November 26, 2005
The PLE debate begins
At the CETIS conference earlier this month, Chuck Severance presented the outcomes of the PLE working group meeting, and was asked about the distinction between a PLE and any sort of general web technology for organising information and collaboration.
Chuck's answer was I think the right one - essentially the functional distinction between a PLE and any sort of personal tool (e.g desktop aggregators, Flock et al) is non-existant. Instead the distinction is in terms of the priorities for what gets incorporated first and the audiences whose concerns structure the priorities - the first PLE plug-ins are driven by student and teacher demand. So while both a PLE and a more "generic" Web 2.0 application could support integration with eBay, and integration with online assessment, the order in which these features is developed may be different.
Ultimately I think the PLE will die (possibly when Google starts offering the same functions as a service, or some sort of super-iLife comes bundled on every computer) but right now we're just inventing this technology - it is still way off being mainstream.
Just as we started working on a demo based on my early wireframes along came SuprGlu, which also took as its basis the desire to re-integrate our disparate Web life - to make the web really personal and personally owned, but also to make some kind of sense of it.
That we are starting to tackle this first from an interest in improving public education, rather than in raising venture capital and heading off to the Bahamas, is quite interesting in itself...