By Stephen Downes
March 29, 2004

e e learning
George Siemens - who came through with a really good issue of ERN today - digs up this blog on corporate e-learning. By Dave Lee, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google Personalized Search
George Siemens points to this new service from Google, personalized search. I'll link to some reviews as they come in. I did fill out the profile, which seems (I guess) to store as a cookie. One odd thing - you cannot select Canada or Mexico as a region: you can select any continent but North America, and North American listing are comprised of U.S. states only. Weird. Tried a search - and the 'personalize' slidebar is something else. Fascinating. But what was really odd (because I searched on 'Downes', naturally) is that when I set 'personalize' to maximum, my own web page dropped from the top of the list right off the results completely. It's like the anti-personalize or something. By Various Authors, Google, March, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Making the Decision to Decentralize
This article constantly reminds readers that things are more complex than depicted, and although a good discussion of decentralization this caution is probably the key thing to keep in mind. The discussion of making effective decisions in decentralization, for example, does not address numerous failure points, such as gaming the system (eg., false customer reports), misplaced valuation (promoting brand over product), etc. That said, and with this caution in place, the article is recommended as a good discussion of decentralization as applied to business practice. Via elearnspace. By Thomas W. Malone, HBS Working Knowledge, March 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Goes Mobile
One of the next big things in learning - at least according to the press coverage - is what is now being called 'mobile learning' (I have always referred to it under the heading of wireless access, but mobile learning also incorporates the idea of learning on demand). This article is a good example of the story being told. "Mobile learning gives the front-line workforce - such as a retail sales associate, soldier or cable repairman - the access to the critical information sources, learning materials and expertise to learn what they want, where they want, when they want." I think wireless access will be extremely important. But I am pretty sure it won't play out the way this sort of article describes. Why? Call it intuition. Look at the example: "a pharmaceutical sales representative preparing to meet with a client." I wonder - why is the agent there at all? Why is he waiting for the meeting to start? Who waits until the last minute like that to review key product features? The example doesn't ring true in a connected environment. The technology may have changed, but the process hasn't - and that doesn't ring right. Via elearnspace. By Nancy Deviney and Christopher Von Koschembahr, WorkIndex.com, March 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Staggering Price of World's Best Research
Evidence that the journal pricing issue is reaching the mainstream consciousness, as this article notes that "Something's gone terribly wrong, frustrated scholars say, when scientific journals cost as much as new cars and diamond rings." I just love this response from Elsevier: "There is no serials crisis," said Elsevier spokesman Eric Merkel-Sobotta. "What there is, is a library funding crisis." Gosh, can I live in that fantasy land too? By Charles Burress, San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Postini Antispam Patent Could Cause Headaches
So how would you feel if you could not block spam because some company received a wide-rranging patent for email filtering. Such a possibility is in the cards after the U.S. patent office granted (as usual, well after such systems were widely deployed) just such a patent. "Different methods of message preprocessing are addressed in the patent, including forwarding based on instructions stored in user profiles, forwarding parts of the e-mail message content, forwarding e-mail to wireless devices, junk e-mail filtering and virus detection." It would have been nice had they developed and sold such a system, but of course, there's no requirement that you actually invent anything to be granted a patent these days. Most people expect that companies selling filtering systems will have to pay royalties to this company, but it seems to me they could probably get a lot more money from the spamming industry to block these products and eliminate spam filtering entirely. By Paul Roberts, Computer World, March 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

University Hits PeopleSoft with $510M Lawsuit
People who use PeopleSoft, rejoice! A university is taking the software company to court, arguing that "the student administration applications were 'vaporware' when the project began" and never did work properly. It would be interesting if the Ohio Attorney General, who filed the suit on behalf of Cleveland State, were to win the case. Could vendors of enterprise systems be liable if product features do not work as claimed? It's enough to make the whole industry shiver in its boots. Via e-clippings. By Marc L. Songini , Computer World, March 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Major Single Sign-on Work Starts in the UK and Australia
When I started work on DRM for eduSource, the demand for this sort of service was heard from some quarters. But a single signon is contrary to an open system. So, for that matter, is the sort of federated identity sharing described in this article. It requires, as the author notes, a "web of trust" - which means that participation in the network must be restricted to organizations you trust. And who makes this call? Still, this sort of discussion persisted until I declared that DLORN would not require a logon, to protect personal privacy. This pressed the question of whether other members were willing, in effect, to trust external agencies with acting as gatekeepers. Systems like Shibboleth can work, for small networks of very trustworthy entities, such as a university community. But if you want to extend your reach beyond this, access must be managed in a different manner. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, March 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

SNS Picking & Parsing…
This list isn't complete (missing Orkut and Flickr), but it's still a pretty good set of links to a wide variety of social software and networking sites. Via e-clippings. By Judith Meskill, The Social Software Weblog, January 31, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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