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by Stephen Downes
May 11, 2009

2009 Conference Schedule
I'm just heading out the door for my flight to Portugal. No newsletter (or maybe a minimal one) tomorrow. This post links to the rest of my conference activity. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

This Journal Brought to You By . . .
More fallout from the Elsevier fake-journal controversy. This is an issue that will not go away. "Seems to me Elsevier's integrity was in question even before this disgraceful and embarrassing revelation." Right. This issue is devastating because it confirms previously-held beliefs, rather than overturning them. And this is exactly the sort of challenge commercial media - proved in many ways to be hopelessly compromised - faces when it turns around and actually expects us to pay for their product. Gavin Baker links to a number of other responses on the Open Access News. Crooked Timber reports that the scandal goes deeper than first thought. TechDirt explains, Elsevier had a whole division producing fake journals. Barbara Fister, ACRLog, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

How Is HE Embracing Web 2.0? How Is Web 2.0 Changing HE?
I think that this post suffers from the inevitable consequence of looking at new technologies from the perspective of higher education (HE): new technologies are viewed from the perspective of HE institutions. If the question had been worded from the perspective of 'learning' the outcome would have been different. That said, I agree with this: "universities should be pro-active in developing and implementing new media literacy strategies for members of their institutions, including members of staff." Because it's not clear they understand new media now. Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Enough with the Free
It feels like, with the economic crunch fully upon us, that the battle between the free internet and the pay internet is reaching a new stage. Traditional content agencies are becoming desperate and declaring "the end of free". Now this has nothing to do - as James Farmer suggests - with whether people are sufficiently grateful for the charity of the service providers. It has, in my view, everything to do with the sort of economic model we, as a global society, want to pursue - one which favours large, entrenched, and powerful corporate media, or small, agile, independent voices. And whether we are willing to pay for what the corporate world provides. James Farmer, incorporated subversion, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Next09: Video Interview With Chris Messina On The Current State Of OpenID
As usual, it's the big players' inability to work with each other that is sinking yet another positive initiative. "Most of the big names that are issuing OpenID parties have yet to support the project by allowing users to effectively be able to sign in to their services with third-party digital identities. The big exception - surprisingly - is Facebook." Related: Experimental Firefox Add-on Weaves OpenID Into the Browser, from WebMonkey. Robin Wauters, TechCrunch, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Popper, Objectivity and the Growth of Knowledge
Why is Popper relevant? If anything, because of this: "Popper (1966, p. 395) warns against the 'magic of high-sounding words' and the 'power of jargon' to be found in doctrines which are 'full of logical mistakes and of tricks, presented with pretentious impressiveness. This undermined and eventually lowered the traditional standards of intellectual responsibility and honesty. It also contributed to the rise of totalitarian philosophizing and, even more serious, to the lack of any determined intellectual resistance to it." Reviewed by Peter Slezak, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Mental Causation: The Mind-Body Problem
A surprising number of people believe that there is a non-physical mind in addition to the brain and body. This in itself would not be a problem except that they hold that the mind causes physical events, such as behaviour. There's no particular issue with 'non-physical' per se; the colour red, hope, the appropriateness of a response, and the recognition of a face are all non-physical. And so too mind, which is at a minimum epiphenomenal, can be thought of as non-physical. But how can epiphenomena - mere appearance, say - cause physical events? In my view, the efficient cause must lie in the physicality of the event itself, not in the appearance. This review takes a nice look at the tangled web we call 'causation' in relation to mental phenomena. The main takeaway? This nice neat picture of "A causes B" is deeply mistaken. Reviewed by Sara Worley, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

California Open Source Digital Textbook Plan Faces Barriers
John Concilus sent me this item, about California's newly announced effort to push Open Content textbooks and we've been having a conversation about the top-down nature of the initiative, the idea of "a state approved list of standards-aligned, open-source digital textbooks," and the idewa of 'collaboration' by sending your submission to a central agency. This Ars Technica article has more details. And today we see a Slashdot thread that mostly misses the point. Ryan Paul, Ars Technica, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

McLuhan On The Future of Education: The Class of 1989
Norm Friesen has scanned and posted this vintage McLuhan article from a 1967 issue of Look magazine. Well worth a read, and you probably can't find it anywhere else. "one of the most astonishing things is the similarity of many arguments made by McLuhan in 1967 to those still made today, 42 years later:
* that schools are as outmoded as the mass production model on which they are based; and that forms of 'mass customization' promise a radically different educational approach
* that 'the demands, the very nature of this age of new technology and pervasive electric circuitry... will [unavoidably] shape education's future'
* that 'the walls between school and world will continue to blur'
* that 'Future educators will value, not fear, fresh approaches, new solutions.'"
Norm Friesen, Weblog, May 11, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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