I remember seeing this tool a few months back, but at the time, it never dawned upon me to take notice of it. I didn’t understand the significance because I did not yet fully understand Connectivism (Cormier, 2005), Serendipity (Ito, 2012), and “complex AI Algorithms” (Koller, 2013). Today, it finally dawned upon me, and so I took the trouble to check out the “Ripples” of two G+ posts that I had analyzed in a previous blog.

The diagrammatic Ripples depictions in G+ are quite interesting (note: click on the individual graphs below to access the respective interactive Venn Diagrams)

I find this interesting because the Ripples diagram for Michael’s post is much more complex than Ripples diagram for Demian’s post, even though Demian’s post has (at the time of this blog) 226 comments, and Michael’s only has 138 comments.

This shows that the Ripples tool is ineffective in depicting actual human interaction. Google admits this, by having a disclaimer in red text on their About Google+ Ripples webpage:

While Ripples displays a lot of cool information, you’re not actually seeing all the action that’s taken place.

Around the same time as the two referred posts, Demian started another G+ post which discussed the phenomena of massive posts and the significance of such discussions. Many other discussions ensued in G+ surrounding this topic, so much so that it prompted me to write a blog on Rhizomatic Learning. Subsequently, I continued to research, explore, and snoop around a bit in a variety of websites, and discovered that, at the current time, there really is no tool that can effectively quantify actual human interactions in any online open discussion threadswell, at least, none that are accessible to the public. This triggered me to think about a few current issues:

The cMOOC debates – Academics, administrators, and platform providers are currently in heated debate about the issue of MOOC assessments, quality of learning, lack of human interaction, and validity of platform tracking. The fact that Connectivist MOOCs rely on discussions inside and outside of MOOC platforms (for example in G+), reinforces this debate. IMHO, the limitations of this G+ Ripples tool, and the lack of other public accessible tools, simply adds more fuel to this debate.

The LMS handicap – Education institutions utilize both proprietary and open source Learning Management Systems (LMS) to deliver instruction. One of the more common popular tools in any LMS is the capacity to host discussions online, through Discussion Boards (DB’s), Wikis, Journals, and Blogs. My institution uses Blackboard (BB). Despite the latest updates and improvements, I still find the available analytics tools in BB quite primitive, as BB only provides word counts for main posts, but not for comment boxes -ie. exactly the same limitation as what G+ Ripples has!

The NSA controversy – In contrast to the demand for tracking in education for the purposes of assessing learning, it seems that we humans actually do not like being tracked. The current controversy is a hot topic in the media, where personal privacy is confirmed to be a thing of the past. Big bro is watching, and so are social networking sites such as G+ and FB.

However, now that we know G+’s Ripples does NOT actually measure “real” interaction, my question would be – is that a good thing? or a bad thing??


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