Steal the Package / Idea Mining

One thing I’ve learned from my deep dive into wiki is that wiki is most powerful when seen as a collection of *ideas*. Those ideas might be stories, examples, software patterns, chord progressions, whatever. But when treated as a repository of ideas instead of a collection of publications wiki gains a certain type of power.

Ward demonstrates this nicely this morning in his federated wiki running journal (metaphorically called He starts his day of reading this article on net neutrality and net regulation:


It’s a multi-page treatment of the relationship of law to the internet which argues that in fact we already have many other legal tools at our disposal. But Ward doesn’t summarize it, exactly. He mines it for ideas he can name and connect. He finds one, and adds it to his journal:


David Reed says, “Not all laws come from governments. There is a whole body of “common law” that is generally accepted, transcending government. One such law is that you cannot steal a package that you’ve agreed to transport from point (a) to point (b). That is true whether or not there is a “contract”. It’s just not done, and courts in any jurisdiction, no matter what the government, will hold to that principle.” webpage

He makes a compelling case that the “inter” part of the internet works pretty well without governance by ITU or FCC or anyone else for that matter.

And he gives the idea a name: Steal the Package.

I fork the page, not necessarily because I agree (although I do, in this case) but because this is a useful concept to think with. At some later point I’ll connect that thought to an idea of mine. The whole process functions in some ways like the creation of sub-disciplinary jargon to express ideas quickly and succinctly, but it does it in a way that makes these terms accessible to anyone. In a wiki, each idea gets a page. Complex thoughts are formed by connecting pages.

That idea can quickly flow through a network, maybe even change the debate. As it flows through the network it can be extended, qualified, annotated, connected.

This is a different activity than forwarding a link via Twitter, and it’s different than writing up a response in WordPress. It’s a form of analogical, metaphorical thinking that we have barely tapped into as educators. Yet it embraces the core of education — you collect and curate a collection of ideas that will serve you well later. By chunking those ideas into terms you develop the ability to construct and express complex thoughts quickly.

We’ve come out of a decade of using wiki as a glorified book report publishing engine. We have barely tapped its educational potential at all.

3 thoughts on “Steal the Package / Idea Mining

  1. Pingback: Federated Index Cards

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