By Stephen Downes
July 15, 2003

MS DRM is Pure Smoke
I was pretty sure that somebody, sooner or later, would crack the digital rights management (DRM) in Microsoft's WindowsMedia 9 format. What I didn't expect was for it to be this easy. No confirmation yet, but: the DRM was, according to this report, vanquished with freely available code, no reverse engineering, and no key. "All they did was build the right DirectShow graph, and since DirectShow is a tool for third party software developers to build shipping software, ISVs can easily offer an all-in-one solution to strip DRM from content without fear of the DMCA. What this means is that the DRM on which both Microsoft and their many partners in the RIAA and MPAA are counting on is nothing but a sham. There is no DRM in MS DRM." Unbelievable. By Lucas Gonze, O'Reilly Network, July 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Communities of Practice
The link is old, but still useful. And mostly, I like the summary comments from George Siemens: "Learning communities and communities of practice play an interesting role in organizations...they are the bridging points between elearning and knowledge management. Expect to hear much more about this in learning environments (as well as social network analysis as a KM strategy). Traditional classroom learning has carried over to the online course model - learning has a starting point...and an ending point. In reality, our knowledge needs in our jobs are very unlike what we experience in classrooms. Our needs aren't clear...they arise as concerns and frustrations present themselves in our work. Course models of learning can't address this...we need a dynamic, reactionary learning community to meet our unpredictable needs. A course is static and it ends. A community is vibrant and it grows in reaction to the contributions and needs of its members. It's that simple." By Fred Nickols, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Student Hackers: We Didn't Defeat Campus Debit Card System
Two student hackers, accused of breaking into Blackboard's debit card payment system, settled with the company yesterday with a statement that they never built a device to defeat the system. "They actually didn't do a lot of the things they were claiming to do," Blackboard spokesman Michael Stanton told AP. "They knew full well the claims they were making were silly. They're obviously bright young guys, but a little misguided in where they were focusing their attention." They will also perform 40 hours of community service, which is an odd penalty to receive if, in fact, they did not actually hack the system. This whole settlement is odd, in fact, and stretches the bounds of credulity. By John Leyden, The Register, July 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WildFiles TV
A great diversion for kids. Pete MacKay summarizes, "This creative Edmonton team has put together a collection of useful information on Canada's wildlife (applicable to other countries too!) This is a very new project, so some of the sections aren't quite done but the ClubHouse is there and ready for visitors. From what Andy mentioned, there is a pending television show coming too." Much multimedia, and therefore some loading time isues for dialup, but a lot of fun. By Various Authors, Reel Girls Media, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is the Role of the Teacher as the "Knowledge Authority" in Danger in an ICT-Learning Setting?
Though it was written last January, this article continues to be the most popular link at elearning europa. The article is not long and it doesn't linger on the question posed in the title. Instead, it lists elements from the teacher's new role, that of learner, tutor, collaborator, researcher, develeoper and more. I think it's a good assessment, but I would ask, why would one person perform all of these roles? By M. Barajas, F. Scheuermann and K. Kikis, elearningeuropa, January 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Framework for Evaluating Digital Rights Management Proposals
Good analysis of criteria for evaluating proposed digital rights management (DRM) solutions. I can't think of any of these I disagree with (paraphrased from the article):

  • Is the proposal technically feasible? Note that no proposed technical protection measures are strong enough to sustain a determined attack.
  • What is the feasibility of legal enforcement, both domestically and internationally? If you have to pass laws to make the system work, you are limited by borders.
  • What are the incentives to circumvent legal and technical protection for all parties in the transaction? Incentives for users to cheat will depend on the price per copy of digital works and the restrictions that are placed on usage.
  • How efficient is the proposed solution? This includes both financial transactions and monitoring.
  • What are the impacts on user privacy and fair use?
  • How flexible is the solution? Does it allow various other solutions to be implemented?
By Rachna Dhamija and Fredrik Wallenberg, First International Mobile IPR Workshop: Rights Management of Information Products on the Mobile Internet, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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