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by Stephen Downes
April 30, 2009

Adaptive Basins and Strange Peaks

Knowledge is pattern recognition. And pattern recognition is a process of forming associations. We have different ways of forming associations; one such process I've talked about from time to time is based on Boltzmann mechanisms. The idea here is that the different points on the graph, pictured above, represent different possible patterns of association, and the best patterns are those with the lowest potential energy (the least conflict, the greatest consistence...), as represented by pits. As we weigh one possibility and then another then another, it's like rolling a marble on the graph. Eventually we settle on a low point. But - notice - it might be a shallow low point. Then we actually have to expend energy and shake up our thinking to escape these 'local minima' (this is why I say that learning is practice and reflection - and this is the bit about learning that the 'core knowledge' types miss completely). Eventually, we get to the deepest point - the most stable configuration. The best pattern. (Then tomorrow, we have to do it all again, because in a complex environment the deepest pit is a stange attractor, which means it's always moving). The Technium, Kevin Kelly, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

FriendFeed Beta Now Live, Realtime Fur Alles
So. Friendfeed is out of beta. You can find me there with my usual ID. 206 of my Facebook friends were there before I was (you know, there's days you think you're connected, and days when it seems you're the last person to the party). Right now, you can import stuff from 57 difference services - Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger, and many more. So - the next big thing? The thing after Twitter. Or - as I think - an incremental step? Thord Daniel Hedengren, The Blog Herald, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Cool Antarctica
Found in Metafilter, of all places. And listed here because Antartica is right up there on the list of places I would oh so love to visit. Various Authors, Website, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Uploading Personal Files to Your Kindle? That'Ll Be 15 Cents Per Megabyte
The definition of business, I think, is finding a way to charge people for things they were never charged for before. Take this item, for example. "Amazon will charge 15 cents per megabyte for wireless uploading of personal documents to your Kindle." Yes, you are being charged money to upload your own documents to your own player. Pure business. Stan Schroeder, Mashable, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

How to Measure Innovation in eLearning: The I-AFIEL Methodology
The paper draws on a definition of innovation ("a concept which should amalgamate both technological novelties (tools, programs, hardware, etc.) and sociological novelties (target audience, social integration, social interaction) and also the improvements in the quality of the service (educational improvement, learning support, teaching support, etc.)") and proposes an evaluation mechanism accordingly. I don't think it's a really complete assessment; the diffusion of innovation, as discussed today by Karl Kapp, also deserves attention. And deliveresy-specific criteria, such as "student satisfaction", should not be employed. More articles from the current elearningpapers issue on innovation and creativity. Lucilla Crosta and Victor Prieto, elearningpapers, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Counsel Selected; More Litigation/Reexamination Updates
Desire2Learn responds to the latest Blackboard filing. "Blackboard seems to time its filings to coincide with bad news it receives: it filed its March 2009 action within hours of being denied - for a second time - its attempt to hold us in contempt of court. The ITC action and the Canadian action followed within days the powerful USPTO Action Closing Prosecution document, which again rejected all of Blackboard's claims. Both the Canadian action and the ITC action are filed on the basis of those rejected claims." Blackboard, meanwhile, is filing for a delay of the U.S. Patent and Trademark action. Press Release, Desire2Learn, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Open Access in Canada - Overview and Update
Sometimes Canada is criticized because we don't have very many institutions in the OpenCourseware Consortium and don't have big institutional initiatives. I try to explain to people that Canada doesn't really work that way, that we are very active in free and open content, but this manifests itself (as does pretty much anything of importance in this country) in a much more informal and loose-knit manner. These presentations are a pretty good illustration of that, listing hundreds of journals and dozens of other initiatives, open repositories, mandates and more. Heather Morrison, Donald Taylor, Andrew Waller, and Devon Greyson, E-Prints in Library and Information Science, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

More Technology, Fewer Textbooks Touted for Kids
The comments are as interesting as the article. The author for this piece in the Toronto Star - branded - argues that schools should be a placve where technology is used, not banned. "This is about how to get more kids engaged and graduating, about using technology that really supports learning in a way that kids want to learn." What is funny is that the commenters seen to thing that you either teach the basics or use technology, but not both. Kristin Rushowy, Toronto Star, April 30, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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