Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
January 14, 2003

Brains, Minds and Teaching I wish I had the full text version of this item and not just the slide show, because I'm not sure I agree with it in its details. But there is a lot to chew on in this HTML version of a PowerPoint presentation connecting current brain function research and teaching methodology. The best bit is the discussion of semantic versus episodic memory near the middle of the document. My main thought, though, is that what we are seeing here is very much a simplification of what actually happens. We may be able to represent semantic memory using concept maps for the purposes of an entry-level introduction, but readers should not think that we actually have concept maps in the brain. By Massimo Pigliucci, Unknown [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Subconscious Mind of the Consumer (And How To Reach It) Interesting article picked up by elearningpost discussing advertising, marketing and the subconscious mind. The connections to education are obvious. In a nutshell, "Insights about the workings of the cognitive unconscious including memory, attention, information processing, the nature of human universals, and socially shared cognitions, and the neurobiology of figurative thinking, for instance, have already outdated most thinking and current practices among managers." I would add that such insights have also outdated most thinking about teaching pedagogy and practice. By Manda Mahoney, HBS Working Knowledge, January 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

University Edits Words of Anarchist Although it is raising funds to support its collection of her papers, UC Berkeley does not want you to read the following two quotes from Emma Goldman work: In one of the quotations, from 1915, Goldman called on people "not yet overcome by war madness to raise their voice of protest, to call attention of the people to the crime and outrage which are about to be perpetrated on them." In the other, from 1902, she warned that free-speech advocates "shall soon be obliged to meet in cellars, or in darkened rooms with closed doors, and speak in whispers lest our next-door neighbors should hear that free-born citizens dare not speak in the open." Perhaps the Emma Goldman collection would be safer in less discriminating hands. By Dean E. Murphy, L.A. Daily News, January 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New TurboTax Activation Feature Triggers Backlash Thinking of using copy-prevention technology to protect online learning content? If so, be prepared for an angry consumer backlash. This is what happened when people who purchased a new copy of Intuit's new TurboTax software discovered it was restricted to a single computer. As this report summarizes, "In a fusillade of online attacks, customers are blasting the change... In hundreds of online product reviews and postings in newsgroups, customers are deriding TurboTax and urging people to switch to H&R Block's TaxCut software, which doesn't require an activation code. Some people are taking heed." By Michael Liedtke, San Francisco Chronicle, January 8, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Judge: Kazaa Can Be Sued In U.S. Proving that the court system learns very slowly from developments in other countries, a U.S. judge has ruled that file-swapping service Kazaa is subject to U.S. law. As Vin Crosbie summaries, "Kazaa, which is based in Australia and incorporated in the island republic of Vanuatu, can be sued in U.S. courts for copyright infringement. Federal Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that because Kazaa does substantial business in the U.S. and is alleged to engage in copyright infringement, it is subject to U.S. copyright law." Perhaps the judge has not considered the implications of a U.S. company being subject to Australian and Vanuatu law. Nope, probably didn't occur to the judge at all. By Roy Mark, Internet.Com, January 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Jupiter Research Analyst Weblogs I have mentioned before the potential use of blogs in research and other academic activities. Yesterday this was realized as Jupiter Research announced the launch of several research blogs authored by their analysts. By Various Authors, Jupiter Research, January 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MPAA Spurns Digital Copyright Plans Technology vendor groups and the recording industry have reached an agreement in the United States. The recording industry as agreed that it will not lobby for legislation requiring that digital rights be enforced in all new technology. In return, the technology companies agreed to lobby to give recording companies permission to hack file exchange systems they suspect are being used to copy copyrighted material. The film industry, meanwhile, has rejected the compromise and consumer groups are unimpressed. As a commentator in DRM Watch wrote today, "The time-honored process for evolving the U.S. copyright laws, so well documented by Jessica Litman in her book, Digital Copyright, is afoot again: two factions representing influential special interests have negotiated an "offline" compromise that ignores or only coincidentally represents the interests of other factions." By Ted Bridis, Associated Press, January 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

FasTrac Program in Partnership with Advanced Distributed Learning I have a couple of documents in my in-box describing in detail this recently announced initiative (so far as I know they are not publicly available so I can't link to them). In particular, I have a detailed description of the FasTrac project, which is essentially the development of a learning object repository network, and I have a set of slides describing a collaborative agreement between SCORM and ATT. It would help OLDaily readers a lot if someone from ADL could send me a note to confirm that these documents are online and to pass along the links. For everybody else - stay tuned: there are significant developments coming from ADL and I will pass on information just as soon as I know that it is publicly available. By Press Release, ADL, December 12, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter?

Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list at

[ About This NewsLetter] [ OLDaily Archives] [ Send me your comments]

Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.