by Stephen Downes
January 5, 2007
Happy New Year
I am home from Ottawa. This year I will spend New Year's Eve in a comedy club.
2006 was a year of extremes for me. It was a difficult year, but only because it was one where I tried to live my life to the fullest, and I guess I can't regret that. I made memories to last a lifetime, I touched so many places and so many lives, and was more than rewarded in kind.
I dreamed last night that I was given a fine suit, a thousand dollar suit that I would never buy for myself, with a silk scarf and a long overcoat, that when I wore it I looked like and felt like I had found my success in this life. I trimmed my hair, just a bit, to match the suit, and when I walked down the road, I strode forward with a flourish, waving the tail of my coat behind me.
Kia ora. Thank you, to all of you, and best wishes for the coming year. Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web December 29, 2006 [Link] [Comment]
The downes.ca website is currently unavailable as my new host withered and died under the traffic (they are currently incommunicado, adding to the frustration). I am working behind the scenes to get things going again. In the meantime, I can still send an email newsletter from the desktop (the RSS readers will just have to wait, though I'll post a copy to Half an Hour just to tide them over). Links are direct links; no website redirection (this will make my readers in Iran happy, as downes.ca has been blocked there for ages... I don't know why, though) so you can just click and read. Comments, of course, are not working. I have some good items still in the queue, but I've been slowed down a bit by all this so some good reads will be saved until next week. Thanks for your patience; just another day on the internet. p.s. if you are desperate for a downes.ca link you can access the pages by replacing 'www.downes.ca' with '188.8.131.52' - this is temporary and the pages will not be fully styled. Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
Open Thinking is Open
A new online community, Open Thinking, has been launched. What I don't know is why. Is there some reason we cannot use our own spaces to talk about "open technologies or formats in regards to software, publishing, content and practice?" What's the benefit of going over to your place? Is it that blogs aren't good places for discussion? Rob Wall, StigmergicWeb January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
What I Learned Buying a Rug in Turkey
The metaphor is compelling and I really enjoyed the story. "You know, no one comes to Turkey to buy a rug. It's not something that you need. Yet, most people end up buying one." Mitchell Weisburgh, PILOTed January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
The Dumbness of Crowds
kathy Sierra makes the distinction I have been trying to get at with the recent discussion on groups and networks. "Art isn't made by committee. Great design isn't made by consensus. True wisdom isn't captured from a crowd. At least not when the crowd is acting as a single entity. Clearly there IS wisdom in the many as long as you don't 'poison' the crowd by forcing them to agree (voting doesn't mean agreeing)." See also Jay Cross, who reads into this some sort of competitive mantra. "I hereby give you permission to challenge other people's ways of thinking. Learning will emerge... Some people avoid conflict. They are called slow learners. " No, Jay, it's not about challenging - it's about sharing (challenging is 'push', sharing is 'pull'). As described by Graham Attwell. Not collaboration, but not competition either. Cooperation. Like the internet. See also Ewan McIntosh. Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
Learning with Handheld Technologies
As Leonard Low summarizes, "Futurelab, a non-profit U.K. based organisation, who previously published one of the best literature reviews of mobile learning, have now published a handbook of recommendations for mobile learning approaches - including implementation ideas and case studies." It's a bit funny reading the summary by Tony Vincent... "the device" this and "the device" that. Always referring to 'the device' as though it were some sort of MacGuffin. Interesting observation: "It is harder and takes more time to manage a small set of devices than it is to manage models of use where each learner 'owns' the device." Fern Faux, Angela McFarlane, Nel Roche and Keri Facer, Futurelab January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
Firefox 3: From HTML Renderer To Information Broker
Good article describing the (coming) intersection of the web browser and microformats. I've covered microformats before: these are little snippets of XHTML that define information structures in web pages. "Rather than going to Craigslist, eBay, and other sales services to post something for sale, you'd post the listing to your blog, in hListing format, and Craigslist and other sales services would scrape the Web, find your listing, and include it in their service." Major potential, and a bit easier than developing RSS. So where does the browser come in? "Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online." Hard to say when this would be rolled out; give it a year for Firefox 3 and, what, 6 years for Microsoft? Oh yeah, and in 2010 Blackboard will claim to have invented it. Via elearningpost. See also David Wiley on this. Mitch Wagner, Information Week January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
More OpenLearn RSS Feeds...
Soon it will be seen as odd that a course would be presented simply as a set of static web pages. Of course a course is delivered as a stream, over time. That's what a course is, as opposed to, say, a manual. Tony Hirst demonstrates more RSS technology that makes this happen. Tony Hirst, OUseful Info January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
What Are Those Sheep-bots Doing?
Interesting and potentially useful in the long term. The article describes a research project to reverse-engineer Second Life in order to "make it open and readable like say, HTTP." It would be interesting to see whether the effort could derive some architectural features that would become like a vocabulary or protocol. What we would get is not merely a proliferation of tools that interface with Second Life but also a set of hosts (websites, whatever) that interact with those tools in some other Second-Life-like way. Alternative alt-reality, if you will. Chris Carella, The Daily Graze January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
College Recruitment: Ripping a Page from MySpace?
Funny how the logic works. Something like this: "Students like X, we want students to come, thus, if we build X, students will come." These days it's MySpace. "From a marketing-gone-wild perspective, this will spark a 1000 colleges to create their own MySpace-like tools. Lots of buzz. Long-term value? Mmmm. And in about 6 months, nobody will come back." Don't build a MySpace-like took. Think deeper - think about how your tool (your class, whatever) could work with whatever tools the students happen to be using. Christian Long, think:lab January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
Standards for Good Intranet and Extranet Design
Reasonable set of principles for good intranet design (or, for that matter, good design generally). Note especially the last item: "users shouldn't need extra sign-ins and log-in steps." Dave Pollard, How to Save the World January 5, 2007 [Link] [Comment]
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