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January 4, 2002

Public Money, Private Code If the internet were invented in a university research lab today, would it be allowed to exist? This interesting article argues that the code would be locked behind a proprietary set of private applications, and consequently, would never have become the worldwide phenomenon it is today. The drive toward privatizing research, the author suggests, is stifling innovation. By Jeffrey Benner, Salon, january 4, 2001.[Refer]

Utah Student Defends Handling of AIM Security Flaw This article raises more questions than it answers about how researchers should approach security flaws in software. The outlines of the story are straightforward: a student found a security hole in AOL's instant messenger, notified the company, was ignored, then widely publicized the breach. The story doesn't linger on the fact that he risked prosecution under various hacking and security loegislation. But if he fails to disclose the breach, the dangers are greater: a hacker could take advantage of millions of unsuspecting AOL instant messenger users. By Elinor Mills Abreu, Reuters, January 3, 2002.[Refer]

Observations of Behaviour and Processes Good column from Elliot Masie in which he analyzes his own online study habits (I often think self-reflective assessment is among the best - if you want to learn what students want when they study online, study online and ask yourself what you want). I especially like Masie's browse method for taking courses... start the course, and if it isn't right for you, quit. Of course, that doesn't quite mesh with the school of thought that says students must pay $400 before they ccan even get through the password window... By Elliott Masie, IT Training, December, 2001.[Refer]

KM and Human Nature I ask you, when's the last time you saw a water cooler in an office? Much less people standing around the water cooler exchanging tacit knowledge? OK, how about in organizations like mine, where the bulk of the staff is in an office 1000 miles away? Or even on the typical universitry campus where most of the people you work with are on another floor or in another building. Chit chat around the water cooler is fine (chit chat in the pub is better, but that's a different issue). But proponents of this (self-styled) most important of informal learning methods ignore the fact that it is limited, leading to insular silos of knowledge within the organization. By Megan Santosis, CIO.Com, Decemeber 18, 2001.[Refer]

Understanding the Web as Media eLearningPost digs up this nifty analysis of what media companies are doing so wrong on the net (and why they are failing). And it is because they are thinking of the web as like TV, or like magazines... but the web isn't a publishing medium (I wish the copyright people would get this through their heads too, but that, too, is another issue). " Yes, the web runs on computer technology, moreso than any other medium. But the web is NOT computer technology; the web is people communicating with each other VIA computer technology. In the final analysis, the web is best understood as an emerging communications medium." P.S. even if you're not interested in the content of this item, have a look and groove on the cool presentation style - a style I like a lot. By Lab404, Curt Cloninger, 2001.[Refer]

Community Building as a Core Intranet Value Another find from this week's eLearningPost, here we have another analysis of why the web is different from other media (and why the web is giving traditional businesses all sorts of headaches): "B2C and B2B Web sites have found it hard to sustain earnings not because they're missing a trick, but because open standards are all about leveling the playing field, giving everyone the same undifferentiated efficiencies." See, most businesses rely on market advantages that have nothing to do with the quality of their products (think about it: is Coke really better than RC Cola? Is your local university really better than Harvard? Then why do so many people pick Coke? Or your university?) This puts different pressures on businesses (and universities), pressures many are unprepared to face: "In a marketplace of equals, competitive advantage is a matter of innovation and differentiation, qualities that customers are willing to pay for." Hm? By Gordon Benett, Intranet Journal, January 2, 2002.[Refer]

Why Projects Fail - and What You Can Do About It A nice article that should be read by people managing online learning projects, especially large scale projects where a complex deliverable must satisfy an external client. So many institutions plan the project and then turn the development team loose, expecting a spectacular 'launch' where all the features of the fully functioning solution are unveiled. Bad plan. To avoid failure, this article recommends, employ an iterative process where client feedback is an integral part of the development methodology. The author recommends Fusebox as a tool for generating feedback, but as he says, this is only one of many ways to do it. By Hal Helms, WebReference, January 3, 2001.[Refer]


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