Thursday Threads: History of the Future, Kuali change-of-focus, 2018 Mindset List

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This weeks threads are a mixture of the future, the present and the past. Starting things off is A History of the Future in 100 Objects, a revealing look at what technology and society has in store for us. Parts of this resource are available freely on the website with the rest available as a $5 e-book. Next, in the present, is the decision by the Kuali Foundation to shift to a for-profit model and what it means for open source in the academic domain. And finally, a look at the past with the mindset list for the class of 2018 from Beloit College.

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A History of the Future in 100 Objects

What are the 100 objects that future historians will pick to define our 21st century? A javelin thrown by an ‘enhanced’ Paralympian, far further than any normal human? Virtual reality interrogation equipment used by police forces? The world’s most expensive glass of water, mined from the moons of Mars? Or desire modification drugs that fuel a brand new religion?
A History of the Future in 100 Objects describes a hundred slices of the future of everything, spanning politics, technology, art, religion, and entertainment. Some of the objects are described by future historians; others through found materials, short stories, or dialogues. All come from a very real future.

I was turned on to this book-slash-website-slash-resource by a tweet from Herbert Von de Sompel:

— Herbert (@hvdsomp) August 21, 2014


The name is intriguing, right? I mean, A History of the Future in 100 Objects? What does it mean to have a “History of the Future”?

The answer is an intriguing book that places the reader in the year 2082 looking back at the previous 68 years. (Yes, if you are doing the math, the book starts with objects from 2014.) Whether it is high-tech gizmos or the impact of world events, the author makes a projection of what might happen by telling the brief story of an artifact. For those in the library arena, you want to read about the reading rooms of 2030, but I really suggest starting at the beginning and working your way through the vignettes from the book that the author has published on the website. There is a link in the header of each pages that points to e-book purchasing options.

Kuali Reboots Itself into a Commercial Entity

Despite the positioning that this change is about innovating into the next decade, there is much more to this change than might be apparent on the surface. The creation of a for-profit entity to “lead the development and ongoing support” and to enable “an additional path for investment to accelerate existing and create new Kuali products fundamentally moves Kuali away from the community source model. Member institutions will no longer have voting rights for Kuali projects but will instead be able to “sit on customer councils and will give feedback about design and priority”. Given such a transformative change to the underlying model, there are some big questions to address.

As Phil noted in yesterday’s post, Kuali is moving to a for-profit model, and it looks like it is motivated more by sustainability pressures than by some grand affirmative vision for the organization. There has been a long-term debate in higher education about the value of “community source,” which is a particular governance and funding model for open source projects. This debate is arguably one of the reasons why Indiana University left the Sakai Foundation (as I will get into later in this post). At the moment, Kuali is easily the most high-profile and well-funded project that still identifies itself as Community Source. The fact that this project, led by the single most vocal proponent for the Community Source model, is moving to a different model strongly suggests that Community Source has failed.
It’s worth taking some time to talk about why it has failed, because the story has implications for a wide range of open-licensed educational projects. For example, it is very relevant to my recent post on business models for Open Educational Resources (OER).

I touched on the cosmic shift in the direction of Kuali on DLTJ last week, but these two pieces from Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein on the e-Literate blog. I have certainly been a proponent of the open source method of building software and the need for sustainable open source software to develop a community around that software. But I can’t help but think there is more to this story than meets the eye: that there is something about a lack of faith by senior university administrators in having their own staff own the needs and issues of their institutions. Or maybe it has something to do with the high levels of fiscal commitment to elaborate “community source” governance structures. In thinking about what happened with Kuali, I can’t help but compare it to the reality of Project Hydra, where libraries participate with in-kind donations of staff time, travel expenses and good will to a self-governing organization that has only as much structure as it needs.

The 2018 Mindset List

Students heading into their first year of college this year were generally born in 1996.

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetime are Tupac Shakur, JonBenet Ramsey, Carl Sagan, and Tiny Tim.

On Parents’ Weekend, they may want to watch out in case Madonna shows up to see daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon or Sylvester Stallone comes to see daughter Sophia.

For students entering college this fall in the Class of 2018…

2018 List, by Tom McBride and Ron Nief, Beloit College Mindset List

So begins the annual “mindset list” — a tool originally developed to help the Beloit College instructors use cultural references that were relevant to the students entering their classrooms. I didn’t see as much buzz about it this year in my social circles, so I wanted to call it out (if for no other reason than to make you feel just a little older…).

(This post was updated on 07-Dec-2014.)