Content-type: text/xml Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~ Site Title http://www.downes.ca/ NOW Stephen Downes, stephen@downes.ca Copyright 2007Stephen Downes Stephen Downes WeMo: a Wonderful Way to add Visual Cues to Organize Your Life http://www.downes.ca/post/59390/rd
, , April 20, 2014

Yesterday I talked about FunF, which connects data from a variety of different sources to your information landscape. Today I link to this discussion from Vicki Davis of WeMo, which is a set of devices and an application to let you manage your personal appliances. Basically, weMo provides a plug-in switch controlled remotely by the application. "WeMo. Just plug your lamp, or fan, or stereo (almost anything) into the WeMo Switch, and you're ready to control it with the WeMo app." So how will this play in education? Again, you can't look at individual applications, you have to look at the overall landscape they premonstrate. Imagine a world in which you set up  network of connections such that events in the world trigger changes in your environment - temperature drops outside, heat increases inside, traffic is slow on the freeway, alarm sounds earlier. Simple at first, but interactivity can produce resonance, cascade phenomena, and other odd behaviours in your appliances. What sort of skill set does it take to set up such a network? What skills does setting up such a network engender?

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Fri, 2 Nov 2012 09:14:38 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=59390
10 Inexpensive Ways to Be Kind http://www.downes.ca/post/58283/rd
, , April 20, 2014

Some nice advice from Vicki A. Davis. "Everyone wants to be appreciated and encouraged. You can do it too." Now, note, that while she suggests "the habit of being kind and thoughtful can do a lot to improve your workplace, school, or home" it's important that being kind not be about what you get back. Not even the feeling of satisfaction you get from being kind (because then you just start doing it for 'kindness points' and lose track of the quality of the kindness). Also note that everybody can be kind in their own way - it isn't about everyone giving nice little presents to everyone. Find your own way to be kind, and practice it as a form of inner perfection.

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Fri, 1 Jun 2012 06:30:01 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=58283
The Age of Encouraging the Aged to stay in education (Big Little Thing #3) http://www.downes.ca/post/57320/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I am 52 years old, an age some people still consider to be young, but an age that seems pretty old to me. I do pose myself the question from time to time about whether it still makes sense to keep learning, or whether I have enough knowledge to allow me to coast on my laurels. My recent excursion into language learning (plus my elbows-deep investigation into Drupal and OpenPublish would suggest which way I've fallen - squarely on the side of continual learning. I don't expect to ever be otherwise; assuming I make it to 83 I expect to be fully engaged in learning and creating (and hopefully cycling 12 miles a day like Grace Adkins). There are all kinds of reasons to encourage lifelong learning, and then there's the other side: when you stop learning, it's over. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 16 Feb 2012 15:43:41 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=57320
On Leadership http://www.downes.ca/post/56113/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Vicki Davis writes, "Doling out shards of anger are like stealing $10 out of someone's wallet." While I agree with the sentiment, I have issues with the agreement, and I express these isues here, because it's a problem that is becoming increasingly common, especially (and disturbingly) among teachers. (Note that this is not particular to Vicki Davis, her post just happens to be the one in my sight at the moment). [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 25 Aug 2011 08:28:12 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=56113
Citizen Scientist Rising: Why and 17 Great Places to Start http://www.downes.ca/post/55611/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Two great tastes that go great together: on the one hand, students conducting their own 'citizen science' are able to contribute to real science ("it is pretty easy to use statistical analysis to filter out 'noise' of readings that have been taken in err"). On the other hand, students conducting their own 'citizen science' are learning a lot about science, including (says Vicki Davis):
- It introduces students to the scientific method and data collection
- It introduces students to live science in action and makes it real
- It adds meaning to their work
- they can use science to improve their performance
- it can lead to other cross curricular activities including math, writing reflections, technology [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 2 Jun 2011 11:30:32 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=55611
