Q and A with Brian Lamb for Mozilla Drumbeat Festival

[this post was originally published at http://www.drumbeat.org/content/qa-brian-lamb]

Brian Lamb is a ‘Strategist and Discoordinator‘ at the University of British Columbia and one of the mainstays of the Open Education Conference. He was also instrumental in coining the term ‘edupunk‘ (for better or worse!). He is in Barcelona primarily for OpenEd where as well as being one of the organisers he is also speaking but he is taking the opportunity created by the 10 days of freedom to come along to the Drumbeat Festival as well.

I was lucky enough to meet Brian in London back in July when he gave the closing keynote at the Open Educational Resources International Symposium. His talk, Open Contempt, was the highlight of a great day. Thought-provoking, passionate and just a little radical the talk skillfully pulled together threads around open education, open data, open source and the open web leaving many of the audience inspired to try out some of those ideas at their own institutions and organisations.

Along with his compatriot, and fellow open education activist, Scott Leslie he also kept up Anglo-Canadian relations with a fine showing in a number of pubs post conference 🙂

Brian was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his trip to Barcelona;

What are you going to do in Barcelona?

I have been to every Open Education Conference, going back to when they were small family reunions in Utah hosted by David Wiley. I’ve since co-organized an Open Ed in Vancouver… so it was kind of natural I would do everything I could to make it to Barcelona this year. Mozilla Drumbeat is an incredible bonus.

Who are you most excited to meet up with in Barcelona?

I have had the pleasure to work many times with this year’s Open Ed host, the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), and as a result I am blessed to have a number of good friends in Barcelona that I cannot wait to see again. I have never met Martin Weller, and I am very pleased that he will be in Barcelona. I had a blast at last July’s UKOER event in London, and am pleased to see that some of those people will be around as well. I’m a huge admirer of http://fffff.at/ – and never met anyone involved with it, so I hope to say hello to Evan Roth.

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening today w/ learning and the web?

I don’t know if it’s the most exciting thing… but my current focus is on the development of open publishing platforms that provide users with all sorts of selfish benefits to use them… and those tools will hopefully generate open educational resources as a by-product. I am also excited by how more community groups and informal learners are using the web to support their own ends… Another goal of mine to is make a case for formal higher education to think through how to both assist and draw on this new pool of talent and energy. As someone who works at a university, I think we can both…

What are your expectations of the Festival given its somewhat unique approach?

I don’t know what to expect, and that’s largely why I am pleased to participate.

What have been your highlights in your dealings with open education/open web in the last 12 months?

On a selfish personal level, I am so fortunate to keep meeting gifted, passionate and very cool people who are committed to this work. I can’t get enough of these interactions, they are deeply satisfying. I’m pleased to see more crossover between open education and the open web — part of me hopes there will be far fewer distinctions between these movements in the future.

What does the term ‘open web’ mean to you?

I’m fascinated with what little I know of the history of the web, how so many of its pioneers had a sincere desire to create a digital environment that would have profound changes not just in terms of communication but in terms of power and social organization as well. Reading what these people thought the web could become, it’s obviously a little naive but also truly noble and beautiful. I think the people who do the most to promote the notion of an “open web” are something like the contemporary proponents of that vision… It may be an impossible dream, but I can’t see a downside in working towards it.

I don’t believe utopia would emerge from a fully realized open web, but I think something very nasty could result if we don’t have a robust and active set of open spaces, tools, approaches and communities available to us.