By Stephen Downes
December 6, 2004

The EduBlog Awards
Voting has started in the edublog awards. Though I am nominated in four categories, it's not looking good for yours truly. Here are the categories:

* Best Individual Blog
* Best overall group blog
* Best resource sharing blog
* Best Research Based Blog
* Best blogged paper(s)
* Best designed & most beautiful blog
* Best technology meets pedagogy blog
* Best use of weblogs within teaching and learning
* Best Newcomer (2004)
* Best Librarian Blog

So, if you have a couple of minutes, take the time to vote for your (ahem) favorite site. Tell your friends. ;)

By Various Authors, Incorporated Subversion, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Media Journalism Ethics And The Marqui Blog Paid Assignment
I am first of all going to give credit to Robin Good for calling it like he sees it. He is being paid for talking about Marqui (and has a nice little logo attesting to the fact) and is defending his credibility in doing it. And he's even getting a link out of me for the paid spot! But it's going to be the last. Let me explain. It's not that I doubt his credibility or his honesty in reporting, even though he is paid. No, not that.

But if you look at the Marqui page you'll see it "will start out on about fifteen leading blogs, the largest direct sponsorship program the blogosphere has ever seen." Now how did they choose their blogs? Would I qualify? Well, maybe for this site, which despite its acerbic nature is actually a model of decorum (for me) but probably not for my other site (which is not). Robert Scoble, Good notes, isn't restrained by Microsoft at all. Well no, they don't have to. But I can't ever picture Microsoft picking me for the same assignments. Perhaps I should start cleaning up my act to prepare for the inevitable day I cross the line and find myself unemployed. No corporation bashing, that's right out. Being nice to Microsoft once in a while. Maybe preparing for some LMS vendor contracts by pulling back on some of my criticism. Hm?

No, I am not questioning Good's right to do this. But I do wonder about the ripple effects. What happens, for example, if I start filtering out his Marqui links from my Edu_RSS aggregator, prefering only to harvest and display his non-commercial content - does he come back with terms and conditions for aggregating? Does Marqui? The point is: paying bloggers has ripple effects, and if we just look at the particular blog, and not the wider picture, we miss this. Sponsored blogging brings money into the picture, and while money has its uses (it lets me eat and clothe myself unfashionably) it also distorts. Let's not be blind to this. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, December 06, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Object Oriented Learning Objects
Slides and the MP3 audio (English and French, 7 megabytes) of my presentation in Monteal are now available (the audio also includes the presentations from other panelists, used with permission). In it, I present again the idea of "e-learning as dynamic, unstructured stream of learning resources obtained and organized by learners." In this talk I extend the idea bit by elaborating on the community aspect of learning resources and outlining how the learning objects should be designed in order to facilitate this. More - much more - on this in the future. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, November 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Cascades and Connectivity
eLearn Magazine has published my response to a column by Michael Feldstein in the same publication a month ago. In his column, Feldstein warned of the danger of 'cascade phenomena' in networks - things like following a fad or buying into a market bubble. He recommends that networks be managed in order to reduce the risk. In my response, I argue that managing the network would exaggerate the problem, that cascade phenomena occur because networks are not sufficiently distributed (resulting in a 'power law' configuration), and that the best way to minimize cascade phenomena is to maximize connectivity. By Stephen Downes, elearn Magazine, December, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scott Leslie points to and comments on FirstLight, a "Canadian example of digital rights managment for digital media." This is obviously a major collection and they've brought in a wide variety of suppliers - commercial content only, of course (we can't let the free content compete on an equal basis, now could we). As Scott comments, "the site uses a lot of Javascript, frames and flash which makes it a real pain to try and point out specific aspects to you." No RSS feeds or any sort of syndication of any sort - and it won't let you see any pricing unless you log in. And if you do log in, you will be astonished at the cost of the images. And get this - even after you pay, "additional clearance may be required for images containing copyrighted materials, news events or public figures." I'm putting this on my list: a searchable syndicated distributed database of free images (like NGO Photos, a Finnish collection of free photos, maybe). Because, honestly, this is just gouging, pure and simple. By Scott Leslie, EdTech Post, December 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Generation Raised With Internet Grows Up
Worth noting is that the generation described in this article is not only entering the workforce, it's enetering your classroom. "Assignments are dispersed online. Students are much more likely to do research online than use the library. And even the proverbial class handout has gone the way of the Web, posted on electronic bulletin boards for downloading after class." By Marth Irvine, Associated Press, December 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Pulling Sense out of Today’s Informational Chaos: LiveJournal as a Site of Knowledge Creation and Sharing
When people think about blogging they usually think of Blogger. But that other blogging site - LiveJournal - has been around at least as long, has as many users, and is as viable a platform as Blogger. Perhaps more so - indeed, after Google took over Blogger it began to incorporate some of LiveJournal's features, such as the need to have a user ID in order to comment. As this article points out, what makes LiveJournal work for its members (and what makes it impenetrable to visitors) is that it acts as a social network as well as a blogging platform. LiveJournal has always fascinated me, partially because of its demographic and partially because of its technology. By Kate Raynes–Goldie, First Monday, December 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Commission Suspends Content Guard Investigation
The acquisition by Thomson of a third of ContentGuard from Microsoft and Time Warner has had exactly the intended effect as the European Commission has effectively halted its investigation into the digital rights company. By Leigh Phillips, Digital Media Europe, December 3, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Communication Dynamics
Slides are now available for James Farmer's presentation on discussion boards and the creation of communities of enquiry in online learning environments. By James Farmer, Incorporated Subversion, December 6, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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