By Stephen Downes
June 5, 2003

ContentGuard and ObjectLab Collaborate to Provide Support for MPEG-REL Within Open IPMP
From the press release: "ContentGuard and Objectlab today announced the companies have collaborated to enhance the open source project, OpenIPMP, with support for the forthcoming industry standard rights expression language, MPEG-REL. By making available source code for MPEG-REL interpretation and generation tools within the OpenIPMP framework, both companies hope to promote and drive the adoption of interoperable standards for Digital Rights Management (DRM)." I wish they would rename OpenIPMP; I keep misreading it. Anyhow, it is available on SourceForge under Mozilla Public License (MPL) 1.1. By Press Release, ContentGuard, June 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Contract Illuminates Novell-SCO spat
Could it be that SCO does not actually own the Linux technology for which it is trying to extort royalties? That's what Novell claims... but let's not jump too quickly onto this bandwagon, which may in the end be the fire to SCO's frying pan. By Stephen Shankland, CNet, June 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Re: SUO: Re: SUO Ballot with 2 Questions
Once more, with feeling. Nice explanation of "why it is IMPOSSIBLE to have a single ontology (top or NOT) as soon as two separate entities (groups or individuals, no matter) claim to rely on it." In a line, "no two people or groups share ALL theirs purposes and views!" This is why we need RDF, this is why we need to be able to import name-spaces on the fly, and this is why there can never be one standard for learning object metadata. By Jean-Luc Delatre, Semantic Web Discussion List, June 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Self-Made Lawyer
Fascinating account of the alternative to law school for those who wish to become lawyers - "reading the law" involves working alongside a practicing lawyer for a period of time while preparing for the Bar exam on one's own. It is interesting that this mode of learning, likely to be more characteristic of learning in the future in a wide variety of disciplines, is depicted as antiquated by law schools that would like to see the practice shut down. By G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Taking Creativity To Task
This article begins as though it is some sort of reactionary criticism to the thesis that the measure of diversity in a society is also the measure of its creativity. The objection, though, could be summed up with the observation that diversity, while a necessary condition, is not a sufficient condition. And I agree. Creativity isn't something that emerges like a spark from an inert log; it is almost always the product of discipline, rigor and hard work. For this reason, it is unreasonable to say that "everyone is creative" - for while everyone may have the potential to be creative, much fewer are willing to slog it out in the trenches. By Josie Appleton, Spiked-Culture, June 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Electronic Naturalist
I will be talking in Newfoundland next week about 'learning objects in a wider context' - and this link is an example of at least a part of what I'm talking about. "The Electronic Naturalist is a new on-line education program providing a weekly environmental education unit. Each unit has artwork, text, activities, additional web sites, plus online access to a professional naturalist." Now think about the way this site is designed and compare it with the picture of learning objects that are downloaded into a database, pushed together to create courses, which are then delivered as static page-turners. That old model of online learning won't last. The future lies in sites like this: self-contained, dynamic, interactive, distributed. By Various Authors, June, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Dave Winer's OSCOM Keynote
Absolutely fascinating running commentary of Dave Winer's keynote address last week at the OSCOM conference. It's an IRC chat transcript, so you may have to work a bit to isolate the threads and decipher the geek shorthand. Winer's talk was highlighted by a clash with Syndic8's Bill Kearney that included allusions to dictatorships and allegations of death wishes. The commentator, Aaron Swartz (AaronSw) is himself a major player in the RSS environment, and he is joined in the chat by Morbus Iff, the creator of Amphetadesk. All of these people have been involved in RSS since the very beginning, have been major players in its creation and development, and as they quite rightly point out, have at least as much of a say in its future development as Dave Winer. By Aaron Swartz, May 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What We Blog About When We Blog About Blogs
More discussion of what defines a weblog, and the following definition is proposed: "A weblog is a collection of discrete entries that are organized sequentially in time and published to the World Wide Web." As I comment in the discussion, "I think that the linear presentation (no threading) and reverse chronological order are essential features." And I completely agree with this: "a brief list of things that do not define weblogs: titles, time stamps, permalinks, archives, categories, calendars, RSS feeds, Trackback, pings, etc. etc. (basically the last 3/4 of Winer's essay). Those are features of the tools we use to write weblogs..." Exactly. By Greg Ritter, Ten Reasons Why, June 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Content Syndication: Ready for the Masses?
The best part of this artile is near the beginning where the author describes the different potential uses of content syndication in different industries, including education. Most of the article, though, is a sort of 'parallel history' of syndication, as seen from the corporate perspective. Syndication hasn't really worked in that market. Mind you, when you have a proprietary format and exactly one feed, what do you expect? The author, though, warns that corporations may have to begin thinking about making a play in this new market, lest they be left out of the new medium entirely. (Check out the publication date on this one: don't you love the way OLDaily brings you the news before it happens?) By Tony Byrne, EContent, June 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Seems Like It's Always Something, These Days
What makes William Gibson such an interesting writer is that he understands how our technology and our psychology intertwine. "...our ancient project, that began back at the fire, has come full circle. The patterns in the heads of the ancestors have come out, over many millennia, and have come to inhabit, atemporally, this nameless, single, non-physical meta-artifact we’ve been constructing. So that they form an extension of Johnny’s being, and he accesses them as such, and takes them utterly for granted, and treats them with no more respect than he would the products of his own idle surmise." By William Gibson, May 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

We've Seen the Future, Indian Prez Tells Gates - And You're Not In It
The main message in this multi-threaded article is that proprietary software is "devastating" for developing economies. "Further spread of IT, which is influencing the daily life of individuals, will have a devastating effect on the lives of society due to any small shift in the business practice involving these proprietary solutions." This, suggests the author, is why India's Free Software Foundation criticized Microsoft's educational software plan for that country. Some more worrisome subthreads, though: one is that open source software is anti-American, which isn't the point at all. Another is that India's nuclear missile program is justified by the same argument, which also misses the point. By Andrew Orlowski, The Register, June 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Oregon is Still a Soft Touch for Microsoft
The interesting bit in this article isn't the description of Microsoft's tactics against Linux in schools. It's this: "When Riverdale High School launched last year with 80 computers running Linux, the school saved $40,000. The system runs so well that Nelson, the school's full-time network administrator, is teaching three-quarters time." Moreover, "The real savings come not from licensing fees but because open-source is so much cheaper to maintain." So much for "total cost of ownership" concerns. By Steve Duin, The Oregonian, May 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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