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by Stephen Downes
September 5, 2008

XO Replacement Parts Available at Ilovemyxo
I think it's only a matter of time before we see people cobble together the most unusual inventions out of XO pieces. If they made the processor available as well, that would complete the set - you could make XO grids and all kinds of things! Christoph Derndorfer, One Laptop Per Child News, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Believe In...
The YouTube version of grade 5 student Dalton Sherman's speech, I Believe in Me, Do You? is up to 63,449 views. It won a standing ovation at the Dallas, Texas school district event where it was given. Sounds great. But I read that "Dallas ISD contacted his family in June with the invitation. They wrote the speech for him, and he practiced three times a week all summer long." As a commenter writes, "there is something deeply disingenuous about this stuff aside from the blatant ghost-writing." Right. And despite the suggestion that "there is not even the pretense here that the message came from a student" one wonders how many people - consciously or otherwise - attribute it as a statement of the student's views. Crass and callow. Sylvia Martinez, Generation YES Blog, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Open Standards and the JISC IE
"In retrospect many of the W3C standards which I had felt should form the basis of the JISC IE have clearly failed to have any significant impact in the market place - compare, for example, the success of Macromedia's Flash (SWF) format with the niche role that W3C's SMIL format has." Just so. But these standards didn't fail because they were open. They failed because, for various reasons, they didn't do what people wanted. Open standards are still better - but the lesson here is that standards are not necessarily better just because they're open. Brian Kelly,, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Making the Election Video: Behind the Scenes
CommonCraft - which makes the "in plain English" videos - has released a site describing the making of their videos. it involves a lot of drawing and moving about of images. Via Sylvia Martinez, who notes that this is a "terrific post" because "it proves that no matter how experienced you are, creating a video is a process of trying things, seeing what works, and the intertwined nature of risk-taking, mistakes and creativity." Lee LeFever, CommonCraft, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

First Thoughts in On Spore
This is just the sort of thing that makes all my time disappear. "The game really makes you think about what you are doing and without realising it the decisions you make help shape your civilization - this becomes apparent when you look back on your history." I haven't seen it yet - probably just as well. Ewan McIntosh, edublogs, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Document Startups in Chaos As Adobe's Flashpaper Discontinues
Adobe is discontinuing Flashpaper, which (as this article notes) has created chaos for a bunch of companies that rely on the technology. The only one spared? Scribd, which "switched to a custom solution based on Open Office and other nifty open source tools." There's a lesson in that. Mike Butcher, TechCrunch UK, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Why OLPC Should Be a for-Profit Business
This post, authored by Mark Beckford (Managing Director for Strategic Business Development at Intel in China), argues that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project should have been set up as a for-profit enterprise. It would have benefited, he said, from a business mindset, a vibrant ecosystem, and competition. The problem is, the stuff that went into making OLPC possible would not have happened were it simply some private company - it wouldn't have had Kofi Anan's endorsement, it wouldn't have had Mary Lou Jepsen's screen, it wouldn't have had Walter Bender's Sugar, and it wouldn't have had the widespread notice and publicity. And, had it been a for-profit enterprise, it would have been bought out and quietly killed by Intel at the first sign of success (see the history of Firefly for a good example of this sort of thing). Mark Beckford, OLPC News, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Bebo Is Forcibly Changing Usernames
I really hate it when sites mess around with user names. The way Second Life forces you to choose a last name. The way Google makes everybody a email address (to Google, I am now - how ridiculous!) - and this change by Bebo. Leave our user names alone! I don't go around changing Google's name to Gargle! or Bebo to Bobo. Or Second Life to Second Wife. My name is my identity; it is mine, and companies that mess around with it eventually see the last of me. Yes, even Google. Mark 'Rizzn' Hopkins, Mashable, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

E-Learning On a Shoestring
This doesn't look like much at first glance but if you keep following the links you'll find a wealth of practical information. I really like the idea of e-learning advice that doesn't begin, buy an LMS. "You'll find guidance on low cost tools and technologies, as well as ideas and stories to help you get started." There's a menu bar across the mid-top of the page that aids navigation (it's a bit difficult to spot). It would be nice if it were licensed as open content, as the authors no doubt availed themselves of a lot of freely shared material in order to create this resource. Various Authors, Australian Flexible Learning Network, September 5, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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