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April 18, 2002

Business Pros Flock to Weblogs Ah, I'm going to have to go next generation... it seems the whole world has discovered weblogs (if it's in elearningpost and MSNBC, it's mainstream). It's almost time to roll out some neat tricks that will define the next generation of personal online media... but that will have to wait until next week. By Martin Wolk, MSNBC, April 15, 2002.[Refer]

Private Groups Get 42 Schools in Philadelphia It's official. A state panel charged with improving the Philadelphia public school system has voted to transfer control of 42 failing city schools to seven outside managers, including Edison Schools (which will take over 20 schools) and two universities. More coverage is available in the Philadephia Enquirer (http://makeashorterlink.com/?U293267B) including news of student protests (http://makeashorterlink.com/?H2B3217B) By Jacques Steinberg, New York Times, April 17, 2002.[Refer]

Battle.net Goes to War The background: a company called Blizzard creates some popular strategy games and hosts server, Battle.Net, so players can compete online. But the server is buggy and prone to abuse. So some game players write a better server, bnetd, to use with their games. Blizzard files a cease and desist order - not because they are using pirated copies - they aren't - but because people with pirated copies could use the new servers. Really what Blizzard wants is complete control. But if complete control is granted by copyright legislation (the case is still pending) then it becomes a crime to write a program that is compatible with another program. What then? "To say that bnetd allows unauthorized public performances implies that it is a copyright violation just to create software that 'interoperates,' or is otherwise compatible, with Blizzard. Interoperability -- which enables software to work with other software -- is a core principle of how the Internet, or any computer network, works." By Howard Wen, Salon, April 18, 2002.[Refer]

House Committee OKs Creation of Web Domain for Kids The United States approves a .kids.us domain but the surrounding discussion illustrates some of the difficulties in legislating specific cultural preferences into internet architecture. "Nancy Willard, director of the Responsible Netizen Project of the University of Oregon’s Center for Advanced Technology in Education, doubts that a dot-kids domain will protect kids from marketing predators, which she asserts are just as harmful as sexual predators. 'The major problem with this approach is that a dot-kids domain will rapidly become dot-Kids-R-Us,' Willard said. Companies marketing to children 'use the same techniques as sexual predators,' she said. 'They establish relationships with children for the purpose of convincing [them] to engage in specific behavior. Far too many parents will think that this location is a safe location for their children, not recognizing what the companies are doing.'" Another column on the same issue (http://isp-planet.com/hosting/2002/dot-kids-dot-us.html) points out that the .kids domain provides no protection at all if there's no way to keep the adults out: "The problem computers—the ones at libraries, cyber cafes and other public facilities—cannot be controlled without limiting access to the rest of the adult population." By eSchool News staff, eSchool News, April 16, 2002.[Refer]

Start Writing Web Services Today If you have a free morning (and a technical bent) you might want to try working through this step-by-step article that describes how to build and run web services. By Kyle Gabhart, DevX, April, 2002.[Refer]

Prime Palaver #6 Concrete evidence from a science fiction writer, with sales figures from several books, to show that sharing free online copies of his work helps - and does not hurt - sales. Nothing I haven't said here before, but I like his approach to publishers who are fussing about increasingly complex encryption schemes and clamping down on file sharing: where is your evidence that this is a good business plan? As always, there's an educational angle: "Charles Vest, president of MIT, as an aside mentioned that when college textbook presses (like the one at MIT) put up free e-text copies of their new textbooks at the same time they published the print version, sales of the print versions went UP." By Eric Flint, Baen Free Library, April 15, 2002.[Refer]


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