This one is from one of the authors of the PerlMonk study I wrote about here earlier. I must admit that much of this talk about emerging and self-organizing systems goes right over my head (slime molds and crystallization?), but I did glean some value. The middle section describes the Slashdot community in interesting ways from an educational perspective, and the author's analysis of the kinds of learning taking place there is worth pulling a few quotes from:
"Rather, Slashdot content is complex and ill-structured (just like life), which requires participants to engage in higher-order thinking and in case–based, problem–based learning that is so essential for transfer of learning to new contexts."
"The subscriber base of Slashdot contains broad and deep expertise and curiosity. Peer review of ideas offered in Slashdot postings occurs almost in real time."
"Also, because expertise is distributed and varied, not central and uniform, the multitude of Slashdot participants are more intelligent than one or two content experts ever could be."
"Social interaction is essential in 'knowing how' to perform because 'learning how' is a social–dialogical process of negotiating tacit knowledge, through dialogues and conversation."In his last main point, he focuses on the ease of induction into the Slashdot community, and I might have extended that further to say that you don't even have to become part of the community to learn from it, because the community is situated in the web. The sharing of news, opinions, advice and resources on Slashdot can benefit lurkers and searchers arriving from elsewhere, without them having to join up.