By Stephen Downes
October 4, 2004

Positioning Tasmania as a Leader in ICT Enabled Education and Training
Slides from my workshop in Hobart, a talk that begins by criticizing its own title and then proceeds to look at the roles of government, industry and education in online learning. The first two parts of the presentation are new material; followers of my work will notice 'previously viewed slides' in parts three and four. I am leaving Hobart today, in about two hours or so, and once again I am leaving the city, and the island of Tasmania, far too soon. Next stop: Sydney. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, October 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Kodak wins Java patent suit
Could Kodak own object oriented programming? That's apparently what a U.S. judge thinks as he awarded an absolutely outrageous victory to the photography company in a lawsuit against Sun. Kodak maintained that the core technology used in Java - "the method where an application 'asked for help' from another application" - violated a patent it bought from Wang in 1997, several years aftr Java was created. Kodak is seeking a billion dollars in damages. "Software patents will destroy the industry in the U.S.," writes Groklaw's Pamela Jones. "The rest of the world will out-innovate U.S. companies, because they won't be running with the patent ball-and-chain attached to their ankles, holding them back. By Graeme Wearden, CNet News.Com, October 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Gmail Adds Atom Feeds
Considering how quickly I've taken to reading DEOS and ITForum using my Bloglines RSS aggregator, I would have to say that Google's creation of Atom feeds (Atom is a variant of RSS) for GMail is sure to be a winner. One more step in the evolution of email into something else (note: the service is a bit off-and-on right now as Google works on the code). By Steve Rubel, Micro Persuasion, October 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I've Said It Before, and I Will Say It Again and Again
Ah, something that gts to the heart of the problem of digital rights management. "To make DRM work, you have to ensure that not just anybody can build a music player -- otherwise people will build players that don't obey the DRM restrictions you want to connect to the content. DRM, in other words, strives to create incompatibility between the approved devices and uses, and the unapproved ones. Incompatibility isn't an unfortunate side-effect of deficient DRM systems -- it's the goal of DRM." By Derek Slater, A Copyfighter's Musings, October 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Re-usable Learning Content Objects or Re-usable Learning Experience Objects?
Where else would someone glibly cite Chomsky's Syntactic Structures except in our field? Glib or not, it is not surprising to see Chomsky used as the base of a response, because much of what I write is in direct response to Chomsky and his ilk (Zenon Pylyshyn, Jerry Fodor, etc). Feldstein is responding to my question, "where was it written that language must be composed of building blocks strung together?" He finds the source for this question in my paper Design Standards and Re-usability (though I must say Learning Objects in a Wider Context frames the idea more effectively). Even so, he effectively finds the source of the tension: "I believe that the rules for re-using experience patterns and the rules for re-using content are respectively analogous to the rules of syntax and semantics." I would say they are analagous in use, but they are not isomorphic - there is nothing, say, in the placement of an image on a web page, or the playing of an audio clip with some video, that corresponds to the rules outlines in Chomsky. That's not to say that the new rules are not generative - but they're generative in the way that a fractal or a network structure is generative, like a tree or a river, not in the way a language-based grammar is generative. Feldstein offers a good, insightful criticism, well worth reading. By Michael Feldstein, E-Literate, October 3, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Road Map for Educational Multimedia Design: A Content Developerís Approach
The readers of ITForum are looking at their next paper for disussion, a fascinating look at the principles of interpretation as applied to online learning. Interpretation, you may recall, is what happens when you go to parks or museum exhibits - its the set of little nuggets of information that accomompanies your cultural or natural experience. I must have read thousands of these over the years, some even really recently. This item is well worth a read. Readers will also want to have a look at Clark Quinn's commentary on the article, which gives some theoretical perspective and offers some helpful insights. By Ellen Dornan, ITForum, October 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Don't Be Afraid to Drop the SOAP
Are web services the future? Maybe, but this author isn't convinced. "Unfortunately the results haven't lived up to my hopes. The end result is fragile and a real resource hog." Writing in Perl.com for a technical audience, the author lists problems with SOAP and outlines an alternative approach used in his software product, Bricolage. "The best candidates for SOAP applications are lightweight network applications without significant performance requirements. If your application doesn't absolutely require network interaction, or if it will deal with large amounts of data then you should avoid SOAP." By Sam Tregar, Perl.com, September 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Brain Links
Via elearnspace, a whole bunch of links to sites about the brain. Something to think on. By Various Authors, October, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Next Big Thing: The Web as Your Servant
I was interviewed on Hobart radio yesterday and one thing we talked about was the idea of students being tied to desks and computrs by online learning. This item gets at my response to that, the idea that the current situation is temporary, that very shortly now (if not already) the internet will become much more mobile, allowing us to free students from the classroom. "The big change is going to be when the Internet follows you, not you trying to follow the Internet," says Motorola CEO Ed Zander. "It's just there. Your life is just affected the way it's affected today by the lights in a room." Via elearnspace. By Kevin Maney, USA Today, October 1, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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