By Stephen Downes
April 16, 2003

Digital Rights Management De-mystified
The title of this article is a bit misleading. This is not an introductory article intended to make the arcane arts clear to all, it's an overview of the OMA digital rights strategy for the wireless market (and most notably, cell or mobile phones). Essentially, the technology prevents you from forwarding content (such as ring tones) that you download to your phone, or if you do forward the content, the rights are attached in a separate file, which means that the recipient cannot use the content until a new rights file is obtained. I don't think that this article really gets beyond the interests of the content community in its analysis and so doesn't seriously consider things like, say, non-compliant telephones. By Dan Briody, The Feature, April 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Draft Declaration of Principles
The World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS), which met last month in Geneva, has release a Draft Statement of Principles defining the structure and the hopes for the coming information age. This is a document heavy on noble purpose, arguing as it does that access to information and freedom to communicate are basic human rights, and that the advocacy of these rights in a democratic society should lead to measures that benefit the whole of humanity. Noble purpose, indeed, and while the document may be savaged in some quarters, it is probably a far more accurate summary of what the people of the world desire than, say, certain trade agreements, and it meets with support in this corner of the world, at least. Comments are being received until the end of May. PDF or MS Word; available in six languages. By WSIS, March 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Will Patents Pillage Open Source?
After SCO launched a lawsuit against IBM, alleging that the corporation had infringed on its patents via its contributions to the open source community, the fear has been raised that patent legislation could undermine, and ultimately ruin, the open source movement. This is not an idle concern since the U.S. patent office, in its searches for prior art, tends mainly to concentrate on previous patents, a method of publication mostly eschewed by the open source community. But the author suggests that the cost of a lawsuit against open source would in general be far greater than any potential benefits; not only would the defendants have very little money, the plaintiff would also have elicited the open hostility of some of the most influential leaders in their intended customer base. By Steven J. Frank , News.Com, April 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Empowered Classroom.... And a Blueprint for the Second Superpower
John Hibbs drafts a reply to James Moore's The Second Superpower Raises Its Beautiful Head, adding the role of education to the mix. As Hibbs notes, "Dr. Moore talks a lot about technology. But all the technology in the world wonít mean squat if we donít have classrooms embedded with the fundamentals of pluralism, rule of law and human rights." Of course, providing a worldwide education commensurate with Moore's vision involves 'the devil in the details,' and Hibbs takes the time to outline some of the major needs: marketing, management and an "education corps." But Hibbs places a much greater reliance on leadership than I would; while he concludes that the plan cannot succeed without the support of people like Moore, when he says that people like him "are the only ones that really count," he is missing an essential element of the new superpower. We no longer need some 'great man' at the top. We can, as a people, move forward outselves, without the dubious benefits that such 'leadership' provides. PDF format. By John Hibbs, April 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An Ideal Courseware/Content Management Model
With widespread dissatisfaction in tbe traditional learning management system (LMS) beginning to surface, writers are beginning to scout around for something better. This model, which proposes one alternative, isn't it. The author makes some good points, complaining that current systems are too centralized, don't export well, and are too heavility integrated into enterprise systems. But the proposed modular system is really nothing more than a deconstruction of existing systems, and as such, not a real improvement over what we have, at least, not so far as learning is concerned. By Bob Reynolds, Xplana, April 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Don't Bloggerize eLearning
In his newsletter last week, George Siemens called for simplicity in e-learning standards. This item responds to that plea, arguing that "Dumbing down the standard won't make a difference, except to potentially rob the teaching and learning community of potential functionality." The argument is based on the idea that people do not choose to adopt standards, they choose to adopt software, and the software they will choose will be easier to use if it employs appropriate standards. Maybe. But the history of standards says otherwise. SGML existed for years before HTML, and while it supported some powerful applications, document creation remained the hands of an elite until HTML came along, and with it, a bevy of simple editors. Complicated standards result in complicated and inflexible software, exactly what people don't want and don't choose. It's not a case of 'dumbing down' standards, it's a case of choosing intelligently the things people need to communicate, rather than blindly trying to hit the target through volume. And the discussion continues: George Siemens Responds to Ritter; Ritter's reply. By Greg Ritter, Ten Reasons Why, April 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Super-DMCA Fears Suppress Security Research
A PhD student in Michigan has moved his website and research to Holland after revisions to that state's copyright law prompted fears that his work may now be illegal. Michigan's new law prohibits anyone from creating a system that conceals "the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service." It is one of many "super-DMCA" laws being passed in American states at the urging of music and other content publishers. By Kevin Poulsen, Security Focus, April 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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