Hi all who responded to my post on the eXtended Web through #PLENK2010.
Several of you wondered how a recommender system might work and if it would make your search less rich rather than richer in the end. On the PLENK discussion forum several of you made some suggestions. And yes, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem with recommender systems is that someone puts the algorithm together that decides what is being recommended, and what has priority in the recommendation.
What I find most fascinating about developing a PLE is how these systems might be combined with 'human' factors. You can for instance have a recommender based on your earlier searches and learning activities, and add it as a 'smart' search' option in your PLE (so it doesn't replace, but is added to your usual googling). I would like to add an 'ask a critical friend' option, that would not give you the answer that you would get from the friends and aquaintances you would normally consult, but from people with an opposing point of view. A bit like the role of the quality teacher who wouldn't lead you to the easy answer, but who would lead you to another paper, another activity to carry out, to push you further in your thinking.
These might need to be connected to 'scaffolds' in the form of communications tools for instance, or reflective diaries, or tools to make you think about your self that would push you up the climbing frame of learning. I see learning not as moving from A to B, but up and down, and from left to right and back; not as the lineair pathway that (educational institution) administrators would like us to follow. It is more related to our activities and interests in life than a pre-defined curriculum; it would put tools in our hands that we would feel comfortable with in addition to connections to people we feel we could trust but who would challenge our beliefs and ideas. It would make us take action and dare us to take risks and leave our comfort zone; to take that next step into the unknown, but still with some support; the level of which we will be able to determine ourselves. Wouldn't that be neat?