$20 Laptops for Students from Google: The Questions to Ask http://www.downes.ca/post/55435/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Forbes reports on a plan by Google to rent laptops to students for $20 a month. The idea is that this is a testbed for potentially more lucrative corporate computer rentals, and helps potential future customers become more comfortable with life in the cloud. It's also, I would say, a way to get people used to the idea of paying for Google online applications. Vicki A. Davis raises a series of cautions about schools signing on for the service, mostly to do with privacy and lockdown and computing for young children. Also, bandwidth, which I think is the potential dealbreaker. Consider what happens today at tech conferences, where bandwidth breakdowns are routine. Unless Google figures out how to break the ISP logjam and offer bandwidth at commodity prices, cloud computing will remain in the future. [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 11 May 2011 15:59:35 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=55435
QR Code Classroom Implementation Guide http://www.downes.ca/post/55386/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I am by ni means sold on QR codes and consider them to be at best an interim technology (by contrast, I think augmented reality (see below) is here to stay). But many people are interested in the idea, and some think it can be useful in a classroom. This post divides into three parts: first, to help you get ready to use QR Codes; second, to help you teach students; and third, seven ways QR codes are being used in the classroom today. "I think we should just take cell phones out and have them on our desk at all times," writes Vicki Davis. "When it is time for the test, they put their cell phones in a box on the teacher's desk and get them back afterwards. Let's harness the elephant in the room instead of pretending he isn't there." [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 6 May 2011 16:47:44 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=55386
15 Fantastic Ways to Use Flipboard http://www.downes.ca/post/55348/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Vicki A. Davis lists 15 things you can do with FlipBoard on the iPad. Note, for example, that you don't have to follow people to get good value out of Twitter (ironically, "many now who are unfollowing on Twitter en masse as they try to improve their Klout score" - if there's a score, there's people trying to game it) - you can read tweets from lists or hashtags instead (Davis writes, "My favorite Twitter based flipboard magazine for educators is from #edchat. Just type #edchat in the search and scroll down to follow the hashtag"). You can also add Google Reader, your blog, classroom blogs, Diigo groups (Davis: "the educators group on Diigo is one of my favorite go-to places for information") and yes, OLDaily. [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 27 Apr 2011 12:59:38 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=55348
Will You Unwire for a Day? Please issue the challenge and take our survey. http://www.downes.ca/post/55294/rd
, , April 20, 2014
People always talk about going unwired, or internet free, or screen free, or whatever. What I'd like to do is go commercial and marketing free for a day. No intrusions of advertising or messaging of any sort into my personal space. It turns out that that is a lot harder to do - even in my most isolated camping trips I'm still surrounded by marketing, as everything must have brand identification on it these days. Commercial and marketing messages are, in my view, a lot more harmful to society than text messages from friends or unfiltered news from local bloggers. [Link] [Comment]
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Tue, 19 Apr 2011 16:24:45 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=55294
Free Tools Bootcamps Starting with Google Docs at 3:30 pm Today http://www.downes.ca/post/54801/rd
, , April 20, 2014
They're not full courses, but they're free and open, which makes them worth listing here. And they're useful: 'boot camps' on Google Docs, Elluminate, Wikis, Diigo, and more. The first session has passed (actually, as I write, it started 17 minutes ago), but the rest of the sessions, which are offered online via Elluminate, are still in the future. "These projects are not only great opportunities for students but also as an embedded professional development opportunity for teachers - we meet, discuss, learn, and then the teacher DOES IT." Good stuff. [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 9 Feb 2011 14:48:16 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=54801
The Context of Character: Are the Links in Your Blog Posts for Sale? http://www.downes.ca/post/52900/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Vicki A. Davis asks, "Could bloggers you know be selling out on the sly?" the answer, of course, is probably yes (but, just for the record, not on this blog). "This raises a huge question and thus the point for my pontificating openly. If I'm getting these solicitations you can bet the ruler in your desk drawer that other educational bloggers are getting them too!" Yup. Davis calls for a code of conduct - but again, as I've said in the past, the code isn't needed by the people who would follow it, and is simply evaded by those who don't. There is no real solution but to be attentive. And don't gang up on the blogger who identifies the corporate link - this has happened to me in the past and wasn't very nice. [Link] [Comment]
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Mon, 19 Jul 2010 20:44:56 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52900
7 Tips to Analyze the Formula of Your Life http://www.downes.ca/post/52711/rd
, , April 20, 2014
There's an old song from The Smiths that runs something like this:
In my life
Why do I give valuable time
To people who don't care if I live or die ?
And I think the essence of 'personal learning' (or maybe I should expand the concept, and talk about 'personal living') is captured in this. Our lives are so short, they go by so quickly, and we spend time filling our brains with other people's knowledge, other people's plans, other people's priorities. And there will never be a shortage of inducements to do so, never a shortage of business plans based on that principle. But without getting all EST or scientologist about it, can't we say something along the lines of it being most important to find out what we want to be and to do, and to pursue that aim? That is not the same as selfishness (not even close) - many of us, most of us, will choose to live selflessly. But it is the same as self-determination. Which I think is important, and on which I think our culture and out democracy crucially depends. Would I be as methodical as Vicki Davis is here? Maybe not. But maybe I should be. [Link] [Comment]
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Mon, 21 Jun 2010 17:24:25 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52711
14 Tips to Get More from Your Amazon Kindle http://www.downes.ca/post/51595/rd
, , April 20, 2014
This guide reminds me that my current blog reading habits would cost about $800 a day on the Kindle. Because there's no 'free' option, blogs such as TechCrunch and Cool Cat cost 99 cents a day. Not good. But that's what you can do when you own a closed marketplace. That said, the Guide itself is a great introduction to the Kindle. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 4 Feb 2010 07:34:45 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=51595
Sojourner Truth http://www.downes.ca/post/51181/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Any reflective writer - including me - must face self-doubts about being relevant and accurate. Vicki Davis, in a really nice post capturing this feeling, cites Phillip Yancy: "Every day a writer must cope with a deep-seated paranoia: I have nothing to say, I've said it all before, I'm a fake and a hypocrite, I write in cliches..." I think this sort of self-doubt is a necessary prelude to any creative act, and a useful check against thinking too much of one's own words. But there is a danger of letting it overwhelm you. Thoreau: "Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines or rather indicates his fate... the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." There is only one way to avoid this fate: I question myself every day, vigorously, but then I step beyond that questioning, and fearlessly assert what I have come to believe. [Link] [Comment]
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Tue, 5 Jan 2010 05:43:45 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=51181
Bad Backchannel: My Take on Danah Boyd's Bad Day http://www.downes.ca/post/50898/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Oh, I need to make this point, because pople will believe, like Vicki Davis, that "All presentation backchannels should have moderators." The thing is, you can't moderate backchannels. You can control what's displayed on the big screen, if you want (and if your audience is squeamish, you may want to). But you can't control what's said on, say, Twitter. Just. Can't. That said, I agree with her that "a chat room is so much better for this anyway because it can be archived and allows more meaningful conversation and more extensive replies," which is why when I was doing it I used my own chat room. People still chattered on Twitter, though (next time I'll aggregate the tweets into my chat room). [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 2 Dec 2009 14:40:25 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=50898
Very Convincing Deceitful Web Pages that Install Spyware: Teachers, You Gotta Use your Noggin http://www.downes.ca/post/50469/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Wow, this is nasty. Why don't governments focus on such obvious fraud - I mean, it's a web page, we know where it is and who is serving it - rather than on vague issues involving the fringes of copyright protection? In the meantime - yeah, use common sense. If you don't know what it it, don't click 'yes'. [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 21 Oct 2009 16:14:57 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=50469
The Keynote I'd Like to See at ISTE 2010: Vote and Share Yours http://www.downes.ca/post/50426/rd
, , April 20, 2014
ISTE is asking people to vote on the topic of their next keynote. That's great, but they don't seem to understand the concept of voting at all - voting is open while ideas are still being posted, which means the first few ideas, no matter how well (or poorly) conceived, have a huge advantage. After the topic is selected, they'll open up the vote to speaker selections - who will be screened for "affordability and availability" before the final vote. It's an interesting idea, but 'crowdsourcing' isn't the same as voting, and this is almost certain to get political - and potentially nasty. See also JenW. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 16 Oct 2009 16:13:48 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=50426
