Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
September 10, 2002

Secret CIO: Beware The Blog In Your Company's Future The author, a CIO of a multibillion-dollar international company, rants against blogs. He complains about the "...amount of time people will spend on the blogs they feel compelled to monitor, and worse, create. As it is, we spend a large part of our day wading through stuff to find the achingly infrequent important messages." But blogs act as filters so we don't have to wade through hundreds of posts. Worse, he writes, "the last thing you want are uncontrolled and ever-expanding records of individual activities and opinions" because of the potential for litigation... "what you've said way back when may really hurt you." I personally think that it's good that we have such a record. So that when multibillion-dollar international companies (inevitably) break the law, we can catch them. By Herbert W. Lovelace, Information Week, September 9, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Being Objective Jay Cross takes some time to summarize (in random, chaotic fashion (it's OK, he has an excuse)) the learning object forum recently held at Menlo Park. The first part of the discussion is the usual wrangle over a definition of learning objects (and once again, someone tries to build (a particular) pedagogy into the definition). But a furor erupts when NETg's Brendon Towle declared that the reuse of learning objects is a fairy tale. You don't expect a great movie to be made up of recycled bits and pieces; the great ones are made from scratch. We want engagement. Why expect reuse?" It's an interesting analogy, and one that gives me pause. Of course, at a certain level it's false: the cameras, the actors, the gaffers, the wiring and the furniture used on the movie set will all be reused or rehired (as the case may be). There is a lot of reuse in the movie industry. And of course, the movie itself is shown over and over and over again - it's not like a command performance of Shakespeare in front of the Queen. Still... By Jay Cross, Internet Time, September 6, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Business of learning Objects Part Two of jay Cross's summary of the Menlo Park symposium on learning objects. The confusion continues. Consider this: "Nightmare from 2004: Expo at eLearning Taiwan. You want the entire NETg library? $10. How about SmartForce? $10." But the problem isn't Asian copyright piracy: the problem is millions of U.S. college kids using the 2004 version of Napster. People who create learning objects have to stop thinking of them as though they were books you could sell. Jay Cross has it right: "Back to the issue of whether one will be ripped off, i.e. by losing control of an object? My answer is that yes, sure, you can plan on it. But the question is based on an outdated concept of business. In the Industrial Age, we added value by making and selling things. Sales transactions ruled. In the Intangibles Age, or whatever we call it now, we seek to form relationships -- channels people will subscribe to. Don't give me money for the cash register; sign up for a continuing steam of payments. And for the developer of learning objects, this means staying ahead of the game by producing new stuff and lowering your expectations of getting rich off past accompllishments." By Jay Cross, Internet Time, September 6, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Book Forager Interesting. This service (and the next one, below) offer a means of searching for books according to various qualities: in this case use a sliding scale to select from happy/sad, safe/unsafe and so on. The tool mostly works: you get what you searched for. Of course, this is not SCORM compliant metadata - it seems the rest of the world is evolving independent standards. Oh what will we do? By Various Authors, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AllReaders.Com Another website that does the same thing. Choose the percentage of action, romance and other qualities you want in a book from a dropdown menu. From the choices offered you can obtain a review with detailed assessments in each category. I shudder to think of how long it took to provide data for each book. Also, while both Book Forager and AllReaders provide great tools for finding books, in neither case was I able to do what I really wanted: read the book. We need an end-to-end system here: sending me to a library after my online search defeats the whole idea. By Various Authors, Undated [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning to Unlearn and Relearn I like the way the authors tie together the writings of Toffler and McLuhan with the idea of unlearning in the new economy. This item is filled with links - crammed, in fact - and they could have taken a couple more paragraphs to moderate the flow of ideas. For example: there are two sorts of unlearning, one in which we need to unlearn the rules of the older industrial paradigm as we enter the information age, and one in which learning and unlearning is the normal state of affairs once we are within the information age. These are two very different types of unlearning but in this article any differences are glossed over. And people need to know that unlearning isn't something they need to do just once: it is something that happens on a continuous basis. By Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox, Web Tools Newsletter, September 9, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes