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by Stephen Downes
November 26, 2007

Secret Strategies or Common Sense?
If there is a theme in today's newsletter, it revolves around the conflict between people wanting to use new technologies to form communities and to talk to each other, and advertisers and marketers wanting to take that environment, control it, and monetize it. This article may be a startling revelation to some people, but for those who (like me) are jaded it will be seen as just business as usual. It is a pattern we have seen followed in every arena since the internet was founded: people build an environment, and then it is corrupted by marketers and advertising. This article, which at the time of posting had 469 comments, has had a huge impact. Via Twopointtouch. Dan Ackerman Greenberg, TechCrunch November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Time to Write Our Own Rules
In response to the Facebook fracas (see below) Doc Searles, in this post and a follow-up, argues that we should "stop petitioning Facebook and Google to solve our problems for us." and that it's "ime to come up with some new rules of engagement - ones that work for us as well as them." Well sure. But there is a lot of money out there being spent to make sure that this does not happen. Money being spent to get us to buy proprietary e-book readers. Money being spent to prevent open source from being used to educate children. Money being spend to convince us that the values we hold - like giving and sharing - are in fact immoral and amount to stealing. let me be clear: I agree with Searles here, which is why I suggested a one-day Google boycott. But I want to underline that it's no cakewalk. Doc Searles, Weblog November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Permalink Shorteners
I read some (apparently unfounded) rumour about the death of TinyURL over the weekend, raising the question of how to reduce our dependence on a single source for short URLs (for those keeping score, this is a bit problem for any resource registry). So I think there should be a distributed approach. Basically, what you need to do to make URL's like work is to (a) write a redirect into your httpd.conf file (for Apache; other servers will vary) and then (b) write a small redirect engine to be located wherever your httpd.conf redirect pointed. You would also need (c) a script that allowed you to create redirect instances. This is well worth doing and is now on my list of things to do (or find). Arnaud Leene, Microcontent Musings November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Deconstructing Facebook Beacon JavaScript
Via Simon Willison: "How Facebook's new Beacon service (also known as 'Facebook ruined Christmas') actually works." You want to read this article - the first part of it, at least - in order to understand what the furor is about. Basically, "you create a Page for your brand or product, advertise it through Social Ads to a very targeted market, learn about your success through Insights, and connect to your off-Facebook (off-Book?) service via Beacon." The applications turn Facebook into a giant tracking, advertising and sales engine, which is why its worth $15 billion. The latter part of the article gives some practical advice for consumers and then turns to a very detailed analysis of the Javascript code. The key bit of advice: "don't leave yourself logged into Facebook." And "Facebook still knows that you added a recipe to your recipe box (or bought a book on Amazon, or a coffee table on, even if (you) block the item from being posted to your news feed." Jay Goldman, Radiant Core November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Free Camtasia
I've heard from several sources that free licenses for Camtasia 3.1.3 are available. The current version is Camtasia Studio 5.0 and if Camtasia thinks that this give-away will spur demand for the more advanced software, they're right. They have a great product there, something that puts a lot of capacity into the hands of people for very little money. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner v2 November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

The Death of Blogging Is Greatly Exaggerated
Last year Tony Karrer suggested that blogging may decline in 2007. And this trend has been evident since 2005. And I said it was cresting in 2004. So Ryan Bretag's suggestion that "blogs need to evolve or face a sure death of stagnation" is, if anything, stale-dated. Which is why we need posts like this from Bud Hunt to remind people that there is no 'one blogosphere', much less no 'one edublogosphere'. Blogging will continue so long as the act of blogging benefits the person doing the blogger. This may or may not involve personal transformation - you know, just having a place to write works too. Related: Tom Hoffman on web publishing for people who don't want to publish to the web. Bud Hunt, Bud the Teacher November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

OLPC Education Project Should Take an Opportunity to Learn
The Wall Street Journal, in its usual style, has posted a less-than-kind assessment of the One Laptop Per Child project and its founder (summary; see also how do we define success and criticisms from Doug Holton). This article is perhaps the best of the responses to what is at heart an unfair attack (criticisms of the rising cost, for example, ought to be explained as much by the declining dollar as by any design flaw - the price has been pretty stable in Canadian dollars). Among the best advice: "We should port to the other inexpensive laptops, if a country decides to go with EEEs or Classmates, we should be in there offering an EEE or Classmate-optimised Sugar + Activities + Content that they can load onto those machines." Related (and possibly explaining the WSJ attack): Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle rhapsodizes about the OLPC (aka the XO) as an e-book reader (see also today's Kindle story). Wayan Vota, One Laptop Per Child News November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Kindle, XO, Blah, Blah
The debate for and against Kindle continues. I learn from this item that the Kindle screen refreshes so slowly you cannot even have a mouse. Wow. And I agree with Tom Hoffman that no matter what we decide for ourselves, we should not be teaching children to accept the limitations on reading imposed by this technology. Why? I recommend reading Mark Pilgrim's The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts). We need to be clear that technology such as the Kindle redefines not just things like reading and writing, but also such previously good (but now immoral) acts of giving, lending and sharing. Related: Tim Lauer offers his impressions after using Kindle. Tom Hoffman, Tuttle SVC November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

New LD Generation
Much more flexible user interface technologies are making it possible for a new wave of drag-and-drop learning design editors to be created. But while these tools may disguise the complexity of the specification, we can see the limitations more clearly as well. After all, after you've defined 'interactions' using 'discuss', 'explore' and 'inform' a few times, what do you do next? More of the same? Wolfgang Greller, Wolfie's e-blog November 26, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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