By Stephen Downes
December 8, 2003

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...
Saturday night it was chilly with a brisk wind. As midnight passed, we lashed a tarp over the top of the flat roof in the back, the roof that had been leaking all summer. By three in the morning the first flakes were beginning to fall on my snowless front lawn. Twenty-four hours later we had two feet of the white stuff covering the tarp, the lawn, and the entire city of Moncton. Winter, literally, arrived overnight this year. Photos in this article were taken at the CBC building half a block from my house. More coverage. By Unknown, CBC, December 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?
Alan Levine observes that "My RSS reader stays pretty grey these days. Many of the past everyday reads of edubloggers seems to have sputtered out." Quite so, and this was to be expected. As Levine comments, "it takes a major sort of OCD behavior to keep at this." Blogging isn't for everybody, it isn't even for most people. Now I have been blogging for more than five years, and I can tell you, unless the daily reading and writing becomes a part of your daily routine, as natural as eating and breathing, then it will quickly become tiresome. Not everybody is cut out to be a writer, and that's just fine. This is why I expressed doubt when some people suggested that every student should blog, and why I suggested at the beginning of the year that this would be the year that blogging peaked. So what of the future? People can return to their more traditional activities, I can keep writing OLDaily, and if you need your news fix, subscribe to Edu_RSS Topics feeds, which are not impacted by the blogging slowdown. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, December 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Intellectual Property Piracy is Form of Terrorism: WIPO Chief
When the head of a major international organization sounds like someone from the radical fringe, you know the debate over copyright has intensified to a dangerous level. The speaker in this case is Lamil Idris, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). "Piracy is like terrorism today," he says. "It exists everywhere and it is a very dangerous phenomenon." Idris as describes how he "had heard of children dying after using counterfeit baby shampoo" - yet there is utterly no evidence of such a thing happening ("counterfeit shampoo sometimes contains bacteria and has caused hair loss"). This is pure fabricated fear-mongering, and the director of WIPO ought to know better. More worrisome, though, about the link between piracy and terrorism is that the measures used to combat terrorism - arbitrary arrest, detention without trial - ought to be used against file sharers. How else would one read a statement like this: "enforcement, the way we want it, still has a long way to go." Dangerous and outrageous. Perhaps it's time for a change of management at WIPO. By AFP, Yahoo! News, December 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Revealed: How Drug Firms 'Hoodwink' Medical Journals
We hear a lot about how the (expensive) system of peer review and professional editing promotes high quality and impartial academic writing. This claim has always been dubious, and today it appears even more so as this story reports on the use of ghost writers in the pay of drug companies. "Estimates suggest that almost half of all articles published in journals are by ghostwriters. While doctors who have put their names to the papers can be paid handsomely for 'lending' their reputations, the ghostwriters remain hidden. They, and the involvement of the pharmaceutical firms, are rarely revealed." Just another dimension of the crisis in scholarly publishing. By Antony Barnett, The Guardian, December 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Criteria for Evaluating the Quality of Online Courses
Good document listing criteria for the evaluation of online courses. Categories include general information, accessibility, organization, language, and more. Via elearningpost. By Clayton R. Wright, Grant MacEwan College, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

UN Meeting Urged to Back Open Access Science
Much of the coverage of the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has concentrated on the role of government in managing the internet. But an important thread in the meetings is the push for open access. The current text in the draft Declaration of Principles reads, "We strive to promote universal access with equal opportunities for all to scientific knowledge and the creation and dissemination of scientific and technical information, including open access initiatives for scientific publishing." This sounds like a winner to me, and something which (I suspect) would be supported by the vast majority of the peoples of the world. By David Dickson, SciDev.Net, December 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ARROW: Australian Research Repositories Online to the World
Released late last week, this project description outlines a plan for a network of repositories of academic content comprising e-prints, digital theses and electronic publishing. It looks like a good plan, and it's worth noting that in this project (as with most Australian projects) the technology development goes hand in hand with human development. The document is a PDF file, which means it's a pain to read online. By Various Authors, Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), December 3, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/website/subscribe.cgi

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.