By Stephen Downes
August 19, 2003

World Squirms as Sobig Returns
I'm sending today's newsletter a little early (and a little incomplete - do take the time to visit James Farmer's site today, and CETIS too) to get it in before the resurgent Sobig virus takes down everybody's email server. *sigh* Folks, if you don't know what the attachment is, don't open it. By CNETAsia Staff , CNet News.com, August 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Editorial: The Public's Research
An endorsement, in a traditional publication no less, of free and open access to scientific and academic literature: "A new journal making its debut in October, PloS Biology, has a refreshingly different outlook: If the public paid for a study, then it is the public's to review on the Internet for free." Why should content paid for by the taxpayer be reserved only for those with the means to pay a subscription? Of course. It shouldn't. By Bee Editorial Staff, Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The ''Other'' Knowledge
It's hard to know what to say about this item. One thing is that it taps into some important underlying truths about cognition - that we think in images and symbols, that there are habitual and instinctual elements to intelligence, that these are sometimes manifest as what we would call a 'hunch' or an instinct. But mixed in with this is some of the worst of pop psychology. That distinct cultures 'recognized the need to manage (or control) the way the ego and the will interact" is less evidence of a collective unconscious than of a common physiology. Indeed, such slicing and dicing of mental processes in such a cumbersome (and unenlightening) fashion does not advance our understanding. I really don't think we can (or should) distinguish between the conscious and the unconscious portions of our mind: it's all part of a single system, as are the so-called 'will' and other pseudo-mental entities. The mind is a complex layering of tapestries the patterns which are in a constant flux and intermingling, an interplay only the surface features of which we are aware. The design of a knowledge management system ought to reflect this reality, not some arrangement of internal homonculi that explain nothing. By John David Balla, Knowledge Management, August 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SCO Means Business on Linux Licenses
ZD Net offers comprehensive coverage of the SCO lawsuit against Linux distributors. And it says outright what many have been thinking: SCO (or its silent backers and licensees) wants to kill open source completely. "SCO is planning to respond that the GPL itself is invalid, SCO's lead attorney, Mark Heise of Boies Schiller & Flexner, told the Wall Street Journal."

John Paczkowski's coverage in Good Morning Silicon Valley is equally good. He writes (with links),

It's free as in speech, not as in beer: If you happened to be in Las Vegas Monday and wandered into the SCO Forum 2003, you might have thought yourself at an anti-Linux rally, not a trade show. Such was the posturing and showboating that kicked the event off. SCO execs spent so much of the day discussing the company's legal battles over Linux that when they finally got around to talking about product plans, it seemed little but an afterthought. In a two-and-a-half-hour keynote address, marked by chest-pounding worthy of WWE cage match, SCO CEO Darl McBride painted the company's intellectual property battle against IBM and the Linux community as a struggle for the future of proprietary software itself. The Free Software community wants all software to be free, and "that will have a negative impact on us all," McBride said. "When the list price is zero, the margin doesn't matter. SCO is fighting for the silent majority, and what happens here will affect you all. ... At the end of the day, the GPL (the copyright agreement at the core of the free-software movement) is about making software free; it's about destroying value." McBride's interpretation of "Free software" as defined by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) couldn't have been any further off. The FSF clearly states: " 'Free software' does not mean 'non-commercial.' A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is very important." Text message to McBride: RTFM.
Though a major annoyance, this is a turning point, a rite of passage open source was bound to face sooner or later. If it prevails here - and I have no reason to think that it won't - then open source will have established itself in law as well as in fact. That can only be good. By Various Authors, ZD Net, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Freedom of Access to Information
Issues of public security, censorship, protection of children and democracy all swirl around this central issue of the Information Age, freedom of access. Most people still depict freedom of access in legislative terms - what are we allowed (or not allowed) to view by our governments. Schools and libraries are given extra treatment in this report. I think that questions of freedom of access ought also to look at the social and economic side: freedom of access is pretty useless if you cannot afford to pay for it. But market economics would never be used to hinder freedom. Would they? By Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox, Web Tools Newsletter, August 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

