By Stephen Downes
March 25, 2004

Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity
Lawrence Lessig's book is released today, online and for free. I haven't read it yet (it's printing out as I type this note) but the promo states: "Lawrence Lessig shows us that while new technologies always lead to new laws, never before have the big cultural monopolists used the fear created by new technologies, specifically the Internet, to shrink the public domain of ideas, even as the same corporations use the same technologies to control more and more what we can and canít do with culture."

This, of course, made me curious to see how my own online book, The Learning Marketplace, is doing (even though it's more of a compilation than a book) and it was interesting to see that it has been downloaded about 450 times since I released it in January. What's realling interesting, though, is that my 2001 book, Knowledge, Learning and Community, was downloaded about 1,000 times in the same three-month period. Go figure. Of course, Lessig will beat these numbers in the first hour. Doesn't bother me a bit. By Lawrence Lessig, March 25, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What Every Citizen Should Know About DRM a.k.a. "Digital Rights Management"
Gerry sends along this link to a straightfoward guide on digital rights management for non-technical readers. The guide is grounded in good common sense and its understanding of the problem is precise: The aspect of the Internet that most bothers content companies is an aspect that is central to its design. In effect, it is exceedingly difficult to craft a law or regulation that categorically outlaws peer-to-peer file sharing without, in doing so, outlawing the Internet itself." Exactly. The requirements described by the authors are sensible: content owners need a way to deter widespread commercial reproduction of their work and varying business models, technology designers need a way to make a wide range of non-infringing products, and consumers need a system that respects their fair use and other rights and which provides access to a wide range of works, including public domain works. 42 page PDF download, but it's a quick read. By Mike Godwin, Public Knowledge, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

First Generation Electronic Paper Display
It looks and feels like the iPod of e-book readers, and prices about the same, and is, according to Sony and E-Ink, the "the world's first consumer application of an electronic paper display module." The e-book reader holds about 500 books, which can be downloaded from the internet. Still. These are the 2000s. People want to do more than just read books - they want to copy them, share them, mode them, cut and paste from them, and more. So, as John Paczkowski says, it may still be better to wait for the next generation, which does all of this and more (think of it: you want a computer program, like a calculator? Simply print out a fully function version of the program, roll it up, and stick it in your back pocket). By Press Release, E-Ink, March 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
The new Human Resources and Skills Development Canada website has launched, along with a sister site, Social Development Canada. In an email, the website coordinator comments, "Every page of the 2 new sites have 21 metadata tags, including the Common Look and Feel core tags. The metadata is applied by authors through the web content management system (Interwoven) and is being indexed by our search engine (Verity). The metadata/Verity combination produces over 800 dynamic menus in each language daily (each page is regenerated every morning based upon the content publishing and indexing of the day before)." By Various Authors, March 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Canadian Society for Training and Development
The CSTD has launched a new news feed (including RSS). "CSTD is Canada's national organization dedicated to the profession of training, workplace learning, and human resources development. With over 1600 members, CSTD represents learning and performance professionals in both the public and private sectors." By Various Authors, CSTD, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Signing Off
The Invisible Adjunct calls it quits - rather than face another year without anything like a career, he or she is leaving academia and finding a job that will last more than eight months. "Itís thanks to this blog and its readers that I donít feel the kind of life-twisting bitterness that I might otherwise have experienced. Iíll take with me, among other things, a knowledge of XHTML (which I never thought I could learn!), an undiminished passion for the Scottish Enlightenment, and a heightened sense of lifeís possibilities." By Anonymous, Invisible Adjunct, March 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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