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October 28, 2012
From CNet News.com: "Udacity just raised $15 million in a financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz and existing investors Charles River Ventures and longtime entrepreneur Steve Blank All told, the company has raised $21.1 million. Andreessen Horowitz partner Peter Levine is joining Udacity's board." I'm sure the idea had a lot to do with the funding, but also the pedigree and the connections.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Wikipedia]
June 19, 2012
June 17, 2012
Dropbox will become a lot less useful to me and many other people if it follows through on its plan to eliminate public folders. The public folder was especially useful as it allowed people to have what amounted to their own web server for files and such. I can only imagine what sort of pressures (or contorted business models) led to Dropbox thinking it should eliminate its most useful feature.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
January 20, 2011
Wolfram releases a new e-learning application, and raises some old issues. "The more I looked at Mathematica," writes Stephen Shankland, "the more it seemed that all that struggling to find the integral of sec^3(x)dx in Mrs. Strong's 12th-grade calculus class was, in a sense, busywork." Well, yeah, it becomes, in essence, a fancy calculator (and is hence e-learning about as much as a calculator is). Meanwhile, "I see computer-aided knowledge as an asset," writes Shankland. "Google and Wikipedia may often substitute for real research and learning, but in my experience they've opened up vistas of knowledge I hadn't realized existed." At least Wolfram has done some learning, finally realizing you can't charge $50 for an iPhone. See also: Microsoft math and more.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft, Research, Google, Experience, Wikipedia, Online Learning]
September 3, 2009
Sure, fine, have a global patent system. But create a system that sharply limits what can be patented and which leaves ample room for derivation, reverse-engineering, which does not permit business model and software patents, and which works in the interest of the consumer as much as the patent owner. [*poof!* dreamland over. They'd never create such a patent system. To date, 'globalization' has stood for nothing more than internationally mandated corporate greed, as instantiated by non-democratic processes such as WTO and WIPO). Ah well. It was nice to wish...]
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft, Patents, Copyrights]
August 11, 2008
Dell received a preliminary notice in July saying it could have 'cloud computing' as a trademark, but this was withdrawn this week. Which is good - but what we see is just another example of a company trying to steal something - in this case, a phrase - from the public domain.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Copyrights]
July 26, 2008
Another DRM debacle, as Yahoo cuts off access to music purchased by its customers. "Some people think they can use music wrapped in digital rights management just like they do a CD," Corynne McSherry, an attorney with EFF, told CNET News. "This should teach everyone that you can't."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Yahoo!, Digital Rights Management (DRM)]
November 5, 2007
I can't even begin to describe the chaos on the discussion lists following the release of OpenSocial. To put it in a nutshell: it's a way for people to write applications that will play inside social networks like Orkut. But it is not a mechanism for a single-signon or any of the distributed social network features people have been looking for. Anyhow, there's a lot of coverage, highlights of which follow. This item looks at Google SocialStream. Also, reports are coming in that OpenSocial will also impact on Google's foray into the cellphone market. More from ZDNet on the Open Handset Alliance.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Google, Networks, Discussion Lists]
October 1, 2007
Gilberto Gil, a musician and social activist who became Brazil's minister of Culture, called for "the freedom to use and republish digital forms of content as a way of encouraging personal expression, culture and political participation" at a conference at MIT. Today's digital technologies represent a fantastic opportunity for democratizing access to knowledge," Gil said. "We have found that the appropriation of digital technology can be an incredible upgrade in skills of political self-management and the local political process."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Books]
August 31, 2007
You create a video and post it on your website. A big company - Viacom, say - copies your video without permission and uses it on a TV show. The big company then turns around and says your video violates copyright and must be taken down. Could it happen? Yes. In fact, it did. "I made a YouTube clip of what they did with my material," Knight wrote" and they charged me with copyright infringement." More.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: YouTube, Video, Viacom, Copyrights]
August 2, 2007
E-learning 2.0 in a nutshell: "The theory is that lecturing is not an effective way for everyone to learn, but if you make a student create, they learn an incredible amount. That's the whole idea with changing this paradigm," said Knauff.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Web 2.0, E-Learning 2.0, Paradigm Shift]
June 2, 2007
April 16, 2007
This is the week that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project begins, and as such, is a major turning point in our field - perhaps the key turning point.
Photos from CNet of Nigerian children using their XO computers. See also this special report from CNet on the OLPC project. Software to emulate the XO interface on a Mac. James O'Hagan also links to a video describing the technology of the XO.
As a postscript, Will Richardson points out that, in contrast to the $200 it costs to provide a child with a laptop, about $14 billion dollars were spent on Easter last week. When did Easter become a holiday you have to buy things for? Where are the people, who act as guardians of morality in our society? I am sometimes thought of as a radical and an idealist. But there is no acceptable moral position, I would argue, except one that is fundamentally opposed to some of the major premises that inform the current social order - the ones that legitimize violence, celebrate greed, and tolerate poverty. [Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Portable Computers, Project Based Learning, Video, Web Logs, Google, Africa]
February 8, 2007
According to this article, "more than 70 universities have built island campuses in Second Life." I have been asking people what it is that appeals about Second Life, and the answer seems to be 'presence' (that should make Terry Anderson happy). OK, I see that, but how is presence in Second Life different than, say, presence in a chatroom? Or maybe it isn't - I've seen no real slowdown in chatrooms per se, it's just that nobody makes a big fuss about them any more. I think that what we are seeing is a return to the familiar. It's not just presence, it's environment. That's probably what bothers me about it, too. That kind of environment never did anything for me. All the capabilities and freedoms I got by moving online, I lose again when I'm in a 2L lecture. But maybe that's the way the teachers like it.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Second Life, Chatrooms]
January 30, 2007
eBay makes the right call here. Forget the dire prediction offered by this article, that "eBay may be effectively forcing players who participate in such trades into the hands of giant third-party operations that buy and sell virtual goods." The demand is created by the ease of selling on eBay and the ready market that the online sales site provides. Take that away and you take away a lot of the market as well. And although Second Life customers are not affected by the ban, eBay was probably looking at reports like this: The Liquidity Event (via Mark Oehlert). Basically, Second Life "land will likely become completely devalued and possibly even inaccessible except for further expenditure... because of a choice Linden Lab itself has already made, which is to open-source the server code and create the possibility for people to host their own virtual worlds." How much is virtual land worth if it's no longer scarce? D'Arcy Norman, meanwhile, crosses over to the dark side, offering criticisms of Second Life, echoed by Leigh Blackall. Not feeling so lonely over here any more.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Accessibility, Second Life]
December 26, 2006
We have people in our organization who keep saying you can't patent things that have been previously invented, announced or publicized - and yet every day, it seems, we see evidence of the opposite. Microsoft gave us all a lump of coal over the holiday by filing patents on aspects of RSS-based content syndication. From CNet: "Microsoft has filed for two patents covering technology used to organize and read syndicated Web feeds, such as those delivered via the widely used Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, family of formats." Microsoft responds, "these patents describe specific ways to improve the RSS end-user and developer experience (which we believe are valuable and innovative contributions) -- they do not constitute a claim that Microsoft invented RSS." The problem is, as we have seen elsewhere, companies minimize the impact when speaking publicly, but maximize the impact when presenting their patent in court. My sympathies lie with the first comment: "Please go steal somebody else's ideas, thank you. RSS is not M$'s to steal or patent!"
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Content Syndication, Microsoft, Patents, Experience, Copyrights, RSS]
December 4, 2006
Well, web 2.0 in learning has been anointed. John Seely Brown: "Rather than treat pedagogy as the transfer of knowledge from teachers who are experts to students who are receptacles, educators should consider more hands-on and informal types of learning. These methods are closer to an apprenticeship, a farther-reaching, more multilayered approach than traditional formal education, he said." Will Richardson responds:, pointing to "the ability to connect to others who are passionate about whatever it is that you want to learn." Related: Ross Dawson's overview of Web 2.0.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Web 2.0, Web Logs]
October 20, 2006
The Russian service allogmp3.com offers MP3 downloads at popular music for discount prices - usually about 15 cents per song, rather than the usual 99 cents. It pays royalties on this music to the Russian equivalent of royalty collection companies, however, the music industry has refused to accept these payments. The dispute is not over whether artists are being paid but rather about control. That's what the article means by 'unlicensed'. But it's not illegal in Russia and Visa may need to think twice about its actions here, as people depend on it to guarante transactions, not to act as some sort of self-appointed arm for a sectarian view of copyright law. If we want someone to make law for us, we'll elect them, thanks.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Podcasting, Copyrights]
August 31, 2006
I like the way this one starts: "The music industry's educational video about copyright law is full of baloney, according to several trade and public interest groups." The point of the article is to highlight contradictions in the RIAA's campaign, which is essentially to make people think it's always wrong and illegal to download or copy a song. The problem is, this sentence is false, even you agree with the law as it is written. The RIAA declarations do not take into account personal use, educational use, and fair use. And even the article doesn't mention open content and Creative Commons licensed works - I have been downloading a number of these in the last couple of weeks, and it is perfectly legal. Is copying always wrong? Not by a long shot. So shouldn't there be some sort of sanction for, say, lying?