For Those Needing 32 More Bits
Just another nudge for those looking at what's coming down the pipe in the next two or three years. The bad news: all your computers will become obsolete. The good news: the new 64 bit computers will be significantly better. But there are some issues to resolve: for example, will our use of 64 bits also require our use of 'trusted' computer environments? Watch for this question to be swept under the rug in the months of hype to come, to emerge again only when it's too late. By John Markoff, New York Times, August 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Children’s Internet Protection Act: Study of Technology Protection Measures in Section 1703
This U.S. government report on the use of technology to protect schoolchildren from harmful content, though it does cite a measure of satisfaction with the products, recognizes that technological measures alone will not solve the problem. "Commenters emphasized that technology protection measures are most effective when teachers and educational institutions can customize technology and use it in connection with other strategies and tools" Additionally, "NTIA made two recommendations: (1) additional training on the full use of technology protection measures, and (2) new legislative language that would clarify CIPA’s existing 'technology protection measure' language to ensure that technology protection measures include more than just blocking and filtering technology." Additionally, the authors observe that there should be more local control over the implementation of technological measures.

It is interesting to read Distance-Educator.Com's interpretation of the report. It paints a much more positive picture, giving the impression, not really justified by the report's contents, that technology actually will solve the problem. I suspect that Distance-Educator's coverage is based on the press release, but of course the link (to what - PR NewsWire?) is not provided. A reading of the report provides a much more nuanced view, as I describe above. I think it's time Distance-Educator.Com stopped quoting word-for-word from unattributed sources, and started properly indicating source and context. This coverage is very misleading, and it's not the first time. At the very least, it would be nice were they to actually read the resources they pass along to prevent this sort of misinterpretation.

By Nancy J. Victory, et.al., Department of Commerce, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CaribHRForum · The Caribbean HR Collaborative
This new group is forming at Yahoo! Groups for Caribbean human resource interests. "This group is designed as a location in cyber-space where the community of HR professionals can converse, share and network about the challenges facing companies in the Caribbean." By Various Authors, August, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning and Training Innivations
George Siemens turned me to toward this new online learning magazine. Well, not new - this is volume 4, number 5. But the format is definitely worth nothing. I really like the page-turner, slide-bar, and table of content tabs. The magazine actually feels like a magazine, even when I read it online. But it's an all-or-nothing thing: I cannot link to individual articles within the magazine. And the company that designed the format, NXTbook Media, keeps tight control over the format, meaning it won't be widely ised. Just as well. As Siemens says, "For now it's neat...if everyone does it, it may be irritating." By Various Authors, July, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Budding Buddy Business
This trend is already evident in the world of venture capital and it is likely to storm to the forefront in education as well: "Venture capitalists are opening up their wallets with caution to hot 'social networking' start-ups, or those companies that help you connect with friends to help get ahead in romance or work." What will people look for in education? Someone who will tecah them, of course. By Matt Marshall, San Jose Mercury News, August 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Online Learning a Virtual Revolution
"I have to have a piece of chalk in my hand to make any sense, the way Thomas Aquinas did 800 years ago. If I can't see the faces, I can't know anything about them." So says a philosophy professor at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland who, despite his learning, does not yet fathom the many dimensions of knowledge. Oh well. This (still) obligatory dismissive remark is only a minor annoyance in an otherwise competent overview of the rise of online learning today. Worth noting: "Enrollment in distance education courses nationally has more than doubled since 1997, to 3 million, according to the U.S. Department of Education." be sure to follow the links in this story: there's more - for example, the link to theUniversity of Maryland University College doesn't just take you to the institution's home page, but to a side-bar article. By Mike Bowler, baltimore Sun, August 18, 2003 8:19 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Aggregators Attack Info Overload
I'm going to stop running these 'intro to RSS' stories soon (obviously not today) because OLDaily reader will have had more than their fill. This item (and a second, see below) looks at the potential of RSS as a means to handle information overload. It's not quite so straightforward as the articles depict - how does one pick which of 30,000 feeds to subscribe to, for example? Neither of these items mentions Userland, arguably the first and certainly the most important blogging software, a point founder Dave Winer complains about. Winer has a point - exactly the same point made by critics of the BlogCon conference (see below). What goes around... By Ryan Singel, Wired News, August 18, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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