Friday, 7 March 2008

Fight in the Blogosphere - Finally

It's Friday afternoon for me, I went to Bloglines to read some posts. And, I was happy to see some entertainment for a change. I apologize to those of you who feel this is serious stuff, this Friday afternoon, I'm not feeling that serious... With that preface...

I've got to say that in comparison to other worlds of blogging, all us folks in the learning and development world seem rather civilized - possibly verging on boring. Sure, once in a while Stephen Downes will call me out for being too control oriented and I'll say he's too much of a socialist and he'll correct both my definition of socialism and misconception that socialism is somehow not the answer (see Decomposting Socialism). This is always fun, but still relatively boring. But, finally, we have an honest to goodness fight emerging.

Bill Brantley has called out Jay Cross - Cross Calls Me Out (or was it the other way around?). Bill has particularly gone through a critical review of Jay's book to poke holes. I can't say I've not done similar things (see Thomas Davenport and Blogging - He is Wrong! : eLearning Technology). Luckily Davenport writes a blog, but either doesn't respond to other bloggers or doesn't read them. So, no fight emerged.

In Bill's series of posts he tells us (among other statements):
Informal learning is just another hype-filled, buzzword that pretends to be a radical change from the past but is really bits-and-pieces of other learning methods badly packaged.

Cross’ definition of informal learning is so wide open it can mean almost anything.

Cross has a marketing background which explains the breathless pace at which he writes.

Cross’ book is filled with hyperbolic assertions that training is just selling snake oil (p. 32), courses are dead (p. 167), and there is no sense in measuring return on investment for training (p. 165).
Ray Sims - Informal Learning Dustup at Sims Learning Connections and Harold Jarche - Growing, changing, learning, creating both mention Bill's post, but interestingly neither of them mention the food fight aspect. This would be another boring exchange without the use of terms like "hype-filled", "buzzword", "repackaged", and the rest. That at least makes it seem more interesting and entertaining on a Friday afternoon.

Unfortunately, Jay has only provided a very minor response via a couple of comments. Not enough to have a full blown fight on our hands. I'm still hopeful. Or maybe someone can more aggressively defend Jay or better yet simply attack Bill.

All that said, as a person who as a panel moderator, or the proctor of the Big Question, likes to instigate interesting discussion, debate, disagreement, I'm perversely happy to see this. On the other hand, I'm somewhat worried that the tone may put off people.

So, I'm curious:
  1. Are these kinds of debates good or bad?
  2. If it helps excite the crowd, is a little blood okay? Or should we always keep it civilized?
  3. Do you think it's good that Obama finally started attacking Hillary on her experience (okay, you don't have to answer, and yes it's US centric, but I couldn't resist)?

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