Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
December 26, 2002

Year of the Blog As the year-end approaches, we will see more article like this one celebrating the popularity and effectiveness of blogs. While 2003 will see the increased expansion of blogs into areas such as research and learning, next year will in all liklihood be known as the year of the abandoned blog. Now I don't want to discount the rosy predictions (but seriously, haven't we been through this before with so many other technologies?) but I want to reflect in my prediction the fact that it is hard to maintain a blog - not hard technically, but hard to think of something new to say, day after day, year after year. By Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Tech Central Station, December 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Taste of Wine Online Just for the holidays - a free online wine-tasting course. Wine not included (I hear it shorts out the modems on the download). By Various Authors, ProChef.Com, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Welcome to Estariís 2-VU Dual Screen Computer This is an interesting concept - a laptop that opens like a book, with screens on the left and right hand side. I don't think I'd want to use the on-screen keyboard, but I can think of many other uses for such a device. By Unknown, Estari, December, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Library Terms Evaluated in Usability Tests and Other Studies So you provide a website with a variety of services for your library. It turns out that most students have no idea what your links mean. You have two choices: you could teach every student in the university the nuances of library jargon, or you could change your link titles. This article doesn't explicitly recommend one choice or another, but I think your direction is clear. After all, when 100% of participants chose "E-Journals" instead of "Databases" in order to "research journal or magazine articles" then you have a long uphill battle against common sense to try to train them to use your vocabulary. By John Kupersmith, John Kupersmith's Webspace, December 13, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

2, 4, 6, 8, Let's All Collaborate Elearnspace picked up this nice blog entry that discusses a survey showing that the only collaboration tool to have shown any improvement in productivity is email. I also agree with the analysis: "Which collaborative digital tools seem to work? What gets people to coordinate, to work together to a common goal? And my answer: dumb simple ones. Email. Instant messaging. Simple bulletin boards like bugzilla. Voice telephone calls. Weblogs." OK, well, while I don't use my telephone any more (so don't call me, OK?), I do use the rest. Simplicity works. Feature bloat - afflicting everything from Outlook to learning managemet systems - doesn't work. "This will likely frustrate the hell of out big software vendors, who want to develop over-engineered software solutions that require many servers and for which they can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because, frankly, those things don't work." By Peter Merholz,, December 14, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Court Rules Missouri College Illegally Charged Tuition Universities with regulated tuition have a long history of charging extra fees, saying they are not tuition. But, of course, it is tuition, and it can be illegal. This story describes how lawyer Bob Herman successfully sued the University of Missouri for illegally charging tuition for 15 years, leading to a court decision this month could lead to as much as $500 million in refunds. I have a strong sympathy for such cases. In 1991 I and a group of graduate students took the University of Alberta to court for exactly the same infraction, leading to almost a million dollars in fee repayments. I handed many of the refund cheques out personally, something that to this day gives me great satisfaction. By AP, CNN, December 24, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2002 Stephen Downes