Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
October 10, 2002

An Introduction... to the hard Semantic Web... in simple Haiku Complex semantics... expressed in so many ways... my favorite link... By Sean B. Palmer ..., on the 10th of October... 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

IMS Learning Design Reaches Public Draft Stage IMS has approved the public draft of the Learning Design specification. As the author notes, "the principles behind it have been around for a few years in the form of the Open University of the Netherlands' (OUNL) Educational Modelling Language (EML). The difference is that IMS Learning Design is simpler in some respects and is designed to act as an integration of a number of other existing IMS specs; chiefly IMS content packaging, IMS Metadata/LOM, IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) and IMS Simple Sequencing." No word on when IMS will actually post the draft to their website - the most recent item available is last August's Digital Repositories spec. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, October 8, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students' File Sharing Overloads College Networks It's the perfect solution. Everyone is happy except the students. Just kidding. But seriously, you have to be sympathetic with network administrators at Buffalo State College where student file transfers (which continue unabated despite the recording industry's 'success' in shutting down file trading networks such as Napster) are swamping the university network, making it impossible to conduct normal college business. Administrators are "limiting the capacity on the circuits that parcel data packets to residence halls during the day, when faculty and staff are on campus. The idea is to give administrators enough network capacity to keep the campus running." By AP, CNN, October 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MS Backs Away From Media Copy Restrictions Some dry commentary on Microsoft's decision to back away from embedding media copy restrictions into its operating system. "Numerous studies have confirmed for Microsoft what any fool knows: people are not much interested in a home-entertainment device masquerading as a computer that burns special mission-impossible DVDs which can't be played on any device other than the specific machine which recorded them." By Thomas C Greene, The Register, October 9, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students and Faculty Members Turn to Online Library Materials Before Printed Ones, Study Finds This report from a session at EDUCAUSE in Atlanta is a mildly skewed report on a presentation showing that most students and faculty members turn to online sources first when conducting research. The skew is that the author (or the presenter - it's hard to tell which) wants us also to believe that "although most view print as a more reliable source of information." According to the article, Leigh Watson Healy, a vice president for Outsell who supervised the study, "says that 96 percent of the people polled said they verified online information through some other source, either an instructor or print material." This is unfortunately vague: do all people verify 96 percent of the information they receive (highly doubtful)? Do 96 percent of the people verify all online information (also very doubtful)? Or do 96 percent verify some material sometimes? In which case, we have no real idea of how much online information is really verified, and how much is taken at face value, and no idea, therefore, of whether people trust print more (or more often) than they trust online resources. By Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 3, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MS Offer It hasn't made the news yet, but Microsoft is apparently investigating the idea of donating free software to schools. "I got a very nice email from a lady who works for MS asking if I am still trying to load Linux on old machines at my school. It seems MS is now looking into making available OS's and Works for older machines in schools. She says she hopes it will be free, and wants to come visit." I have no independent confirmation of this report. By Dave Prentice, SEUL-EDU, October 9, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect] Matches Microsoft Software Donation Offers! Microsoft's officer, predictably, has raised the hackles of the Linux in education community. This article is typical. Writes the author, "If your school, charity or government agency is suddenly graced with a visit by Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer offering to donate a free operating system or desktop office software, will match that offer. Our software offer has no strings attached to it whatsoever. You don't need to start paying for upgrades after a few years or anything like that.... To register your copy of your chosen Linux distribution, all you have to do is mutter "free as in free beer and free as in free speech" under your breath while it installs." By Robin Miller (Roblimo), NewsForge, October 10, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes