By Stephen Downes
January 29, 2004

The Horizon Report
This report, an annual summary of emerging technologies released by the New Media Consortium, includes learning objects as among the technologies to watch, especially this year (it is worth noting that NMC also has a separate learning object initiative). The discussion is a bit light and is focussed on the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (NLII) approach to the subject. The report also discusses other emerging technologies such as multimodal interfaces, context aware computing, and the knowledge web. Even though lightly touched, I think they're hitting on exactly the right points. PDF file. By Unknown, New Media Consortium, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Promise and Peril of 'Open Access'
The headline writers put 'open access' in scare quotes, but the author provided a good overview stating most strongly the case in favour: "...Brain Research, which costs more than $21,000 for 2004; Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, which costs nearly $15,000; and Nuclear Physics A and B, at more than $23,000." She also outlines the counter-argument offered by academic societies, whic depend on publication income, and responses from the publishers minimizing the impact of open access publishing. Worth reading as well is the online discussion with open access advocate Peter Suber hosted by the author. By Lila Guterman, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Andy Carvin posts his photos online and tells the WWWEDU board. I visit the site, see a photo I like and, noting the Creative Commons license, snag one and put it on my home page. I send a note to WWWEDU thanking Andy and flagging the Creative Commons project. Claude Almansi follows up with a link to H2O, "an interlocking collection of communities based on the free creation and exchange of ideas" with more than 3600 members, which also uses Creative Commons, and which I now link to here. That's the way the web is supposed to work. By Various Authors, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Kenneth C. Green
For those of you who wrote - thank you, and I now know who Kenneth (Casey) Green is. One thing I've learned in this field is that nobody knows everything, or everyone. It makes giving talks and writing papers a bit daunting, because there's always someone who knows more aout the topic than I do. Anyhow, my point wasn't to belittle Casey Green - I genuinely didn't know who he was and expressed frustration that Syllabus would make me sign up for an account in order to find out. Anyhow, I now know: Casey Green is the project director for Campus Computing Project, wich, as Doug informs me, is "worth checking out if you are not familiar with it. The only longitudinal data collection on IT in higher ed in the U.S." All this info, and I still haven't created an account on the blog at Syllabus. By Casey Green, Campus Computing Project, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Keep Facts Free!
Advocacy site helping people oppose the proposed bill in the U.S. to extend copyright protection to cover data. By Various Authors, EFF, Januaty 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Eagle Is Grounded
I think this is exactly right: "In the face of new technologies and competition, the U.S. is toughening patent and copyright protections... if it's not careful, the US will drive its intellectual property offshore..." The core of the observation here is that patent and copyright policy today is increasingly a type of trade policy, responding to foreign competition by making it more difficult to compete. But while U.S. industries rest under the new protective umbrella, they risk being left behind by other nations. By Thomas Goetz, Wired, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Multitudes In the Valley of Decision
The gist of this article is that people sometimes prefer less choice. Making a choice constitutes a 'transaction cost', if if there are too many choices, the transaction cost is too high. Though not mentioned in the article, this is the basis for one of the major arguments against micropayments. The author concludes that government policy ought not consist merely of offering people more choices. I don't agree. I think that people want choices even when they don't want to make choices. Sure, they don't want 24 options arrayed in front of them. But if they are only shown four options, they want a fifth that reads, 'more options'. By Ronald Bailey , Reason Online, January 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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