By Stephen Downes
July 7, 2004

Bloglines Bows Redesign, Ad Model as RSS Heats Up
As the ClickZ article says, "RSS feed aggregator Bloglines has redesigned its interface and launched a blog creation tool, called Clip Blog." Bloglines allows you to create an account on its website and read RSS feeds; the blog tool is an obvious spin-off, as users of Radio Userland know. It's also adding a commercial capacity; "Fletcher said the company will use its substantial knowledge about its users' interests to target ads." But, as the story notes, web browsers are beginning to support RSS. This could hurt sites like Bloglines - why go to the website when the feature is already available in your browser - and without advertising? By Zachary Rodgers, ClickZ News, July 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Benchmarking National Policies in Support of E-learning For SMEs
European readers will want to take note of this: "The Commission's Enterprise DG has published a call for tenders relating to the benchmarking of national policies in support of e-learning for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe." By Press Release, CORDIS RTD-NEWS, July 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Enterprises Slow to Dump IE
In a story that most institutional readers can relate to, the use of Internet Explorer continues despite its critical security flaws because many enterprise systems depend on ActiveX and other Microsoft-specific features for functionality. Be sure also to follow a link within this article describing a new initiative by Microsoft rivals to allow non-IE browsers to support ActiveX functionality (but without the hazards). By Matt Hicks, eWeek, July 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Private Sector Contributions to Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
Mauritius is just a dot - a group of dots, actually - in the Indian Ocean. More recently, it has become one of the international conference destinations of choice. It's warm, it's exotic, it's safe. And it is becoming more wired daily. Andy Carvin, who writes today's entry, is attending the the ICT Stakeholders Forum on the island. And his coverage is outstanding and insightful, as usual. But I can't help wondering what sort of definition of "Stakeholder" filters for only those people who can fly to Mauritius. And whether this sort of self-selection has any bearing on the resolution of such meetings, as expressed, say, in the current headline. By Andy Carvin, Any Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth, July 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Hand Scanners to Keep Tabs on Students at Boca Middle School
The hand scanners will be used by teachers to take attendance. Though I don't really see how it really improves anything; my recollection of attendance is that it was over in a couple of minutes (in other words, more quickly than it will take a class of students to line up to have their hands scanned). En passant, notice this bit of wording in the article: "Don Estridge is a choice school, designed to use the latest technology to teach traditional subjects." The word 'choice' is the newest code-word for 'private' and the use of that word by this newspaper clearly demonstrates its political leanings. By Lois K. Solomon, Orlando Sun-Sentinal, July 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

36 Percent of Software Worldwide Pirated, Trade Group Says
I don't know how long newspapers will continue to publish the fabrications of organizations like the Business Software Alliance, but I wish they'd stop soon. Once again, for the record: the illegal use of a $100 software package does not represent a $100 loss to the company that produced it. A person who would use the illegal copy might not buy the legal copy - particularly when the cost of the legal copy represents a month's wages. On the other hand, the use of free versions of software by people who could not otherwise afford it actually represents a net gain for the company, since it increases the overall demand for the software, creating a network effect, pushing the software to ubquity. By Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News, July 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

University of Phoenix plans campus in Des Moines
... and coming soon, to a city near you. Heh. By Kristen Schorsch, Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

UK Independent Private Schools
Sparticus links to this site with the following comment: "Recent research suggests that the average cost of a private education is 7,500 a year. This is three times what is spent on the child receiving a state education. If they gain power the Conservative Party have claimed that they will encourage parents to take 5,500 out of state coffers to pay for private education. The plan forbids its use on any school with fees higher than this. It is difficult to see how this will work. With private schools costing up to 9,000 a year and new ones needed capital to set up, few new schools would emerge to take up the offer." What I wonder is, with costs ranging at three times that of a public education, where do private schools get a reputation for efficiency? And if one wants to pay that much for a child's education, why not simply triple the per-student allocation to public schools? From where I sit, this looks to me like a plan to allocate a greater than normal amount of money to those few students whose parents can spend even more on top of that. This is not progress. By Various Authors, June, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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