By Stephen Downes
May 6, 2005

Stephen's Web Community
Many of you have felt the sting of being accused of being a spammer by my discussion board system in recent weeks. Nobody regrets this more than I, as I have missed numerous worthwhile contributions. I have rewritten my discussion system from scratch and moved it over to the main site today. It isn't perfect - far from it - but at least it won't call you a spammer. That's the least I can do. A full code release - GPL of course - is coming soon. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, May 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Resistance is Useless: There is no Point in Authentication Systems (According to Stephen Downes)
Some more commentary on my mIDm proposal. Johannes Ernst writes "it does not allow a user to use different identifiers as easily as we do in LID (Lightweight Identity)." I disagree - using the User Agent Switcher, changing identities is as easy as selecting your preference from a drop-down menu. Moreover, the big different between LID and my proposal isn't the way I get around the need to type in your URL (though it does that), it's that it avoids the need to make changes to the server as a Super-User (something most of us can't do). Meanwhile, Xageroth Sekarius quite rightly takes me to task for criticizing device-specific authentication in one paper and recommending browser-specific access in the next. He also expresses some valid concerns about privacy. Again, the answer to the latter lies in one's ability to turn it on and off or to switch identities. To the former, let me say for now that the answer is more involved than I can outline here, but that an answer is forthcoming. By Johannes Ernst, Johannes Ernst's Blog, May 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Mon Wiki Dieu!
If you have been looking for French language educational content, look no further; this posts links to a site linking 133 of them. The author also writes, "And I got there from Mario Asselin's wiki at his school Institut St-Joseph. It looks like the whole school is wiki-ed up." I'm not surprised; this is the same school I profiled in last's year's Educational Blogging in EDUCAUSE Review - the same issue of which contained Brian Lamb's Wiki Ready or Not. Meanwhile, if French language blogs are more your thing, Bill Ives has the links to discussion and summaries of the recent Les Blogs conference in Paris. By Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed, May 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Your Identity, Open to All
In light of my recent comments on identity, this item seemed relevant. The author describes a product called ZabaSearch, which finds "a wealth of info sometimes dating back more than 10 years: residential addresses, phone numbers both listed and unlisted, birth year, even satellite photos of people's homes." There is much discussion of how freely available this information is, and how unreliable it is. Less on how to set the records straight. By Xeni Jardin, Wired News, May 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Developing and Implementing a Methodology for Reviewing E-portfolio Products
Recently published report on e-portfolios commissioned by JISC (very recently - my copy still has corrections). The authors offer a literature survey and mapping of twelve products("a relatively small sample of the total number of UK e-portfolio products") with a focus on academic, not corporate, offerings. The authors note (p.34) that "It is therefore of considerable concern that few developers report that they are working towards accessibility specifications, such as IMS ACCLIP, or WCAG ‘AAA’ compliance." The authors also noted that about half the sites did not have privacy policies. Via EdTechUK. By Helen C Richardson and Rob Ward, JISC, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Age of Engagement
The funniest slide - slide 15 - rewrites Maslow's hierarchy to incorporate the desire for connectivity. The slide reflects the tone of this otherwise serious, and dauntingly documented, look at the bright, bright future of the internet. According to The Age of Engagement, the impact of the internet is just starting. As Google indexes all the world's content ("doable before most of us retire") commerce and advertising will continue to migrate to the internet. The blogosphere, meanwhile, continues to revolutionize content creation. PDF. Via Robert Paterson. By Mary Meeker, Morgan Stanley, April, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Overkill on Copyright Law
This editorial is typical of the reams of criticism piled on recent legislation passed in the United States, Attached as a little-noticed rider to a bill allowing families to filter offensive content, the new measure imposes harsh penalties on people copying and distributing movies. "Let's save prison for the folks who are genuine threats to society, not people who chip away at Hollywood's bottom line." Sheesh, no kidding. By Editorial, The Daily Herald, May 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Filling up Experiences at the Online Learning Filling Station
Like Derek Morrison, I have rolled my eyes at the thought of using a PDA, this after my less than fruitful experience with an iPaq a few years ago. I wonder whether my thoughts would change with one of the newer devices. To judge from this item, Morrison is a convert: working with a Dell Axim X50v PDA, he describes the experience as "liberating". After taking a pass on the tablet, I am looking with more interest at the Ultra Mobile tablet PC 2007. Still - I'm the person who won't carry a mobile phone around because it's too bulky. By Derek Morrison, Auricle, May 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Admin for Schools
Posted on school-discuss: "Open Admin for Schools is a freely available web based school administration program. It now includes an online gradebook, and allows parent viewing of attendance, report cards, and gradebook, if desired. This is being developed by both the Battlefords School Division and the North West Catholic School Division in Saskatchewan, Canada." Version 1.80 was released today. By Various Authors, May 6, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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