By Stephen Downes
March 2, 2004

Opportunity Rover Finds Strong Evidence Meridiani Planum Was Wet
For the last two years, I have very proudly had a link on my home page saying my name will go to Mars. Who cares if it's the "Space Kids" site? Anyhow, I was a bit disappointed when I signed up, because I was so far down the list my name would not be on the first Mars Rover, "Spirit", but on the second, "Opportunity". Little did I know that Opportunity would be the one to bounce right into a crater and hence become the spacecraft that discovered evidence of liquid water on Mars. And my name - my name! - is sitting there, etched on a tiny CD-ROM, just a few yards away from where that discovery took place.

And you know - I have watched most of this mission, including this afternoon's announcement, live on NASA TV. It gave me an incredible sense of being there, of being a part of this. I am part of history, even if I am only one of the millions of people saying to the scientists at NASA that this is something that matters to me.

Now I think that there is no reason, no reason, why we couldn't learn from NASA here. I think that all of the amazing things that our researchers are doing should be broadcast and made available on the web. What a learning opportunity! We academics and researchers need to teach ourselves to teach as we work, and to make this available to the people of the world. There's a lot more than just knowledge at stake. There is the excitement of discovery, and it does happen, every day, in labs around the world.

Something to think about. And for now, congratulations to NASA, and thanks. By Press Release, NASA, March 2, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IFLA Supports Open Access Movement
The International Federations of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) writes, "IFLA recognises that achieving affordable, global access to scholarly information and research documentation will require a great deal of commitment and a variety of strategies. IFLA strongly supports the Open Access movement and welcomes the launch of many OA compliant publications." By Press Release, IFLA , February 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network
The Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet) has launched a new website. The purpose of CLLRNet "is to generate, integrate and disseminate bias-free scientific research and knowledge that is focused on improving and sustaining children's language and literacy development in Canada." Founded with a 4-year, $14.2-million grant from the Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, the network involves more than a hundred researchers across Canada. Based at the University of Western Ontario, the purpose of the network is to "improve language and literacy skills in Canadian children." It would be nice to see the Network create an RSS feed to distribute news, research and information about language and literacy in Canada. By Various Authors, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Problems With Training (and What to Do About It)
As the author asserts, "Mirroring the 7th grade classroom and the freshman college 101 lecture hall will serve only to copy their mediocrity." Too true. But what to do about it? This essay contains a number of good suggestions, ranging from the ever popular 99-second talks to the importance of food, round tables, and varied activities. When I plan a conference (and I will plan a conference some time over the next couple of years) it is my intention to employ a number of these tactics to draw on some of the lessons on learning that we all know but never seem to apply for ourselves. Like, for example, having the conference participants themselves design the conference online before the actual event. Whoever heard of such a thing? Via elearningpost. By Scott Berkun with Vanessa Longacre, UIWeb, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CC-enhanced Search Engine
Another step in the right direction (you almost think we'll get there some day): a search engine that indexes only Creative Commons licensed pages. Of course, this is only a step - such a search engine would not be useful for many purposed; copyright information needs, in the long run, to define a search field or a type of search, not a whole search engine. And in the search results, the copyright icon should not dwarf the link title. But, the main things is, people are now using copyright information as a search parameter. One step forward. Meanwhile, also check out BlogDigger blog serach engine, which provides search results in RSS. Something like this, I think, will eventually remove weblogs' dependence on comments. By Mike Linksvayer, Creative Commons, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

FOAF Myers Briggs Addition
This has been around for a while, but it's worth noting: the FOAF (Friend of a Friend) specification supports Myers Briggs Type Indicators. FOAF supports other interesting personal information, in addition to listing your friends, things like 'nearest airport', 'geek code' and 'school homepage'. Via Jeremy Hiebert's headspace. By danbri, RDFWeb and Friend of a Friend (FOAF), December 17, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Report Raises Questions About Fighting Online Piracy
It's a fairly basic article, but it signals a change on the part of at least some economists regarding strong copyright protection. "The ideas of copy-left, or of a more liberal regime of copyright, are receiving wider and wider support," said Debora L. Spar, a professor at Harvard Business School. "It's no longer a wacky idea cloistered in the ivory tower; it's become a more mainstream idea that we need a different kind of copyright regime to support the wide range of activities in cyberspace." By John Schwartz, New York Times, March 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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