Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
December 10, 2002

How To Succeed in 2003 The recession that has afflicted the United States has led to no shortage of advice. Taken separately each bit no doubt sounds sensible, but taken collectively it resembles psychobabble: "Start over, build buzz, create a real-time company, order great wine, pack up and move, bet on the next big thing, lead your employees through Hell and back, shake up a calcified industry, survive the unthinkable, stand up to Microsoft, do time, invent amazing things, build a better website, keep cool in a crisis, cook for the boss, make your employees love to work for you, keep the customer happy, stage a monster hit, and see the future."

While you're at it you should also maintain world peace, create life, discover the meaning of existence and cook better pies than Martha Stewart. I mean, come on. Is this the best the business gurus can do? Here's a better plan: find something you're really interested in, learn as much as you can about it, and start working on it. Don't worry about the money, the money will come. Invest your time and your energy in your passion, not your job - reinvent your job if you have to, or plan to leave it if you can't. Then you can ignore the vageries of the economy, because in boom time or bust, you will be doing something that really matters to you and that you are good at. A failing economy only affects those who have compromised their vision, not those who live it (now why can't we see more of that from the business gurus?). By Business 2.0 Staff, Business 2.0, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Publish and Syndicate Your News to the Web I have no idea what this has to do with the Government of Utah, but who cares? This is a great workshop showing readers how to "create, validate, parse, publish, and syndicate" and RSS channel. At times it gets a bit technical - as, for example, when it starts talking about RSS parsers. But don't worry, and don't think you need to master everything in this workshop in one go. You don't - once you've validated your channel take the week-end off, then go learn Java or something to prepare for the next bit. Seriously, I think that the workshop should really be divided between those who merely want to create RSS channels and those who want to aggregate - the latter is significantly more challenging. By Ray Matthews, Utah State Library Division, Fall, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A True Market Failure Good interview with Mark McCabe (an economist in the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division for 7 years and now an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology) on the "market failure" evident in the academic journal publishing industry, a failure that will be deepened, not alleviated, with current online publishing models. "s we make the transition to an all-digital environment, users are increasingly being offered not individual print titles but large bundles of electronic titles in the shape of digital portfolios like Elsevier's ScienceDirect... The publishers get that information for free and then rely on scholars to provide refereeing services, essentially for free. In the digital environment, the only thing publishers need to provide is the infrastructure for providing the material online, a few account managers, and advertising. They make a relatively small investment and then (rationally) charge a high price for the end product." By Richard Poynder, Information Today, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Howard Rheingold on Smart Mobs - Blogs & the Blogosphere - and their impact on Big Media This interview with Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold (over four pages; hit the 'Next' link at the bottom of each page) leads the reader into a discussion of the role of blogs and instant messaging in the battle for control over new media. Rheingold sounds an ominous note: "I never said that democracy and free expression has a good chance of determining or shaping the outcome of present regulatory and legislative battles. I did say that unless citizens understand the technopolitical regime that is coming, what the interests are that are clashing over it, and what the power struggles are about, we don't have any chance at all." By Hylton Jolliffe, Corante, December 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Escape from Knab Interesting little simulation intended to teach the basics of budgeting. I'm not so thrilled about the assumptions built in though, especially with regard to transportation (part way through it forces you to buy a car). The odds (I played it several times) of something happening to your home or car are improbably high, so insurance is essential. And taxes - in addition to being the major cause of financial problems - are represented as a financial drain. You get nothing of value from the government, not even a ticket home. By Unknown, Firstar Corporation, sometime in 2000 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CanCore Guidelines Version 1.8: Introduction CanCore is updating its metadata best practice guidelines documents "to synchronize these with the IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM 1484.12.1), and to reflect new developments and challenges in the e-learning metadata space." This document outlines the history and purpose of CanCore. A second document contains the application profile itself. As Friesen writes in an email, "Perhaps the most important change in these revisions is that CanCore is now providing recommendations for ALL of the LOM elements - both those that are part of CanCore's subset, and those excluded from it. This will ensure that the best practices guidelines provided by CanCore will be useful for a broad range of LOM implementations and profiling work." By Norm Friesen, CanCore, December 6, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Object Repositories in Canadian Post-Secondary Education Good PowerPoint presentation (1.6 Mb) describing a series of approaches toward the creation of learning object repository networks in various projects, including COLIS and Jisc along with some Canadian initiatives, including POOL and BELLE-CAREO. The prsentation concludes with a set of slides describing the eduSource project, a national Canadian learning object repositories network. What I find interesting is (to paraphrase an email from Norm) an "emerging consensus" regarding the use of what IMS calls 'search intermediaries' (and what I have been calling "metadata repositories") that act as a middle ground between learning object repositories and e-learning applications. It won't be long now before we have some sort of content syndication available though learning marketplaces deploying learning objects through a repository network for e-learning on a wide scale (and history will record that it was "invented" by IMS in 2002). By Norm Friesen, CanCore, November 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CanCore: an E-Learning Metadata Application Profile Powerpoint Slides (0.6 Mb) describing and outlining the purpose for CanCore. The slides are useful because they show the relation between CanCore and another learning object metadata application profile, SCORM. By Norm Friesen, CanCore, November 20, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CREN Members to Vote on Closing The Board of the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN) announces that it will ask members to dissolve the corporation. "The Board's reluctant decision to recommend termination of operations comes as a result of a significant decline in membership revenues, together with steadily rising operating expenses." By Press Release, CREN, December 5, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Top 10 Reasons to Go With .Net So anyhow, I purchased Visual Basic .Net a couple of weeks ago, along with a Teach Yourself guide, and I've been learning about Microsoft's .Net platform. It's a bit of a leap for me - I am used to writing software with a text editor. The visual environment was easy to pick up, though, and now I am wandering through the intricacies of web services the Microsoft way. This article points to the advantages of .Net and seems to me to be mostly on the mark. What it omits, unfortunately, is the little stipulation that anyone who uses the software must be running the .Net platform. This minor detail is, in my books, a big deal. By Craig Utley, ZD Net, December 6, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes