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January 14, 2013
Alan Levine quite rightly criticizes Udemy's latest initiative, which is to release a tool promiting the idea that famous people should replace professors and teach online. Here's the
blatant marketing article describing the program: "Once experts express interest in teaching online, Udemy will provide an array of tools and resources to help them build and deliver courses that meet Udemy’s standards for course quality." The purpose? "They’re hoping a crowd of people will encourage people like Bill Gates, Michelle Obama, Richard Branson, and Biz Stone to answer the call." Levine comments, "Experts don’t need a 'proprietary' system from Udemy to do this. They don’t need their Studio. They don’t need their platform. They don't need a course (in order) to be open and sharing with their knowledge. We have the greatest and most capable invention to do this. It’s free... It’s called the open internet." Well - they need a bit more than that - even Levine uses WordPress. But I get the point.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Microsoft, Marketing, Teaching Online]
December 12, 2012
Alan Levine highlights a problem with the recent crop of open online courses: "It’s that weekly ramming speed pace that bugs me," he writes. "Just as a topic opens in this pace, the course zooms on to other topics. If you do not row along, you either go your own, or just give up. When not let people join the boat they want to be on, and decided where to go, how fast to row there?" I'm totally agreed. I signed up for the Scope Badges course, but while I was in South America it was blasting me with two writing assignments a day (and not much else, but that's a separate issue). I found the same thing with ds106 - they're on to video while I'm still messing around with audio. "Rather than making everyone go on the same boat going at the same speed, why not launch a fleet of boats," he suggests. I agree completely. But then it wouldn't be an open course in the model of EC&I 831 or ds106, it would be, well, a MOOC.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Video, Audio]
December 2, 2012
For our MOOCs, completion was never the name of the game - sure, we'd lose people alog the way, but we'd also pick up new people, and after that first big rush things were usually stable. It was always about the journey, people put in or take out what they want, and we never really worried about it. For the xMOOCs though there are tests and achievements and a final certificate to earn. So when you sign up 61,285 people and have only 0.17 percent of them left at the end of the course, you have, as Alan Levine would say, some explaining to do. "So in the end, we have 107 students who got the more personalized attention (doing a project, getting feedback, being part of the Google hangout presentations). This class had one professor and 3 TA, about a 1 : 27 teacher/student ratio. That is pretty much the size of a normal section of a class."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Gaming, Traditional and Online Courses, Personalization, Project Based Learning, Google, Assessment]
November 6, 2012
October 23, 2012
Alan Levine writes, "We have to do better at (a) being vigilant on using media that is clearly licensed to do so; (b) being equally vigilant on stating clearly and linking to the source of our media; and (c) being sharing enough to add what we can to the open licensed space." And he has a point. But. There are the essential principles of fair use (fair dealing in Canada, which has similar provisions) that judges consider:
- the purpose and character of your use
- the nature of the copyrighted work
- the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market.
So, consider the implications for an image found on some website and reposted, say, here. The purpose is educational, non-profit, and typically taken from the post it illustrates. It's a single image that already appears on the open web. It's shown thumbnail size, never more than 500px wide, and is itself a part of the site it illustrates. The effect on the market is either nil, or of net benefit to the image owner. Every one of my posts names and links back to the image used. So, on balance (and given precedent in such sites as Google and the BBC, I would state that I am well with the bounds of fair use.
See, that's the problem with making everybody license, and state licenses, and look for licenses, and be all persnickety - we risk lose the existing rights we have under common law and statute. (Image from Wikipedia).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Linking and Deep Linking, Google, Copyrights, Wikipedia]
October 22, 2012
I think it's nice to say ds106 is a universe filled with stars, except that in the univrse stars barely interact with each other - they throw out a little gravity and EM radiation to the erest willy nilly, but that's about it. The stars - be they resources or people or events - in ds106 are much more closely related; the course features, true, some content just throuwn out there like an x-ray, but also a lot of person-to-person communication, the sort of denser interaction that characterizes something a lot more cohesive than a universe. But i get the metapho, and the diagram is nice.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Interaction]
October 1, 2012
Some friends of Alan Levine's found a camera on the GO train in Toronto. They could have just turned it into the Lost&Found, where it would languish in obscurity until the year 2031 or something, or they could post the photos on the internet and help the owner get them back. They made the latter choice, of course.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
September 11, 2012
August 1, 2012
Nice set of posts wrapping up the summer ds106 course taught by Jim Groom, Alan Levine, and several other reprobates. It wasn't huge by Stanford-AI standards, but it was still pretty large (which makes me wonder - I wonder what the enrolment numbers are for all Coursera and Udemy's new MOOCs are - shouldn't we be seeing some figures?).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
July 11, 2012
Alan Levine has a good take on "what are called the “AI-MOOCs” or better, Cathy Finn-Derecki’s delicious acronyum 'EdUCKA'." They are, he writes, "to me, the offering of courses as some sort of product." The criticism is, of course, that while "the focus is on the product the course, the numbers… what part of the educational experience is being left out? It’s the personal attention, the guidance, the social fabric for the students." I think you can push back too far in this direction - the argument begins to sound like the defense of traditional in-class education. Sure, just throwing up some videos and onlize quizzes doesd not constitute education - we all knew that. But what's missing isn't "the personal attention, the guidance" - if you need that, get a dog. Community, interaction, activities, expression - these are what transform content into education, and these are what the connectivist MOOCs add to the mix.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Interaction, Video, Experience, Online Learning]
July 6, 2012
Alan Levine quite rightly takes on this factoid and gnaws at it like a bone: "Research at 3M Corporation concluded that we process visuals 60000 times faster than text." And that's it - no context, no literature, no citation (except for 'research' at 3M corporation. He makes an offer: "I will pay the first person to send me the source of this research $60.00!" Darren Kuropatwa found nothing despite a good look. I scouted a bit myself and found a lot of (name-up) explanations of why this would be the case (like this: This is because we take in all the data from an image simultaneously while we process text in a sequential fashion"). I dipped into Google Scholar and found more references to the same 3M 'research' (which, ironically, has no pictures, so I used a sidebar graphic (above)). So I think Levine has a pretty good point.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Research, Google, Networks]
May 8, 2012
As quoted by Alan Levine, "Cowbird allows you to keep a beautiful audio-visual diary of your life, and to collaborate with others in documenting the overarching 'sagas' that shape our world today. Sagas are themes and events that touch millions of lives and shape the human story. Our short-term goal is to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism, grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events. Our long-term goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons, available for this and future generations to look to for guidance." I was thinking yesterday that we need something like a 'News Commons'. This isn't it, but it looks in the right direction.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Experience, Wikipedia, Open Access, Audio]
May 4, 2012
"Higher education, learning. A concept barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s most massive online course. Edx will be that course. better than it was before. Massive. Open. Online."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Traditional and Online Courses]
April 13, 2012
URLs are what make or break the web. It's a good test of whether an initiative or institution is trying to support or break the web: are they trying to support or undermine URLs? I like my links pure. Without QR opacity, without utm clutter, without hashbang redirects. Just the location, no SEO, thanks. Alan Levine writes about a Jon Udell talk in which he revisits the idea of the link and the URL. And I'm totally enthused about any work toward syndicating events - the idea that we can't just link to calendar events as thought hey were like web pages (or items in an RSS feed) has long vexed me.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: RSS]
March 20, 2012
It used to be that futurists predicted the future. That's no longer in vogue. Now what we see more typically are four (or so) 'scenarios', such as those described by Bryan Alexander in this video shared by Alan Levine. The four (and they always have catchy names): Phantom Learning, The Lost Decade, alt.residential, Renaissance. And they are based on trends, drivers, prediction market outcomes, and other superstitions. I think the use of scenarios tends to make it appear as though people have a choice in determining their own future. But for the most part, future social phenomena lie outside the realm of individual decisions (except as emergent phenomena or chaotic 'butterfly effect' outcomes). Personally, I think the range of possible futures is rather less wide than imagined. I think we can 'read' (rather than 'project') the future, and that a lot of it is pretty basic logic. Cause and effect, supply and demand, the will to power and human nature are much better guides than mathematics and statistics (one - just once - I'd like to see the economists predict the recession and prescribe a fix before it happens, rather than explain why their projections were wrong after). (Update: around the 1:28 mark there's an interesting short discussion of using historians' methods for predicting the future, which addresses some of my points - glad I stayed with it!).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Project Based Learning, Video]
March 20, 2012
So there was a SXSW Edu stream in Austin while we were in New Delhi, and reporting from the front row Alan Levine says there was only one non-meh session at it, Jane McGonigal’s 'Learning is an Epic Win', on the topic of games in learning. The post includes slides and a 48-minute hand-held video of reasonable quality (not great quality, though). Best line from the slides (from Slideshare, which is manifestly not broken): "The opposite of 'play' isn't 'work', it's 'depression'."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Video, Quality]
March 13, 2012
Audio and some commentary from a SXSW session on openness. "The open digital world is characterized by its allowance of free widespread and effortless sharing. Sharing can make our lives richer and more meaningful; as individuals, educators and members of society. Yet only a small portion of the general population, to include the educational community specifically, actively shares in the digital realm. While some lack the time or inclination, others remain unconvinced of the benefits and several are still concerned about negative consequences."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Learning Communities, Online Learning, Audio]
February 27, 2012
I'll just file this Chronicle item under the heading 'yellow journalism' and leave it at that. For as Alan Levine mentions, when you ask people to submit names for a 'top 12' list, and then proceed to list 11 of 12 people who were not even mentioned in the submissions, something is going on in the back rooms. "Chronicle, I love thee, for you continue to bring fodder to toss darts at. It’s as old as snake oil."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
January 13, 2012
I read a paper yesterday that talked about the role of serendipity in personal learning, so I was interested to see this item right after provlaiming that there is no such thing as serendipity. "Serendipity is not a thing,m" says Alan Levine. "You do not create it or cause it or make it.. it happens." True. But as he notes, you can create (or eliminate) conditions that are conducive to serendipity. If you sit in a blank room by yourself all day every we could predict you wouldn't experience much serendipity. Expose yourself to numerous diverse influences, and the chances of serendipity are quite high. But there are no guarantees. It's not automatic. You can't make it happen - you can't manage it.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Experience]
December 19, 2011
Here's a fun thing to try: Pechaflickr (I guess we can't play Pecha Kucha now that some trolls have gone out and trademarked it). Pecha Flickr is even more fun because you play it using Google Hangouts. Of course what really makes it interesting si that the 20 images about which you will be talking are selected at random. Try it here on the website before messing around with Google Hangout (type a tag into the big pink bar). It will launch a new window. I'm thinking this might be a great activity to try for my online Hangout French lessons.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Flickr, Google, Copyrights, Wikipedia]
December 5, 2011
Alan Levine asks an excellent question. But more significantly, in this post, he explains how to find openly-licensed materials in Google search (even though it takes multiple steps). Google should fix this (but then again, since Google+, I've been noticing Google beginning to act against the open web, and that means against open content licensing).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Open Content, Google]
November 9, 2011
I simply agree with Alan Levine here: "Kids can’t search because the questions we are asking ar enough big enough. Let’s stop patting ourselves on our backs for our critical thinking superiority." Not that I sell my critical thinking superiority short - I think I'm a much better reasoner than a 6-year-old. But we as adults have a chronic habit of confusing indifference with inability, a habit we should cure. If we cared to, that is.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Adult Learning]
September 27, 2011
September 8, 2011
I pay for hosting too (this website is hosted by me, privately, and not subsidized by any agency or employer), I know that it's an ongoing cost, and so I am more inclined than most to pass along Alan Levine's plea for support for hosting costs for his widely useful (and used) feed2JS service. P.S. in case you were wondering, it costs me $125 a month to host OLDaily (and also mooc.ca which I run on the same site), with another $25 for Ed Radio, and this comes out of my own pocket. Not that I'm asking for money. But this is what it costs to handle the traffic and offer the service free of advertising and managing of the message that would otherwise come as a cost of the hosting.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Marketing]
August 17, 2011
August 15, 2011
If you're looking for a summer project, why not share something on Alan Levine's
pirate story box? I did. Maybe while listening to his convo with George Siemens. Or D'Arcy Norman. And if you have a fall project to fill out, why not consider hiring him? I would, in a minute.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Project Based Learning]
June 1, 2011
May 26, 2011
Today's fiun and games comes courtesy Alan Levine, who has taken the concept of Pecha Kucha, combined it with Flickr randomness, and created an exercise in improvisation. Can you think on your feet and create a coherent narrative in front of a group of people (as they tweet about your talk behind your back)? If you dare, pecha flickr will through 20 random slides at you for 20 seconds each. I'll give it a live try tomorrow.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Flickr, Twitter]
May 15, 2011
Absolutely fantastic presentation on photography by Alane Levine. Several threads are woven through this talk (summary, slides, video): the difference between amateur and professional, the impact of shooting a photo a day, what learning photography teaches us about learning in general, the use of photos to tell stories, the question of whether photos record truth, the capacities and features (ISO, aperture, shutter speed) of the camera. Presented using examples from Flickr Creative Commons photographs, the whole is engaging, thoughtful, and passionate. Do take the time to browse through the links and additional resources at the bottom of the presentation page. See also: six applications of photography in education.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Flickr, Video]
March 18, 2011
Alan Levine is putting the shutter on his day job hitting the road on a voyage of exploration, and the comments (and gifts) have been pouring in. Among them, a mix tape that can be played at CBC radio - maybe that's the way to share music for the future? Share lists, play form source? It mostly works for me - ah, but where would my live-streaming DJ talents be applied?
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Canada]
March 15, 2011
Alan Levine wonders about all the note-taking. " I found myself wondering about the effectiveness of pretty much half? three quarters? of the audience individually taking notes, essentially more or less the same content. Those notes then go back to various silos, files, buried folders on computers. It seems on on level a huge missed opportunity in collaboration, and super redundant of people's energy." On the one hand, yes, there's a lot of content that could and should be shared. On the other hand, the real value of the notes happens at the moment of the taking of the note - that's when you're engaged with the presentation and working it through in your own mind. But yes, the notes help other people later, and should be shared.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
February 25, 2011
Alan Levine on the purpose of an education: "I envision society as a system of energy, one working against natural tendencies of entropy that drive it to the un-organized state, as we are seeing now between earthquakes and political revolutions. The purpose of education, to me, is as a force that counters what would destroy society, DIYs and OERs and other TLAs are not nearly enough on their own. It's our imperative to have create (not just job reaching) reasons to virally spread a motivation to learn, because our future hinges on its potential energy."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Open Educational Resources, Paradigm Shift]
December 24, 2010
I wouldn't have thought that Alan Levine would be cowed at the thought of offering, with Jim Groom, an open online course, ds106, but I could be wrong. And whether or not he is cowed, this discussion of the potential form and structure of ds106 is interesting. Thus far, the course has no objectives, no schedule, and no synchronous environment like Elluminate. That could be better, as it allows the participants to be led through an exploration, or it could raise issues of its own. The nice part about this is, nobody knows!
