By Stephen Downes
May 11, 2004

Google Blog
For the last few week, this page has served as a place-holder with one word suggesting what was to follow. The Google blog has finally launched with what I think is the best single response to complaints about outsourcing to India and elsewhere: "It's not their fault they have a lot of brilliant computer scientists who don't care to relocate to the States." Speaking as another person who does not care to move to the United States, it's worth observing that one person's outsourcing is another person's home, family and local industry. "We're not shipping jobs overseas, we're accommodating people we want to hire who don't feel like uprooting their lives, even for Charlie's cooking." Right on Google. By Evan Williams, Google, May 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Great Blogger Relaunch
Blogger has upgraded its software, probably the largest upgrade since Pyra launched the service. The new interface (I tried it out this afternoon) will feel familiar to Blogger users, and some of the new features - comments, syndication using the Atom format, enhanced templates, email blogging, personal profiles - will be well received. As major as this change is, it's still incremental; watch for more to come. The 'flyby' (link near the top of the page) is an interesting alternative to the text. More. By Biz Stone, Google / Blogger, May 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What Is Social Capital
There seems to be this desire on the part of some to reduce every sort of good to some sort of 'capital' - human capital, knowledge capital, and now, social capital. Social capital is, according to one definition, "the degree to which a community or society collaborates and cooperates (through such mechanisms as networks, shared trust, norms and values) to achieve mutual benefits." According to another, "Over time, social capital builds what may be termed as social infrastructure." Bleah. Terms like social capital should be banned. Let's call it what it is: popularity, connections, relationships, friends. Terms like 'social capital' blur such distinctions in the process of commodifying something more subtle, more valuable, than crass material benefit. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, May 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Is a Degree Still Worth Having?
Questions are being raised about the usefulness of a university degree, at least according to a couple of new studies described in this BBC article (referred via elearnspace). In particular, the university degree is no longer the ticket to a better paying job that it once was, leaving students who take out large student loans looking at dim financial prospects. That said, the vast majority of students regarded the experience as positive, leading one to suspect that for many people (myself included) the purpose of a university education was not merely financial. By Mike Baker, BBC News, April 23, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Play Games, Be Better Students?
Short article touting the benefits of computer games in learning. Nothing new here, but there are some good quotes, a link to the Education Arcade symposium, and a reference to Civilization III, my diversion of choice. By Daniel Terdiman, Wired News, May 11, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Copyright Arrest in Japan
A Japanese professor who developed a file-sharing program called Winny was arrested "on suspicion of developing and offering free downloads" of copyrighted material. Isamu Kaneko, a 33-year-old assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, developed Winny in 2002. The software has become popular because it allows anonymous file sharing. By Associated Press, Wired News, May 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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