I work in the Learning and Performance Support Systems program at the National Research Council, a multi-year effort to develop personal learning technology and learning analytics. I am one of the originators of the Massive Open Online Course, write about online and networked learning, have authored learning management and content syndication software, and am the author of the widely read e-learning newsletter OLDaily.


~ ~ Vision Statement ~ ~

How ISPs can sell your Web history—and how to stop them


Last week the U.S. Congress made moves to allow internet service providers (ISP) to track their customers. This is a lot harder to block than Facebook or Google; you can't use 'do not track' or anonymized browsing. Even encrypting your data still allows them to see where you go. As this story explains, there are really only two ways to stop ISPs from tracking your internet activities: route your traffic through a VPN, or use Tor. With a VPN, though, you're simply trusting a different host not to track. Tor, meanwhile, is effective - but now you may be flagged as a security risk.

Today: 69 Total: 276 Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 2017/03/27 [Direct Link]

Quality for news is mostly about solving the reputation issue


I hear this sort of sentiment a lot, and also with respect to learning resource quality as well. The idea is to be sure you're depending on authoritative sources, or at the very least, reliable sources. But how is this established. "A close look at a precise set of signals can reveal a lot about journalistic quality," says the authors. What signals? Awards, newsroom size, years of operation. But wait, I say to myself. Awards can be manipulated, you have to pay to qualify, and they reward conformity and compliance, usually. Continue to the bottom and you see the advertisement for the data journalism awards. Coincidence? As it turns out, no. The author, Frederic Filloux, is affiliated with the awards, and is on the board of Global Editor News, the sponsor of the awards. OK, it's not Watergate. But this is how you evaluate whether whether journalism is credible.

Today: 41 Total: 477 Monday Note, Medium, 2017/03/27 [Direct Link]

Twitter exploring premium subscription service


The suggestion is that Twitter might roll out an enhanced 'tweet-deck' application for a monthly fee. "The premium version would be aimed at marketers, journalists and professionals." Twitter is stalled at just over 300 million users and low ad revenue. This news comes on the heels on an announcement that Medium will start charging a 'membership' fee no long after officially giving up on an ad-supported business model. The move has drawn some harsh criticism from pundits. But here's the problem: it's really hard to find any other sustainability model. I suggested a number of possibilities a decade ago, but most do not fit the private enterprise VC-funded model.

Today: 20 Total: 547 Mike Murphy, Market Watch, 2017/03/24 [Direct Link]

Voice Is the Next Big Platform, Unless You Have an Accent


I have mixed feelings about the importance of voice commands. Yes, we will need voice - we frequently need to communicate with a computer when we are otherwise occupied, as for example when we are driving. And a computer can be a participant in a conversation, as for example on Star Trek. But voice commands can be appropriate in crowds and public spaces, or for activities where privacy is important. Also, voice, like a lot of things, depends on artificial intelligence (AI), and as this story suggests, bias can be built into AI. Hence Alexa's inability to understand an accented voice. This will eventually become a security feature, as voice learns to train on specific voices, accent and all. But for now it's a problem.

Today: 9 Total: 685 Sonia Paul, Backchannel, 2017/03/23 [Direct Link]

This Article Won’t Change Your Mind


Some time about 20 years ago I decided that i would stop arguing, and start explaining. It was no longer about convincing others, it was about making my own reasoning clear. Why? because after almost two decades in philosophy I concluded that nobody is convinced by argumentation. Yes, I have relapses, because I'm temperamentally argumentative, but these are exclamations, not exhortations. "Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point..." This, in a nutshell, is the history of philosophy. What will change minds? Personal experience, interactions with friends, and cognitive dissonance. That's why to teach really is 'to model and demonstrate'. Anyhow. Good article. Won't change your mind, but is worth reading in any case.

Today: 10 Total: 659 Julie Beck, The Atlantic, 2017/03/23 [Direct Link]

Brace Yourself For The Bitcoin Hard Fork


There's a lot of history behind this one, but essentially the split is between the original developers, who want to keep the size of a block limited, and Bitcoin miners (ie., the people who actually encrypt the blocks), who want the size of the block to grow. This can happen in distributed systems. It's not necessarily a bug; think of it as being like mitosis, where a simple network begins to develop into a complex network. But the short term message is risk. Lots of it, because this sort of thing hasn't happened a lot yet (though it has happened to Ethereum).

Today: 6 Total: 505 Rob Blasetti, Decentralize Today, 2017/03/23 [Direct Link]

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.