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by Stephen Downes
March 27, 2008

Why Web 2.0 Is Failing in Biology
Given that web 2.0 is just a couple of years old, I would be surprised were it mainstream in anything, much less a very conservative domain like biology. And while it may be true that scientists don't read blogs a lot (though, I don't take statements that begin "If I were to poll my colleagues..." as evidence) they read blogs many times more than they did ten years ago. Or even five years ago. I completely agree that "Scientists interact in very different ways than teenager and their peers, or rock bands and their fans." But I think young scientists interact differently than old scientists, and I think that the 'conference etiquette' cited here is rather more fluid than one might suspect. Biologists will discover, like the rest of us, that the most effective way to 'keep up' is to access a highly relevant feed of current announcements from their colleagues. Whether these are called 'blogs' or not irrelevant. Via Daniel Lemire. David Crotty, Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Ten Web 2.0 Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes to Be a More Successful
Lisa neal wrote a blog post a while back on "Ten Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes To Be a More Successful e-learning Professional." I sent a response, which became this (short) article in eLearn Magazine. Stephen Downes, eLearn Magazine, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Official Workaround Announcement
John Baker of Desire2Learn has announced the 'official workaround' in the Blackboard patent case. "Our Learning Environment 8.3 underwent external third-party review after we devoted significant resources to ensuring that 8.3 was outside the scope of the method claims of the patent. We are confident that this version does not infringe the asserted claims." Of course, the court will have the final say in whether this is the case. John Baker, Desire2Learn, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

The Brain, Learning and the Future
Some parts of this slide show (and associated MP3 recording) from John Stein, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, are worth repeating: that learning is a result of connections being formed in the brain, for example, and that the brain's physical environment - including things like nutrition and stimulus - are as important as pedagogy (probably more important, but that's my bias showing). What you shouldn't do is take away little factoids (indicated by the phrase "it turns out that...") and make ridiculous generalizations ("the visual world of ICT will favour [boys'] style of learning") out of them. Terry Freedman, The Educational Technology Site: ICT in Education, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Research: Blogs - Perceptions and Practices
Summary of the 'take-away' from a research study, Teacher-centered Weblogs: Perceptions and practices, by Beverly B. Ray and Martha M. Hocutt. In summary, blogs support reflective practice, and "allow for individual expression and ownership, even as they promote collaboration between educators." Miguel Guhlin, Arund the Corner, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The Bell Wake-Up Call
Bell Canada has been secretly throttling (that is, deliberately slowing down) traffic it handles for internet service providers. Some early consequences have already shown up, including irate users who found they could no longer download a documentary from the CBC. This, coupled with Rogers Cables new bandwidth-based pricing scheme (which arrived in my mail yesterday) portends a dark future for Canada's internet. As Geist warns in another column, "Now that the company has dropped that pretense, the business community is left to wonder whether it will soon target business VPN traffic or broadcasters like the CBC for their streamed traffic." Michael Geist, Website, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Amazing Display of Subliminal Advertising
I wouldn't exactly call the technique 'subliminal' since the images are clearly and consciously perceived. Nonetheless, the video demonstrates most effectively the way advertisers use the technique of association in order to foster a feeling of comfort and familiarity. In some cases, the technique is pretty overt - when an advertiser uses the music from a favorite song, for instance. But in other cases, as we see here, the advertiser uses things that are not part of traditional media at all - public art, graffiti, memes, and the rest. Much - probably most - of what we see is the result of a deliberate effort to model something they want us to associate favorably in their mind.

There's much more at work here. First, the model doesn't have to be an image - it can just as easily be an idea or even a way of speaking (I saw the word 'risable' in an edublog recently, a word that conservative bloggers use among each other to generate a sense of comfort and association). And second, self-promoters (you know who they are) use these models to pattern their own work, tapping into this advertising for their own benefit (think about how often you see this - the "Big Question", anyone?). This incidentally serves the purpose of reinforcing the original advertising campaign (and, not coincidentally, earning favour from the original sponsors).

I try to avoid this as much as possible, and no doubt it has an impact on my popularity. But I am not immune - note the design of this website. We humans are natural imitators, natural associators. Graham Glass, Weblog, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Once Again Real World Laws Enter Virtual Worlds: Warcraft Bot Maker Sued
The problem, of course, is that once one person figures out they can create a bot in a game like World of Warcraft, other people, en masse, decide the same thing. Which is why the technical approach recommended by he author results in an ever-escalating code war that can never be won. That's why people like the owners of World of Warcraft turn to the courts to discourage bot makers. The courts, though, are a poor remedy. bdecause they create law where none existed, and jurisprudence where there ought only be silence. Mike Masnick, TechDirt, March 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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