By Stephen Downes
December 31, 2004
A Smaller World
With the dawn of 2005 I begin my tenth year publishing Stephen's Web and the fifth year I have been mailing copies of OLDaily to the world. In that time I've lived in three cities and travelled across Canada and around the world. It has been, for me, a decade of tremendous growth, and for all of us, I think, a decade in which the world grew smaller, more interconnected, more cohesive.
The events of this past year and especially of this past week have shown us not only how fragile is our existence on this planet, but also how great is the power of our coming together. The nations impacted by the Tsunami are all part of what was once called the third world - but in my lifetime I have seen tremendous development in these regions, and I count among my readers people from every one of the impacted countries.
I know it is trite to say this, but I think of all of you not only as readers but as friends and partners in the long march toward a better world. If you have been reading these pages for any length of time, you will know that this is the one, only and ultimate purpose of OLDaily and of my work in general. Education for all, and through education, a path toward each of us achieving all that we hope, all that we dream.
I sometimes lose sight of this objective, even though it is on my front page for all to see. I sometimes worry more about hit counts and contests, credit and criticism. About myself and my place in the world, rather than what ought to be done, what is right, and good.
Life is too short, too fragile and too precious for this. There is so much promise in the air, and yet so many of us fall to war and famine, natural disaster and disease. Those few people who have had the good fortune to be in a position to make things better have an obligation, a duty, to extend as much of themselves as they can to do so. The future of our civilization depends not on how high the greatest of us soar but on how far the weakest of us fall. We are together, all of us, one, or not at all.
To all my friends around the world: Peace, and long life.
Microsoft's Passport Fails to Travel Far as
Confirmation of the item run here yesterday as Microsoft confirms that it is abandoning Passport. "The Redmond software company said Wednesday it would stop trying to persuade Web sites to use its Passport service, which stores consumers' credit-card and other information as Internet users surf from place to place." Discussion on Slashdot. By Joseph Menn, Seattle Times, December 31, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]
eBay Stops Accepting Microsoft
Discussion and analysis of Microsoft's retreat from Passport, covered here yesterday. The author suggests that a major beneficiary will be the Liberty Alliance, a consortium of 150 companies providing federated identity management. Maybe. But why would people rush out to get just another version of Passport? Remember, authentication is something that, for the most part, businesses want. There isn't a consumer demand for it. Until authentication becomes something people can use to add value for themselves, rather than something they have to use to add value for someone else, identity management will flounder. By Steve Worona, EDUCAUSE Blogs, December 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]
You too can be a podcaster. But will anyone want to listen to your podcast? Will Richardson ponders: "I can't help but wonder what anyone really got out of my droning on about my high-fallutin thoughts on the education world. No links to follow. No way to engage in the ideas. Nothing there that wouldn't work just as well in a blog post." And like any user-created media, the quality can be pretty spotty: "Most of what I've heard so far has been pretty uninspiring." Well, yeah. Welcome, as they say, to the long tail. But when we are able to get feeds of several hours worth of (what we think are) good shows, podcasting replaces radio. But that's in next-year country. By Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed, December 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]
Flickr, The Land of 10,000 Memes
What makes the internet great, in my mind, isn't so much the services you can access online, isn't so much online news or even education. It's the stuff around the edges, the odd and sometimes magical forms of self-expression, that the internet enables. The more popular of these end up as internet memes, and through them you see glimpses into humanity no media has ever been able to capture. As Alan Levine points out, Flickr is particularly good at spreading memes. But the stories have been with us since the beginning, and I hope they never go away. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, December 30, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]
Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its
One of the founders of Wikipedia expresses concerns about the online encyclopedia's future. Wikipedia needs to appear more credible, he argues, and to do this it needs a mechanism where expertise prevails. "Nearly everyone with much expertise but little patience will avoid editing Wikipedia, because they will--at least if they are editing articles on articles that are subject to any sort of controversy--be forced to defend their edits on article discussion pages against attacks by nonexperts." I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. By Larry Sanger, Kuro5hin, December 31, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]
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