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Open Content, Video, Copyrights]
August 8, 2006
June 23, 2006
Some reaction (which feels like it was massaged by the author to create conflict) to the $100 lptop project on the part of Tony Roberts, chief executive and founder of U.K. charity Computer Aid International. According to the story, he says the $100 laptop program is "based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the history of the IT industry." Says Roberts, "They are looking to introduce a nonstandard, untested platform...which they will only sell to governments." The real story, in my view, is that MIT's relentless publicity has overshadowed other initiatives. Meanwhile, Computer Aid International has donated more than 70,000 refurbished computers to developing nations.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Portable Computers, Project Based Learning]
February 1, 2006
Just another day in the online battles over digital rights management (DRM) and copyright. This article warns of the danger that customers will be lost because of DRM. "A few more incidents like Sony's 'rootkit' flap and consumers may revolt." Signs of that revolt are already evident. Newspapers have handled it so badly they are being called dead. And they are. But still, they continue to misunderstand the market, accusing Google of exploiting their content, and want to be de-indexed. Fine. Let them go, disappear from sight, and die. Movie studios, meanwhile, are busy ending the longstanding tradition of college screenings. We are reaching an end-point in this battle, and the tactics will intensify from here. While the industry is earning some wins in their attacks on consumers, they are losing more and more ground, which artists themselves beginning to understand what's going on. Commercial content is on the verge of being replaced. Specialized - and proprietary - high-end online content is the industry's last gasp. It won't work. The last gasp will see attempts to destroy the integrity of the net itself, to return to privileged (and monopolistic) channels. This is where we are today - these links are all stories from today. And the battle continues.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Great Britain, Apple Inc., Video, Patents, Google, Copyrights, RSS, Digital Rights Management (DRM)]
December 21, 2005
This is much bigger news than may at first be anticipated. "International news agency Reuters is launching a pilot program on Tuesday that will allow blogs, news organizations and other online publishers to show Reuters news video on their Web sites." So far as I can judge, the content will be free, though an advertisement will show prior to the newsclip. What we have here is the thin edge of the wedge - a huge shift from the locked-down approach to content access that has characterized previous online journalism efforts. I've applied for the pilot (on one of my other sites; this isn't an appropriate venue) and will keep an eye on the program as it evolves.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Books, Video, Marketing, Academic Journals, Web Logs, Academic Publications]
October 17, 2005
Are you kidding me? "The patch could lock users out of their PC, prevent the Windows Firewall from starting, block certain applications from running or installing, and empty the network connections folder, among other things." Unbelievable. " The trouble appears to occur only when default permission settings on a Windows directory have been changed." I ask you, who releases a "critical" security patch that works only for default settings? "Even if users experience PC trouble after installing the patch, they will still be protected against any attack exploiting the Windows flaw." Yeah. Well, I could get the same result with a sledge hammer.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft, Networks, Experience, Security Issues]
October 14, 2005
September 1, 2005
Google's book scanning project is rolling ahead. "On Tuesday, the search goliath rolled out stand-alone book search services in 14 countries. The same day, the Text and Academic Authors Association (TAA) became the latest publishers' organization to call Google's opt-out strategy backwards." It is interesting to observe that the United States, with stricter copyright regulations, is simply being left behind by Google.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Books, Project Based Learning, United States, Google, Copyrights]
August 24, 2005
From time to time I voice the opinion that corporations are simply not to be trusted to respect such things as personal privacy. I'd like to be able to say that this is merely blind prejudice, but sadly, it is an opinion based on cold hard fact (and, indeed, the myth that corporations can be trusted seems to me to be more like fantasy). Facts like this one: "a new study released this week shows that many major American companies misuse information they collect from consumers over the Web." The worst offenders? "Pharmaceutical and health care firms." Which is why I have been a firm opponent of private sector involvement in personal health care records.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: United States, Privacy Issues]
