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by Stephen Downes
March 7, 2008

On Fully Distributing the Social Network
David Wiley comes up with an approach to social networking I fully support. "Justin and I asked each other, instead of making it easier to get our data out of those silos, why trap our data in those silos in the first place? Let's just bypass the whole problem. In the same way that we publish our research results on our own blogs instead of having the results hijacked by (published in) peer-reviewed journals, let's take the same approach with our identities and social networks." Don't bother taking it to the social network portability people, though; I've tried. David Wiley, iterating toward openness March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Options for Joining the UK Access Management Federation
See, this is why I don't like federations very much - they exhibit more group behaviour, and less network behaviour. In particular, in the first instance, by delineating just exactly who can join - and more importantly, who can't. And so we get conseqences like: "if you choose to outsource your identity provision then you are not a 'full member' of the federation, whatever that means." More on 'third party suppliers of federated access management' and in particular OpenAthens. Andy Powell, eFoundations March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Community-Building - Why Bottom-Up Alone Doesn'T Work
Ewan McIntosh defends the aristocracy. "Blogs, wikis and bothies all have this hidden (or not-so-hidden) aristocratic history woven through them. It's no mistake that Jimmy Wales has called 'his' wiki's Editors the 'aristocracy' of Wikipedia, with him as the Monarch. But it works. Bottom-up, it seems, always requires a bit of state, monarch or Parliament, to make it work in the long term." But I don't think he succeeds in making his case. Showing how one top-down website grew faster than its bottom-up counterparts commits the classic fallacy of comparing a large mass with a single node in a wider network. Bottom-up initiatives will always be smaller - much smaller - but they are more numerous, more diverse, and (in an uncontrolled way) more powerful. Additionally, the examples of 'leadership' he cites - providing a portal page, providing a web address - were things anyone could have done and many people have (portals on the web probably number in the millions). A lot of 'leadership' is like that - lining up behind an existing movement and declaring "Look at what I've done, I'm in charge." Ewan McIntosh, Weblog March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Blackboard Inc. V. Desire2Learn Inc.: Grey Monday March 10, 2008
Ongoing coverage from the Blackboard case (see also Seb Schmoller's list). Blackboard has filed - under seal, so nobody can read it - a request for an injunction to stop Desire2Learn from doing business in the United States. D2L posted most of its response online (coverage from Barry Dahl. Michael Feldstein links to this and also Alfred Essa's assessment of how broad the patent is).

D2L's John Baker, meanwhile, has been making himself available for interviews. Speaking with Barry Dahl, he looks beyond the lawsuit. "Once we get past this issue with Blackboard, I think we're going to be in great shape because we're finally going to get an answer about does our work-around get around the patent or not, and as soon as we have that we're free and clear."

Alfred Essa, meanwhile, points to another bogus educational software patent - "a patent lawsuit against 5 for-profit educational companies: University of Phoenix, Inc, The Apollo Group, Inc., Capella Education Company, Laureate Education, Inc., and Walden University, Inc. The patent was filed guess where? Texas Eastern District Court. The patent at issue is called: 'Computer architecture for managing courseware in a shared use operating environment.'" Michael Feldstein, e-Literate March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Who Are These People?
Some people - well, most people, actually - have been receiving invitations to sit on the advisory board of some new academic journals. The outfit - "Scientific Journals International" - has some less than stellar credentials, though. Writes T. Scott: "So what's the scam? Open access, I'm sorry to say. The opening page reeks of a high-minded dedication to assisting 'researchers, writers and artists to cope with the publish or perish reality in the academia.' They promise rapid turnaround and quick peer review. Of course, they have to charge a processing fee." More here. T. Scott, Weblog March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

How Does the (US) News Shape the Way We See the World
We tend to talk about learning and education as though it is constituted exclusively of what happens in schools. But, of course, formal learning - even for students - is just one small part of our overall learning. This is why it doesn't make sense to hold teachers responsible for educational outcomes. And this is why any education policy must look at the student's entire media environment, and not that small low-bandwidth bit of it that constitutes school. And when, in this wider context, we ask "what are they learning," the answer can be disturbing. The video of from Alisa Miller or Public Radio International (PRI). Alec Couros, Open Thinking&Digital Pedagogy March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Happy National Grammar Day
Kewl - is nAtional grammar day Doug Fisher, Common Sense Journalism March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Notes On Visual Language
One of those things - I posted some photos from Fredericton today, including one of a helecopter that flew overhead. Somebody browsing throught he photo-a-day site linsted it as a favorite. That's always nice, and I went to see what sort of photos he posts - expecting aircraft, military photos, whatever. But instead I found this absolutely fascinating set of diagrams forming a body of work on visual language. This is wonderful stuff, and really takes you beyond sentential communication. And there's more - much, much more - on visual thinking. Dave Gray, Flickr March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Who Gets How Much Money and Where It Goes
The story in a nutshell: at Oregon State University, every financial transaction by every employee is displayed online, immediately, for all others in the organization to see. This is the sort of transparency people routinely say is impossible. It is, of course, possible - now provably so. Elizabeth Redden, inside Higher Ed March 7, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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