I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s playing around on a Friday afternoon with a new script for GMail that provides statistics about your email habits. It doesn’t include spam, calendar invites or my chat history. I’m quite pleased that I send two-thirds less email than I receive, although it’s a shame that 80% of the emails I receive are not directly for me. Not that I want them to be, but it suggests I get CC’d into a lot of mail. I’m also pleased to see that about 80% of email I receive gets answered within one day. I hate it hanging around and usually have less than a handful of emails sitting in my Inbox at any one time. All my email, both work and personal, comes to this single account.
The technical conditions of communication and information processing are enabling the emergence of new social and economic practices of information and knowledge production. ((The Wealth of Networks: Direct link))
You may have read Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Networks, where he discusses Wikipedia as an example of commons-based peer-production. Did you know that you can see this relatively new model of knowledge and economic production live, in real-time? The video below is just one minute of Wikipedia edits recorded from the live changes on the irc.wikimedia.org #en.wikipedia channel. Using the IRC channel, you can watch Wikipedia being created as it happens, which means you can see the incremental production of collective knowledge as it happens. I recommend full-screen HD to see the detail as it passes up your screen. There are different channels for the different language versions. I chose the English version.
The Wikimedia site provides detailed statistics about the use of their sites, although the English Wikipedia statistics stop at October 2006 🙁 Perhaps there’s just too much activity on that site for them to collect and measure?
A lot of people still have an aversion to Wikipedia, but I don’t think they get it. Wikipedia is completely open to anyone to contribute. If you don’t think it’s good enough, ((See the famous Nature article which compared Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Britannica [PDF])) isn’t it your (moral?) responsibility to correct and improve it? Like it or not, as a single source, it has by far the widest reach of any web-based learning resource and although I don’t have the time to substantiate this, I bet that after Google, it’s the second online resource that students visit when beginning their research. ((Via Twitter, AJCann just pointed me to some research he’d done which shows that 100% of his student cohort use Wikipedia)) If you challenge what’s happening on Wikipedia, you’re fighting a losing battle. Stop complaining and start contributing!
Personally, I watch the Wikipedia edits rolling up my screen, seeing contributions as they happen from individuals I’ll never know and am filled with optimism. Each edit is underwritten by a Creative Commons license which protects and preserves this body of knowledge for perpetuity. If there were world heritage sites on the Internet, Wikipedia would surely be the first to be recognised as such.
A post on the WordPress Publisher’s Blog highlights a large increase in the number of new job offerings that include WordPress as a required skill. The original oDesk report shows that Joomla is clearly the ‘most in demand skill in 2008′, although WordPress has the ‘fastest growing demand.’ WordPress only shows 55% of the demand that Joomla has but the growth is very still very impressive. At that rate, by the end of 2009, WordPress is very likely to be the ‘most in demand skill’ among oDesk’s clients. oDesk is a ‘marketplace for online workteams,’ a ‘a job board for freelance and contract technical jobs‘. Their tagline is ‘Hire, Manage, and Pay remote contractors as if they were in your office.‘
Of course, according to this video we will all be contractors before too long, quoting the US Department of Labour’s estimate that today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs before the age of 38.
Regardless of how the figures might be (mis)interpreted, the report does suggest that the demand for WordPress-related skills, whether they are technical, administrative or just user-side, is increasing significantly. A 400% increase in demand for WordPress technical skills means that someone’s got to be managing and posting to those WordPress sites at the end of the day.
When advocating the use of WordPress to the university, I argue that learning how to use online web applications such as blogs and wikis is as relevant to today’s graduates as learning how to use word processors and spreadsheets was a few years ago. My last job was not in ‘technology’, but most of my productive work was done using Confluence, enterprise wiki software that was rolled out throughout the organisation.
Of course, universities are not solely responsible for ensuring students have the right IT skills. Note that 157,690 new blog posts have been made by 170, 828 users on wordpress.com alone today with over 10 million published WordPress blogs worldwide. That’s a lot of people learning for themselves. WordPress is probably the best choice of platform if you want to learn how to navigate around a modern, productive Web 2.0 site. It’s free to use, more popular than Blogger and growing faster, too, and unlike Facebook, you can actually get some work done 🙂
You can read more about wordpress.com statistics here.