August 15, 2005
I guess the criticisms stung, as publishers have eased printing restrictions and extended the expiry date on the e-textbooks being sold at Princeton and elsewhere. Too little, too late. Students should be under no illusion that, should the ebooks become popular, the restrictions won't return.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Books]
August 4, 2005
July 1, 2005
June 23, 2005
10,000 locally made open source platforms are being rolled out in schools across South Korea. "The project, called the New Education Information System, is built on a Korean-developed version of Linux that already services 190 schools in the heart of capital city Seoul." The move is not a snub against Microsoft, say officials: it was done for security reasons, cost concerns, and local support.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Microsoft, Project Based Learning, Information, Open Source, Security Issues]
May 13, 2005
I'm sure every MUD designer has dreamed of something like this: a massive multiplayer role-playing game (MMRPG) hosted not on a large central server but rather on the individual computers of each of its members. You control your own part of the universe, and can go from there to explore the rest of the world. A lot like the web, but with the characteristics and interactions of an online game. Solipsis finally realizes that vision.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Gaming, Interaction]
April 25, 2005
Every few months I pass along the warning that 64-bit computing is coming soon and that administrators need to be preparing budgets to support the substantial hardware and software transition that will follow. This is yet another installment, prompted by the launch this week of Microsoft's 64-bit Windows.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft]
April 18, 2005
April 11, 2005
This item has caught the eye of a few commentators. I guess what worries me is that it rules out the experimentation every student should at least try - like the science fiction story I once handed in as an English essay, or the philosophy essay on linguistic analysis written in the style of James Joyce (both papers received an 'A' from their respective professors).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
April 7, 2005
Results are in from the Duke iPod experiment and while the devices will be used again next year, things will be different. This year the university handed out the devices to all students; next year they will be handed out only to students enrolled in courses that will use them. And to judge from this year, that means very few students will be getting them: "In its roster of more than 1,000 courses, Duke has only fully integrated the iPod into the coursework of 16 – that's 1.6 per cent of classes."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Apple Inc.]
February 28, 2005
IBM is announcing support for PHP. I would rather it were Perl, because I find PHP cumbersome. Still, it's absolutely a move in the right direction, and I'd much rather work with PHP or Python than Java. "IBM's push into PHP and scripting reflects IBM's disillusionment with the Java standardization process and the industry's inability to make Java very easy to use. 'IBM's been so fed up with Java that they've been looking for alternatives for years,' the executive said. 'They want people to build applications quickly that tap into IBM back-ends...and with Java, it just isn't happening.'"
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
After having his presentation crash at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Bill Gates gives a lengthy interview to CNet in which he discusses convergence and the new Media Centre PCs. XBox, Microsoft's gaming platform, plays a large role in this discussion. And it occurs to me that the major purpose of XBox isn't to complete with Sony and Sega but rather to establish a 'trusted platform', where the content vendor (of music, video, games, or text) has control over the hardware. Asked about ever-expanding intellectual property legislation near the end of the interview, Gates comments, "There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises." Well now, perhaps we communists need a flag, then.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Gaming, Microsoft, Video, Patents, Copyrights]
November 4, 2004
We have another entrant in the litigation lottery as yet another obscure company that produced essentially nothing with whatever knowledge it had claims to have invented and patented the idea of recommender systems and has launched a lawsuit. The patent was issued in the U.S. last August. Business method patents expire in 17 years; the nonsense, it seems, does not expire.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Patents, Copyrights]
October 11, 2004
Just what the world needed to counteer the mess that has been proprietary digital video formats (and the maze of incompatable technologies that naturally followed): Dirac (named after the physicist) is an open source codec (which stands for 'coder-decoder') released by the BBC. As they say around here: good on ya, BBC!
