By Stephen Downes
December 26, 2003

Winter Mist
So it has been a pretty slow news week, and today's newsletter reflects that, which some off topic but interesting items. Begin your vacation browse with this collection of photos, taken at my home in Moncton, where the weather and the melting snow produced an unusual winder fog on Christmas Day. These photos, as with all my work, may be freely downloaded and used for anything you want. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, December 25, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Internet in a Cup
Coffee houses... the internet of the 1600s. "A proclamation by Charles II of England in 1675... Coffee-houses, it declared, had produced 'very evil and dangerous effects...for that in such Houses...divers False, Malitious and Scandalous Reports are devised and spread abroad, to the Defamation of His Majestie's Government, and to the Disturbance of the Peace and Quiet of the Realm.'" My kind of place. By Unknown, Economist, December, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Standards: Do We Really Need Them?
Useful and informed discussion of standards. After some discussion of de facto standards (what the purists would call 'specifications') and 'de jure standards', such as those approved by ISO and IEEE, the author points to the importance of open standards and suggests things you can do to start using them now. I like the way this article captures both the utility of standards and the manner in which commercial interests skew the standards process. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, December 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Not really about online learning, but this blog from an Antarctic researcher will help you fill some of those holiday hours. The site is a great read, and there are some lovely photos of the Antarctic summer. By Beth Bartel, IceBlog, December, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students Slowed by School Access, Time
This should be no surprise to those working in schools, but students are increasingly reporting that their internet access at school is slower than at home. The report points out that most schools use broadband connections, "contrary to students' perceptions about speed." But, silly, if you split a broadband connection a hundred ways or more, it resembles a slow dial-up. Students also report having too little time online at school, again because internet resources in the learning environment are shared. By Robyn Greenspan, CyberAtlas, December 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Chatters Quieting Down
This is one of these things that should have been forseen but is still worthy of note when it happens, if only for the lesson it offers for next time. The rate at which chat room use is increasing has slowed down. Factors cited are a more focussed use of the internet, disruption caused by younger participants in the unmoderated environment, and concerns about predators. A better explanation, in my view, is that as the growth of the internet as a whole slows (as it must), growth in established parts of the internet also slows. By Robyn Greenspan, CyberAtlas, December 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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