Network Promises and Their Implications
© The Author(s) 2011
Received: 15 June 2010
Accepted: 15 November 2010
Published: 15 January 2011
The new learning environment characterized by P2P networking allows for new forms of learning and new ways of knowledge production. One must be careful, however, not to confuse the more mature concepts of fluid and relative knowledge, which learners gradually develop through dialog and exchange, with some kind of epistemological revolution mandated by the new networked environment itself.
Interactive networks have been represented as somewhat “ideal” environments where nodes are equally dispersed and connected in an environment devoid of the constraints of space or time. While it is certainly true that P2P interactivity offers immense new possibilities for learners, we must strive to understand the dialectical nature of the new environment. What appears to be an ideally democratic social space can in fact be subjected to hidden power distribution and arcane control.
Learner control is one important dimension of networked communications, with implications reaching all the way to questioning the nature of learning and knowing. While network enthusiasts are prone to proclaim the new age of the “creative commons”, some very real steps are being taken to upset this trend, and we should caution that copyright issues are far from being resolved in this environment.