Thursday, May 7, 2009

Angels and Demons

I don't know of anyone who predicted the recent Blackboard-Angel initiative to merge. But it shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us. Even after the WebCT/Blackboard merger and the Blackboard patent suits we've continued to see universities make LMS acquisition decisions using rubrics that give little weight to our shared interest in enlarging the intellectual commons, fostering innovation, and discouraging LMS monopoly. Blackboard's initiatives are of a piece with what in the The Wealth of Networks Benkler and others have called the second enclosure movement. It's tempting to demonize Blackboard. But to the extent we ignore the potential enclosure of the commons when making LMS decisions we become, in some ways, "BlAngel's" willing victims.