OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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by Stephen Downes
June 11, 2014

Man trademarks Pi, tries to cut out geeky T-shirt designers
Kevin Poulsen, Wired, June 11, 2014

I wish I could say that the headline is a joke, but it appears instead to be an all-too-real example of an IP regime gone off the rails. More power to those people ignoring the law and using PI for their own purposes. Oh yeah, and this whole business of using circles in your designs? Cease and desist, I guess?

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ProQuest Case Study: Using the Oscillation Principle for Software Development
Nancy Dixon, Conversation Matters, June 11, 2014

This is an interesting and extended look at the software development methodology employed by ProQuest (you may have seen their online maps). They use what Dixon calls the "oscillation principle" meeting three times a year for three days. The rest of the time "team members are in constant communication with each other using various forms of social media. They Scrum several times a week over Google Hangout or Skype, hold Hangout meetings between individual members or small groups to address problems, and use Flowdock as their group chat room." Process matters. In software development, process really matters.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Monetized
Will Bourne, Inc., June 11, 2014

This is becoming an increasingly loud trend. "For years, the internet's biggest players have hoarded your personal data and sold it for billions. Now, a band of angry startups is demanding privacy and aiming to overhaul the social-media business forever." This article introduces us to Wickr, with the slogan,  "The Internet is forever. Your private communications don't need to be." It also mentions a number of other "ephemeral chat" tools - Privatext, TigerText, 
Whisper, Mark Cuban's Cyber Dust, and so on. Another one with good press is Ansa, "an encrypted ephemeral chat app that rolled out this year at South By Southwest and TechCrunch Disrupt."The trick is to legally avoid surveillance. "The companies couldn't comply with a subpoena, because they literally do not have any information. Similarly, there's no point in the Feds' snooping around, because there is no data. It's gone." There's also Omlet, an "open mobile social network." And let's not forget Diaspora, which has a user base of about 200,000.

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Do the new anonymous social media apps encourage us to overshare?
Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, June 11, 2014

I guess the answer to that question is, "who knows?" What we do know is that there has been a negative response to the Facebook dictum that " The days of you having a different image for your work friends [and] for the other people you know are probably coming to an end… " But there are certainly downsides to anonymity. YikYak, for example, uses geolocation to broadcast anonymous messages to the 500 closest users. "When our identities are concealed, do we automatically degenerate into amoral, foul-mouthed bullies?" Yes. But on the other hand, the messages at Whisper are riveting. But maybe the response is to create better people, rather than silencing them.

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How online 'chatbots' are already tricking you
Chris Baraniuk, BBC, June 11, 2014

OK, so chatbots that lure people to dating sites or convince bitcoin users to give each other tips are not going to impact most of us. But with as much as 65 percent of online chatter being generated by bots, chances are you've read or interacted with one. Of course, it really depends on how you define 'bot'. I have systems that automatically generate content - if I post a photo on Flickr, it`s automatically tweeted, blogged and Facebooked (when the system is working). OLDaily posts automatically show up on the "OLdairy Twitter account (and maybe my Facebook page; I`m not sure). The MOOC.ca newsletter si automatically generated. Are these bots? Maybe. But they're there because I think people find them useful.

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Report: Students Expect Future Universities To Be Flexible, Accessible, Career-Oriented
Joshua Bolkan, Campus Technology, June 11, 2014


According to this article, "students expect universities to be more accessible, flexible and focused on jobs, according to a new survey." This report will be reported without criticism (as it is in Campus Technology) but consider the source: "The "2014 Global Survey of Students" compiled responses from more than 20,800 students at 37 institutions in the Laureate network." I would imagine that if they surveyed 20K arts and humanities students at small liberal arts universities, the outcome would be rather different. We have to stop surveying 'university students' (and especially students from one particular institution) and start surveying 'people', whether or not they are in this or that institution.

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Lecture capture: Privacy, please
Ioanna Opidee, University Business, June 11, 2014


People who attend the tapings of sitcoms and game shows don't expect privacy. I don't see why students attending lectures at universities should expect to be any different. Today, when you attend class, the cameras will be on (unless it's one of those very small and intimate seminars, but even here, no single rule prevails). So this article seems to me a bit knee-jerk - especially later on, as it suggests simply limiting access to class recordings to enrolled students. That said, people more sympathetic to the basic premise will find it to be a useful outline and guide to preserving student privacy in lecture-capture situations.

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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