By Stephen Downes
June 8, 2005

Development in Atlantic Canada - Culture versus Jobs
I am writing from Edmonton, where I will be speaking on Friday. Being here has allowed me to revisit old haunts and think about what it was like when I lived hear a few years ago. And about what I went to when I moved to New Brunswick.

I'm attending a 'future of New Brunswick' seminar in a couple of weeks in Saint John - nothing to with e-learning, so it's not part of my official duties. But I've been reflecting on what makes a city like Edmonton work and why places like New Brunswick continue to struggle. It's easy to say "it's the oil" - but it's not the oil.

It seems to me that Rob Paterson captures it quite well in this presentation. New Brunswick is very similar to Prince Edward Island, the subject of his talk. He writes, "The issue has never been jobs or buildings but culture. Culture? Adventurous people create sustainable jobs not government. Buildings don't create sustainable jobs. Creative people create sustainable jobs. PEI works hard to marginalize those that are creative. This is I believe the heart of our problem."

I agree with him. And I believe it applies to New Brunswick. And if you look at the diagrams in Paterson's post, you'll see that they look like the diagrams in Cross's and Bond's items, below. And that they're about defining what it means to be a community. Forget the jobs, forget the economic development; that's a sucker's game.

Paterson writes, "Unless we can create an environment where creative people want to stay or come too, we will not make any progress." This is true for schools, it is true for companies, and it is true form communities. Until the people of New Brunswick learn to reach out, to embrace diversity, to tap into a creative culture (the culture it exports every June of every year) it will remain a hinterland. Build a society. Anyhow - today's theme is connectivity and community. Enjoy. By Robert Paterson, Robert Paterson's Weblog, May 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Creating e-Portfolios using Atom and FOAF
Some nice thinking by Scott Wilson which starts off on the right foot: "An e-Portfolio is, by definition, an aggregate or composite of many facets." What I have been calling a profile. He then lists the types of feeds that work together to create an e-portfolio, and outlines the various XML languages - Atom (which is similar to RSS), IMS e-portfolio, HR-XML and FOAF - that enable these feeds. By Scott Wilson, Scott Wilson's Workblog, June 3, 2006 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Workflow Learning Pattern Language
Don't miss this presentation from Jay Cross, who is getting it right (and compare Cross's work to Bond's work, below). Slide 54: "Learning as optimizing one's (neural) network." Yes. Slide 39: "network evolution" and slide 33: "hyper-organization." Yes. Cross is here hitting the right points over and over again. Breeze presentation. By Jay Cross, Internet Time, June 3, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WebCT, ‘Powerlinks’, PHP Wiki & Open Source Robbery
James Farmer offers a hostile reaction to the news that WebCT is incorporating open source tools - such as PHPWiki - into its learning management system. By James Farmer, incorporated subversion, June 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Communities of Practice and Complexity : Conversation and Culture
Peter Bond illustrates some important underlying principles of communities of practice. Bond's graph mapping a community's degree of formalism with its 'emotional energy' looks almost exactly like a graph drawn by Francisco Varela at a session I attended in 1994 or so. Varela, though, mapped link density against information transmission. His sweet spot - enough information to create semantically relevance, but not so much as to create chaos - maps almost exactly against Bond's sweet spot for communities of practice. I don't think this correlation is accidental; I think they were mapping the same thing. Take the two concepts together and you arrive what the ideal degree of connectivity between entities in order to create a maximal online community. And that point is the modified scale free network I tried to desribe in Community Blogging, and I continue to believe (though I can't prove it) that the mathematics expressing this sweet spot may be found in the study of Boltzmann machines. With Bond, I recommend the study of what he calls "an extraordinary theoretical base, primarily derived from a biological perspective of human behaviour and cognition, and how it might be used to better understand the concept of communities of practice." Via Nancy White. By Peter Bond, LeaderValues, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

FireAnt is a way to subscribe to syndicated (and free) online videos. "FireANT is the first software application that comes complete RSS subscription, Video Search, built-in BitTorrent, and the ability to sync media onto the iPod and Sony PSP." Via Albert Delgado. By Various Authors, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Executing Learning Objects, Resurrecting Sharing and Reuse
The value of this item is that it gives us a good outline of Scott Leslie's recent thinking on the use of learning objects (whatever they are). "Instead of getting hung up on defining learning objects ahead of time, or pondering if they actually exist, we should re-focus on the problems we are trying to solve." I'd really like to see him expand on these points. By Scott Leslie, EdTechPost, June 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to Build a 10 Minute Podcast
Good outline of the anatomy of a short podcast (and in case you're wondering, the trend is toward shorter podcasts - as Adam Curry said the other day, "More promotions, less time"). I'm thinking seriously about doing something like this on a regular basis, and if AI do, this would be the format I use. Also worth reading is David Penrose's guide to creating podcasts. By Eric Rice, June 4, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

We the Media
Convert 'media' to 'learning' and the picture blogger Glen 'Instapundit' Reynolds sketches in this opinion column is pretty much the picture I have been proposing (and building) for learning. By Glenn Reynolds, OpinionJournal, June 5, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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