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by Stephen Downes
July 26, 2010

Does the Web remember too much - or too little?
I agree with Scott Rosenberg - far from 'remembering everything', the web forgets things far too easily. That's why I created my site in the first place - to store stuff that I knew would disappear from discussion lists and bulletin boards. Don't believe me? Try to find anything I posted on my old NewsTrolls site (I can't give you a link because the domain was auctioned out from under me). That stuff - thousands of posts, hundreds of articles - now lives on only in my personal archive. And even that archive is incomplete, because we had an ISP that deleted content randomly when our disk space limit was reached. The web permanent? Not likely. Via Tom Hoffman. Scott Rosenberg, Wordyard, July 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Real $35 Tablet from India: an OLPC Compliment, not Competitor
"Why does the Indian Ministry of Human Ressources have to attack the non-profit OLPC organization?" So asks someone called 'Charbax' on the OLPC Blog. There could be many reasons, of course, but if it were me, I'd be pointing out that India had a perfectly good low-cost computing project going, called the Simputer, and OLPC came along acting like they had invented the concept (instead of, say, saying, "we'd like to help make Simputer better). Indeed, when we look at Asus and similar companies, it seems clear that the current revolution in inexpensive tablet computers has its origin in south and east Asia, not Cambridge or Cupertino. Charbax, OLPC//News, July 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Court Backs Dismissal of Digital Copyright Claim
An American judge has ruled that breaking a digital lock is not illegal if your end use was not illegal. Responding to a case filed against general Electric, which hacked through a security dongle to repair a client's power supply, the judge ruled, "Merely bypassing a technological protection that restricts a user from viewing or using a work is insufficient to trigger the (Digital Millennium Copyright Act's) anti-circumvention provision." This ruling, if upheld, could have a significant downstream effect, specifically, as Download Squad suggests, "you're free to break DRM on media that you own. No longer is it illegal to rip your own DVDs or crippled audio CDs onto your hard disk." And Michael Geist suggests that this shows Canada's proposed new copyright legisliation will be more restrictive than that in the United States. Unattributed, Courthouse News Service, July 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Celebrated authors bypass publishing houses to sell ebooks via Amazon
When authors can publish directly on Amazon, what use is there then for publishers? That's the question being asked today as some big-name authors, realizing their original contracts didn't cover electronic versions of their works, published their books directly on Amazon. The authors, or their estates, representing the best of 20th century literature, are earning 70 percent royalties from Amazon, compared to the 25 percent maximum publishers are willing to grant. It's not hard to imagine authors selling directly through bookstores in the future, opting to 'publish' on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And the publishers are probably now wishing they hadn't stalled so much on electronic editions. Via Techdirt. Alison Flood, The Guardian, July 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The State and Challenges of OER in Brazil: from readers to writers
National programs supporting open educational resources (OERs) are springing up. From a discussion on WikiEducator I learn of this Green Paper describing and making recommendations for OER initiatives in Brazil. Also, in Holland, the governmment has launched the Wikiwijs project (literally: Wiki Wise), which "is an open, internet-based platform, where teachers can find, download, (further) develop and share educational resources. The whole project is based on open source software, open content and open standards." Meanwhile the Washington State colleges board has passed a resolution saying "All digital software, educational resources and knowledge produced through competitive grants, offered through and/or managed by the SBCTC, will carry a Creative Commons Attribution License."

Good quote from the Brazil paper: "Education policy and projects that combine infrastructure investment with a coherent 'network' approach to content are the most likely to have significant positive impact and realize the goals of the policy. The ability of the Internet to create radical increases in innovation is not an accident – but it is also not guaranteed to happen simply through putting computers and courses onto the network. This 'generative' effect of networks comes from the combination of open technologies, software platforms that allow creative programming, the right to make creative and experimental re-use of content, and the widespread democratization of the skills and tools required to exercise all of those rights." Carolina Rossini,, July 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

O Canada
An odd commentary that says all the right things but secretly wishes things were not so. Written in part by a Canadian university president, it touts funding levels for academics and research institutions in Canada, as compared to the cuts taking place in the United States, and boasts that lower tuition fees in Canada keep things equitable. But the authors are unreserved in their praise for the American system and describe even more egalitarian tuition fees in Europe as "foolhardy." Stephen J. Toope and Neil Gross, Inside Higher Ed, July 26, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Here I Stand
Erica Goldson describes her high school graduation for what it is. "Here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement." Via which doesn't even do her the courtesy of a link. Via Tracie. Erica Goldson, America Via Erica, July 25, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

On private "classblogs" vs. the wild, wide open
D'Arcy Norman asks, "What right do we, as educators, have to compel students to publish on the open web?" My first reaction (as I'm sure it is for many) is that we shouldn't compel them to do anything. But when you ask the question in the context of formal education, you begin to see how ridiculous it is. Is there anything in education that isn't compelled? Participation is enforced to the age of 18, college and university courses typically have requirements for graduation. So why should public performance be any different? And - it isn't! We require singers and actors to perform in public in order to graduate. Lawyers stand in moot court. Interns perform in actual hospitals, apprentices in real garages. Graduate students are frequently reminded that they should have some journal publications to their name. So why the objection to publishing on the web? It's an irrational objection, when compared with the practices we see everywhere else in education. D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman dot net, July 25, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Invisible People
One of the things about informal learning is that we begin learning some 'unofficial' things. Like, for example, from this site, which documents the invisible people, the homeless, and the stories of how they got there. "Everyone on the streets has their own story, some made bad decisions, others were victims, but none of them deserve what they have been left with, and it is a reflection of our own society that we just leave them there." I've been homeless, twice, only briefly, and I was able to get out in a hurry, but I saw enough to scare me, and it's a lesson I've never forgotten. If you wonder sometimes why I'm so 'left wing', well, that's why. Anonymous, Weblog, July 25, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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