By Stephen Downes
November 29, 2004

Self-Serving Social Networks
George Siemens spots this item looking at design approaches to social networks. The prevailing theory is that people will share because they want to contribute to the public good. This is true in some cases, but for many others, the use of a social network must satisfy some personal good. The item then reviews a few properties of successful social networks to make the point. There's something to this, though I would have worded it differently: social networks have to serve some useful purpose to the user. By Peter Merholz, PeterMe, November 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Federal Plan to Keep Data on Students Worries Some
A proposal in the United States to register all post secondary students in a national database has some critics worried. "The concept that you enter a federal registry by the act of enrolling in a college in this country is frightening to us," Ms. Flanagan (vice president for government relations at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities) said. By New York Times, New York Times, November 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Edublog Awards
Nominations close Friday in eleven categories, including best newcomer, best use of weblogs within teaching and learning, and best research based. Get your picks in, then vote early and vote often. By Various Authors, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WIPO Steps Up Pressure on Special Interest Broadcast Treaty
There has been a certain amount of noise here in Canada recently in an attempt to convince the government to ratify the latest round of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreements. The Canadian government should resist. The WIPO view of the world is being increasingly dominated by the needs of major publishers and broadcasters (most of whom, I might add, are not Canadian, just as they are not Indian or Brazilian). And the commercial media appears to be playing hardball; there are alegations that NGO documents countering the proposals are being stolen and of a "cooking of the deliberative process". In my view, WIPO - like WTO - is a deeply flawed process, subversive of democracy and generally running counter to the will of the population. By Robin Gross, IP Justice, November 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Blog Revolution Sweeps Across China
Good and complete description of the rise of blogging in China, correctly identifying key figures in the movement (such as Isaac Mao) and recounting the Chinese bloggers' ongoing altercations with web censors. Worth mentioning (because it's not in the article) is that there is a strong similarity between the Chinese blogging experience and the Iranian experience - sites like FarsiBlogs have become important loci for ideas and opinions. Good article, well worth a read. By Xiao Qiang, New Scientist, November 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Rich Web Applications
I am linking to this mostly for the link to netWindows, a set of liberally licensed Javascript applications that drive the user interface from the client side. The idea here is that such software can replace a lot of the overhead demanded by a system such as Windows, and because it's based on the web server, can be platform neutral. A good example of this concept (using different Javascript software) is GMail. Such systems may (and probably will) become increasingly important in the delivery of elearning over time. By tazzzzz, Blue Sky on Mars, November 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Rise of Google-Zon ...
Alec Couros writes: "You'll find an interesting flash-based video from the 'Museum of Media History' which basically charts real events previous to 2004 (invention of the WWW, rise of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.) and then produces mythical events to project the revolution of our modern media (fall of the New York Times, invention of Google-Zon - a merger between Google and Amazon). If you have 8 minutes, it's worth taking a look at ... and may help us ponder the future landscape of personal and mass media." I had a watch - it's worth the eight minutes (people with dial-up may take a bit longer). By Josť Luis Orihuela, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Reasoning and Ontologies for Personalized E-Learning in the Semantic Web
The paper looks at a relevant isue, personalized e-Learning in the semantic web. Maybe the mechanisms proposed - a sort of hybrid rule-based interpretation of RDF triples - will be adopted. Maybe not. It was a fun read, though. Readers may find the paper heavy going; a prior understanding of RDF is really helpful. The article is from a special issue of ETS on Ontologies and the Semantic Web for E-learning. Recommended from the same issue is Lora Aroyo and Darina Dicheva, The New Challenges for E-learning: The Educational Semantic Web. By Nicola Henze, Peter Dolog and Wolfgang Nejdl, Educational Technology and Society, November 29, 2004 7:25 a.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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