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by Stephen Downes
February 19, 2007

Boycott Bloglines Image Wall!
Bloglines has created a new service that creates an 'image wall' out of harvested RSS feeds. Miguel Guhlin has created a bit of a stir in the edublogosphere by calling on educators to boycott it because "entering the Image Wall (and who reads those disclaimers anymore?), I was looking at pregnant women, a couple in a passionate embrace, and DELETE, so much for Bloglines." Well, given the overreaction of the legal system (see below) I guess I can understand the paranoia. But goodness, don't people realize that these images - yes, that means almost everything - are quickly becoming background noise. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner v2 February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

AOL Is Doing OpenID!
It's so nice to see all the players falling into line on this one; it has been some time coming. And not just because I predicted it (and I was the only one of the twenty who did, too). Scott Wilson on this: "I've tried integrating OpenID support into a Rails... it works remarkably well, remarkably quickly, with no particular specialist knowledge. In fact, it was actually easier than doing a regular sign-up and login form." Johannes Ernst, Weblog February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

DOIs, HANDLE, CORDRA and Architectures of Control
After some discussion on this last week, Mark Oehlert through a series of emails interviewed me on these initiatives. What emerges is a pretty good overview of my feelings on the subject. I don't see the need for the handle system, nor do I think that it's a good thing that CORDRA, ADL's answer to the Open Archives Initiative, is based on it. Mark Orhlert and Stephen Downes, e-Clippings February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Questionable Conviction of Connecticut Teacher in Pop-Up Porn Case
It's hard to believe that this case is real, but I've read enough accounts to be convinced that it is. A substitute teacher is told not to turn off the computer (because she won't be able to log in again). Searching for hair styles, she or a student clicks on a link that launches adware. because the computer's security has been allowed to lapse, the adware installs itself and begins sending a steady stream of pornographic images. The substitute teacher is charged with willfully exposing minors to pornography. Investigators did not look for adware on the computer, and defense testimony showing how the adware was installed is not allowed to be presented in court. She is found guilty and faces 40 years in jail (presumably, her teaching career is a shambles as well). Lindsay Beyerstein, AlterNet February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

The Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime Myth
Norm Friesen offers the fourth of his 'e-learning myths' series. It follows the form of his previous installments. He writes, "'Anyone, anywhere, anytime' invokes a kind of 'default' person, place and time which is generally white and male (Nakamura, 2002), in a position of wealth and in a space and time generally defined in terms of production and consumption. In uncritically invoking categories like anyone, anywhere, anytime, the experience of a single (and relatively small) class of people is privileged and universalized." First of all, I don't think that anybody asserts that the internet presently allows 'anyone, anywhere anytime' access. Second, the detection of stereotypes on the internet does not make it impossible to be 'anyone', it merely points out that most people choose to be more or less themselves, through which some people can identify stereotypes. Finally, this assertion that "the experience of a single (and relatively small) class of people is privileged and universalized" doesn't trump everything. The digital divide doesn't trump everything. If we are restricted to saying things about the internet that must be true not only of rich white males but also of impoverished people with zero access, we may as well go home; it's a ridiculous requirement. Friesen needs to show that the generalizations that he says apply only to privileged users cannot apply to other users, that is, that the privilege is essential to the experience. Norm Friesen, ehabitus February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

EduPatent Alerts
Michael Feldstein has performed a service by creating 'Edupatent Alerts' - essentially an RSS aggregator that will flag any post that tags or uses the word 'edupatent' (including, I guess, this one). The idea is to help educators keep each other informed as these damaging patents come down that dysfunctional pipe known as the U.S. Patent Office. "If we all make use of this system, then you won't have to rely on just a couple of bloggers (e.g., me) to be able to see everything that's relevant and post about it." Michael Feldstein, e-Literate February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Wii Report
I still think that the introduction of the Wii is a much bigger story than Second Life and possibly even bigger than mobile computing (though there may be some overlap between Wii and mobile). This article points to this, describing not only its use as a game but also the personalized Mii (virtual avatars for each user) to email to web access. Boris Mann, B.Mann Consulting February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Social Media: Something Different IS Happening...
This article takes the idea of 'every person a teacher' as a point of departure and loops through some recent discussion on the nature of social media, discussion that is echoing commentary I have been seeing elsewhere ("if all media is social," says one commentator on iDC, "then why do we call it social media?"). As a summary article it's pretty good, but read some of the claims with a note of scepticism. It is helpful to recall that connecting every person to every other is not an ideal; that produces a world of static, not knowledge. Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership Blog February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

SecondLife: Revolutionary Virtual Market or Ponzi Scheme?
People who renege on their obligations, banks that disappear overnight, gerrymandered exchange rates, and a completely unregulated investment environment. This is the Second Life 'economy' where (we are told) millions of dollars are being made every day. "SecondLife is a giant magnet for the desperate, uninformed, easily victimized. Its promises of wealth readily ensnare those who can least afford to lose their money or lives to such scams." Do read the comments for some raucous discussion. See also this item, which notes, "If you can actually collect your SLLs from your counterparty - which turns out to be an enormous problem - you can't cash them out for USD easily or profitably."

While I'm on this topic, it is worth noting that because Second Life is bogging down when it gets crowded (where 'crowded' means about 38,000 people - hardly the million the legends are made of) Linden Labs will be to "paying accounts". More and More. Maybe it's time to start selling those Linden dollars, hm? Randolph Harrison, Capitalism 2.0 February 19, 2007 [Link] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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