OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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January 8, 2014

How did we end up with a centralized Internet for the NSA to mine?
Andy Oram, O'Reilly Radar, January 8, 2014

I covered the Wired article about NSA spying this week. Now Andy Oram writes, "my question today is: How did we get such industry concentration? Why is a network famously based on distributed processing, routing, and peer connections characterized now by a few choke points that the NSA can skim at its leisure?" I think this is a good question. Perhaps instead of saying that the NSA is killing the internet, we should be suggesting that centralized services like Google, Facebook, and the rest, are killing the internet. And that the NSA spying is a symptom, not a cause. Now we are moving to the cloud, with even more risks. "The question to ask is how free and decentralized the cloud can be. Private networks can be built on virtualization solutions such as the proprietary VMware and Azure or the open source OpenStack and Eucalyptus. The more providers there are, the harder it will be to do massive data collection."

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Why you can never recall your dreams
Vance Stevens, adVancEducation, January 8, 2014

My career as a published academic began in 1987-1988 with a couple of papers entitled 'Why Equi Fails' and 'Conditional Variability', both of which suggest that meaning is determined from context, and not merely content. That's the lesson drawn, Vance Stevens writes, "when Chomsky tells us that visiting relatives can be fun, we can understand from context who visited whom." What this told me is that thought is subsymbolic. "Thought works independently of language, that is is possible to reach conclusions without having to codify them in any symbol system that can be expressed outside the brain in which the conclusions were reached." The brain is not a computer. It doesn't encode'data' and it doesn't use rules or procedures process that encoded data. That - to me - is the basis for both connectionism, as a philosophy of mind, and connectiovism, as a philosophy of education.

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180 MOOCs to Start the New Year (Is This the Crest of the Wave?)
Dan Colman, Open Culture, January 8, 2014

Remember last week, when MOOCs were dead? Even Dan Colman suggests that this may be the peak for MOOCs. But 180 courses doesn't seem dead to me. Sure, MOOCs will evolve over time (as they have since 2008). But the idea of open online learning is entrenched. People will need to learn to live with that. Meanwhile, "Enjoy them while they last. Whatever their shortcomings, they can be quite informative, and you can’t beat the price."

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Karl Fisch, The Fischbowl, January 7, 2014


Karl Fisch, who will be well known to readers of this newsletter, teaches at Arapahoe High School where late last year a gunman killed a student before killing himself. This post is a detailed description of the event from his own perspective, with a remarkable clarity of recollection. It's interesting how many times he refers to his training for such situations. I never had drills for nuclear attack as a child. Even so, as a child of the nuclear age I am still haunted by the idea that the bombs might fall any day. Nor have I ever had training for potential mass shooters in the building, but I can imagine the fears that sort of training would foster. I hope I never have to take such training, and I don't think people in Colorado (or anywhere else) should have to either.

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Serendipity Without Stacks
Chloe Horning, ACRLog, January 7, 2014

I too remember the phrase "serendipity of the stacks", and on those occasions I browsed through a library I would experience it (that's how I discovered Nicholas Rescher)(but generally I kept my library visits goal-oriented and brief, because the dust on all the untouched books gave me headaches). But like Chloe Horning, whose "focus is on providing space and technology to promote collaboration," I agree that "from that collaboration, intellectual serendipity can surely arise." There are many routes to Serendip. I like to think OLDaily is one for many people.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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