Stephen's Web

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by Stephen Downes
April 6, 2007

Edu-RSS Viewer
Thanks everyone for all the kind emails that came my way today. I wanted to respond with a present with my own but instead spent the day elbow deep in Google's dysfunctional Blogger API. Changes to both Blogger and Google's APIs have rendered most Perl code using them obsolete, and I was trying to build my autoblog feature before I left for Boston. Alas, no. But I want to let you see this anyhow, because it's the beginning of the next iteration of what I think the PLE will look like (well, without the "Stephen's Web" branding, of course). Just be kind, because it's very much a work in progress. As soon as I turn the feature on, the viewer will recognize logged-in users and will show only recent Edu-RSS posts. It will also let you rate them. The viewer format allows people to skip through the posts very quickly. The links to blogs and topics also display in the viewer. I will be adding a lot to this basic platform in the future - results ordering by rating, interactivity with other applications, OpenID, and more. I'll be showing the system at the conference on Thursday. Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web April 6, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

State of the Live Web
The post from Micropersuasion linked from this item is really hard to load into your browser because of all the crap embedded videos it contains, but the essence is that, according to Technorati, the rate of blog posting has slowed and begun to decline. To save you the grief, Here's the graph. Note that the turning point happens at the beginning of 2006 - about a year after I said it would. TonNet, Education and Tech April 6, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

A Degree in Social Computing? Oh... The Irony
I wanted to sign up for the program, but I prefer to work alone. Heh. Will Richardson comments, "So, does anyone else find this a little ironic? I mean how in the world would this particular degree 'certify' anyone as a social computing specialist any better than, um, spending a year or so just actually becoming a part of social learning network, learning from the various teachers and conversations within it...?" Will Richardson, Weblogg-Ed April 6, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Freebase Buzz
For background on just what this is, you need to look up and read about JSON (the official pages aren't very useful, so here's more). For those who didn't follow the links (heh), JSON is basically a way of transporting data from one website to another by using the tag hack to get around browser security rules. It's also the major data format behind AJAX and other Web 2.0 tricks (alas the HTTPDRequestObject that's in all the guides does not get around browser security rules). My late lamented referrer system of a few years ago used this method. Anyhow, it's really simple. Strings go in quotes, lists in square brackets, and associative arrays (hashes) in curly braces. The colon is used for naming. OK fine. Freebase is a user-generated database that supports questions and answers in this format. Think of it as sort of a structured Wikipedia. Could it work? Ah, well, there's the fly in the ointment: "Semantic MediaWiki is totally open source, Metaweb, the system Freebase runs on, seems not to be." I think this is just the leading edge of something - maybe the end of XML. Ray Sims, Sims Learning Connections April 6, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Microsoft Backs OpenID
I think we sort of already knew this, but it's good that it's official. "Bill Gates this week announced at the RSA conference that Microsoft will support OpenID. This is a major development in identity management, and marks the beginning of a serious effort to unite OpenID's distributed identity specification with the CardSpace system developed by Microsoft." Now will Google and Yahoo support OpenID or will they remain private gardens (and swamps of misery for developers)? Scott Wilson, Scott's Workblog April 6, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Good Teaching with Technology Does Make a Difference
In addition to the really nice redux John left in the comments, the ridiculous Associated press report about the study of technology use in the classroom also gets the treatment from Wesley Fryer (who also informs us that sharp pencils and bright projector bulbs don't improve learning outcomes either). More to the point, Fryer asserts that "Good teaching with technology does make a big difference," citing "Cheryl Lemke [who] discusses the large body of research that does exist which reveals the positive differences that are made when technology is used appropriately by teachers." I don't know why he's so determined to include the 'good teaching' part, though. I think you would find that technology makes a difference even without the teaching. Just think about what you've learned online today! Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity April 6, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

LCB April Question - Leave a Clean Corpse
This month's Learning Circuits Big Question is: "ILT and Off-the-Shelf Vendors - What Should They Do?" (For those not familiar with the relentless jargon coming out of LC: ILT stands for Instructor-Led Training - the question seems to address both companies that produce educational software and companies that provide training courses). Anyhow, the best answer by far comes from Tom Haskins: "leave a clean corpse." heh. "Now that we are on a roll of learning from internal blogging or subscribing to RSS feeds, tags and searches -- it seems antiquated to pretend that identified skill gaps from a training needs analyses could have a clue about what can be cooked up today, between us, to get better results than yesterday." More discussion of the corpse response. Tom Haskins, growing changing learning creating April 6, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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