Is Domain of One’s Own a platform?

Is Domain of One’s Own a platform? The short answer is no, not in the traditional sense.

But I came across this 1995 post from Dave Winer about what a platform should be, and there is some definite resonance with his conception of the idea:

A platform must have potential, or open space. I call this blue sky. The platform’s API must show thru enough power so you can do anything on top of it. That’s a very elusive idea, hard to define. You want an API to put limits on the problems it deals with, but you also want to leave open the possibility that any developer could pervert the API to make it solve problems that the inventor couldn’t imagine. The author of an API is offering a challenge, saying “blow my mind,” to everyone who might take a stab at implementing something on top of the API.

He then winds up at this simple definition of a platform:

A platform is “a blueprint for the evolution of a popular software interface or specification.”

DoOO is not a platform in the traditional sense, as you have to do nontrivial acts of metaphorical violence to talk about the “APIs” of it. But in this larger sense I like to think it is very platform-like. It does create a blueprint of what education could and should look like, via both the included applications and the extant examples that drive it. There are limits on the type of educational projects it is designed to support. It’s not your Student Information System or your analytics backend. Much of the course hub architecture is built on assumptions of open publishing. It does very much capture a specific vision of what net-enabled education is.

But it’s also wide open, and I think nothing captures the spirit of it better than

[Domain of One’s Own] is offering a challenge, saying “blow my mind,” to everyone who might take a stab at implementing something on top of [it].

Neither here nor there, I suppose, but was struck by how Winer’s words resonated against it.

5 thoughts on “Is Domain of One’s Own a platform?

  1. Mike,

    I appreciate this post because I often bandy around the term platform without thinking deeply about just what that means, a recent comment I made here might be a good example of this:

    That said, some flexibility with the concept of platform so that it might suggest providing the space for people to experiment beyond this is pwoerful. Although, I am starting to move to the idea of user toolkit for innovation and experimentation. Turns out words matter, doesn;t that suck because I am not all that rpecise with them. But that’s why I lvoe you πŸ˜‰

    • I think the key difference is that “blueprint” piece. A toolkit does some things better than others, but it’s not really a blueprint. A platform is a blueprint for the evolution of something.

      To the extent I’d tempted to talk about DoOO as a platform, it’s because I *do* think it articulates a vision of how education can and should evolve in ways that go beyond what a toolkit does. Ultimately I think thinking about it as a platform is useful as an exercise, no matter what we call it.

      • I think I can talk about why it’s both a platform and a toolkit all at once might be the ticket? Or, even, why it is both and neither! πŸ™‚

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