Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
November 27, 2002

UNICEF Ranks Countries on Academics This article is a reasonable representation of a report released by UNICEF compaing the rates of teenagers in OCED countries lagging in reading and mathematics. What is interesting - and you have to read the full report to get this, is the the best predictor of whether a teen will lag is the economic status of the parent. Thus we see that marginal improvements in a child's early education - such as the provision of good nutrition - have a noticible effect in high school. What is not an predictor, interestingly, is the amount of money spent on the teens education. By Reuters, CNN, November 26, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Online and All Together Short item about the development of Omnium, a graphic-design Web studio where students participate in lectures and work on group assignments online. I like the stories of utter failure in the early versions, I like the emergence of 'Omnium time' and I like the design philosophy that, in the end, developed. Thanks to Mitchell for the pointer. By Lia Timson, Sydney Morning Herald, November 26, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

I demand the Story Be Taken Down Immediately - RIAA The Register finds itself in a flap for saying that "the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has mounted a daring raid on the US Navy" in the seizure of cadet computers held to be containing downloaded MP3s. "At no time did we demand that the Naval Academy confiscate computers," writes RIAA representative Amy Weiss. From what I've seen of the RIAA's tactics, including their endorsement of the Thursday seizure of a hundred cadets' computers, it is Weiss's contention, not the Register's, that skirts the boundaries of truth. By Andrew Orlowski, The Register, November 25, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Memorandum Submitted by the Lochi Free Software Users' Group The software company remains nameless (but one guess as to which one it is), but these Indian teachers see right through its plans. Responding to a proposed curriculum requiring the use of this software, they write that "Providing schools or other educational institutions software at little or no cost, while the same software is sold at very high prices in the open market is a marketing trick." Moreover, "The government or the schools should not have to constantly worry about licensing issues and should be free to teach. Imposing proprietary software on the schools means pushing the school administrations and managements into the difficult and tricky area of license management." By Various Authors, Free Software User Group - Kochi, November 16, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Calling Off the Copyright War Article that takes a stand based on common sense against the curremt copyright regime. The author draws on evocative images - such as ASCAP filing suit against the Girl Scouts for royalties on songs sung around the campfire - to show the futility and impracticality of enforcement. "It's a bad idea," writes the author, "to tighten control over ideas and their expressions. Freedom of trade must not trump freedom of mind." By Jonathan Zittrain, Boston Globe, November 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Students Learning to Evade Moves to Protect Media Files Weak story from the New York Times that provides no evidence for its main contention that colleges across the country are seeking "to stem the torrent of unauthorized digital media files flowing across their campus computer networks." No real examples, for that matter, of student countermeasures. By Amy Harmon, New York Times, November 27, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2002 Stephen Downes