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by Stephen Downes
November 28, 2007

Hope for a Troubled World
In contrast to the depressing messages of Monday, watch this video as (in Mark Federman's words) "Paul Hawken describes how the largest movement in the world came into being, and just how large it is: a movement with no name, no particular location, no ideology, and 'not led by a male vertebrate.'" Yes, I am a member of this large movement, and have been for a very long time. It's what gets me up in the morning and allows me to sleep peacefully at night. It's why I say communication is essential, why diversity is our strength, and why tolerance is our virtue. Mark Federman, What is the (Next) Message? November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Are You On the Bully Watch?
Dave Snowden responds to Terry Anderson's criticism of the cvoncept of 'crew' as a type of community, launching into an attack on the concept of the 'collective'. "All of this," he writes, "requires a more open attitude, an avoidance of three fold classification systems and a tolerance of mess." Related to this, I have posted the transcript of my original talk on groups and networks. This is one of my favorite talks; I hope you enjoy it. Dave Snowden, Cognitive Edge November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Sun Microsystems' DarkStar
Worth keeping an eye on - Project Darkstar, an open source virtual wrold from Sun, which is collaborating with MERLOT to create a 'teaching commons'. Jonathon Richter, Technology, Education, and The Future November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Archive of EHR / EMR Posts
Since last September I have been reading as Wendy Wickham and her colleagues have braved management, clients, and everyone else in a major upgrade project. She summarizes, "I hope I NEVER have to do a project of this sort again.... Rushing major upgrades of mission critical systems may look glamorous but you can cause serious long-term damage. To the morale of the IT team, to the goodwill of the end user. And to the system itself if you have a partially finished product. It has taken months and they still have not recovered. No one's fault, but very preventable." The series of posts linked here constitute a detailed description of the project, an object lesson everyone should learn from. Wendy Wickham, In the Middle of the Curve November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Summary of RAatE 2007 Conference
Summary of the Recent Advances in Assistive Technology and Engineering (RAatE) conference just concluded in London. Steve Lee takes home two major points: "eye gaze tracking is now a highly effective if expensive access method for people with physical disabilities; and tele-health and environmental controls are becoming important with our aging population threatening to overwhelm the health hervices budgets." Steve Lee, Weblog November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Further Investigations Into Free Screencast Software
Sure Waters takes a look at the free screencasting software on offer. While Jing offers an easier interface and nicer looking video, she notes that it saves files in Flash format, the hardest to convert to other formats, which you need to do if you want to upload to sites like YouTube or integrate into other videos. What Jing seems to be doing is directing people toward their own hosting service - but it's not clear that their own hosting service will remain free. Camtasia and camStudio, meanwhile, offer more flexible video formats, but not such good image quality. As for myself, I've gone back to Camtasia. Related: tips for improving screencasts. Sue Waters, Mobile Technology in TAFE November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Canada'S New Copyright Act May Be Most Restrictive Yet
You sort of hope for the best, even when people are telling you that the worst possible news is coming down the pipe. That's what seems to be happening with regard to copyright legislation here in Canada. Michael Geist writes, "There is every indication (see the Globe's latest coverage) this legislation will be a complete sell-out to U.S. government and lobbyist demands. The industry may be abandoning DRM, the evidence may show a correlation between file sharing and music purchasing, Statistics Canada may say that music industry profits are doing fine, Canadian musicians, filmmakers, and artists may warn against this copyright approach, and the reality may be that Canadian copyright law is stronger in some areas than U.S. law, yet none of that seems to matter. In the current environment and with the current Ministers, politics trumps policy." Alec Couros, Open Thinking and Digital Pedagogy November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Set Theory: Should You Believe?
I have papers like this in my own notes from my university days. My doubt in mathematics was created when, one day, I was introduced to i, the square root of -1. Imaginary numbers. And I have done enough work in the philosophical foundations of mathematics to agree with the author when he questions some of the basic principles of this 'most certain' of all the sciences. Things like the use of axioms and the concept of infinite sets, for example. And I remember, from my own days, long discussions about the principle of substitutivity. My own view of mathematics is from the Mill and Kitcher school of thought - that it is a description of physical events, or physical operations. Why does this matter? Because "elementary mathematics needs to be understood in the right way, and the entire subject needs to be rebuilt so that it makes complete sense right from the beginning, without any use of dubious philosophical assumptions about infinite sets or procedures." N. J. Wildberger, School of Maths UNSW Sydney November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Yahoo! Is All Over Facebook
I have commented in the past that Facebook is most like Yahoo! - if you visit Yahoo, you'll see groups of people, games to play, news to read, and much more. And it's interesting to see so many Yahoo! applications reaching into Facebook. Which, of course, raises the question - where is the movement to create "Yahoo as platform"? Jason Levitt, Yahoo Developer Network November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

An Important Lesson About Grassroots Media
Steve Outing pens an interesting column about the failure of his most recent venture, a company that produced grassroots sites for sports enthusiasts. The idea was that they would seed the site with professional content - contributions from a pro rock climber, for instance - and depend on user-submitted content for the rest. The problem, he writes, was that the result wasn't attractive enough to draw in enough traffic to make it viable. The quality was uneven and people had to search through the bad content to get to the good. He would hire more professionals and would have editors select and highlight only the best of the reader content. "In my view -- and based in part on my experience with the Enthusiast Group project -- user content when it stands on its own is weak. But it's powerful when appropriately combined with professional content, and properly targeted." Steve Outing, Editor and Publisher November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Ten Things Holding Back Tech
Good list, but the author should have stopped at eight. The first eight reasons make sense, the ninth is a stretch and the tenth is a waste of ink. Barriers like monopolies, lock-in, national interest, and even things like battery life, make sense. Web 2.0 is not a barrier, in my mind, but points to a barrier the author does not mention: applications. People will use technology if it helps them, if it makes their lives better - and, mostly, spreadsheets and word processors and online banner ads don't. But social networks, online videos, web radio and the like - these are things that help people in their daily lives. As for the idea that the 'lack of war' is a barrier - perhaps the author could opine about the technological leap forward we might have experienced had the $600 or so billion spent on the Iraq war had been invested in education. Boggles the mind. Via Tom Hoffman. David Meyer, ZD Net UK November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

CoverItLive is a good idea indifferently executed. The idea is that the user is presented with a blog interface that allows for love blogging, live commenting, polling, and more, while an event takes place. The site not so subtly hints that people should live-blog football games (not a bad idea). But your visitors have to go in through the main site - the live blog itself is a popup with no visible URL. The completed blogs are embedded in your website with an iframe. There's a lot of text overflow, buttons that have disappeared behind the edge of screens, and the like - typical of an application that was developed quickly on Internet Explorer and not tested on different browsers with different screen and font sizes. Via Jane Hart. Various Authors, Website November 28, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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