Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
January 21, 2003

2003 Annual Speaker Survey Promoters of the 2003 Distance Learning conference in Wisconsin have distributed this list of topics previous conference speakers expect to set the agenda for this year. Most of the projections are hit and miss. The best of the bunch is probably the set of issues raised by Saul Carliner: catching up during the tech slowdown, the misfiring of enterprise solutions, the emergence of synchronous learning (a mistake, in my opinion, but a wildly popular mistake), less talk about standards, more talk about knowledge management. By Various Authors, University of Wisconsin-Madison, January, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ISPs 'Should Pay' for Music Swapping The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is toying with the idea of asking for a tax on internet service providers (ISPs) that allow users to use file trading systems. We will hold ISPs more accountable," said Hillary Rosen, chair and chief executive of the RIAA. No word on how the RIAA intends to distribute royalties to independent producers and writers of all the non-industry content being exchanged using those same systems. By Reuters, ZDNet UK, January 20, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

HP Says It Now Gets $2 Billion of Sales From Linux Still think there's no money in free software? "Hewlett- Packard, the world's largest personal computer maker, said on Tuesday it had annual sales of $2 billion linked to the Linux open computer-operating system, the fast-growing rival to Microsoft's Windows." By Reuters, San Jose Mercury News, January 21, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Day at the Office in 2013 A cautionary note amid a workplace utopia: "On this day, at 8:30 am, Gregor Samson will receive his first "referral," an auto-generated, monthly employee report from the CSI. The report informs him that in the last 30 days he has spent 6 percent of his time browsing non-authorized Web locations, 23 percent in video conferences, 1.33 percent in the 4th floor lavatory, and 6 percent at the nearby Starbucks coincident with another 8x employee. He is also made aware that he is over budget in his application usage, which is metered by the minute." The minute any employer tries that on me, I'm out of there. I'd rather sell (bad) art on the street. By Dan Farber, ZDNet Tech Update, January 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Understanding Information Architecture Rusty Foster's article - and the subsequent discussion on the Online News mailing list - got me to thinking. All this discussion makes me wonder why my website looks the same, day after day. Only the content changes. I am wondering how to approach it so that I could have a new look each day, with a consistent style, but something fresh for people to look at and enjoy. Something like this. I am daunted, though, by the mechanics. It takes a long time to come up with a decent design; doing it daily would be a task. It would be nice to have a nice development environment that would create clean, liquid design visually, allowing me to stream my content into assigned areas. I haven't seen any such tool (doesn't mean it doesn't exist). But more, I am wondering about the purpose of such an approach. How would I use the elements of variable web site design? Would it be to create focus and draw attention to more important items, as a traditional newspaper does with its front page layout? Much to think about... By Rusty Foster, Online Journalism Review, January 17, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

MS Announces Windows Media 9 DRM Tool, Music Alliances The release of Microsoft's Windows Media Data Session for Windows Media 9 hasn't attracted widespread media coverage (to judge from Google News), but it should. The purpose of this software is to allow "media companies to protect content delivered to consumers by putting music on to a copy-controlled CD in multiple layers." In addition to the software, a list of key supporters - including CD manufacturer MPO, Universal Music Group and EMI - suggests that the music industry supports the new format. But will consumers? Windows media 9 is being touted as an alternative to MPEG 4, which means yet another stupid standards war. More to the point, the questions remains whether people are willing to give up control of the content on their own computer. If this initiative is successful, expect it to be emulated for a wide variety of content. But if it fails (or succumbs to a widely distributed hack, as happened to DVD and Adobe copy protection formats), then chalk it up as just another dubious technology. More coverage on BetaNews, News Interactive, CNet and PC Advisor. By John Lettice, The Register, January 20, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Fathoming the Future of eLearning Still deeply in denial, executives at Fathom try to analyze the failure of Columbia's online learning division. It was the customer's fault. "The average consumer still doesn't understand what online learning really is," said Kirschner. From this article, it looks like staff at Cornell's e-learning division are in the same mode (and based on this article, I would say that it may be headed to a similar fate). By Chris Mitchell, Cornell Daily Sun, January 20, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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