Loopbacks On the Last Day http://www.downes.ca/post/49037/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I quite enjoyed this post on the dreaded loopback error. It's not something I encounter, well, ever, because I don't run classroom networks (haven't for a long time). But it's not just the technical problem and its solution that makes the post fun, it's the use of the hardware as metaphor that gives it life. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 21 May 2009 10:38:24 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=49037
Semantic Aware Apps Rising http://www.downes.ca/post/47882/rd
, , April 20, 2014
OK, this article is a lot of fun, matching as it does Myers-Briggs types to various bloggers. I covered this before. Vicki Davis runs the diagrams for a number of us (I see I have a unique role in the world). Fun, but the really good point comes at the end of the article: "The fact is that the semantic web will somehow do JUST WHAT WE'RE seeing here -- use your words or use other things to categorize and share who and what we are." [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 27 Feb 2009 14:53:16 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=47882
Web 3D: Students Using OpenSim Reflect On the Pressing Issues That We All Ask About Using Virtual Worlds http://www.downes.ca/post/47708/rd
, , April 20, 2014
The video will start playing right away when you click on this link, which is really annoying. And the same video is posted twice - presumably this will be fixed by the time you see it. But do take the time to watch the video - it's great to hear students talk about their experiences (and don't miss the huge uncovered yawn at 1:56 and the first-bump at 5:40). Vicki Davis writes, "Listen to our terraforming team talk about our island, the uses of Open Sim in schools (We use www.reactiongrid.com and LOVE it!), and their vision of what they'd like to see happen. Also, hear the reflections of the other students about their work in virtual worlds." A second group of students comes in at about 8:00 and a third group at about 17:00. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 6 Feb 2009 16:16:52 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=47708
In Google We Trusted and Now Our Project's Busted http://www.downes.ca/post/47111/rd
, , April 20, 2014
More on the demise of Lively and the concerns raised by the difficulty in salvaging any of the work that has been done. It is worth reflecting for the moment on Richard Stallman's idea of 'freedom' in software - not having anything to do with price, but rather, having to do with being protected from the whims of corporate software producers (that's also why I use real links in this newsletter, and not proxy links such as Feedburner - people using Feedburner may want to reflect on what happens to their web footprint should the service disappear or start charging). [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 5 Dec 2008 12:19:39 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=47111
Three Things I Believe About All Students http://www.downes.ca/post/47093/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Vicki A. Davis identified three things she believes about all students: first, that every student has a purpose, second, that everybody benefits from a plan, and third, that schools make a promise to children to do right by their future selves. My take is a bit different. First, students don't have a purpose, they have to find it in themselves to make one. Second, that's it's better to have a strategy than a plan, because we all know the saying about the best laid plans. And finally, students would be wise not to count on the promises of schools, because they have over the years made too many promises to too many people and won't be able to keep them all. A lot like governments and our banking system. [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 3 Dec 2008 20:18:52 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=47093
What Happens When Google Kills Your Student Project: The Death of Google Lively http://www.downes.ca/post/46978/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Major price increases at Second Life. Google's Lively being shut down. Once again, we see the risk of putting our projects into the hands of private third-party entities. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 20 Nov 2008 11:39:08 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=46978
I Dig My Diigo Classroom: Will You Help Me Test It? http://www.downes.ca/post/46441/rd
, , April 20, 2014
As the title suggests, Vicki Davis has set up a 'Diigo classroom' and would like people to give it a test run. Diigo allows people to annotate web resources for each other. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 18 Sep 2008 11:57:27 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=46441
