To respond to Jen directly (From here on out I will use the word “stuff” that D’Arcy chose):

1) the world is full of subtleties of definition, yet people work productively anyway. Some people like to debate such things (so they study philosophy, typically). I don’t see that discussion as having a lot of bearing on the practicality of openness.

2) To my mind, the point of openness is to provide the stuff on which the contingent interaction thrives. I can’t count the number of times I’ve used that stuff that D’Arcy talks about to get to the all-important “real-time” interaction. Including your OnRamp blog, which is sharing “OER”s isn’t it? When I talk about open education– like most, in my experience– I’m talking about helping educators get the “stuff of their thought” out of various closed boxes.

3) What’s with the old-world concern about too much information? Things have changed, the idea of having “too much” is an odd one in the current environment. I talk about open ed at different times and I’ve certainly used and been strengthened, directly and indirectly, by the open materials from others. More importantly, in the much broader sense I use such stuff EVERY DAY.

4) Why do you posit this as a zero sum game (we must either advocate for openness or create open materials)? And why do you presume that creating and facilitating open education ISN’T advocacy? Traditional content gatekeepers have already been opening up in various ways… in part because of the pressure the trend of open content puts on them. Consider what Open Source has done in and to commercial software…

5) Like I said earlier, this question makes me wonder if we are talking about anything like the same thing? A gatekeeper? Defining content? Categorizing? I don’t see the point or need for any of that (nor do I see anyone asking for it).

6) Now I really think we are talking about different things when you talk about OERs. Search engines (and more importantly the human network) don’t make what I’m thinking of obsolete– they are critical. The OER idea encompasses a wide field of sharing. “Reliable reference material” is useful for only a very tiny fraction of an educational experience… open ed helps promote sharing more of the other 95% of the material that is useful. The tools and filtering and searching are useless of there’s nothing to search for or find.

7) You are again making a huge assumption about how people use open resources and how all this stuff feeds into “the network.” Individuals + content can be useful in particular situations (see my previous comment), but in general it’s all about the triad of person – object – person and openness provides the fodder. Having stuff on a screen isn’t the end point most of the time (there ARE independent learners out there who don’t have the ability to network in the way most should and do), just the beginning. People engaging in open ed processes are, in part, the “people with the answers.”

Honestly, I don’t see what the big problem is. I see “OER” in the same way I see the word “blog.” I don’t think the word “blog” means much but it doesn’t rob them of their usefulness nor does the term go away. Are their concerns and problems and people misusing and taking advantage of others? Sure. It’s not a magic spell, it’s just a word representing an umbrella of approaches taken by teachers to attempt to be better teachers and help others.

The real problem, as I see it, is about the institution. I think that’s what Barbara’s comment really questions and I don’t think there is an adequate answer.