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Video, Open Source]
October 4, 2004
Could Kodak own object oriented programming? That's apparently what a U.S. judge thinks as he awarded an absolutely outrageous victory to the photography company in a lawsuit against Sun. Kodak maintained that the core technology used in Java - "the method where an application 'asked for help' from another application" - violated a patent it bought from Wang in 1997, several years aftr Java was created. Kodak is seeking a billion dollars in damages. "Software patents will destroy the industry in the U.S.," writes Groklaw's Pamela Jones. "The rest of the world will out-innovate U.S. companies, because they won't be running with the patent ball-and-chain attached to their ankles, holding them back.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Patents, Copyrights]
September 17, 2004
A sign of the times - the students' own personal Wi-Fi networks were (supposedly) interfering with the university-run system, so the administrators' first reaction was to ban the student systems. Turns out, though, that they may not have the authority to do so. Expect many more stories like this, as the question of Wi-Fi network interference has not been completely solved.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Networks]
July 14, 2004
We may shortly see just how much muscle the major corporations have when it comes to digital rights. "High-profile technology companies and movie studios are expected to announce Wednesday that they have formed a coalition to ensure that high-definition video and other content cannot be pirated in home networks... initial members include IBM, Intel, Sony, Microsoft, Warner Bros., Disney and Panasonic." This coalition represents just about all the computers and software people buy and just about all the entertainment people watch.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft, Video, Networks, Digital Rights Management (DRM)]
July 8, 2004
June 17, 2004
Good overview full of links to primary sources (the way online news coverage should be, unlike the link deserts found on most news web sites) describing the trend of using P2P network blockers in high schools. Well, the micro-trend, anyways, since only a few schools are named. The problem with these systems - and this comes out in the article - is that they either scan every bit of traffic, which is a gross invasion of privacy, or they stop all peer-to-peer (P2P) services completely, which is overkill.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Schools, Networks, Privacy Issues]
May 19, 2004
The anti-spam legislation having proven to be an elaborate sham, and the propogation of commercial threatening to choke online communication, companies offering email services are increasingly pressed to offer an anti-spam system. This method, in which outgoing messages are embedded with an encrypted digital signature matched to a signature on the server computer, offers some promise. But other major players - and in particular, Google (GMail) and Microsoft (Hotmail) must play along. I have my doubts.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, Spam, Academic Publications]
April 13, 2004
Good discussion of the implications and issues surrounding Google's new email service, GMail. I was interested to see the discussion about the implications for privacy in this new service, since Declan and I exchanged a few emails about this last week. The main message is this: "would-be users of Gmail or any similar service should recognize that their so-called free e-mail comes at a price." Yup.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Google, Privacy Issues]
April 6, 2004
When I flew back from Phoenix last least I was able to listen to 'Channel 9' on the internal sound system. Instead of music or business programming, the staples of in-flight fare (remember: your tax dollars subsidize business class passengers), I got to listen to all cockpit communications. I listened to it the entire way; great entertainment. Anyhow, Microsoft has, according to this CNet article, "quietly" launched a website called 'Channel 9', a site that allows you to read the thoughts of Microsoft developers, "to listen in to the cockpit at Microsoft, an opportunity to learn how we fly, a chance to get to know our pilots." It's an outstanding idea, easily the best initiative I've seen come from Redmond in a long time. I wholeheartedly endorse the credo: "Channel 9 is all about the conversation. Channel 9 should inspire Microsoft and our customers to talk in an honest and human voice. Channel 9 is not a marketing tool, not a PR tool, not a lead generation tool." Now, if only we could get the business side of Microsoft to do the same thing, and we'd really have something here.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft, Marketing]
April 4, 2004
Here's a question for you: when was the last time you rented music? That would be never, right? So why do you suppose a company behind a new Microsoft online music initiative says this? "We believe this is it. This is what consumers are going to want. We want to be big participant in changing consumers' attitude towards what music really is." What "this" is is a new tamper-proof digital music player that will allow users to 'rent' music on a subscription basis. Is this, indeed, really what you want? Or does it sound like a money grab?
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft, Apple Inc., Subscription Services]