In this lecture on "Why Johnny Can't Syndicate," speaker Jon Udell will review a case study — conducted in Ann Arbor and elsewhere — that uses the syndication of public calendars to explore what people do and don't understand about the Web's core principles, how we can enlarge that understanding, and why it matters that we do.
Udell is an author, information architect, software developer, and new media innovator. In 2007 Udell joined Microsoft Research as a writer, interviewer, speaker, and experimental software developer. Currently he is building and explaining a calendar network that's based on open standards and runs in the Windows Azure cloud.
His 1999 book, Practical Internet Groupware, helped lay the foundation for what we now call social software. Udell was formerly a software developer at Lotus, BYTE magazine's executive editor and Web maven, and an independent consultant.
A hands-on thinker, Udell's analysis of industry trends has always been informed by his own ongoing experiments with software, information architecture, and new media.
From 2002 to 2006 he was InfoWorld's lead analyst, author of the weekly Strategic Developer column, and blogger-in-chief. During his InfoWorld tenure he also pioneered the medium now known as screencasting and produced an audio show, Interviews with Innovators.
Udell provided the following abstract:
"In Why Johnny Can't Read (1955), Rudolf Flesch ranted that 'horrible, stupid, emasculated, pointless, tasteless little readers' were depriving kids of 'Andersen's Fairy Tales and The Arabian Nights and Mark Twain, and anything interesting and worthwhile.' He argued: 'If you equip kids with the right conceptual tools they can read anything.'
"As we colonize the cloud we can read — and write — in important new ways. But we're failing to equip most people with the right conceptual tools for these emerging modes of literacy. A web of connected information systems entails such concepts as authority over data, indirection, standard ways to structure and exchange data, controlled vocabularies, publish-and-subscribe networks, and use and recombination of services.
"Students of the computer and information sciences learn and apply these principles. Others can too, but because they mostly don't they remain stuck at a 'Fun with Dick and Jane' level of Web literacy.
"In this talk we'll review a case study, conducted in Ann Arbor and elsewhere, that uses the syndication of public calendars to explore what people do and don't understand about the Web's core principles, how we can enlarge that understanding, and why it matters that we do."