By Stephen Downes
June 27, 2005

Grokster Loses Copyright Case
Americans are still weighing the impact of today's Supreme Court essentially ruling against Grokster and other file sharing services. "We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement," wrote Justice David Souter in the majority opinion. Michael Geist says it's not so bad: "P2P technology didn't lose... By seeking to retain Sony but build in active inducement, it is trying to navigate a difficult fine line... premised on 'purposeful culpable expression and conduct.'" Others are less sanguine. The internet is now awash with opinion; I'll just say it's a bad decision and leave it at that. By Arik Hesseldahl, Forbes, June 27, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Packing Up the Books
Here's a scare headline if I've ever seen one. "U. of Texas becomes the latest institution to clear out a main library to make room for computers." Oh no, they're getting rid of books! Well, not exactly - they're just moving them to another facility. Of course, the main message in this piece from the Chronicle is that "Critics worry that all of the money and attention being spent on digital libraries leaves less money for books, and that the days when a scholar could spend hours wandering through the stacks." Sheesh. But hey, it's the Chronicle - let's ramp up the silly rhetoric: "I think it's ridiculous," she says of the plan to empty out nearly all the volumes. "I don't see how you can replace books." By Katherine S. Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Lansbridge University Receives Accreditation
Got a note today from Lansbridge University to advertise their accreditation. "Lansbridge University was notified this week by the DETC that it has met the DETC’s stringent accreditation requirements to become the first and only on-line business management university in Canada to earn DETC accreditation." By Press Release, Lansbridge University, June 15, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Let the Experiment Be Made
The author of this column argues against professors resisting online learning by saying, as the title suggests, let the experiment be made. After all, he argues, "The slippery-slope scenario says less about online education than it does about the lack of trust that exists between faculty members and administrators." Fair enough. But the experiment? "That means a commitment to maintain small classes online... limits on the percentage of a student's overall education that can be completed entirely online... online courses should be taught by the regular, full-time, tenured faculty members... online education should not be used a means of unbundling the teaching functions... the content of online courses should remain under the faculty control; it should not be allowed to become a slick, corporate product." Do it like this, it seems to me, and you're just setting yourself up for failure. By Thomas H. Benton, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 27, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google Video Launches Today
Still some bumps to smooth out, but Google's video search launches today. Google's special video viewer, based on the open source VLC Viewer, installed easily but is for Windows only (no doubt ports will soon be available). Second, despite having signed on a number of providers ("PBS, CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and the Learning Channel") all the searches I tried resulted only in screenshots and a "video not available" message. Coming soon, I guess. More info at John Batelle and Hollywood Reporter. By Cory Bergman, Lost Remote, June 27, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Don't Click It: Clickless Interface Site
If you want to feel like you're learning how to use the mouse all over again, try out this nifty clickless interface. Via InfoCult. Speaking of nice interfaces, check out this Ajax-enabled interface for del.icio.us called direc.tor. By Unknown, DontClickIt, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New in BlogBridge
The functionality of Edu_RSS Topics has finally been reproduced in another tool (which, according to the law of the Blogerati (in this case David Weinberger), will now be credited with having 'invented' it). By David Weinberger, Joho the Blog, June 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blogs in the Classroom
Dig this post-PowerPoint presentation tool. OK, that said, this presentation at Gnomedex outlines the case for blogging in the classroom, stipulates some practices (eg., have students use only one blogging tool), and makes some development requests (eg., a means of countinbg comments and posts). Via Will Richardson. By Kathy Gill, Gnomedex, June 24, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Our Welcome From (and to) the Community
The RSS list amendments proposed by Microsoft are in a state of flux right now as the proponents react to changes sugegested by the community. It is welcome news that the specifications are proving to be fluid, not just because the result will be something that meets wider needs, but because it demonstrates a willingness by Microsoft to engage in the (very fluid and mostly chaotic) RSS development community. Bill Brandon, meanwhile, surveys reactions to the Microsoft initiative from the RSS community. here is a wiki page for the extension. By Sean, Longhorn Team RSS Blog, June 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Some interesting working coming out of the Bodington open source learning management system (LMS) community. Guanxi "supports federated authentication and authorization services. It includes OS implementations of the SAML specification and the Shibboleth extended profile specification for the IdP..." It will let students sign on to one LMS and use resources and services from another LMS. Guanxi code is available on SourceForge; there is also a project wiki. By Sean Mehan, June, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Patent Absurdity
This is a good explanation of why software patents, as currently employed in the U.S. and as proposed (repeatedly) for Europe, are such a bad idea. Consider what would happen if they applied to novels. Instead of protecting specific text, the patent would protect, say, "the concept of a character who has been in jail for a long time and becomes bitter towards society and humankind." Or worse, "Communication process structured with narration that continues through many pages." These are the sorts of patents being filed in software today, and just as they would have prevented the publication of numerous great books, they will also prevent the authoring of useful and needed software. By Unattributed, The Guardian, June 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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