August 5, 2006


Various authors[Edit][Delete]: Desire2Learn Patent Page, Blackboard Violating Australian Law?, August 5, 2006
[link: 9 Hits] The Blackboard story continues non-stop, so I'm throwing together an extra issue today to keep up. While I'm at it, I'm giving you a glimpse of my Saturday reading, a little more geeky than the usual weekday fare - but remember, this is a day off for me, so this is what I'm reading for fun.

Anyhow, first thing this morning came an email from Desire2Learn head John Baker letting me know about the company's patent information page. The text of the message reporduced here a few days ago may be found on the site, along with the full text of the patent and the letter of complaint. It also includes links to 477 pages of communication between Blackboard and the USPTO.

Michael Feldstein has been good enough to release his translation of the Blackboard claim from patentese to English. As you might expect, the claims made in the document are ridiculous. For example, here is the basic claim: "You have a system that is organized by courses. The system can be accessed by different users from different computers. Users can access multiple courses and can have different access privileges assigned to each course based on the roles of student, instructor, and/or administrator." Albert Ip comments.

Michael Feldstein has also issues a call for Wikipedia reviewers to ensure that the article is fair and conforms to Wikipedia's standards.

And finally, Feldstein is quoted in the first mainstream press article about the patent, published in the Kitchener Record in Desire2Learn's home town in Canada. Some outrageous statements from Matthew Small, Blackboard's general counsel: "This is not about reducing competition, it's not about hindering innovation, and it is something we think is in line with our duty to our clients to protect their investment in us as well as to protect the investment we've made in our technology." Yeah, right.

But the biggest story of the day might be this: according to a post in ITForum today (you can view it if you get a stipud login) Roger Atkinson writes, "Blackboard Inc's filings for Australian patents are numbered 2003263854, 2003263855 and 2005203324. Checking these, I find only cryptic details... it appears to me on initial checking that Blackboard Inc's Australian patents are 'applied for' or 'pending', and are not actually 'granted'."

If this is the case, Atkinson continues, then Blackboard may be in trouble. "Blackboard claims that '...patents corresponding with the U.S. patent have been issued in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore...' Under Australian law, 'It is an offence to falsely represent that an article is patented or the subject of a patent in Australia."

Atkinson also heaps more info into the prior art record: "For example, check AJET and ASCILITE Conference Proceedings for publications on LMSs that predate BB's patent application date. Using only those two sources (and there are many other sources), I believe that there is heaps of evidence to shoot down BB's patent application in Australia."

In the ATutor Forum on the topic started today, Greg writes, "One thing I think all this uproar has doing, is bringing together the LMS industry both commercial and open source. And it also seems to be opening the eyes of users of the BB system. Even users of the system seem to agree that they do not want to be forced to use BB. Attempting to limit choice appears to have hit a nerve among some BB users. BB's patent may just backfire on them..."

Dave Cormier explains why software patents are evil: "This is what the blackboard patent does... it patents the learning management system equivalent of doors and windows. While Blackboard may have done different things with their software they did not invent the IDEA of 'doors and windows', they worked on ideas that already existed and added their own twist." [Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Paul B Hartzog[Edit][Delete]: Culture Jams, Culture Preserves, Many 2 Many [Edit][Delete] August 5, 2006
[link: Hits] If you're a Star Trek fan, be sure to check out the home-made Star Trek episodes on this site. If you're not, it is still worth reflecting that the fan video is every big as good as the commercial product. Which means that the message in culture is no longer the sole domain of the commercial media. And that is why we have copyright battles, patent fights, and the rest. "Umberto Eco calls this 'semiological guerrilla warfare' and supports 'action which would urge the audience to control the message and its multiple possibilities of interpretation.'" [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Lilia Efimova[Edit][Delete]: Nancy White on blog communities and more questions, Mathemagenic [Edit][Delete] August 5, 2006
[link: 11 Hits] Commentary and nice handy-dandy set of five links to Nancy White's recent series on blogs and community. What's interesting is the discussion of the different types of communities that evolve - blog centric, topic centric, etc. Here's the list:

[Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Lilia Efimova[Edit][Delete]: Automatic Translator for Skype Chat, Mathemagenic [Edit][Delete] August 5, 2006
[link: 6 Hits] I was saying to someone just yesterday that what we need is automatic on-demand language translation, that this was the only way to do it. This is what I meant. Way cool. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Michael Geist[Edit][Delete]: Setting the IFPI Record Straight, August 5, 2006
[link: 4 Hits] Michael Geist does his usual hard-nosed analysis of a music industry public statement, leaving sliced and diced and bleeding on the floor. So he should; "In explaining the situation in Canada, the IFPI resorts to a series of mischaracterizations and omissions." My problem is that the politicians read the IFPI reports, and not the rebuttals. When's the last time a politician ever read these pages, for example? One of the big problems to be faced with the lobby is their almost exclusive access to decision-makers, and their tendency to flood that access with reports like the much-maligned IFPI document. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Nick Lewis[Edit][Delete]: 10 Drupal Modules You Can't Live Without, Nick Lewis: The Blog [Edit][Delete] August 5, 2006
[link: Hits] As I get nearer and nearer to actually doing work to adopt Drupal (read: maybe when I get back from circling the globe in September) articles like this are catching my interest. Especially the description of the CCK module, at number 9. Watching these modules is a bit like having your own private television peering into the future. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Ross Dawson[Edit][Delete]: Microsoft Kickstarts the Live Brand, Trends in the Living Networks [Edit][Delete] August 5, 2006
[link: 3 Hits] The flagship of Microsoft's 'Live' brand, Microsoft Live Spaces, has just launched. The first thing it did when I went to access it was to lose my original Spaces site, forcing me to replace it with a new one - I have no idea how to get the old one back, so it's destined to languish, unreachable, until the end of time. The site is just awful on Firefox, I have to say, probably because of the 'missing framework' error that frequently pops up. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Ross Mayfield[Edit][Delete]: Jimmy Wales Kicks off Wikimania, August 5, 2006
[link: 5 Hits] Outline of Jimmy Wales's Wikiversity announcement at the Wikimania conference. Good quote from Wales: "Apparently, there was an error in Wikipedia (laughter). They dragged me on CNN to yell at me. Just at the time when Wikipedia blew past's traffic." P.S. Congratulations are due to Ross Mayfield for Open Sourcing SocialText. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Dave Munger[Edit][Delete]: Why We Can't All be Divas, Cognitive Daily [Edit][Delete] August 5, 2006
[link: Hits] Do listen to the two samples of music and see whether you can't tell the difference (and what the difference actually is). The main point, that perception is learned, is I think well established by this item (not that it wasn't before, but sometimes you actually need to see the evidence). [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Mihai Parparita[Edit][Delete]: Namespaced Extensions in Feeds, Google Reader Blog [Edit][Delete] August 5, 2006
[link: Hits] Nice article with a really good list of extensions used in RSS (with links to the namespaces and figures on how popular the extensions are). These extensions allow users to syndicate a wide variety of contents, including music, geo-spatial data, personal information, Digg ratings, and more. [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

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I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

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