February 5, 2010

An Open-ended Fable

Filed under: about me,creativity,Digital media and learning competition,edtech,education,musing,myscilife — Candace Hackett Shively @ 3:57 pm

In a tug of war between the wisdom of the crowd and competition, who wins?

The elders of the small town of Forwardthink, nestled at the delta of Hereandnow River, declared that they wanted the very best Innovators to move to their town. They had heard that many innovative thinkers and other wise people lived beyond the Hereandnow watershed and could help the town of Forwardthink live up to its name. To find the Innovators and lure them in, they decided to award the Forwardthink Keys of Gold to the best Innovators. So the elders planned a competition and announced it far and wide, sending messengers out by Tweetboats and The RSSFeeder ships:

Innovators welcome. Earn Forwardthink Keys of Gold for the most innovative ideas.

They carefully posted the rules of the Forwardthink competition on the doors to the Town Hall and sent copies along on the Tweetboats and RSSFeeder ships. The deadline came, and the First Fortnight of competition began.

Each innovator displayed the very best of ideas in the Forwardthink Tkeys.jpgown Hall for all to see. Once the displays are erected, visitors from far and wide traveled to see them. The elders grinned as they watched the visitors mingling among the displays. They encouraged visitors to comment. The rules on the Town Hall doors explained that during the First Fortnight the Wise Crowd would help the Innovators improve their ideas. The elders planned to close the doors after the First Fortnight so the Innovators could clean up the scribed comments and straighten their displays, perhaps even combining with another Innovator’s display.   The doors of the Town Hall remained open 24/7 as visitors appeared and scribed their thoughts on each exhibit.  The Innovators even talked among themselves, commenting on each other’s ideas and pondering ways to learn from them. For they knew that sharing their ideas aloud and listening to others would truly breed the best Innovations — and possibly Keys of Gold!

The elders stood by with arms folded. listening to the Wisdom of the Crowd and talking with the occasional visitors, as well. But none of the Innovators heard the conversations with the elders.

On the evening of the 14th day, as the Innovators prepared to rework their displays, the elders held a special meeting. They quietly took down the rules from the Town Hall doors and used an enchanted spider’s web-eraser to changed one paragraph:

Please plan to learn from the Wisdom of Crowds and rework your display after the First Fortnight. Only those who shared a display in time for the First Fortnight and stood with it throughout the First Fortnight will be allowed to share a display during the Second Fortnight.


Please plan to learn from the Wisdom of Crowds and rework your display after the First Fortnight. All who wish to create a display during the Second Fortnight are welcome to compete for the Keys of Gold, including newcomers from the Wise Crowd.

The Innovators were stunned as they watched new displays appear. The elders clapped their hands to see such innovation and quickly forgot the old rules from the First Fortnight. They forgot the copies that had traveled far and wide via Tweetboats and RSSFeeder ships. In their greed for Innovative ideas, they forgot the Innovators of the First Fortnight, for the ideas were the most important thing.

And how does this fable end? The tale has yet to be told. Perhaps the Wise Crowd will know.

In a tug of war between the wisdom of the crowd and competition, who wins?

[To those who are mystified by this post and wonder what it has to do with educational technology, thinking and learning, or teaching, I suggest that you can find hints to this open-ended fable in some of my previous posts. I certainly do not know what the moral of the story will be.]


  1. LOVE it!Will be sharing this with lots of folks, for sure.

    Comment by Jim Gates — February 5, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  2. Jim,
    You know what they say about fables: The oral tradition spreads them far and wide :)

    Comment by Candace Hackett Shively — February 6, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  3. […]  (previously, in the town of Forwardthink…) […]

    Pingback by Think Like a Teacher » The Fable continues — February 25, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  4. […] Forwardthink . The story continues! You may want to refresh your memory of the first two chapters here and […]

    Pingback by Think Like a Teacher » The next chapter from the land of Forwardthink — April 8, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

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