Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
May 24, 2002

RSS and Javascript OLDaily Feeds RSS and Javascript feeds are working properly again. This allows you to very easily add OLDaily to your web page. As time goes by I will greatly increase the capacity of these feeds, creating a wide variety of options and customization. But baby steps first. Click on the link and scroll down to 'website support' and you will find everything you need. By Stephen Downes, OLDaily, May 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Course-Management Companies Are Still Seeking Elusive Profits I felt like a voice in the wildreness through last fall and winter when I predicted an e-learning slump this summer, but as the reports come in my pessimism has been vindicated. This article highlights reports from three major e-learning companies who, depite bold predictions last fall, are still some distance away from profitability. This follows a report last week in Information Week describing drooping fortunes on the corporate side of the house. OK, the bad news first: the industry hasn't hit bottom yet - the combined effect of standards confusion (and misrepresentations), price increases and raised expectations has yet to take hold. And the industry-wide consolidation that I've been predicting still hasn't happened (watch for it in June or July, I would say). The bottom will come no later than July and by October everybody will be singing Happy Days again. By Michael Arnone, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Give it Away Now I think there is a solid lesson to be learned here for people who are princing online learning. "You want to stop piracy? Make your CDs affordable. I'm not going to spend three hours turning and burning a CD ... if it's an $8 CD." What gets me about this article is the brief lesson on CD economics. "The CD itself costs about 32 cents in a large production run... Add packaging and the price goes to 54 cents. Add the cut for a new artist, somewhere between 10 and 50 cents, and your cost nears a buck." According to the RIAA, CD's retail for an average $14.02 (all figures in U.S. dollars). This is why there is piracy, and it's as simple as that. Now, over to education. The same logic applies. The actual cost of delivering learning online can be very low. But online learning providers - and especially universities - have been in no rush to lower prices. Now I know, there will be all sorts of moaning and groaning about how much it costs to create and deliver top quality education. Well, yeah. But such costs only create an environment where piracy and quackery thrive (hence all the agony about copy protecting textbooks and journals, degree mills, non-accredited institutions and more). I have said it before and I will say it again: the only way to preserve the public education system (and most of your jobs) is to make education affordable. By Thomas Claburn, Salon, may 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AOL Time Warner: Time to Grow Up, Fast J.D. Lasica can add another branch to his laurals with this solid inside look at AOL Time Warner as a media company. Instead of looking at the short term stock market play, the mainstay of most business journalists, Lasica looks at the impact of the merger from the public's point of view, especially with regard to the media giant's news publishing. The internet side of the company, AOL, serves up mostly fluff, prompting Lasica to ask, "Does AOL believe all 34 million of its members are morons?" But there are bright spots exhibiting insightful and serious journalism; Lasica looks at Business 2.0 in some detail, a worthwhile publication frequently mentioned in OLDaily. On the bright side, he writes, the editorial independence of Time Warner publications remains intact and it looks like there is room for content from outside the company (just as there is on HBO), but there is also good reason for readers to remain vigilent. This is a solid piece of writing, and even if not dealing directly with education, should be read by educators. By J.D. Lasica, Online Journalism Review, May 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Real-Time Weblogs About two years ago I sat at the back of the room and sent an update to the WWWDEV list server about the presentation happening at the NAWeb conference. A couple of hours later I stood at the podium during my own talk and sent another message to the mailing list (if this wasn't a world's first, it was pretty darn close). This opened my eyes to what wireless access would do to things like conferences and classrooms. This capacity has now hit the leading edge of developers, as web logging maven Dave Winer observes in this article. "The whole notion of an audience changes. We no longer have to line up at the microphones, nor are we limited to asking questions. Instead we can relate what's happening on stage to the whole world, or at least that part of the world that cares, and they can help us develop the story." By Dave Winer, DaveNet, May 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Visions Of a Wild and Wireless Future Ignore the headline, which is typical newspaper sensationalism. Though the article mentions wireless, the important bit of this article us summed up in the comment that "The Internet is an architectural philosophy, rather than a technology." That's really important to keep in mind when thinking about future inter networking possibilities. The philosophy, of course, is the concept of an open and distributed network system. The exact technologies that ride on the system - be they TCP or HTTP - and even the media - be they wires, fiber, wireless or even carrier pigeons - are irrelevant. This interview with Robert Kahn, one of the fathers of the Internet, really helps you take the long view (something far too few people are doing today). By Shannon Henry, Washington Post, May 23, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes