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Reaching the Blogosphere
September 13, 2005 Once again, my audio failed me, and so I have only PowerPoint slides of today's talk (I have since discovered that Windows was blocking the audio driver for my sound card, in some insane supposition that it was a virus). The talk covered familiar ground for readers of OLDaily - the rise of the blogosphere, RSS, writing blogs that will be read, distributed representation and principles of successful networks - all in less than a half hour. What astonished me was that in the government office where I gave my talk, not only was SourceForge blocked (I was trying to download Audacity) but also Blogger, LiveJournal, Bloglines, Technorati, and who knows what else - it was a travesty, an outrage, and I said so. The Canadian public service should not be condemned to live in an information vacuum (and the excuse, that they were afraid of viruses and worms, was completely implausible, especially given the the Service's mandated use of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange). [Comment]

OLDaily

Daniel Rivera: Seymour Papert Articles & Video, SEGA Tech September 13, 2005
Links and summary to some of the best of Seymour Papert. I first encountered Papert via his work (with Marvin Minsky) on artificial intelligence. But, of course, he has followed this up with some "radical" ideas in education (I don't see them as that radical, personally). "He's worked under Piaget, helped establish the Maine laptop initiative, and is a distinguished professor at MIT." [Comment]

Jeff: Have You Heard About The Big Here?, SEGA Tech September 13, 2005
This is a pretty interesting idea, and do follow the link to Kevin Kelly's Big here Quiz. [Comment]

Matt Barton: Class Project: Free Wiki Textbook, Kairosnews September 13, 2005
I applaud what the author calls "a rather risky experiment" (I don't see it as risky at all), "a semester-long class project whose goal is to create a free wikitext for use as a first-year composition textbook." I see no reason why more classes couldn't create their own textbooks in this way, and moreover, why classes in different institutions couldn't collaborate in so doing. And best of all, it doesn't need to be extensively organized or managed - just start working on the wiki, make it known to other classes in the same discipline, and see what emerges. [Comment]

Sarah E. Smith and Anthony Potoczniak: Five Points of Connectivity, EDUCAUSE Review September 13, 2005
"By connectivity," write the authors, "we mean the students' and instructors' ability to engage with the course materials in novel ways using technology to enhance the learning process." Which is as odd a definition of 'connectivity' as I have ever seen. The five points are "components of connectivity (that) are necessary for successfully implementing technology in a classroom and for promoting a stimulating learning environment," and more specifically, are: communication, collaboration, motivation, integration, and creativity. Good article, except for the utter misuse of the terms 'connectivity' and 'point'. Additional articles from the latest EDUCAUSE Review are also online, most of them dealing with Net-Generation expectations. [Comment]

Eric Goldman: Details on Marquette's Participation in BSA's "Define the Line" Program September 13, 2005
Define the Line is an anti file sharing initiative launched by commercial software companies; last spring they announced a campus initiative, which this item update. The title is a bit misleading; few additional details are available, save for news about the distribution of posters, brochures and handouts, and the discussion of copyright infringement at a Campus Safety seminar. There's a link to a student newspaper article that suggests that a corporate donation to the university influenced its decision to take part in the program. [Comment]

Scott Crevier: Web Site Link Checker, EDUCAUSE Blogs September 13, 2005
This isn't really a news item, I'm just saving the link because I'll need it later to help someone out. The program checks links on a web site. I may need to adapt it to work with databases. [Comment]

Thomas H. Benton: Saving Secondhand Bookstores, Chronicle of Higher Education September 13, 2005
Another article from the Chronicle pining for archaic technology, this time in the form of the used bookstore, and ending with the absurd proposal that "an endowment could be created to provide vouchers -- $500 a semester, maybe -- for graduate students, and possibly undergraduates, to purchase secondhand books." Yeah, or they could buy a computer and tap into the Gutenberg Project, Wikipedia and the Internet Archive. See, I went throught he same thing the author did, getting into the habit of frequenting used bookstores and amassing a considerable library. Sure, those were good memories. But then came my career, which involved moving every few years, and my collection became a ton of dusty dead weight that grew harder and harder to pack and unpack. [Comment]

Ben Goldacre: Don't Dumb Me Down, The Guardian September 13, 2005
The author characterizes three types of bad science writing in traditional media: wacky stories, scare stories and breakthrough stories. He should have added a fourth, in my view: commercial messages disguised as science stories. According to this article, the proliferation of bad scientific writing is a result of the resistance from descendents of the Romantic movement, people who feel "everything in science is tenuous, contradictory and, most ridiculously, 'hard to understand'." And it is these same people who are responsible for writing, editing and approving copy; "You can be sure that at least one person in any given 'science communication' chain is just juggling words about on a page, without having the first clue what they mean." Much the same reasoning could be applied to education writing, I think, which is why publications like this one will always have a future: written from the inside of the profession, unedited by word jugglers, and most of all, not afraid to be obscure. [Comment]

Various authors: Digital Community of Authors, September 13, 2005
It's not really blogging, though the idea is similar, "a free virtual writer's workshop that allows young authors to publish original writing and illustrations right online." In other words, sort of like blogging with guidance and structure. None of the writing is posted yet - this is a brand new service. And the guidence provided on the one hand feels a little thin, and on the other hand feels a little constricting. But the core of the project has merit, I think, and will evolve through use into something more substantial. [Comment]

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Stephen Downes

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada

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