By Stephen Downes
February 24, 2004

CS Underground
Good example of group blogging by students at the University of New Brunswick. Something like this should be available for every student group, even if they're not computer science students. By Various Authors, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft and Sendmail Launch "Email Caller ID"
Authentication may be coming to email shortly. From the article: "Email technology provider Sendmail is launching a sender authentication plug-in which is hoped will combat email fraud and spam." This will slow down some of the mail fraud schemes, but not spam in general which is, after all, sent by companies that want you to know who they are. By Unknown, Internet Magazine, February 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Web OF Physical Objects Uniform Resource Identifiers
More of an 'I told you so' note than anything, I include this link to show that, yes, there can be metadata for physical objects. By Syed Shariyar Murtaza, Internet Engineering Task Force, February 8, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Revisiting Knowledge Management - Presence, Communication, Collaboration = FLOW
The lesson here should be taken to heart by designers of educational environments as well as corporate intranets: while people continually stress that they need better communication systems, what they get, time after time, is a document management service (I hope people here at NRC are reading this post). We don't need a virtual pile of paper to go with the one on our desks, stacked with official memos in PDF. We need ways to keep ourselves informed in a timely manner through informal channels, "a system that allows them to dialogue and converse effortlessly and seamlessly, brainstorm on ideas and projects, in a manner that is as 'face-to-face' as possible." Our intranet has a shared document space, a discussion board and a wiki, all heavily password protected, of course - but the last time a good discussion was started, on a list server, it was cut off by computer services. We have an advanced web conferencing system, but behind a locked door - my pleas to put a big screen and camera in the lobbies our our offices here and in Ottawa go unheeded. Folks, when thinking online communication, forget structure and formalism: that will kill it every time. By Dina Mehta, Conversations With Dina, February 19, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Culture of Power
Because the website is so infrequently updated (the last post appears to be from 2002), I rarely link to items from Rick Reis's quality "Tomorrow's Professor" email newsletter. But a recent post was reprinted on the edResource Yahoo Group, and is well worth reading. This article crafts a convincing picture of the nature of power imbalance and provides advice on how to redress its ill effects. It should be required reading by all educators, and especially those in positions of authority. By Paul Kivel, February 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Elsevier's Comments on Evolutions in Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishing
In this position paper on open access publishing released by Elsevier the authors warn of increased prices (per paper view, on an aggregate basis) for British researchers and "challenges to the integrity of STM publishing". Statistically selective and in some cases misleading, this article should only be read hand in hand with Peter Suber's criticism. Writes Suber, "This whole section on how much it costs to publish an article is largely moot. It can't cost the global scientific community any more to publish open access than it does to publish in subscription journals and then pay publishers for their costs, with the generous profit margins on top." Elsevier's paper, naturally, is in PDF. By Unknown, Elsevier, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Push to Change Piracy Laws in Unwise
Responses to a column on copyright in Canada last week in the Globe and Mail. The authors are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about author Jack Kapica's stance against the music industry, with the exception of one recording industry executive who contributes a letter containing 'corrections' of questionable veracity. Wrote Kapica, "The desperation to protect copyright was emphasized a few months back when the Canadian Recording Industry Association disingenuously offered to draft copyright legislation on behalf of the Copyright Board of Canada. Corporate interests are pushing hard for legislation that is clearly designed more for purposes far removed from their advertised intent." By Jack Kapica, Globe and Mail, February 19, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Select All
In yesterday's OLDaily I talked a bit about having a non-cognitivist theory of cognition. Let me expand on that a bit with this short item. Connectionism and neural networks become cognition, in my view, through similarity. While similarity is usually caricatured in cognitivist texts, a proper analysis may be found in the work of Amos Tversky, who, as this article notes, proposed "a feature-based ‘contrast model’ of similarity, in which common features tend to increase the perceived similarity of two concepts, and where feature differences tend to diminish perceived similarity." My own refinement of this position, summarized here, involves the introduction of context to similarity measures, thus producing "relevant similarity". Anyhow, this article, a review of Barry Schwartz's "The Paradox of Choice," draws on on Tversky's work, in part, to explain why people make choices that are 'good enough' rather than optimal. A lot follows from this, including most of my own theoretical perspective regarding online learning; well worth adding to your reading list is not only this volume but also Tversky's Preference, Belief and Similarity, released last December. By Christopher Caldwell, The New Yorker, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ByteBot.net Training Materials
Package of training materials for Open Office (the Linux world's equivalent to Microsoft Office), distributed under Creative Commons so "people don't charge crazy prices for open source training." More installments in this series are due for future release. By Colin Charles, February 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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