Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
November 15, 2002

More Sites Targeted For Shutdown Having successfully shut down PubScience, a site that offered free access to scientific and technical articles, commercial publishers are now looking to attack other sources of free information. The lobbying campaign is led by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association of commercial electronic publishers. According to the SIAA, "it is fairer to charge researchers for the articles they use than to charge taxpayers for the cost of running a Web site that makes them available for free." As Peter Suber comments, "Let's get this breathtaking assertion straight. When the research is funded by the government and the articles donated by authors, then taxpaying readers should have to pay a second levy to read them, and pay it to a third party with no role in the research?" Suber calls the SIAA action "piracy." It's hard to disagree. By William Matthews, Federal Computer Week, November 13, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Top Issues Facing Academic Libraries This list sounds about right to me: "1. Recruitment, education, and retention of librarians. 2. Role of library in academic enterprise. 3. Impact of information technology on library services. 4. Creation, control, and preservation of digital resources. 5. Chaos in scholarly communication. 6. Support of new users. 7. Higher education funding." By W. Lee Hisle, ACRL, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright Contradictions in Scholarly Publishing by John Willinsky A good look at some of the issues in commercial academic publishing. "Commercial scholarly publishing is as much about ensuring long-term asset management as it is about providing service to the academic community... the publisher is assumed to have paid for this work-made-for-hire, by seeing the manuscript through to publication, and thus has the right to then sell, or rather rent (as it retains ownership) the work back to the authors' employers." The arguments are not new, but since academics continue to participate in this ridiculous system, the arguments bear repeating. By John Willinsky, First Monday, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Five Pillars of Quality Online Education This short report in PDF format lists (as the title suggests) five pillars for effective online instruction: learning effectiveness, student satisfaction, faculty satisfaction, cost effectiveness, and access. Of course the devil is in the details and the report contains a few paragraphs about each pillar. I don't see a whole lot you could argue with here; I don't see anything particular ground-shaking either. By George Lorenzo and Janet Moore, Sloan Foundation, November, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Maine Spawns Budding Kubricks Maybe things aren't so bad in the Maine laptop program after all. This report looks at the use of the computers to teach students the elements of making films. I like some of the discussions of film ideas: "I don't mind the giant hot dog as long as you can build it into a film," Chappe said. "Figure out why it is living among humans. The problem is, humans eat food. Food doesn't eat humans. So work on that." By Katie Dean, Wired News, November 13, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Teachers Mainely Happy With Tech I think Wired News must have heard about it after their critical report of Maine's laptop program (reported yesterday in OLDaily). Today we have two reports, beginning with this one, asserting the contrary view. By Katie Dean, Wired News, November 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Making E-Books Safe for the Toilet If you write newsletters long enough, sooner or later every word in the language will appear in a headline. So today's headline was, in a way, inevitable. It refers, of course, to a long-cited advantage of print magazines: the ability to read them anywhere. And of course a $2000 Tablet PC doesn't really look like a good value when compared to a cheap magazine. Then again, a $500 million airplane doesn't look like a good value when compared to a $500 horse - both will get you to Montreal, which is, of course, the purpose of each. The trick is to take advantage of the extra features of the airplane (I would not, for example, ride a horse across the Atlantic Ocean). Publishers need to add value to ebooks, and they need to understand that people want to do more online than merely read. After all, the internet is first and foremost a communications medium. By Jimmy Guterman, Business 2.0, November 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Make Your XML RDF-Friendly This at first glance may seem like one of those obscure little points composed mainly of alphabet soup, but behind the headline is an important message. Using RDF means that you are using namespaces. That is, you are explicitly defining each XML tag with reference to an RDF schema. It's a lot like specifying which dictionary you're using when you write something down. This is important because it's the only real hope outsiders have of understanding what you meant. By Bob DuCharme and John Cowan, XML.Com, October 30, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes