By Stephen Downes
April 8, 2004

How Working Groups Can Further Connect Without Adding Further Technology: Good Interviews Ross Mayfield
"We are social animals for whom networked software is creating a new kind of habitat," writes Jon Udell, quoted in the introduction to this interview. One wonders, though, whether we are only social animals - I think we are more. This interview, conducted through Ross Mayfield's 'SocialText' system, flowed "as if taking a shower." But would it have happened at all were there not a story to tell behind the interview, a reason or context that caused these paths to cross. Anyhow, the bulk of the interview is about SocialText and collaboration in general. Mayfield: "providing an alternative to the email-centric and document-centric paradigms is a great opportunity." By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, April 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Magic of Images: Word and Picture in a Media Age
You have to do a lot of reading in this article to get a little content, but the argument is essentially that today's students were raised in a world of images, and especially moving images, and as such, as a consequence of moving image technology, they are losing important things, such as their ability to comprehend deductive arguments, and their ability to identify context, and hence, their own identity with context. One gets the picture of today's teens being subsumed under a swirling maelstrom of imagery, unable to distinguish themselves from the storm. The response to the dynamic, argues the author, is the static, and though the article is an extensive discussion of static images, the point is to argue that it is the static word that forms the counterpoint to the moving image. It is that the world of education should provide, and is failing to provide. I think that a lot of the description in this article is accurate - young people today certainly communicate using a dynamic, multi-media language. But are they losing their powers of reason and identity, or are they augmenting, or even superseding, them? By Camille Paglia, Arion, Winter, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Using ICT to Share the Tools of the Teaching Trade: A Report on Open Source Teaching
Rod Paley sent me this very nice case study of the Kaleidoscope Learning Object Repository which explains, more clearly that just about any document I've seen, what a learning object is, how it's used, and the role of learning object repositories. Lavishly illustrated (perhaps overly so), this PDF document also contains numerous comments and quotes from teachers who have actually used learning objects. The success factors for learning object repositories (page 24) is particularly apt, echoing many sound sentiments - the need for variety of selection, independence from single publishers, collaboration, sharing and adaptation. Much of the concluding section is an argument, based on experience, for the development of learning objects and repositories. Good stuff. By Gillian Thomas and Matthew Horne, BECTA, February, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Software Detects Plagiarized Passages
This is pretty funny and pretty sad at the same time. Although plagiarism is something that seems to involve colleges and universities most of all, it is apparently rampant in the work world - after all, there are no professors to remember that the paragraph you used on page 5 was previously written in an obscure essay twenty years ago. But technology developed to detect plariarism is now being unrolled in the business and government communities, forcing, no doubt, many to reapproach how they write documents and reports. By AP, CNN, April 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Wireless Digital: Coming to a Theatre Near You?
The move toward video on demand moves another step forward. I hope that movie studios keep in mind that it is distribution and convenience that people pay for: the ease of selecting and viewing a movie on the day it is released. This development is a step in the right direction. "It will be like having a Blockbuster video store in your laptop," Sweeney says. "You'll be able to download your personal movie to your personal handheld video player while waiting in line for a coffee, then go home and either watch it on the small screen in bed or plug the computer cable into a large display screen in your living room." By Alexandra Gill, Globe and Mail, April 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Horizon Live and Wimba Announce Combination
Two providers of synchronous conferencing to the e-learning space, Horizon Live and Wimba, have merged. The new company will be called Horizon Wimba and will be based in Delaware. By Press Release, Horizon Live, April 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Good One From April Fool's
This short description of the April Fool's gag pulled by MetaFilter is worth a read. The popular group blog, which has had to impose membership limits because of the volume of posts, replaced its front page with a Wiki. "It was total unbridled chaos. Iíve never seen a wiki be so destructive." Funny and maybe a little insightful. By Clay Shirkey, Many-to-Many, April 5, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

(Mis)Leading Open Access Myths
Nice and relatively short (a dozen pages or so) rebuttal from BioMed Central to the "myths" being presented to the British House of Commons select committee investigations into Scientific Journal Publishing. By Various Authors, BioMed Central, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2004 Stephen Downes
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