Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
October 17, 2002

New Markup Language Challenges Rich-Media Leaders The jury is still out on this one, but it could have wide reaching implications. NML, or Netomatic markup language, is an XML/Java-based format designed for presenting rich media without proprietary plug-ins. NML is thus aimed squarely at Macromedia's Flash format. A lot depends on how Netomat, the company that developed NML, enforces its patents. The company is committed to making its software open source within a year, but so long as NML remains proprietary it won't enjoy wide usage, weakening its position in the marketplace. Still, it enjoys some advantages over Flash. "The best programs to me must be open; easily programmable; translatable -- from NML to PDF, for instance; readable; and searchable. For two of five criteria, then, NML may prove that Flash is just a flash in the pan." By Mike Martin, NewsFactor, October 16, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Report on Learning Object Repositories In early 2002, CANARIE Inc., along with Industry Canada and the TeleLearning NCE, funded a study on Learning Object Repositories. This report, prepared by David Porter, Joanne Curry, Bill Muirhead, and Nick Galan, outlines the state-of-the-art in this field across Canada and positions Canadian activities in an international context. It presents a vision for the next stage in the development of a pan-Canadian Learning Object Repository. Large PDF file but worth the wait. By David Porter, Joanne Curry, Bill Muirhead, and Nick Galan, CANARIE, March 28, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

e-Journal of Organizational Learning and Leadership Just launched, this e-journal debuts with an editorial, a book excerpt, and two student articles. The book excerpt, Tom DeMarco's The Learning Organization, is a good read (though we're not seeing anything new here), but the rest of the journal is pretty light. By Various Authors, e-Journal of Organizational Learning and Leadership, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Managing Virtual Projects With Weblogs This is a lot of download (372K) for a little content, but there's a nugget of an idea here worth viewing if you have broadband. The slide to look at is slide 4, John Udell's vision of a project management blog. By Jay Datema, NordNet 2002, September 25, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS)? Look at the Numbers! This is probably the best point by point summary of the reasons to prefer open source software over proprietary alternatives. Covers popularity, reliability, price, security and total cost of ownership issues. By David A. Wheeler, October 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Net Copyright Reform: It's Deep in Policy Agenda Reasonably accurate overview of a recent Canadian government policy document on copyright reform. As this article notes, the government document only identifies issues to be addressed. It does not propose new policy. The author's inferences about the relative importance of different sections and the likely reaction from industry are mostly speculation based on a narrow interpretation of business needs. By Michael Geist, Globe and Mail, October 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Management Secrets of the Brain Interesting article the compares the function of the brain with organizational management. It simplifies and skips over details at both ends, but the principle is essentially sound. Both must "assess new information, resolve internal conflicts, and decide how to act." What is significant is the article's explicit endorsement of a distributed organization - "The best way to control your subordinates is to just point them in the right direction" - and the role of experience and passion in brain (and organizational) functioning. I wish the article had gone deeper, explaining how (via neural networks and parallel processing) this all happens. No matter. The article outlines a pattern that can be replicated not just in brains and organizations but also in any semantical system. By M. Mitchell Waldrop, Business 2.0, October, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes