“The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind”

Edge, Jan 21, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

One of the questions I ask myself on a regular basis is whetehr I should abandon low-level scripting in languages like Perl and managing my own server in favour as, as Boris Mann calls it, the new hack stack. The old hack stack is and was called LAMP - Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl (or PHP). But these days servers are constructed in environments like Ruby on Rails or Django and services are often plug-in, hosted elsewhere and accessed via APIs, like MailChimp for mailing lists or Amazon Web Service for data hosting. Now LAMP itself is and was a viable alternative to large enterprise computing, the sort of environment you would set up for an institutional LMS, as Brian Lamb discusses here. I'd feel more like a stick-in-the-mud had I not put in my time on both the enterprise side and the new stack side. I think the different systems have strengths depending on what you're trying to do. For full-service startup sites class2go the new stack is great. For institution-strength LMSs supporting services like Desire2Learn's new Binder application, enterprise is the way to go. Just in the same way for groups and activities, Facebook and Twitter and other social networks give people what they need. But for personal computing, I think I'm still wanting my own server and my own applications, using but not depending on these online services.

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