Google Adsense Nonsense http://www.downes.ca/post/46310/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I agree with Vicki Davis - Google is mismanaging its AdSense program. "Seems that 'seat of the pants' causes Google Adsense to think I'm needing some sort of medicinal improvement to my husbands and my love life! (It scans keywords in your email to determine what ads you want to see.)" I have written previously about how Google Mail is taking over my identity; I've tried to find a way of disentangling myself from it, but there doesn't seem to be a way. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 12 Sep 2008 15:05:15 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=46310
Research Proves Power Corrupts http://www.downes.ca/post/45644/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I tried to post it there but the Disqus comment system entered an endless cycle instead. So I'll say it here, then, no problem. Vicki Davis looks at research showing that people in positions of power abuse their power, and asks "How can we empower effective leaders?" and "how can they retain the skills of leadership that got them there in the first place." My response is: don't empower leaders. Take power away from them. And as for the second question, from what I've seem, the 'skills that got them there in the first place' are skills in the abuse of power. People become leaders by thinking of their own needs first, by ignoring the needs of their underlings, and by acting as though the rules don't apply to them. [Link] [Comment]
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Tue, 19 Aug 2008 11:30:56 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=45644
Mainstream Media Vs. Blogosphere: Mainstream Ed Vs. Edublogosphere? http://www.downes.ca/post/45051/rd
, , April 20, 2014
OK, this is a nice sentiment: "Cutting and pasting a lot of content into a blog is not what we want to see... It is more consistent with the spirit of the Internet to link to content so people can read the whole thing in context." Well, sure. But here's the condition on the other side: there needs to be something to link to. What Associated Press fails to recognize in its recent campaign against cut-and-paste blogging is that this was the only way for many readers to see the story at all - the rest was behind a subscription wall. And the same is true in education, indeed, even more so. Education bloggers can play nice with commercial media - but only if commercial media plays nice with its readers. Which means open access. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 20 Jun 2008 14:11:03 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=45051
What Mom Wanted for Mother's Day: Downgrade Me to XP! http://www.downes.ca/post/44523/rd
, , April 20, 2014
"To say VISTA is unusable is an understatement. I set Mom up personally and as soon as I leave, sometime during the week it asks a question that she doesn't know how to answer and she's down again." Meanwhile, we read that Microsoft is moving to limit ultra low-cost PC notebooks to prevent their competing against more expensive systems. [Link] [Comment]
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Mon, 12 May 2008 14:39:03 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=44523
Amazing Deep Learning On a Sick Day! This Floors Me! http://www.downes.ca/post/44239/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Vicki Davis picks up on a use of e-learning: to give students work on sick days. "This student was SICK and yet was so engrossed and curious about this project that her SICK day became a day of very deep learning and change for her." OK. But by coincidence, just a few hours earlier, I was looking at another student using e-learning on a sick day. Or sick on elearning day - it's not clear. Here she is. "fuh, elearning day. syiok cos there's NO school. but th thing is, there's too many assignments... i tried finding eng but couldnt, so i did geog first." [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 18 Apr 2008 06:22:03 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=44239
Is the Edublogosphere a Closed, Elite Cocktail Party? http://www.downes.ca/post/44150/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Jon Becker writes, "It's as if folks like Will Richardson, David Warlick, Wes Fryer, Vicki Davis, Dean Shareski, Stephen Downes, Chris Lehmann... (and, yes, you Scott) are having an awesome cocktail party conversation and I'm standing on the outside staring over their shoulders and listening in." I'm sympathetic; I often feel, as Vicki Davis does, that I'm on the outside.

But more to the point (because it's pretty irrelevant what I feel) my own online participation is nothing remotely like an exclusive cocktail party. I am very careful to sample widely; I harvest hundreds of feeds and over the years have cited 6,121 separate authors (here they are). I do not collect long comment strings because I encourage people to write in their own blogs. I try not to aggregate readers to my own blog; I have even split my online writing into several distinct sites. There may be exclusive clubs out there, but I am neither part of them nor do I encourage them.

Anyhow, even if the edublogosphere is a closed cocktail party, he will have made his mark by the end of the week by having written about the edublogosphere's favorite topic: the edublogosphere. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 11 Apr 2008 13:43:37 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=44150
Black Monday: Bloggers On Trial http://www.downes.ca/post/43768/rd
, , April 20, 2014
There has been a lot of web reaction to the forced closure of Al Upton's 'Minilegends' website, a classroom blog that has been in operation for a number of years. I have saved cache versions of the original page, another page, and the closure order on the site. Sue Waters links to the closure order and John Connell cites it. He also says it's about control, not education. Vicki Davis calls it 'Black Monday' and examines not only the Upton closure but also that of Intrepid Teacher Jabiz Raisdana. So does Warrick, who says, "It's corporate think." So does Derek Wenmoth. Miguel Guhlin thanks the Australians for "dumbing down" education to American levels. Doug Dickenson reminds readers of the rights of the child. Derek Wenmoth thanks Miguel Guhlin. Graham Hugs creates an icon in support of Upton. tech4teach posts the code you use to put the icon on your blog. Sue Waters looks at the issues of parental consent and the use of student images. Jacinta Gasgione says the shutdown is "wrong" and calls for people to stand up for him. And Alan Levine wonders whether all of these calls for support are enough. [Link] [Comment]
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Mon, 17 Mar 2008 15:42:38 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=43768
My Techno-Activist Students: See Their Projects Speaking Out for Genocide in Darfur http://www.downes.ca/post/43644/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I have my disagreements in the details with Vicki Davis, but in the larger things I think we're of one mind. "We can't do everything. We're not omnipotent. We're not everywhere. But you know what? I don't teach these kids about technology just to let it be something they'll use one day, they should use it to make the world better NOW! Speak out NOW! Do something NOW! It is not just about technology for me... it is so much more. It is a mindset that a person in small town Camilla or small town anywhere doesn't have to have a small mind. And that a big mind in a small town can change the world through a broadband internet connection." See also Ed Tech Talk on the same subject. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 6 Mar 2008 14:51:50 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=43644
Why I Blog and the Perils of Perfection Paralysis http://www.downes.ca/post/43033/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I am so far beyond being paralysed by the demand for perfection that my 'perfection paralysis' is in another world somewhere. I man, here I am, 5:36 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur using a PPPoE connection trying to create a useful newsletter - while at the same time reworking my seminar to fit the audience more appropriately (and to match the capacities of the room, which is coping valiantly with the demands of more than 40 simultaneous internet connections). Perfection is something I don't even think about attaining - and learning to cope with imperfection is the only way any of this is possible. So I hope you enjoy today's imperfect OLDaily. [Link] [Comment]
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Mon, 14 Jan 2008 15:39:41 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=43033
11 Suggestions for (Social) Network Heaven (From a Teacher's View) http://www.downes.ca/post/42678/rd
, , April 20, 2014
This post wanders a bit, but it captures much of the discontent people have with social networks as they exist today - and not just teachers. [Link] [Comment]
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Tue, 11 Dec 2007 14:50:54 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=42678
Twittero, Twittero Wherefore Art Thou Twittero http://www.downes.ca/post/42417/rd
, , April 20, 2014
here's why peer-to-peer messaging is better than site-based messaging: " Twittero, Twittero, wherefore art thou twittero? Deny thy server and refuse to crash; or if thou wilt not, be but sworn to never crash again, and I'll no longer blog." Heh. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 16 Nov 2007 14:42:12 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=42417
BestoftheWeb: My Most Useful Tools http://www.downes.ca/post/42339/rd
, , April 20, 2014
If you were introducing someone to the world of the web and blogging, you wouldn't go far wrong following this post. I wouldn't call them 'folks' though - this is no great criticism, just a peccadillo, that it just sounds weird to me when people write 'folks' when they mean 'people'. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 9 Nov 2007 15:43:57 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=42339
Motivational Monday: Samwise Gamgee's Wisdom http://www.downes.ca/post/42131/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Worth citing: "Sam: I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for." [Link] [Comment]
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Mon, 22 Oct 2007 14:07:18 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=42131
The Must Join Calendar Group! http://www.downes.ca/post/41970/rd
, , April 20, 2014
What's interesting about this post is not the group - it is Yet Another Social Network For Edubloggers (sheesh, are we done yet?) - but rather the syndication of events using RSS. Take a look at this example (you may have to 'view source' in order to see the RSS script). Notice the way xCal is embedded in the RSS statement. Now it's not exactly how I would do it - but it's good enough. It's calendar data in RSS. It's not iCal (I looked for an Cal feed but didn't find it) but it's pretty easily translated into iCal. But - and here's the kicker - wy should you have to submit your event into Yahoo, where it's only useful to Yahoo? What we want - and will get, mark my words - is a way to designate any blog post as an event announcement. This allows an application that harvests RSS feeds - like, say, Edu_RSS - to create a calendar of events. Not only that, this allows people to cover an event by linking to it (and not using some arbitrary tag). [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 10 Oct 2007 15:35:07 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41970
Is Text-Only Enough for Today's Students? http://www.downes.ca/post/41906/rd
, , April 20, 2014
This sentence expresses why the rest of this post is worth reading: "I think we're too hung up on the technology and not realizing that we are experiencing an evolution in how humans communicate... Their voice, their graphics, their face, and their typed text all play a role in their future as a communicator in this electronic world." This is why I'm so interested in lolcats. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 4 Oct 2007 09:45:53 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41906
Digital Literacy Comes Home http://www.downes.ca/post/41640/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Vicki A. Davis says that students are demonstrating poor critical thinking skills when researching on the web and ought to be taught digital literacy. And digital citizenship. The latter is a whole different issue that i do not want to address here - suffice to say that what constitutes 'citizenship' is very different in different countries. As for the former, well, quite a discussion ensued from the original post. My own view is that you can't teach people what is right and wrong, what is true and false, you have to help students be able to figure that out for themselves. Creating a dependency is not the way to address deficiencies. Davis writes, in a comment, "I am advocating basic literacy of determining the credibility of a source and using multiple sources." Fine, good. But teaching them gives them exactly the opposite message. I know I need to draw this out more - I have not been expressing it well enough to avoid being misinterpreted. [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 12 Sep 2007 14:27:07 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41640
Take Your Class Sky High with Google Earth http://www.downes.ca/post/41421/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Everyone is going gaga over Google Sky (which really should be been titled Google Space) and so I took it for a test run yesterday. It's pretty nice, but not as nice as other space view programs I've seen. The zoom is impressive, but the Hubble images are a bit abrupt and the images of the planets look like little icons that have been glued into place - zoom in, zoom out, the planets stay the same size. Tacky. And there's no names for the stars, just the constellations. Where Google excels, though, is with the plug-ins and inserts, so you can create tours and insert text and stuff. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 23 Aug 2007 13:45:55 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41421
I Disagree with Suspending the Purchase of Textbooks http://www.downes.ca/post/41395/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I'll state right up front that I disagree with Vicki Davis's position here. But it should be stated. She writes, "I personally have to underline, write, rewrite, take notes in the margin and work with the text. I just have to. It is how I learn." Fair enough. And I absolutely think that you need to work with the material in order to learn it. When I was in university I also spent a great deal of time rewriting texts on paper (lectures too, which I transcribed as I listened to them). Now I use a computer to do this - and it's an important skill to have. Yes, some people still do it the old way. They shouldn't. And some people today just cut and paste from electronic texts. They shouldn't do that either - they are robbing themselves of their own learning if they do that. [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 22 Aug 2007 08:59:33 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41395
Its My Privacy, or Is It? (and What It Means for Our Students) http://www.downes.ca/post/41348/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Vicki Davis describes a service called Imtellus that sells detailed personal information, everything from phone and social security numbers to maps, criminal record checks, credit reports and more. "It relates in every sort of way. Stalking just got a whole lot easier as did predatory behavior. It means that our children's and our own names have become even more important!" What I think is important to remember is that this information has always been available, it has just become cheaper to access. Your children aren't suddenly in more danger and you are not suddenly at greatly increased risk of identity theft. And I don't think we can create secrets out of things like our names, our addresses and our phone numbers (much less things like criminal records). People always think that greater barriers will protect them - but in my experience, the societies with the most crime always seem to be the societies with the most - and the highest - walls. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 17 Aug 2007 15:11:56 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41348
Hey Web 2 Teacher -- Do You Want $100,000? http://www.downes.ca/post/41314/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I'm not so ken to mention competitions, but this one - for obvious reasons - caught my eye. The MacArthur Foundation is providing the grants. "Awards will be made in two categories, Innovation Awards and Knowledge-Networking Awards. Innovation Awards ($100,000 and $250,000) will support learning pioneers, entrepreneurs, and builders of new digital learning environments for formal and informal learning. Knowledge-Networking Awards ($30,000-75,000) will support communicators in connecting, mobilizing, circulating or translating new ideas around digital media and learning." Sadly, it's only open to Americans. [Link] [Comment]
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Tue, 14 Aug 2007 16:28:41 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41314
The Edublogosphere Is Being Criticized for Twittering http://www.downes.ca/post/41023/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I thought about writing a reply to the Gary Stager post on the Pulse, but the site wanted me to register for an account. Who has time for that? Anyhow, the criticism is that educators are spending valuable time on foolish things, like Twitter, instead of important things, like the war zone in Chicago, graduation rates in Detroit, the curriculum in Britain, and literacy rates. Vicki Davis responds, essentially, "I care about these issues that you talk about, however, they are not in my typical sphere of operation," which is a perfectly acceptable response. We can't all solve all of the world's problems. We could equally turn around and ask Gary Stager, why doesn't he solve the problem of warfare in Iraq, genocide in Darfur, poverty in Malawi? Why does he focus only on the U.S. and Britain, two of the richest nations in the world. Yes, let's huff ourselves up and be sanctimonious here.