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Audio Chat and Conferencing]
November 12, 2010
For me, as most people know, the default is to allow sharing (not reselling - that's a different thing altogether - but sharing) So I am sympathetic with Alan Levine's point here. Though I would hardy single out SlideShare - there are far worse culprits. Meanwhile, after this post, I think I should give Levine a pink pony and urge him to calm down. It's OK if an occasional Bryan Alexander slideshow is marked 'all rights reserved' by accident. These days, when someone asks me what my license is, I say "I don't care." Because, honestly, life is too short to spend worrying about copyright and licenses. Getting all heated up about these things benefits only the lawyers.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Copyrights]
September 26, 2010
Alan Levine postulates that a look at the five billion photos of Flickr would show that people are becoming better photographers. Certainly this is true in my own case, as it is probably of most others for whom cost is no longer a barrier to photography. But it's also a good lesson, he notes, that learning takes time. "Even if I am spending 2 hours a day doing daily photo activity, its going to take me more than 14 years to reach that mark... it just re-iterates to importance of keeping at the practice."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Flickr]
September 14, 2010
I was asked in a conference presentation today about the reserach that supports learner autonomy, I thought George Siemens's answer was better than my own - I talked about the difficulty of evaluating learning outcomes when every learner is seeking to achieve different outcomes. George talked about whether we really need research to understand the benefits of autonomy - nobody would question whether autonomy in the workplace works, for example. All of that said, I think that examples like this post from Alan Levine abound - and this is the sort of example that has actually convinced me over the years. He talks about how he became a much better photographer in the unstructured and informal 'photo a day' exercise. That has been for me pretty much the way I've learned anything of importance to me, whether it be writing, coding software, parsing misleading newspaper coverage, or playing darts. Oh yeah, and photography.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Connectivism, Research]
July 27, 2010
I don't know whether to be outraged or just gaga with bemusement at the Chronicle of Higher Education's latest folly. The article in question is titled "YouTube Better at Funny Cat Videos Than Educational Content, Professors Say." There is, in fact, no reference to cat videos anywhere in the article, nor possibly in the researchers' work (I've written them and asked, but haven't received a reply back). Rather, what we have is a short article telling us that "while many students turn to YouTube when looking for help with their homework, it can be hard to find good-quality educational clips there." This, of course, is outrageously false. And badly argued. As Alan Levine summarizes, "Two experts in biology looked at web videos for keywords in their discipline, and they found it wanting. Therefore, the only thing YouTube is Funny Cat Videos."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: YouTube, Video, Research, Quality]
July 20, 2010
Oh, this is a great idea: "With Backupify, you set up which services you want backed up, the list is growing, but right now, without me lifting a finger, I am getting regular backups of flickr, twitter, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Mail, delicious. I'm looking to add their plugin to my WordPress blogs too."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Flickr, Web Logs, Google]
July 5, 2010
Alan Levine's review of DIY U finds good bits but "there's a certain wafting odor I cannot escape from." It pretends to be objective well-researched journalism, he writes, but "t wavered from obviously highly researched sources where every sentence was footnoted followed by a sentence of sweeping generalization that was just left hanging out there." It leaves the reader wondering whether Kamenetz is describing the state of affairs or advocating something. "Does the author wish to be part of the movement to revolutionize education? Does she have a stake?" And the gap is, "just like Anya paints that the current college system favors those with a pre-disposition to succeed; what we have now in the prototype DIY U also seems to favor people with other pre-dispositions to do well in this different environment."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Research, Online Learning, Paradigm Shift]
June 26, 2010
Sharable: "'I'm tired of sitting in meetings just talking about things. It feels like a waste of my time. Why can't we go out and work while we meet rather than just sitting around a table?' Frase believed you could build stronger relationships with people by working side by side rather than just sitting around a table talking. Her fellow farmers agreed. 'The idea emerged that we'd come together to build community, help each other out, and share a meal,' explains Rob Jones, one of the farmers in attendance that October night. 'We decided we'd call it the Crop Mob.'" I like the idea, but I think that unless you're working locally, with people who know each other, it's a lot harder to set up than it looks.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: none]
