By Stephen Downes
January 18, 2005

WordPress Multi User (WMU)
A long-standing complaint about the use of WordPress, the free and open source blogging software, in an academic environment is that no multi-user version was available. With the launch of WordPress MU, this is no longer true. “Using WordPress Multi-user edition you will be able to [have] people be able to sign up for a new blog and have them securely manage their templates and settings without affecting any other users. Only one blog per user is allowed, but you can have unlimited users, and you can have multiple users on a single blog.” Farmer has another comment, which I'll link to but not cite because the link comes with a language warning. Suffice to say he was, um, enthusiastic. Heh. By James Farmer, Incorporated Subversion, January 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Why P2P File Sharing Is Good: The P2P Manifesto
Robin Good links to and summarizes a pretty good manifesto on P2P (person-to-person) file sharing. The author's premise is that P2P is inevitable, that content owners cannot prevent people from sharing files on it, and that it is better for content owners in the long run (but they'll have to adapt their business plans). I agree with pretty much everything in the manifesto. And if you doubt the inevitability of P2P, consider this: "The amount of data now exchanged on P2P networks is about equivalent to a full third of all present Internet traffic." By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, January 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Building Stuff on Top of Stuff
A couple of things in this short item. First is the author's reference to the 'distributed query' and the role RSS plays in it. Second, those of us who have been involved in the field of learning objects will get a chuckle out of this quote: "Adam explains how and why RSS, in particular, provides the necessary traction: It's like Lego. When I was a small kid I used to play with these blocks... The cool thing about RSS, as people are discovering, is that the blocks start to be able to plug into each other because pretty much everyone can extrude something where they understand enough of the shape and how to consume it..." This, of course, is exactly how learning objects were supposed to work. By Jon Udell, Jon Udell's Weblog, January 17, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Yahoo to acquire Six Apart?
This is just speculation, nothing more. But it would seem to be a natural; Yahoo doesn't have a blogging tool (while both Microsoft and Google do). Six Apart now also brings into the mix the large LiveJournal community, which could be integrated into Yahoo's own family of communities. Yahoo also brings a lot to the table for users of those services, itself having probably the best designed community services on the web. And the blogging sites provide an outlet for text ads, now a better revenue generator than ever. By David Jackson, The Internet Stock Blog, January 17, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Averages and Emergence
Some highly speculative thoughts about the creation of knowledge through synchronous recognition of natural patterns by a group of observers. By Stephen Downes, Learning Circuits Blog, January 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What's the Message?
Following a link in a comment to this dreadful article describing the McLuhan Festival in Toronto last fall I am taken first to the McLuhan Program home page, and then even better, to this McLuhan Program Blog, called (appropriately) What's the Message? The site contains observations and papers and, most interestingly, a link to the Mind, Media and Society blog. By Various Authors, University of Toronto, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Image Annotator
This is a beautiful use of Javascript, RDF and XSLT to create a system that annotates images. Go to the image link to see the final result first. Take a look at the page source; you'll see that it is written in RDF, and specifically, a combination of three schemas: Dublin Core, FOAF and an Image schema. Now go to the image annotator itself to see how the RDF file was generated. Follow the instructions on the page and generate your own RDF. The page you are looking at is generated entirely in Javascript; you could download it and run it off your desktop (I did). The script generates the RDF you saw when you viewed the source. To actually view the image, you need to place the two associated stylesheets (available here and here and add a link to the the first at the top of the RDF file. I did this manually (here). The image can also be viewed in different formats - as an audio recording, as XHTML, as a Flash file - using different stylesheets. The Kanzaki site uses a server script to insert the associated stylesheet. I know this all looks complicated, but it's not; it's the same sort of thing I did here, and that Daniel Lemire did here. I'll explain it all in a paper sometime soon. But for now, here's the punchline: This is the future of learning objects. I'll have much, much more about this topic in the next twelve months. By Masahide Kanzaki, The Web Kanzaki, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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