Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
May 22, 2002

Digital Rights Management (DRM) Architectures Really useful article from last year that was perhaps a little ahead of its time, as least so far as online learning was concerned, but is not poised to form the centerpiece for some interesting discussions. Don't do DRM without reading it (and make sure you follow the links, a couple of which are listed below). What makes this article useful are the really good diagrams that make digital rights markup languages easy to understand for all. By Renato Iannella, D-Lib, June, 2001 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Extensible Rights Markup Language (XrML) from the website: "(XrML is) the Digital Rights Language of choice. XrML provides a universal method for securely specifying and managing rights and conditions associated with all kinds of resources including digital content as well as services." It should be noted that (according to its FAQ) a license will be required to use XrML. There is much debate (see here, for example) about whether users will actually have to pay to use the language. Critics are saying that a fee will be charged and one, Robin Covers, argues that rights languages that are based on paying royalties are a tax on the internet. By Various Authors, ContentGuard, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Open Digital Rights Language Initiative From the website, "The Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) provides the semantics for a Digital Rights Management expression language and data dictionary pertaining to all forms of content. The ODRL is a vocabulary for the expression of terms and conditions over content including permissions, constraints, obligations, conditions, offers and agreements with rights holders. ODRL is freely available and has no licensing requirements." By Various Authors, November 21, 2001 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Curt Schilling Points. He Clicks. He Hits RETURN. And ... Yes! Strike Three Called! OK, first of all, no league championship should ever be won by a (three year old) expansion team. Ever. Moreover, the league finances should be balanced in such a way so as not to penalize my team (the Montreal Expos) into the brink of extinction. Those caveats out of the way, I can now introduce you to baseball pitcher Curt Schilling's innovative use of technology to remember and learn about hitters he is going to face in the upcoming game. This is a great innovation, a little out of most people's price range ($15,000 per year) but an example of integrating technology into one's learning and work. I'm glad this item came out now, because if the Montreal Expos are folded I am never ever watching or even talking about baseball again. By David Whitford, Business 2.0, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Campus WLAN Design Pretty good article providing an overview of the steps and decisions required to implement a campus wireless local area network (wireless LAN). Written in non-technical language and offering some practical diagrams, this article will be more useful for administrators (who need to know something about what they are asking for) than it will be for network specialists (who have already read the technical specs and are probably itching to deploy). By Dave Molta, Network Computing, May 13, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

E-Enabled Textbooks: Lower Cost, Higher Functionality E-enabled textbooks (as this article designates e-books) look really good when you compare them to the dead tree version. They don't waste natural resources, they can be kept up to date, and they can support searching and other functions. But the real debate - completely ignored in this article - is whether e-books are the best way to present digital text, as compared to, say, web pages. Sure, e-books offer digital rights management, which publishers want. But they do this at the cost of requiring special viewers and making their content useless for anything other than reading. And despite the propaganda in the headline, e-books, as thus far implemented, have not really lowered costs to the end user. By Unknown, Syllabus, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCORM It's old (at least I assume it's old), but you have to see this just for the blackboard drawings. From the website: "This is an overview of the Sharable Courseware Object Reference Model. It's hard to make technical standards understandable (much less interesting). Nonetheless, here's the cliff notes [sic] version of what you need to know about SCORM." By Unknown, Randall House Associates, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

theCommonPlace To judge by the forums, this site dedicated to discussion and resources about learning objects and learning standards was launched May 8 (with obviously very little fanfare) though the newsletter dates as far back as March 29. It is impossible to tell who is actually running the site but the articles - all of which were new to me - were authored by the Right People in the learning objects community (I wish they had an 'About' page - it makes it a lot easier for me to write these summaries). It is worth a quick peek at the articles, which are quick and to the point (average reading time: one minute). The discussion forums are sparsely populated, but then again, there are only 25 members. Perhaps this number will increase when they actually launch the site. By Unknown, theCommonPlace, May 8, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes