Stephen's Web

[Chat] [Discuss] [Search] [About] [Options]


by Stephen Downes
December 21, 2006


I'm in Ottawa for a short vacation and to visit family for the holidays. Tonight, though, I'm going to the Senators game. :) Pictured above is the National Gallery. Stephen Downes, Flickr December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Why JSON isn't Just for JavaScript
I've seen books on JSON but since I always thought it has to do0 with Java, I wasn't interested. Maybe I should take another look. This post describes JSON nicely. "In JavaScript an object is basically an associative array. JSON takes that syntax and makes it generally applicable." Um... cool. (Aside: there is so much to learn, I find new stuff like this (which is often obvious to other people) every day. It is both the blessing and the curse of our times.) Reference: The Dave Winer quote that inspired this. More on the great JSON-XML Debate. Simon Willison, Simon Willison's Weblog December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Open Content Alliance
Interesting. "The Open Content Alliance (OCA) represents the collaborative efforts of a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that will help build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. Content in the OCA archive will be accessible soon through this website and through Yahoo!" It seems sort of like the commercial answer to the Open CourseWare Consortium. Via Learning Online Info. Various Authors, December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Design: Behaviorism Has Its Place
I questioned Karl Kapp's behaviorist leanings in a comment recently and this is his reply. "I think the best representation of the effectiveness of behaviorism is Las Vegas, if slots machines are not classic Stimulus-Response-Reward...then nothing is." Well, then, nothing is. It takes a great deal of work to convince people to invest money in what is known to be a losing proposition. That is why Vegas hired Randy Newman and Celine Dion, hosts professional boxing matches, hosts slick television series like CSI, and even popularized a slogan, "What happens in vegas, stays in Vegas." If Vegas replied simply on stiumulus-response, it would be broke by now. Kapp writes, "I think advertising agencies are hoping for stimulus-response." No. What they are hoping for is an association that has nothing to do with the product. Buyer sees beer, buyer thinks sexy woman, buyer buys beer. The 'sexy woman' bit in the middle is an association the marketer has promoted through repetitive associative advertising.

Kapp writes, "For mission critical items, we cannot write an objective like: The nuclear technician, upon encountering a meltdown of the primary reactor will use a discovery method to explore possible options for stopping the meltdown... We really need something like: The nuclear technician, upon encountering a meltdown of the primary reactor will follow a defined set of steps to stop the meltdown." But this is not true, and the proof is this: if it were true, then the human performance could be replaced by a machine. If you are working simply on stimulus-response, then you are working on programmable behaviour. But we use humans in nuclear reactors (and elsewhere) just because we understand that 'knowing' involves a set of cognitive processes - like recognition, inference, association - between stimulus and response. The difficulty is, of course, convincing politicians, customers, and (apparently) instructional designers of this. Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

I'm thrilled...
George Siemens discovers the Public Library of Science (PLoS) and suggests that there should be "a similar model adopted for research in the learning and technology space." I've thought about this for some time. Except... what is it about the journal model (especially one where authors pay fees) that is superior to what I'm doing now? And if I were to start a journal, what better route than to simply set up a website with the Open Journal Systems software? I'm not trying to rain on the parade. But - I like just posting articles and letting the world decide whether it likes them, wants to reprint them, whatever. Anything over and above that strikes me as, well, paperwork. George Siemens, elearnspace December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Free Courses?
"With a daughter applying to university," writes Mitch Weisburgh, "we're wondering why we should be spending $40,000 a year for four years, when great learning materials are available free online." This post won't answer that question, but it sets in perspective an interview with the Open University's Patrick McAndrew. The Open University recently launched OpenLearn, a program intended to provide open access to online learning materials. Mitchell Weisburgh, PILOTed December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Graham Attwell Needs to Take a Closer Look at Second Life
I've just signed up for second life and will be posting about the safe way to do it. Educators need to be looking for creative ways to connect with students not criticize them. I love teenagers and if they are in to it, I'll go into it as well if it is appropriate to use to teach. I use ipods, cell phones, and now will be planning to use second life to teach. It is called relating to students in methods they care about to teach the content that I know that they need to know. That is good teaching. Second life is just another conduit for teaching but it is a very cool content. If handled appropriately, it could be a great tool! Vicki A Davis, December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Definitions: ABCD Objectives
Stephen, I am not sure that behaviorism has been abandoned. I have written my thoughts at since a number of people have commented on the post. Karl Anymouse, December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Money Doesn't Talk - It Silences
The title of this post is bang-on. And the rest of the post - which describes a service that will crawl the web, copying site contents, in an attempt to stifle copyright infringement and plagiarism - is also on target. "So if I understand this, they copy web pages to see if they've been copied. And this kind of indexing, unlike the Google library project, doesn't violate anything because media companies might make money from it." Barbara Fister, ACRLog December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Science Library Pad
I know some of my colleagues at NRC read this newsletter, so they'll be interested to see this blog from Richard Akerman from CISTI, the National Research Council's library system. Akerman, in turn, discovered my site through a posting on Slideshare. Here's his presentation on Slideshare. I like this: "Web 2.0 is also opening up science to the public." Anyhow, some good stuff in his blog, including this cite from FastForward: "SOA is about enterprise efficiency. Web 2.0 is about individual empowerment." Which strikes me as exactly right. Richard Akerman, Science Library Pad December 21, 2006 [Link] [Comment]


This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.