By Stephen Downes
July 22, 2003

OLDaily Back
You may have noticed lost or delayed editions of OLDaily (and thanks for the emails). You may have received a previous, abbreviated edition, explaining the case. The website is mostly working again and I am once again receiving email through downes.ca and so it's back to normal - I hope. Please note: if you sent me email last week or over the weekend it may have been lost; if I have not responded, it was lost, so please send me another note. I've pur everything from the last five days in today's edition; it's not much but it ensures everybody has the full set of links. Tomorrow I'll try to catch up on any news I've missed.

Update: well, not quite back... Sendmail is currently failing... (*sigh*) By Stephen Downes, OLDaily, July 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS 2.0 Specification Moves to Berkman
The big news while OLDaily was shut down: Dave Winer and Userland have turned over ownership of the RSS 2.0 specification to Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The move was greeted with wide acclaim, as the specification was immediately licensed under Creative Commons, which ensures that developers can build on it without fear of someone (SCO, say) coming along and claiming royalties. That Winer is also at Harvard is not overlooked by anyone; nor is his membership as part of a three person RSS advisory board. And it's not everything I argued for in RSS-Dev, where I urged that the use of a syndication standard ought to imply a license to use the content. But it is a case of Winer 'letting go' which, I guess, is quite sufficient for one day. Coincidentally (and on the same day, I think) Harvard Weblogs revised its terms of use policy, addressing concerns raised in earlier discussion. All in all, a very good day for Harvard, and one that gladdens my heart. By Dave Winer, Technology at Harvard Law, July 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to Make Our Ideas Clear
This essay is a bit old, but was and continues to be of significant importance in my own thought, so it was a pleasure to see it raised in today's IFETS discussion. The commentator, Michael Barner-Rasmussen, observes (edited for grammar), "The very way you pose the question limits the type of answers you might receive from the literature. Who is to say, that information (as in bits) and knowledge, as in remembered behavior-tranforming experiences have any relevant similarities? The very terms we use to describe such abstract and ephemeric phenomena often turn out to bias any 'observations' we subsequently manage." This is exactly right: the manner in which we express our thoughts in this, or any, discipline has a direct bearing on the range of theoretical options available. Now read Peirce: "The essence of belief is the establishment of a habit; and different beliefs are distinguished by the different modes of action to which they give rise." Here we see the seed of logical positivism and behaviourism. Yet if we reinterpret "habit" as something like this, "when the mind is once inlivened by a present impression, it proceeds to form a more lively idea of the related objects," (Hume) what we see in Peirce is completely transformed. By Charles Sanders Peirce, Popular Science Monthly, January, 1878 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I love stuff like this. "This web site has been created to allow schoolchildren and homeschoolers to 'come aboard' the tall ship Picton Castle as she embarks on her third voyage around the world. The Picton Castle is the only tall ship currently engaged in a global circumnavigation. She left her home port of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada on June 9, 2003 and will return to Lunenburg in May of 2004, after having traveled 37,000 miles, and visited 50 ports in 22 countries." Should the Picton Castle need a hand for part of it's voyage, I'm sure I could make the time... By Various Authors, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

This month's edition of PILOT Online Learning Systems's monthly newsletter picks up on the topic of petterns in e-learning, a topic of interest in these pages before the, um, break. There are some nice observations in this short PDF, including a set of nine aspects to building a pattern around a certain skill. The author also draws out the concept with a short analysis of the Amazon navigation bar. By Mitchell Weisburgh, PILOTed, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Developing Systems of Online Payment
This is an interesting approach to online payments, very similar to what we are developing here. The idea is that you can purchase a virtual debit card from this company, Bitpass, and then deduct micropayments from the card. "When the customer wants to buy an item on an BitPass-enabled Web site, he or she need only give an e-mail address and a BitPass password." Nifty idea, but you must give away your email with each sale, and if you don't want to deal with BitPass, you're out of luck. Say it with me: depersonalized, decentralized, distributed. The three key Ds to DRM. By Bob Tedeschi, New York Times, July 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Swap Songs? You May Be On Record Industry's Hit List
Reports are coming in from all over regarding widespread legal actions being undertaken by the RIAA in its battle against file sharing. This account is typical. "Online swappers wondering whether their names are on the record industry's hit list can check online to see if they're among 871 whose identities were subpoenaed in the first step of unprecedented mass legal action to stem Net piracy." The response from critics has been pointed. "They treat everyone as a copyright infringer, and you're assumed guilty until proven innocent." One site, www.boycott-riaa.com, is urging readers to respond by boycotting the RIAA. Another site is blocking access to the RIAA and MPAA. And the Information War continues. By Jefferson Graham, USA Today, July 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Attack Update
OK, here's where we stand. I have no email into or out of downes.ca - this means that if you are sending me email to stephen@downes.ca it will fail. It also means that newsletter mailouts are failing (at least, I think they're failing...). Additionally, all scheduled processes have terminated, which means that Edu_RSS will be updated manually. I have no tech support until at least tomorrow, so it looks like we'll be limping along like this for a bit. Again, please note, email sent to me at downes.ca is not reaching me. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Attack on Downes.ca
Downes.ca was off the air for a few days following a denial of service attack. We are back for now but things are still touch and go. I'll keep you posted. By Stephen Downes, July 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IMS and OKI, the Wire and the Socket
Description of progress in MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI). It is important to recognize, reports the author, that OKI is not an open source learning environment. Nor is it even an architecture, though as the author note, OKI's layer-cake archietcture has become famous. Rather, the heart of OKI is a set of "OSIDs: definitions of particular slots in a computer program. In an application that allows you to do searches for learning objects in repositories, for example, the programmer can just say 'put the code that talks to the repository here' without actually having to program very much beyond calls to the list of commands that the OSID specifies." Cool stuff. Too bad so much of this work is happening behind closed doors; as the author notes, "the success of OKI depends almost entirely on the support it gets," and the more open the process, the more likely the support. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, July 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Government of Canada Newsroom (Phase II)
Funny how things work. Yesterday I asked a questions, to which a reader responded and, in passing, suggested I visit the Canada website. I haven't been there for a while, so I did, and as I passed the news page, I sent a suggestion about formatting. I received a prompt reply which, in passing, mentioned that the Government of Canada is planning to implement, among other things, RSS feeds in Phase II of the Newsroom web site. This is something I have encouraged (and here) for some time, so I asked for more information. With permission, I have placed a copy of the fact sheet on my website. "Phase II of the Newsroom will be launched with a primary focus on a new distribution strategy for government news and related resources. Phase II of the Newsroom will give people choices regarding the types of news that they receive and the technology that they use to access it." I will of course provide more information when it becomes publicly available. A French version of the Fact Sheet is also available. By fact Sheet, Government of Canada, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Adaptive Hypermedia
Yesterday I linked to a short article about adaptive hypermedia. Today's link is to a much more thorough examination of the same subject by the same author, in the form of a Power Point presentation. Make sure you have a look at this - even if you are sceptical about adaptive hypermedia you will want to see the role played by, for example, the public and private information (PAPI) standard, learning objects, classification and more. As for me, I'm a lot less sceptical after reading this presentation. Great stuff. By Alexandra Cristea, June 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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