June 24, 2010
So, how long before a new Anya comes along and becomes the 'spokesperson' of the secret revolution? This is Alan Levine's slide show for a conference in Edmonton I didn't even know about and hence missed completely, even though I was right in the city. More on the secret revolution here.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Paradigm Shift]
May 27, 2010
March 26, 2010
An enthusiastic, wide-ranging, well-illustrated and detailed look at events in Second Life. "I'm just coming off of a two day utterly engaging experience in what we do at the NMC as online conferences," writes Alan Levine. "These are not your webinar slideshow brigades - for 3 and a half years, we have run two to four conferences per year in a virtual world space, ones where people pay money to attend, and I can say first hand that the ones we have run are a completely different, and from what I have seen, more participatory experience from your typical web-based conference." Maybe that's the secret to creating engaging Second Life events - fee-paying subscribers.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Second Life, Experience]
March 2, 2010
So what are your options when presenting in Second Life? This is particularly relevant because I'll be presenting briefly at a conference in Second Life next week. If not the usual PowerPoint slides - which Alan Levine feels is "perversely wrong" - then what? Audio only? Really, that's the only practical alternative - it takes me maybe 15 minutes or so to make a slide, but would take days to create the equivalent 3D representation. Audio I can handle - but yeah, you need "that great FM radio voice."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Second Life, Audio]
February 1, 2010
Google is quietly enabling social search in some search services. For example, Alan Levine has discovered a link at the bottom of the Google Image search that provides results from his friends' photos. Me, I only have two contacts in the Google empire, so my image search is somewhat more limited (though I did learn a lot about who my two contacts are connected to, thanks to the second-degree of friendship search).
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Google]
January 29, 2010
Alan describes an open seminar on new media - "not everything that there is like a Massively Online Open Course, but doing the same readings, watching the same videos, and then we will have both the Baylor group and anyone else following along from afar engage in discussions in an online shared space." This week looking at such works as As We May Think, the famous 1945 essay by Vannevar Bush, published in The Atlantic. It occurs to me as I read this (and this is not a criticism of the course) that some of these seminal works would profit from a twelve-week read, not a one-week read. It's pretty easy to breeze through an essay in a week, but a longer and broader look would tease out why it's important.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Books, Video, New Media]
November 23, 2009
An unusual event took place in Doha, Qatar, this week, a sort of "Davos of Education" as about 1000 educators, business people, and others were whisked to the Middle-eastern venue for three days of talks and presentation of an action agenda at the World Innovation Summit in Education (WISE). I think I would have been pretty unhappy with the event and I sense some lingering scepticism from Alan Levine in this summary, tempered with an admiration for the many educational projects around the world. I must confess, if I were at Davos, I would be rather more comfortable being with the protesters outside the building. Just saying.
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Project Based Learning]
October 2, 2009
OK, let me first put out a global call to get a Google Wave invitation to Alan Levine, the CogDog, because if anyone would use it well, he would (sorry Alan, by invites disappeared within ten minutes of me getting them). That said, he is jumping for joy over Evernote, the tool that allows him to capture clippings, contents and other snippets from the web for use later. "What impresses me," he writes, "is how fast, simple, and seamless the moving of content into Evernote is, as well as how it moves back out to my iPhone and back."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Google]
September 14, 2009
We are told repeatedly - most recently by President Obama - that we should watch out what we put in Facebook, because future employers may be looking. My own advice - that we should refrain from actually doing stupid things - doesn't get any airplay; people are far more concerned about the recording of stupid things than the doing of them. But this approach does suggest, as Alan Levine demonstrates, an effective strategy. Create a fake Facebook page, where we blatantly lie about our past. After all, since employers will be looking at these uncritically, this tactic is guaranteed to be successful. isn't it? "Who in their right mind will weigh your current achievements with the same consideration as what you were doing 20 years ago?" asks Levine. "It makes no sense to me."
[Comment] [Direct Link] [Tags: Books]
September 1, 2009