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by Stephen Downes
March 14, 2007

Land Grabs, Business Models and Open Standards
I know, it's a busy day today, with a lot of links, but I do want to pass along this diagram of the 'ID stack layers' from Marc Canter. He writes, "OpenID is a way to authenticate users, and microformats is one form of a data format - but it's not enough. FOAF should probably also be included in the mix - but the technical facts are that this problem gets solved by an entire stack of solutions - all leading to the idealistic world we all want." Quite right. Because right now we're still in the 'land baron' era, where developers corral a bunch of users, lock them into place, and monetize them. We need to be able to allow people to move their attributes from site to site. Related: a conversation with Barry Ribbeck, director of systems architecture at Rice, on digital identity in higher education. Marc Canter, Marc's Voice March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Neuroscience Blogs
This is much too much for me to read but the discussions in these blogs ought to inform educators, covering as they do everything from mirror neurons to autism to change blindness. Maybe someone will offer a daily compendium, a lot like my site? Ah, so much really insanely cool stuff to read, so little time. Via Cognitive Daily (which I do read, so I manage to keep up a little). Anonymous, Neurophilosophy March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

MPAA Gets College Kids To Create Free Propaganda
Students are forced recruited to create propaganda videos for the MPAA. "If you haven't paid for it," says the MPAA, "you've stolen it." The author notes, "It would seem then, by the MPAA's own logic, these PSAs are 'stolen.'" Mike, TechDirt March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Error Feedback: Theory
The whole post is a but fuzzy but manages to make its way to what I would consider to be the correct conclusion. "Although not innate, expertise takes time to develop." The author cites Anderson and Schunn: "For competences to be displayed over a lifetime, time on task is by far and away the most significant factor." And in particular, "for learning a language, 1. the crucial element is practice rather than some language module [and] 2. the process cannot be accelerated." The article does note that "all practice is not equal" (they mean, "not all practice is equal") and that "'effective time on task' is promoted through... feedback." But they don't mean 'feedback' per se. They mean correction. Which, computationally, is represented by (for example, something like) back propagation. Which is the sort of thinking that would be expected of the author of Human Associative Memory. Charles P. Nelson, Explorations in Learning March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Open Canadian Geodata
Back when I was designing a website for the municipal sector in Alberta I had a number of meetings with people who were developing GIS applications. At the time, their competitive advantage was that they had privileged access to government data (it certainly wasn't their technology, which never did make any real impact). I tried to free up that data so we could use it in MuniMall. I begged. I cajoled. I whined. I complained. I went to conferences and harangued them at their booth. Nothing worked, and we never did get any decent GIS applications. Now, finally, "In response to demands from users for no fee access to framework geographic data and the increasing technological shift in the marketplace, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is pleased to announce that starting April 1st 2007, the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) ... will initiate a change from a cost recovery environment to an environment providing no fee access to its current DTD products." Finally. Sheesh. But.. oh yeah. YAY! Richard Akerman, Science Library Pad March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Office 2.0 Database
Nice. database of roughly 250 Web 2.0 applications, including 29 bookmarking applications, 13 calendar applications, 5 contacts managers, 17 CRM systems, 11 database managers, 17 desktops, 14 development tools, 8 document managers, 11 feed readers, 16 file managers, 7 photo editors, and much much more. Worth noting, if you look to the far right, is that the dominant UI technology is AJAX. Not Java. Not Flash. AJAX. they is, or should be, an object lesson in that (which will be ignored by academic developers around the world). Via Scott Wilson and Seb Schmoller. Various Authors, IT Redux March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Myth # 5: The Mind = Computer Myth
Norm Friesen wraps up his E-Learning Myth series with an article that looks at the idea that the mind is like a machine. Such a comparison depends a lot on what you think the mind looks like and what you think a machine looks like. In addition, as I point out in my comment, it presupposes that our theory of mind was based on our machines - when in reality, our machines were designed according to our theory of mind. Yes, the theories Friesen outlines - the information-transfer theory of learning and the physical symbol system hypothesis - are both wrong, in my mind. But that is the fault of the philosophy, not the technology. Norm Friesen, ehabitus March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Play YouTube Videos Without Flash
Link to a script that "strips out the Flash player code and replaces it with an embed tag." That's got to be useful somewhere. Michael Calore, Monkey Bites March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Heave Ho, Scallywags, There's Events Listings O'er Thar to Liberate
It's stating the obvious, but it's also something that really needs to be stated, as the collective wisdom of the educational community sits around helpless, unable, it seems, to reason this through. Things like events and job listings (which Scott Leslie covers in a previous post) could be very easily syndicated. It just takes some work to round up the sources and to create a custom feed. A lot like the way I created Edu_RSS (which I really must get going again). Sure, it would be a lot easier if educational institutions actually helped by, say, creating Jobs RSS feeds and Events RSS feeds. But like I say, it's easier to sit around helpless. I'll have more on this soon. Scott Leslie, EdTechPost March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Interview with Bobbi Kursham of Curriki
Curriki is intended to "improve education around the world by empowering teachers, students and parents with user-created, open source curricula, and it's all free!" This resource is an interview with Bobbi Kurshan, Executive Director of Curriki, who says, "We want to be like Wikipedia, but in curriculum: the first place people go to find curriculum. Whether it is top up or bottom down, if someone wants to teach something, we want them to look for it here first. They can make derivatives of it, teachers can make lesson plans from it, and they can post it back to the community for others to use." Mitchell Weisburgh, PILOTed March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Open Training Platform
Just launched by UNESCO, the Open Training Platform is intended "to empower trainers or/and trainees with free resources, offer them a structured collaborative space to share their training but also to promote and value the 'open' training materials, which are freely and openly accessible for trainers and self-learners to use and re-use for non commercial purposes such as teaching, learning and research." It is worth noting, as Armelle Arrou does in an email, that "although at the moment much of the content is copyright protected, we are aiming to sensitize UN staff and other training producers to the importance of open content licensing." Nice to see an RSS feed of newly added materials. Various Authors, UNESCO March 14, 2007 [Link] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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