Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
February 6, 2003

The Enabling Pillars Corrected link from a couple of days ago. This report a studies of policies for information and communication technologies (ICT) in education and training in Australian education systems and agencies. By Peter Kearns and John Grant, Department of Education, Science and Training, May, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Questionable Value of Face Time Just a little something to remind me of yesterday's trip through the ice storm. One thing I forgot to mention: as we hovered over Halifax waiting for landing clearance that never came, the ice accumulating on the aircraft would from time to time dislodge and be flung by the propellers into the fuselage with a loud bang. So that's one bit of advice this article leaves out: don't fly in an ice storm. Period. By Denise Ruterbories, IBM DeveloperWorks, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Patent Scare Hits Streaming Industry Yet another patent shakedown is underway, this time by a small company called Acacia which claims to hold the patent for streaming media over the internet. "It's extortion," Roe said. "It's just another example of someone seeking to extend patents for an old technology to...cover completely new technology. It's absurd." What really bother me is that companies pay these people; Radio Free Virgin, for example, decided it was cheaper to pay than to fight. Oh, and in case you think Acacia is simply defending its rights to things it invented, think again. The company simply sought out and acquired patents it thought could be enforced. Oh yeah, we can see that the creative people at Acacia were really inspired to creativity by IP legislation. By John Borland, CNet, February 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Deploying the Next-Generation Enterprise Portal If you are still interested in portals, this article provides a good guide to planning and rolling out a centralized portal. But you may want to rethink this: "The successfully deployed enterprise portal will be the single entry point for collaboration, information dissemination and communication, application functionality and interactive capabilities within and without the corporate entity." I simply don't agree. Think multiple channels, multiple tools, each one geared to a specific purpose, a special type of information, or a particular community (which may or may not be bounded by the enterprise). By Jamie Barrette, DM Review Magazine, February, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect] Jeswein wrote me this morning to let me know that the European commissioner for education and culture, Viviane Reding, launched the portal at the Learntec 2003 conference in Karlsruhe (Germany) a couple of days ago. According to the website, "Reding welcomed the new portal 'as part of the European efforts to improve the exchange of information and the sharing of knowledge on e-learning in Europe'. As the commissioner reminded, the purpose of the portal is 'to act as a virtual meeting place and directory of information for all aspects of e-learning. The young and the old, the expert and the novice are invited to use the portal to explore the world of e- learning and to gain access to the considerable work that is already going on throughout Europe.'" By Various Authors,, February 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Propaganda Has a New Name - Encyclopedia Britannica The Encyclopedia Britannica is widely used in education. But what if it is trumpeting a specific political message? That is the argument presented in this article as the author surveys a number of listings and concludes, "When (the CD and DVD version of) Britannica discusses anything that is liberal, they spend half the article criticizing and refuting it. When conservative causes are presented, there is usually not such a two-sided presentation. There is no critique of the conservative worldview and its inadequacies." Some of the items are telling. When we search for 'liberalism,' for example, we ae taken to an article from the National Review which asserts that liberals cannot deal with terrorism. The term 'altruism' is described as a failed philosophy. Based on this item, I certainly think that the editors of the Encyclopedia should be called to account. Teachers, meanwhile, may want to consider affixing warning labels to the disk. By William Du Bois, MyMac.Com, February 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

DSpace: An Open Source Dynamic Digital Repository The best article yet on MIT Libraries' DSpace implementation, including some good graphics that clearly illustrate the system's functionality and structure. DSpace, for those of you who are new to the idea, is "a repository for the digital research and educational material produced by members of a research university or organization." By MacKenzie Smith, Mary Barton, Mick Bass, Margret Branschofsky, Greg McClellan, Dave Stuve, Robert Tansley, and Julie Harford Walker, D-Lib Magazine, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Innovation Nice, brisk article on how to foster innovation. Innovation is about change, and innovators can be irritating, so an organization needs to create room for it, a space where new ideas can grow. The article also discusses some features of innovation, including my favorite: "complexity is not a mark of innovation. Most often the ideas fall into 'why hasn't anyone else thought of this' category." By George Siemens, elearnspace, February 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Future of Online Search Report on a survey that classifies search engine users into five groups: discoverers, viewers, writers, readers and technodoers. The survey reports a surprisingly low success rate overall: only 25 percent of searches yield a usable result. But the most telling comment is this: "People clearly do not want to search - people simply do not wake up in the morning looking forward to searching on Google. People want to get other things done where search is an activity that is required to get there. If people had other more convenient ways of getting there, they would use those methods." For those of you who think that the future of online learning will look like a search portal, read this story, and think again. By Microdoc, Kairosnews, January 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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