By Stephen Downes
July 8, 2003

The LOM RDF binding
Presentations and draft meeting minutes for the IEEE learning Technology Subcommittee meetings held in Chicago a couple of weeks ago are now online. Of greatest interest to me is this presentation, available as a PowerPoint, summarizing the Learning Object Metadata (LOM) RDF binding effort. Three use cases are presented, including my RSS-LOM specification. By Mikael Nilsson, IEEE-LTSC, June 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ATutor 1.2 (Learning Content Management System)
From the announcement: "ATutor 1.2 has been released, an Open Source Web-based Learning Content Management System (LCMS) designed to be accessible to assistive technology users, and adaptable to a diverse range of learning styles and skills." Still hanging on to those commercial LCMS stocks? By Various Authors, Adaptive Technology Resource Center, July 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why New Ideas are Both Disruptive and Necessary
The bit about new ideas we know and understand - they are disruptive, but we like them, and we like their champions, because that's how we grow. Ah, but where to find new ideas? Not on the web, according to Laurence Prusak, the author interviewed in this article. "The Web's fine for many things, but not enough if you're going to look for the leading-edge stuff. You need to go to leading-edge conferences... Discussions at universities, hallway discussions in firms, presentations at conferences. By the time something is printed, and legitimized, and authenticated, and put on the Web, everyone already knows it." Now as you know, I have gone to a lot of conferences, enough to know that this is bad advice. Perhaps Prusak has been looking in the wrong places. The very leading edge is on the web - in blogs, on email lists, in discussion areas. Conferences lag months behind. Now maybe I'm going to the wrong conferences, or talking to the wrong people. But I don't think so. By Unknown, Ubiquity, July 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Making Decisions About Open Source Software (OSS) for K-12
This set of resources offers a nice step by step tour through the arguments for and against the use of open source software in schools. It is a balanced presentation - sometimes annoyingly so - and is presented in such a way as to allow administrators decide what is important. If you need a highlight, I think it's this: open source is a viable alternative, but support is the key. It depends on what your staff can do. By Various Authors, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Court Backs Thumbnail Image Linking
Way cool! "Search engines' display of miniature [thumbnail] images is fair use under copyright law, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, but the legality of presenting full-size renditions of visual works is yet to be determined." I can't see the latter being so easily accepted; as the plaintiff's lawyer argues, "We do not agree that displaying full-size images, which were taken from another person's Web site and used to sell products and services at Arriba Soft, is a fair use of that image." But we'll see; the jury, as they say, is still out. By Stefanie Olsen, CNet, July 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Shibboleth v1.0 Software Available
The Internet2 consortium has announced the availability of Shibboleth 1.0, the first production version of the software. The purpose of Shibboleth is to allow a user registered at one site to obtain authenticated access to resources at another site. "The origin campus (home to the browser user) provides attribute assertions about that user to the target site. A trust fabric exists between campuses, allowing each site to identify the other speaker, and assign a trust level." This version of Shibboleth has a greater emphasis on privacy: "A typical default is merely 'member of community'. Individuals can manage attribute release via a web-based user interface. Users are no longer at the mercy of the target's privacy policy." I personally don't think this is the way to go, but if authenticated access and private "clubs" are your thing, then Shibboleth will probably now fit your needs. By Press Release, Internet2, July 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Patent Bending
This brief article gets at what's wrong with the current patent environment in a few sentences. Imagine a world in which you had to pay royalties if you sold advertising in newspapers, fast food, delivered packages overnight, or threw a forkball. Patents hinder the competition from copying your invention, which by most accounts is fine. But today's regime crushes entire industries. "One inventive soul won a patent for a system of using pictures to train janitors. Another got one for describing a way to cut hair with both hands.... Selling auctioned items at a fixed price. What gall." By James Surowiecki, The New Yorker, July 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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