Part 8 in my Top 10 Trends of 2014 series

This is an aspirational post. After some 35,000 words in a series that has been pretty critical about the state of education technology in 2014, I want to write about something that gives me hope. I believe we can do better.

I mean, what does an alternative to ed-tech as data-extraction, control, surveillance, privatization, and profiteering look like? What does resistance to the buzzwords and the bullshit look like?

I don’t have an answer. (There isn’t an answer.) But I think we can see a glimmer of possibility in the Indie Web Movement. It’s enough of a glimmer that I’m calling it a trend. It’s my year-end series; I’ll do what I want.

The Indie Web

The Indie Web Movement has emerged out of growing concern that what was once so special and so powerful about the Internet and the Web – in part, that we could build our own personal, digital spaces and from there build online communities – is at risk of being lost. As ASU journalism professor Dan Gillmor wrote earlier this year, “We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history: a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks — that would be you and me — don’t need permission to communicate, create, and innovate.”

The Open Web has increasingly become the Corporate Web, with powerful monopolies controlling key features like “search” and “social,” not to mention the underlying infrastructure that’s always been theirs – telecommunications, the “series of tubes” themselves. We have poured our lives into Internet technologies – our status updates, our photos, our messages, our locations, our fitness regimes. We have poured our lives into data silos, where our personal information is now mined, the value extracted from it by companies for companies.

We celebrated 25 years of the World Wide Web in 2014, but now, insists the Web’s creator Tim Berners-Lee, “it’s time to re-decentralize the Web.”

The Indie Web Movement wants just that. It encourages people to become creators not simply consumers of Web technologies and in the process to think more carefully about what happens to their digital creations and to their digital public spaces – what happens to our content, what happens to our data. The movement’s principles read:

Your content is yours. When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.

You are better connected. Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.

You are in control. You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as These links are permanent and will always work.

The Indie Web posits itself as an alternative to the corporate Web, but it also provides a powerful alternative to much of ed-tech as well, which as this series has hopefully highlighted, is quite committed to controlling and monetizing students’ connections and content and data.

The Indie Web isn’t the only point of resistance, of course. It is kin to “edupunk” (RIP) perhaps. And the differences between the Indie Web and the corporate Web are mirrored in the differences between cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

The rest of this 3000 word post can be read here. Image credits: This post was first published on December 16, 2015.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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