Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
August 7, 2002

Hoax E-mails and Bonsai Kittens: Are You E-literate in the Docuverse? "If it's on the internet, it must be true." As you pick yourslf back up off the floor (where you were ROTFL), take seriously the idea that this starting premise is the subject of the author's sceptical rant. The article concludes with the image of the author hauling her child off to the (now empty) library and is filled with urgings of the need for critical reflection. The author also wants us to linger more, to read more carefully and constructively, than we do on the internet. To pause and ask who wrote this item and why they wrote it. Well. If you ask me, poeple have a much healthier scepticism of online information than they ever did of the printed word. Yes, they read more quickly and even superficially. That's what allows them to get a somewhat wider view of the world. People linger - even online - when there's something worth lingering over. By Angela Lewis, First Monday, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Power of Portals Decent coverage of the now well-established trend of colleges and universities to deploy institutional portals. A couple of important errors: first, contrary to the article's suggestion, a portal should not be thought of as an alternative to sending emails; indeed, your portal should send a personalized email newsletter every day. Second, purchasing a major commercial system does not, as the article suggests, mean that campuses no longer need teams of programmers to maintain their online presence. Installing and maintaining such a system is a major enterprise and may involve the hiring of extra staff. By Florence Olsen, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 9, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

College Students Spend $200 Billion Per Year A quick snapshot into the lives (and spending habits) of American college students: junk food, entertainment, computers and cars. "Technology, and, therefore, spending on technology, plays a central role in the lives of college students. With 93% accessing the Internet, college students are the most connected segment of the population. Ninety-two percent (92%) own a computer, and 13% say they plan to buy one in the next year." By Various Authors, Harris Interactive, July 29, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Talking Past Each Other: Making Sense of the Debate over Electronic Publication Good article on scholarly publishing that captures the author's astonishment (and my astonishment) that academics continue to submit articles to traditional journals. "The vast majority of faculty members continue to sign over copyright in order to disseminate their scholarly work through traditional publishing models with little regard for ownership issues and subscription fees. Nothing much of course is going to change as long as academic excellence is measured in tonnage weighted by rankings on the appropriate citation index." By David J. Solomon, First Monday, August, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard, Chalking Up Success Interesting little item explaining Blackboard's success. The gist of the item, as the title suggests, is that Blackboard has been successful because it follwoed sound business practices. Closer reading tells you that Blackboard (a) got financing, and (b) didn't fritter it away. There's a strong undercurrent that suggests that Blackboard succeeded because it did not give away its product for free - this is a bit of a red herring, though, because its major competitors didn't give away free software either, despite what the article says. This article is so positive... why does it give me the feel of someone taking over the radio to announce that "All is well, there is no cause for concern." By Staff, Washington Post, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes