By Stephen Downes
March 23, 2004

ePortfolios and Weblogs: One Vision For ePortfolio Development
Speculative paper discussing how the use of webogs and e-portfolios could be combined. Quite strong on the tech side of things, and I appreciated seeing an actual (proposed) e-portfolio XML example. In many ways, the e-portfolio described here plays the role of FOAF in distributed social networking services. By David Tosh and Ben Werdmuller, March 15, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I'm Blogging This: A Closer Look at Why People Blog
Via Weblogg-Ed, this article casts a wide and interesting net over the subject of blogging. I really like Will Richardson's summary, which will do until you have the break time to read the much longer article. But do read the longer article. By Bonnie A. Nardi, Diane J. Schiano, Michelle Gumbrecht and Luke Swartz, March 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

PEI (Pigeon Enabled Internet) is FASTER then ADSL
One of the very first links I ever ran - it even predates my current file system - was regarding the CPIP (carrier pigeon internet protocol). It was eleven years before this important protocol was implemented by the Bergen Linux Users group. Today, it was established that carrier pigeons are faster than ADSL. "The bandwidth achieved by the pigeons is significantly larger that that available through broadband Internet connections: about 2.27 Mbps (Mega bit per second)." What a world we live in. By Ami Ben-Bassat, March 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Confused on the Trail to the Learning Objects Summit
If you found the instructions on how to access the Learning Object Summit a little confusing (and to judge by my email, many did), then check the comments on this post. Basically, it's like this: if you intent to show up in person, please call ahead (that's so we know how many Tims to order (*)). If you participate via Interwise, you don't have to phone us, but you have to register with Interwise to use Interwise software (and if you are doing this, do it early, since I have found it to be, um, tricky). But if you simply access the video feed, you don't have to sign up for anything anywhere. (*) Does not imply an offer of actual Tim Horton's coffee (though it would sure be nice). By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, March 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What's Going On
I was going to link to the Strategy+Business item on Power Laws and complexity, but they wanted me to fill out a form demanding to know everything but blood type (which they probably have on file from Microsoft), so I decided to link to Jay Cross's discussion instead, which requires no registration and is probably more accurate. Anyhow, Jay gave me some lemons when he came to visit the other day. "Why has complexity become my recurring obsession? Perhaps because complexity challenges the bedrock of Isaac Newton, rationality, cause and effect, an ordered universe, and faith in logic. The worldview I believed in for the first fifty years of my life does not explain the world I live in today. Some things will never be figured out. Prayer does not assure salvation. Anything could happen. The world defies logic." Now it's not as madcap as all that, and Cross knows this. I remember when Francisco Varela demonstrated to us a screen of static, pure and utter chaos, and said, there's order here. Complexity doesn't defy order, or get in the way of order. But it doesn't contain order: the order comes only from the context, from having a point of view. Ride the wave, man. By Jay Cross, Internet Time, March 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Guerra Scale
You will notice, at the very bottom of the Guerra scale of levels of user experience, at the worst level possible, is PDF. So of course I'm going to cite this paper, no matter what else it says. After PDF, we get things like page turners, online tests, movement in text and graphics, multimedia, and eventually, full immersive simulations or virtual reality. By Tim Guerra & Dan Heffernan, Learning Circuits, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Confessions of an Early Internet Educator
The paper in a nutshell: recent studies have shown that learning outcomes from online learning are as high or higher than the traditional form, and this is because of "the shift from institutions of instruction to institutions of learning, building of the online community, training of faculty teaching online, and emphasis on orienting new students." Via Syllabus. By Jack Goetz, Distance Education and Training Council, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Want Some Springsteen With That Big Mac?
This is getting mainstream, and I will soon stop covering further instance of this (though no doubt people will continue to question my take on this well into the next decade). McDonald's has made a deal with music distributor Sony where "those songs would then be offered to McDonald's patrons for free with the purchase of certain menu items, with customers receiving codes they can use online for the downloads." As I have been trying to say for a long time now, it's another case of content being used to sell a higher value product. Think about it: if the free song is the giveaway that accompanies the 99 cent fries, how much can the song be worth? How much is content worth? By Reuters, CNet News.Com, March 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

It's A Blog World After All
Blogs are now solidly mainstream, as this article describing the corporate use of blogs illustrates. Some good description of Robert Scoble's blog, which represents (quite well) the Microsoft view of the world. Of course, the article also contains some pre-meme hype: "Within the first six weeks, 10 projects were turned in early. Having a central repository for information helped--but so did the added scrutiny... [Also] Software maker Macromedia, one of the first companies to adopt blogs for customer service, saved tens of thousands of dollars..." Well, you get the picture. Here's some reality: after the initial sheen wears off, projects will be turned in late and Macromedia will discover there are no more savings to be found. I am as in favour of blogs as anyone, but it's disturbing to see them hitting the hype cycle like this, because the claims in the business press are nowhere near the reality, and yet clueless venture capitalists are going to read this coverage, lose their money, and then blame us. By Jena McGregor, Fast Company, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft, America Online to Play MLB Games
This is being reported as a content deal, and of course it is. But look a little deeper and you discover that the streaming video feeds are being used to bolster Microsoft's software streaming service and content networks. And it comes just after Real media ended an agreement with the league (which, of course, immediately dropped support for the Real Media format). Major League baseball may be selling content, but their clients are these software and access companies, who, while they (still) charge subscription fees, are mostly using the content to sell other products and services. By Jim Hu, CNet News.Com, March 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Novell Sets Sights on 'Complete Linux Desktop'
Some people have been asking how my Linux project is going. I have been meaning to write it up, but you know how it is. My office and home desktops are Linux, as is my wife's desktop. My web server is, of course, Linux. My laptop remains Windows because no wireless internet driver is available for the special Dell built-in wireless PCI. The Linux is working pretty well. But it's not all gravy. For example: I wanted to access a service on NHL.com a couple of days ago. It requires that my browser have the Java plugin. Click here - so I did. Software downloads and installs, just like it's supposed to. And then - nothing. The plugin is probably somewhere on my computer, but nowhere I - or my browser - can find it. This sort of thing is typical of Linux - and I know, having configured a number of these units by now. Some plugins are tricky (Flash), some require extra stuff be installed, some are just plain weird (Real Media), and some don't exist at all (QuickTime, Windows Media). To make Thunderbird launch the Firebird browser properly, I had to write a shell script. So this isn't turnkey yet. Anyhow. Novell hopes to change that. "We're focusing on building a complete Linux desktop as an alternative to what you've been using," they say. Good, go for it. The software's all there - it's just the user experience that needs tweaking. A lot of tweaking. By Stephen Shankland, CNet news.Com, March 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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