness" discussion. But I don't think this is an elitist stance. Education (as a field of study) is a net-importation field. We have a trade deficit with the other academic disciplines :). We import psychology, technology, philosophy, etc. from others. We are too accustomed to adopting what others have done. Driving the philosophical discussion of openness is an important opportunity to influence education as a discipline...and in the process ensure that ideological principles serve as the foundation.

I've been reflecting on your final statement:
"Open is a big, buzzing ball of interrelated concepts, beliefs, technology and approaches at the moment, and I'm okay with that"

I think I agree. My focus in the post was not to call for a definition but for dialogue. I'm ok with things being big/messy/chaotic - many principles are: democracy, human rights, green movement, etc. I'm not calling for a single definition to serve as a long term foundation. I'm asking for a theoretical discussion - one that explores the principles on which we choose to act pragmatically.

btw - happy b-day!

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