Who owns the Burbclave?

The cyberpunk novel Snow Crash talks about burbclaves. In it, Neil Stephenson’s imagines a duality of life in the future, the physical and the ‘metaverse’. He describes how the population has abandoned ‘laws’ as such and services are basically run by private enterprises – people live walled gardens with particular forms of security and social commitments, excluding anyone who is not a resident. Citizens of these burbclaves are free to leave their walled garden to go, use and enjoy anything they like – or they can simply order it and have it brought inside their exclusive communities.

I see increasing amounts of burbclave-mindedness in the metaverse. I can accept it inside a secular organisation, but over the last year or so, as more people get-connected, I get a sense that tagging for exclusive groups, making resources available only those inside a walled garden, or running exclusive webinars is becoming more common in Australia. It seems the general thought from the clergy is that teacher will simply provide, learn and share – inside their oranisation organically. Perhaps this is why some even charge their own staff to attend PD, or provide no specialist PD at all. They are hoping the tide will rise on it’s own – to their advantage – usually for free.

Being keen to serve a burbclave undermines a teacher’s value. The accepted method of promotion is via formal study patterns and time served. Being an informal metaverse hero obviously provides the clergy with kudos and free labour, so they are always going to accept your offerings. Now you are also a stake-holder and a creator, not simply a resident of whatever secular-clave you are employed in – that changes things – or it should.

The publishing industry has made billions from writing and creating content for education, don’t discount the value of your IP any less. ‘Yeah-but’ residents refuse to venture out. There is no imperative for them to leave as “Someone else will bring it and that someone will be from my burbclave. I can afford to wait – as I will be able to use it without effort anyway – why bother?”. This has nothing to do with ICT skills – this is entrenched behavior. But for those teachers doing daily raids into the metaverse … take a moment to think – what are you giving away verses gaining?

Check you burbclave employment-contract, as you might find that all your hard work – after hours – is owned by them and not you – so sharing it might actually land you in hot water. Make an effort to find out, read your contract – and then make informed choices about how you decide to licence it – if in fact are allowed or own it.

Producing resources and ideas that end up inside walled gardens creates greater equity gaps between access rich and poor and reinforce incumbent philosophy. You can’t save the princess, by forming burbclaves. Nor can we afford to enter into a ‘block-war’ mentality, where one faction builds vertically at the expense of others. Tag if it a reference, but don’t then link to something that is behind a wall – don’t form burbclaves.

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5 thoughts on “Who owns the Burbclave?

  1. I have had that novel sitting on my shelf for ages. I will get to it next hols..

    I have noticed, in my career, that state school teachers share resources openly. In my experience, many teachers at private schools would, but fear getting into trouble as the ‘prestige’ of their institution would be compromised if they hand around the resources used in class.

    I try to share all resources with any colleague, across institutions and geography. Education should be open and now, as you know, the most prestigious tertiary intitutions in the worlld put their conetnt, lectures etc. online for free.

    More of that please!

  2. But what about the benefits of citizenship in Mr. Lee’s greater Hong Kong?

    It’s interesting to think about the various community models in Snow Crash in terms of the current social media landscape, especially for the sub-circle of Ed users. I often feel like the near-mandated twitter feeds are getting closer and closer to glossonalia, antenna-triggered Rafties repeating signals from a tiny number of transmitters/authors with only noise added with each link.

    I hear the burbclave instinct whenever our tech team has people come in to talk about cyber-security. The net the see/imagine is so dangerous, so instantly lethal, that I might take the manicured lawn and resign myself to having everything delivered by Uncle Enzo. But that’s not the net I use every day.

    Snow Crash was an early 90’s product, it’s interesting to me that there’s not a good model for the modern open-source/classroom community. Hiro’s work for Black Sun is still accessible to him, but only by personal favor and some cunning on his part. The info gathering work he does is highly mercenary – he learns things, but the right to exploit that knowledge is part of the sale price.

    The notion that the Ed-Aggregator site is a path towards legitimacy and audience is thin now, and will only weaken over the next few years. The Ed-Hiros will continue to be the ones producing good content and maintaing great blogrolls. Passionate individuals will always make better gatekeepers and aggregators than click/ad driven portals.

    • we are on the same page … the mark of the savvy teacher will be what you bring to the job – just like graphic designer has a folio … it makes perfect sense to me that virtualised education will be what replaces campus-burbclaves. Just as you don’t need to attend Microsoft school to take a Microsoft exam. Thanks for the great reply – really enjoyed it.

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