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by Stephen Downes
March 16, 2007

10 Reasons Why Twitter Will Help Improve Your Already Existing Social Networks
Every time a new technology comes along I am faced with the same balancing act: on the one hand, I don't want to respond negatively to something just because it's new or because I don't understand it. On the other hand, I don't want to be the sort of person who tries to be the first to jump on the latest fad or fashion. Every time I react negatively to something - like, say, Twitter - I ask myself, "Is it just me?" I try to be fair, and give the thing some coverage, like this link here. But in the end, when I ask myself, "Will people use Twitter?" I respond "in the long run, no." I have my reasons for believing this. And I think my track record is pretty good. But hey, as always, decide for yourself. You want to update some website every five minutes for the rest of your life - go for it. Luis Suarez, ELSUA March 16, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

$2 Million for Open Source, But Where's the Source?
Tom Hoffman says, completely reasonably, "If you take $2,000,000 in federal money for a project and you say you'll release the source throughout, you really need to release the source." Let's see the source for Scratch. Tom Hoffman, Ed-Tech Insider March 16, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Some Real Data On Web 2.0 Use
Survey, British-based, of 1400 respondents, on the use of Web 2.0 technologies. The respondents are self-selected, so expect the numbers to skew high. Even so, we get some useful data about the patterns of use. That iCal, for example, attracts only a smal percentage of calendar users, while Google Calendar, yahoo Calendar and Outlook are running neck and neck. We also see that World of Warcraft is a lot more popular than Second Life. Everquest, Chess and HalfLife are also more popular. And wikipedia is well used, especially by people with advanced degrees. David White, TALL Blog / JISC March 16, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

CADE Media Festival
I don't usually enter contests, but CADE is having a multimedia content this year and I'm proud of a video I did this year - it has more than 7,000 views, and it's 30 minutes long - so there you have it. Oh sure, maybe I shouldn't be proud of it, but I am. It's the first real video that I've done, and I did it in order to show that you could train yourself and do quality multimedia with basic tools and self-learning. But... what I get instead is an object lesson in how not to run a multimedia contest. First of all, there's no entry category for individuals, which is what mine would be. Second, the application form is a PDF, that you download and... what, I guess print and mail? Third, there's an entry fee. This covers, what, the $10 plaque the winner gets? And fourth, "Video programs, although mastered on various formats, must be submitted on VHS Videotape." I'm not sure what this means - I have a video, must I convert it to videotape? So - no entry. Here's a better idea: allow people to submit multimedia the way they do academic papers (why oh why do conferences always accept only 'papers'). Review the proposed submissions. They can present their multimedia, then discuss it. And if you must offer prizes, offer them to this pool of entries. Unattributed, CADE March 16, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video...
I used to lead large demonstrations when I was younger - my favourite was a March 5 demonstration against tuition fee increases in Edmonton. Though the temperature was -30, we convinced more than 5,000 people to march more than a kilometer through the cold, over the High Level Bridge, to the legislature. Someone once asked me, "Why do you do this? Demonstrations never hange the minds of government." I responded, "That's true. But it's not for them. It's for us. Remember how good we all felt after showing our strength and conviction like that? That's why we had a demonstration." Kathy Sierra makes the same point about conferences. "The most underrated benefit of the face-to-face effect of conferences is inspiration... Everyone comes out re-energized... Simply attending any live event--from the three-person lunch meetup to the 100-person local user group can give you the most positive effect..." Kathy Sierra, Creating Passionate Users March 16, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Canada's Biggest Economic Challenge: Improving Workplace Learning
This is a good paper on workplace learning. Though it doesn't cover a whole lot of new ground, it does state the case for workplace learning convincingly. "We know that investing in workplace learning pays off," says the report. "The link between overall education and literacy levels and economic performance is also well established." That said, government support for workplace learning - which the report recommends - should be in the form of infrastructure and support for individual learners, not direct payments to companies. And the objective should be to enable workers to manage their own learning, not to help managers tell people what to learn. Though the report reads as though the only purpose would be to benefit companies and increase productivity, the objective should be to benefit learners. Otherwise the program simply turns into a direct corporate subsidy, replacing, rather than augmenting, the company's investment in training. Also, George Siemens observes that the report devotes exactly two sentences to e-learning, which, he says (correctly), is "a bit short sighted." Unattributed, Canadian Council on Learning March 16, 2007 [Link] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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