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by Stephen Downes
May 19, 2010

This is a resend of today's issue because the earlier version inadvertently deleted all the links in the Facebook special report. I have now replaced them.

Race to the Top Needs Another T
Will Richardson: "Race to the Top needs another 'T'... Race to the Traditional Top." Quite so. And this seems to be where a lot of reforms miss the boat. And he adds, scathingly, "A small bunch of 'reformists' armed with a boatload of money are in the process of buying off the media, unions, and parents to move schools toward greater 'accountability' and 'achievement' in ways that more resemble fixing the leaks in the hull instead of building a better boat." He is reacting to a puff piece published by Stephen Brill in the NY Times. Oh where will the publicists go when the Times is behind a paywall and can't be used as a soapbox any more? Will Richardson, Weblogg-ed, May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Google Wave Has Officially Opened Its Doors
Remember Google Wave? It's now open, so you don't need an invitation (not that I could give away my remaining 109 invites as it was). And they've made a few tweaks, including separating it (slightly) from the Google codebase. And identified its 'sweet spot' - working in small groups. Can it be saved as something useful. I'm not sure. Here's a presentation from the Google I/O conference. Jill Laster, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

A concept cluster quiz
Not everybody is happy when I say words have different meanings for each person that uses them. But it's hard to escape that conclusion when you actually look at language. Look at the different dings "I see ..." can mean, depending on context:
# understanding: I see what you're saying.
# judging: I see honesty as the fundamental prerequisite.
# experiencing: Our business saw some hard times last year.
# finding out: I'll see whether he's available.
# dating: I heard that she's seeing someone.
# consulting: You need to see a doctor.
# visiting: I'd be go and see my aunt for a while.
# ensuring: I'll see that this is done immediately.
# escorting: Let me see you to your car.
# sending away: I'll come to the airport and see you off.
Geoffrey K. Pullum writes, "The people who think clarity involves lack of ambiguity, so we have to strive to eliminate all multiple meanings and should never let a word develop a new sense... they simply don't get it about how language works, do they?" A good lesson for the Semantic Web people, no? Geoffrey K. Pullum, Language Log, May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Greyson Chance, 12-year-old YouTube and Twitter Superstar: How He Really Happened
You've probably already see the Greyson Chance video, but this analysis of his rise to fame is even more interesting. I completely agree with the observation that "a lot of what seems most intrinsically viral in our culture actually traces back to the simple power of television." But it's interesting to see the link from source to source in "Step 2" before he hits the TV screen. I would add as well that the video is just another in the series of hits that are basically Lady Gaga performances or covers. So while we see the 'official' trail of bloggers listed here, I can't help thinking that they had a little help from a Gaga publicist. Because for everything else Gaga is doing, the big huge story is that she is gaining stardom by putting all of her content online, out there, for free use, reuse, mixing and matching. But yeah - the megastardom doesn't come without broadcast media. That's what broadcast media does. Simon Dumenco , Ad Age, May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

How curriculum mapping in Moodle might work
This is a very nice description of how Moodle users could visualize course alignment to objectives. "The fundamental idea of this project is that a mapping of the alignment within a course site is maintained all of the time. It's not something done every now and then because an accrediting body is visiting. The idea is that once a course site is mapped, maintaining the mapping fits into normal academic practice." David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Public Comparison of Online Machine Translators
Good post comparing the performance of different translation engines. Google's statistics-based translation appears to be preferred for most cases, but as the texts grow shorter, the performance of rules-based translation improved. Via Larry Ferlazzo. Ethan Shen, Gabble-On, May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Here We Go Again: Private Foundations Have A Place (And Have To Be Kept In Their Place)
What foundations do, writes Larry Ferlazzo, is not paternalism, but worse, neocolonialism. "Community groups, desperate for funding, would then often tailor their priorities around the funders' agenda and the funders would become the groups de facto constituency. The groups' genuine constituency - low and moderate income residents - would then be "brought along"….sometimes, and often for the short-term." Larry Ferlazzo, Websites of the Day..., May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

This is Data? Arguing with Data Baby
This post asks some of the hard questions about data, drawing on INM's recent campaign. The videos it features are beautiful and provoking; do watch them. But watch them critically, as advised here. "In these commercials data is first and foremost material. It is a physical stuff," writes Mitchell Whitelaw. Why is that important? "It just exists.. there is no visible sign of this data being gathered (or rather, made)." But the metaphor is seductively wrong, he writes. "Data depends on stuff; always in it, and moving transmaterially through it, but it is precisely not stuff in itself." And "Data does not just happen... it is gathered by people, for specific reasons, with a certain view of the world in mind, a certain concept of what the problem or the subject is." As he says, "Data is not inherent or intrinsic in anything: it is constructed, and if we are going to work intelligently with data we must remember that it can always be constructed some other way." Sound advice, and well-supported by the, um, data. Mitchell Whitelaw, (the teeming void), May 19, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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