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by Stephen Downes
January 22, 2010

Research Ethics
Blog summary of an NRC-IIT summary on research ethics held in Fredericton on Tuesday. Speakers were given an opportunity to review the text before it was posted, but not to exercise editorial control. Stephen Downes, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Comment]

Internet Freedom
Hillary Clinton has received wide acclaim for articulating and defending internet freedom. The full text of her speech is available here. "The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyber space. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate in the name of progress. Once you're on the internet, you don't need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society." I want to state clearly that we cannot simply leave these freedoms to the whims of the marketplace or the caprice of corporations. Our investment in this technology - for certainly, it have been a society-wide investment - should not come to be owned and managed by a select few. It is easy to focus on governments as the locus of oppression, but it is essential to understand that a declaration of internet freedoms applies not only to governments but to all agencies and stakeholders. Schools, corporations, societies, governments, religions - all need to respect the right of the members of humanity, as a whole, to interact with each other, without fear, without barriers, without oppression. In the meantime: Kudos to Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton, Foreign Policy, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Things I Want To Model As Your Teacher

What I like about Wes Fryer's presentation is that he doesn't teach, he models. Teachers would probably conduct themselves very differently if they understood that what it is that they model, rather than what they say, that gets learned. Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Social Technographics: Conversationalists get onto the ladder

A large number of internet users contribute something to the conversation. This according to a Forrester Social Technographics study. What's new in this diagram (the original came out three years ago) is the addition of 'conversationalists', a class of people that includes Twitterers and status updaters. Though the categories overlap, we still see the scale of contribution with 24 percent listed as creators, 33 percent as conversationalists and 37 percent as critics. Via Jane Hart. See also Ian Delaney. Josh Bernoff, Groundswell, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

OU adopts Google Apps for Education
The Open University will be using Google tools to support student internet services. "In our first foray into cloud computing, Google will be hosting for our students email (gmail), contacts, instant messaging and presence, calendar, document creation, storage and sharing [and] websites... All of our 200,000 or so students will be able to use the applications, which will also be made available to staff later. Email accounts will be provided under the domain. We'll also be looking at whether to bring on stream other applications as they are integrated into the Google Apps for Education suite."
Niall Sclater, Virtual Learning, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Patterns, privacy, and performance
If you simply type '123456' you have a 1/100 chance of cracking someone's password. This is one of the results revealed in this study of 32 million passwords stolen from the RockYou, a service that helps people use sites like Facebook and MySpace. It's interesting to note that "People might still use weak passwords because: they don't have an easy way to generate strong ones (like this one that includes a mnemonic); they have too many different passwords to recall; nothing bad happens immediately after they choose a weak password." P.S> Dave, put your name on your blog (sheesh). Dave, Dave's Whiteboard, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Ludoliteracy: Defining, Understanding, and Supporting Games Education
Fantastic - Jose Zagal's Ludoliteracy, a book about games in education, is now available. You can get the free PDF download here or purchase a print version for your library. The book offers an interesting perspective. Designing games that produce authentic and non-trivial learning experiences is not simple. Understanding games needs to involve more than just a study of their design, but also of their use. Learning through games can function as a way to allow learners and experts to function in a common environment; we can learn a lot from the study of communities of practice. "As suggested by the literature in communities of practice, gauging the understanding of games would require situating the individual with respect to the beliefs, goals, and practices of a particular community. Understanding in this context is linked to membership and identity." Good stuff. José P. Zagal, ETC Press / Lulu, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Canadian R&D is Feedstock for Other Nations' Growth
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) is calling for a national innovation strategy. The strategy - a Pan-Canadian Innovation Plan - includes a comprehensive and detailed set of recommendations. But they can be boiled down fairly simply:
- easier credit via guarantees to banks and funders
- tax credits, lower taxes, and tax withholding
- conversion of federal services (such as IRAP support) to cash grants.
My first reaction is that this appears to be a continuation of the policies that led to the economic collapse. If we need a national strategy, it should be more than simply creative ways to give corporations more money.

There's more. CATA president John Reid is calling for a plan which:
- fosters the creation, retention and growth of IP
- addresses the dearth of funding available
- regulations that are "not a drag on innovation"
- free trade agreements
Again, this is a call for the sort of policies that were not successful in the early 2000s. They are essentially a mix of low taxes, government funding, and minimal regulation. This is simply a recipe for continuing Canada's role in research as what Terry Matthews calls "Feedstock for Other Nations' Growth".

More from Terry Matthews. And plans to fund startups to make up for the (in my view, absolutely devastating) loss of Nortel. Press Release, CATA, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Play This Game
Think you know text fonts? This game will cure you of that misapprehension in a hurry. Leslie Tane, Your Brain on Design, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Fresnel Solar Stirling Engine Sun Power Alternative Energy Stirling Motor Generator
Something a bit more techie: I spent a couple hours last night learning about Stirling engines. This because it occured to me, can't we generate electricity using steam produced by solar power? And, of course, we can. I found this item, which involves superheating salt (too complex and too dangerous - I want something more household). What helped me most was a set of videos from, which showed me first a setup with mirrors, and then, ultimately, the Stirling engine, which I studied in more detail on (where else?) Wikipedia. Dan Rojas, GreenPowerScience, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

How to make your eyes as big as Lady Gaga's in Bad Romance
Nice video instruction describing how to make your eyes look like Lady Gaga's anime lookalikes. Not that I ever plan to do this, of course, but it illustrates the power of online video to support learning (where would you ever find a class to teach you this?). Via Jezebel. Unknown, Doobybrain, January 22, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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