By Stephen Downes
June 3, 2003

Online Learning 2003 Weblogue: Straight Talk About Online Learning
When I first read Dave's Winer's What Makes a Weblog a Weblog article I scoffed at it as just another academic exercise. But the very next day this site launched in which pundit Lance Dublin announces what he calls a 'weblogue' for the Online Learning conference in Los Angeles. But what the reader sees is nothing more than a discussion board, and nothing resembling a weblog at all. One wonders how useful a session on weblogs - or weblogues (sheesh) - could be when the author can't even get the definition right. But then we return to Winer's work, and yes, the need for a definition. By Lance Dublin, Online Learning, June 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Eric Eldred Act
Lawrence Lessig has launched a petition calling on the U.S. government to pass this act. Essentially, the act would require copyright holders to pay a $1 registration fee per item after a 50 year period. A failure to pay the item would result in it becoming a part of the public domain. I don't see how a fee - especially a small fee - would be any sort of hinderance to publishing companies; indeed, collating their list of holdings would be more expensive than the registration. Moreover, payment of the fee merely entrenches what is an unreasonably long period for protection. By Lawrence Lessig, June 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Growing Marketing Strategy: Get 'Em While They're Young
It's hard to believe, but this article discusses the growing commercialism of school field trips. ""That's where the kids are," said Tom Harris, vice president of sales and marketing for the National Theatre for Children, whose productions bring corporate-sponsored messages into elementary and middle schools. 'It's a captive audience and in a world of where kids are torn between the Internet, IM [instant messaging], sports, TV and radio, school is the place where marketers can find them in an uncluttered environment.'" By Caroline E. Mayer, Washington Post, June 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Cure for What Ails Microsoft
Instead of pursuing a path of open warfare, Microsoft wuld do well to embrace the open source community, according to this article. "It is no secret that open-source software is gaining ground on the server side, on the desktop, and in PDAs and next-generation phones. Given the vast array of tools and the network of applications developers at its disposal, said Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler, Microsoft could generate increased interest and revenue by assuming a more giving attitude." By Jay Wrolstad, Newsfactor Network, June 2, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why We Should Share Learning Resources
Frank statement of why educators need to share learning resources. Among the list of reasons, this observation: "The current environment is moving to increased expense and tighter copyright restriction. We are now at a point where an alternative is needed. Waiting (or not doing anything) will result in a market where profit is the greatest focus of education, not learning." That doesn't mean that there should be no commercial content whatsoever. But what is important is to create an environment where the commercial product shares the stage with open and freely shared materials. By George Siemens, elearnspace, May 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The FCC, Weblogs, and Inequality
In the wake of media deregulation in the United States (or, more accurately, a new regulation regime allowing greater ownership) the author looks at the lessons offered by a completely unregulated medium, weblogs. He argues, "For people arguing about an ideal media landscape, the tradeoffs are clear: Diverse. Free. Equal. Pick two." This is because of the previously observed "Power Law" which shows that some weblogs will dominate readership while most languish in obscurity. Fair enough. But let us keep in mind that the distribution of popularity in the weblog world is rigged in favour of those who operate weblog software. The weblog world isn't the tabula rasa suggested by the author. The power law may have occurred in the weblog world no matter what, but the preferences created by blogging software made it inevitable. By Clay Shirky, Clay Shirky's Writings About the Internet, June 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Exploring XML and RSS in Flash
This four page guide outlines the basics of using RSS in Flash. Unfortunately, for those of us who aren't really deep into Flash coding, it doesn't really show us what the result looks like. I'd like to see someone simply create a Flash RSS app that the average web user could simply view and maybe download for use on their own website. By Michael Claßen, WebReference, May 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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