Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
March 14, 2003

The Tipping Blog Nice analysis of how a meme (that is, a catchy article or idea) posted in a weblog can spread like wildfire through the internet. It happens every day and it happens something like this:

  1. An Expert (one might call her a Content Maven) Writes or Creates something interesting and puts it online (creating the critical component of any online ideavirus: the link)
  2. A Link Maven comes across the link, and blogs it to their site
  3. A Connector finds the link and blogs it to their site (or the aforementioned Link Maven has Connector-like traffic levels)
  4. The link starts to Tip within the weblog community
  5. The link Tips beyond the weblog community, as the rest of us find out about it."
All these terms are neatly defined in this article, with explanations. My only criticism is that this article looks only at the phenomenon of the Top 40 weblog items. But there is an enormous amount of cross-linking that never reaches this level because it doesn't have the mass appeal (just about everything about online learning, for example). It would be interesting to know not simply how mass meming happens, but why it happens. Because while I'd like to think that it is intrinsic in the idea being propogated, I know it's not. By John Hiler, Microcontent News, March 12, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Boalt DRM Conference Report I have already covered the Berkeley conference on copright a few times but I cannot pass up this great summary by James Grimmelmann. Weaving a tapestry of themes, questions and presentations, he takes us through a wide range of proposals, criticisms, arguments and debates. Yet it all hangs together as a single story, a single narrative, and Grimmelmann's sharp comments throughout punctuate the proceedings. The article is filled with links to original presentations. Great stuff. By James Grimmelmann, LawMeme, March 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SMIL: Multimedia Rides the XML Wave The Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL, pronounced "smile") is XML language used to describe the layout and synchronization of multimedia. This article is an excellent introduction to the topic with some very simple SMIL file structures demonstrated and links to a number of authoring tools. By Frank Coyle, Syllabus, March 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

LMS Roulette Anyone? An interesting and wide-ranging discussion that asks the simple question: which e-learning companies are still relevant in the marketplace? Though some of the usual big names are suggested - "Docent, Saba, Click2learn, Thinq, Plateau, Pathlore. and KnowledgePlanet" - the consensus answer seems to be "none of the above." As one writer comments, "I would be shorting them all if any were trading above $5." So what happened? Part of it was the tech crash, of course. But another part of it was the fact that an LMS or LCMS is a huge investment that delivers questional results. Via elearnspace. By Trace Urdan and others, Learning Circuits Blog, March 11, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Will Enterprise Software Companies Take Over E-learning? It must be tempting, notes the author, for enterprise software companies such as Oracle, PeopleSoft or Microsoft. Adding an e-learning capacity to their existing product line would enable them to increase sales and marketability. But the author thinks that this is unlikely, for three reasons: functionality, markets, and focus. Functionally, the enterprise systems lack the personalization that characterizes e-learning. Moreover, they market to a different, and much more high-end, market. Finally, e-learning is just "not at the top of the list" when it comes to candidates for potential expansion. Of course, one could argue in response that the same criticisms could be made of e-learning vendors. By Kevin Oakes, Learning Circuits, March 12, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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