by Stephen Downes
Jan 29, 2016
Amber is a nifty solution to the problem of dead links in blogs and websites. "It automatically preserves a snapshot of every page linked to on a website, giving visitors a fallback option if links become inaccessible." By default you store the snapshop locally, but you can also store it in the cloud, for example, using the Wayback Machine, Perma.cc or Amazon web services. It's available as a plug-in for WordPress and a module for Drupal. There are also modules for Apache and Nginx (with local storage only). No word on the copyright implications but I can't imagine the commercial media will be pleased.
Jaron Lanier’s rant against online collectivism and its relational alternative
Michel Bauwens responds to Jaron Lanier's post in Edge warning us of "digital Maoism" and the dangers of online collectivism. Bauwens finds, I think, the same middle ground between the individual and the collective. I think we all agree, with Lanier, that "Collectives can be just as stupid as any individual, and in important cases, stupider." But what are the conditions in which they're not? This middle ground (the 'network', as opposed to the group; or the 'connective', as opposed to the collective) is created not by all of us somehow becoming the same, but rather, by virtue of the relationships we enter into with one another ('cooperation', as opposed to collaboration).
Where I disagree with Bauwens is with some of the architecture he builds around this. For example, he writes, "Indeed, human agents never just ‘relate’ in the abstract, agents always relate around an object, in a concrete fashion." I disagree. Humans do not require a "view of the whole" to interact (that's exactly what gets us into trouble in collectivism). Bauwens also writes, "This individual operates not in a dead space of objects, but in a network of flows. Space is dynamical, perpetually co-created by the actions of the individuals and in peer to peer processes, where the digital noosphere is an extraordinary medium for generating signals emanating from this dynamical space." Again, Bauwens is trying to incorporate some sort of view of the whole into the picture, something that is 'co-created'. It's not connectivism if you introduce collectivism in through the back door. The 'whole', if there is any, is perceived individually, differently, autonomously, by each individual, and hence has no inherent unifying or collective force.
The evidence suggests I was completely wrong about tuition fees
That's the author's headline, of course, not mine, and it opens a column which is a virtual clone of the one that I referenced from the National Post the other day. Coincidence, that? This one makes the same point: that reductions in tuition fees would benefit rich students more than poor students. Of course we haven't seen any such reduction yet, which would produce evidence. What we have seen is that increases have harmed poorer students, and that this harm continues after graduation. In this article the distraction is provided by the story at the secondary school level, and we are presented with a zero-sum option: "pour the cash into secondary schools instead." Well, yes, if those were the only two choices, sure. But the £10bn in question here is a fraction of the British government's overall £744 billion budget, suggesting there are other choices in the equation.
Plurality, partnership and pellucidity – the three ‘p’s of open access monograph publishing
This strategy outlined in this article is much like the use of the word 'pellucidity' - it may have seemed like a good time to all concerned, but nobody really knew what the objective is, and there was a much simpler way to go about it. If you want open access monographs, the answer is actually fairly straightforward: give people a place to publish them openly, and if necessary (though why it should be necessary I don't know) provide incentives for academics to upload academic publications there. The gyrations and contortions of the publishing empire are not required, and if we eliminate sector most likely to obfuscate the discussion, we remove the critical need to ensure pellucidity.
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