And that said, let me say that I see much more in the way of solutions coming from the educational community - including the Twittering part of the educational community, even if I have my criticisms of School 2.0 - than I do from many other communities. Educators, for example, say things like "feed all the children in the world" and it is people like politicians and businessmen and professionals who make sure it doesn't happen. Educators say things like "make knowledge freely available to everyone" and it is people like politicians and businessmen and professionals who make sure it doesn't happen. If Gary Stager has a problem with the war zone in Chicago, I would say, perhaps he should look to those politicians and businessmen and professionals whose pandering to petty prejudices and narrow short term interests created the problem in the first place, and whose mismanagement and petty brokering block the efforts of educators even today.

The educators who are twittering are doing nothing but good. There's few enough of them. [Link] [Comment]
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Tue, 24 Jul 2007 15:41:30 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=41023
How to Win When You Lose http://www.downes.ca/post/40824/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I'm writing from the airport in Toronto, so we'll keep today's newsletter short. This is a nice item listing how to benefit from loss and defeat - or at least, how to make it bearable. I like the Japanese saying: "Fall seven times. Stand up eight." Now I should say, I don't think of life in terms of winning and losing, victory and defeat. I do think, though, that life rewards the effort you put into it. [Link] [Comment]
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Thu, 12 Jul 2007 19:10:25 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=40824
BAM! You'Re There! NECC Feeds for Every Session: Blogs, Flickr, Slides http://www.downes.ca/post/40468/rd
, , April 20, 2014
OK, I'm glad that the NECC conference has full feeds and all that. But I think the latest push has taken taging to a new level of abstraction. Here's a tag, for example, for one of the sessions: n07s643. This is exactly the sort of thing I predicted would happen. OK, so, what now? The way it should have been done in the first place: each event has an associated URL. Blog posts, etc., can link to (or 'refer to') that URL. In the metadata (ie., the RSS) for an event URL (which now has the same status as a blog post, right?) you can add some event data ('start','finish','location') and indicate event structure ('parent'). Of course, we have to wait for somebody down south to 'invent' it so we can have such a system; when it's just a voice from the north proposing it, the idea doesn't exist. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 15 Jun 2007 19:28:54 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=40468
Are Your Presentations 2.0 yet -- Tips and Insights On the New Presentation 2.0 http://www.downes.ca/post/40431/rd
, , April 20, 2014
Follow the links in this post. The idea here is that our presentation slides ought to be more visual and expressive, rather than textual and content-filled. I wouldn't call this 2.0 particularly, though it does seem to be a recent trend, [Link] [Comment]
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Sun, 10 Jun 2007 22:28:31 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=40431
Hey Blogger! Andrew Keen Says You'Re a Pajamad Monkey Intellectual-Kleptomaniac Communist! http://www.downes.ca/post/40409/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I protest! I am not wearing pyjamas! The blogosphere responds as one to Andrew Keen's ridiculous book, "We are not monkeys." Keen - who has been promoting the book relentlessly (I was one of the unfortunates to be subjected to his marketing on the mailing lists) - will probably make some money as a result of his uninformed attack. But such is the nature of that irresponsible and uneducated medium - traditional book publishing. [Link] [Comment]
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Fri, 8 Jun 2007 10:33:02 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=40409
Plans Announced to Create the Encyclopedia of Life http://www.downes.ca/post/40138/rd
, , April 20, 2014
I'm not sure whether the world needs another encyclopedia, but this looks like an interesting project: "They plan to catalog and share information on all of the species of animals and will allow information on SIGHTINGS from 'amateurs.' Projected to take 300 million pages, 'The MacArthur and Sloan foundations have given a total $12.5 million to pay for the first 2 1/2 years of the massive effort, but it will be free and accessible to everyone.'" [Link] [Comment]
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Wed, 9 May 2007 12:57:21 -0400 http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=40138