Stephen's Web

By Stephen Downes
January 29, 2003

Campus Bookstores Have Best Buys, Study Says This is one of those articles that could not possibly have any other headline. According to this study, sponsored by the National Association of College Stores (NACS), college stores give you the best bargains. Heh. And according to a study conducted by OLDaily, OLDaily gives you the best selection of e-learning news items. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. (Via, somewhat surprisingly, Collegis Need-To-Know, which should know better.) By Jennifer Nalewicki and Brandi Grissom, The Daily texan, January 16, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

US Tightens Net Copyright "United States trade negotiators are pushing for Australia to sign up to a tough new copyright regime that could hold internet service providers liable for breaches." In particular, the U.S. would like to see Australia hold ISPs accounable for usage and to have Australia impose criminal sanctions against file sharing. It's bad enough, in my view, that the U.S. has the DMCA. But it's even worse now that they're exporting it. By January 28, 2003,, January 28, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Record Industry Has No Plan to Seek Names of Students Trading Copyrighted Songs "We may have lost a few games but I have complete confidence in the manager of our baseball team and we have no immediate plans to replace him." Yeah. Right. That's what this item sounds like. But perhaps I'm too sceptical. And do note how Cary H. Sherman, president and general counsel of the Recording Industry Association of America, leaves the door open: "Mr. Sherman says he believes that colleges qualify as Internet service providers under the digital copyright law. So the institutions can be subpoenaed to hand over the names of infringing students, he says." Good reporting from the Chronicle. By Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Companies Test Prototype Wireless Sensor Nets Ah... I just want you to ponder this for a minute. Self-organizing wireless-sensor networks, a realization of the Pentagon's "smart-dust" concept, have reached the prototype stage worldwide. Autonomous sensing and communication in a cubic millimeter. See also this link. And where we'll be in 2010. By R. Colin Johnson, EE Times, January 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Newspaper Sites Move to Registration Model Newspapers are increasingly requiring user registrations before they allow access. This is in response to their advertisers' desire for readership demographics. "We've gone from zero dollars to seven figures in 2002 -- all from sponsored e-mail products [that require user registration]." Heh. People are paying for the data supplied on those forms? Won't they be surprised to learn that I'm not a 103 year old woman from southern California (Zip code 90210 to be exact)! Don't expect advertisers to keep paying so much money for this data. By Carl Sullivan, Editor and Publisher, January 23, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Big Test for Linux You need to read between the lines of this story. It's not so much that SCO Group (formerly Caldera) is seeking to obtain royalties for work it feels it ownes, and which may have found its way into open source software. Rather, it's the shift in tactics against the open source movement, a shift from trying to compete against it in terms of quality and support toward trying to litigate it out of existence. SCO is a good candidate for such initiative, sitting as it does on a number of unix patents it inherited from AT&T's Bell Labs. You may say that SCO is only seeking a fair return on its investment. But in reality it is seeking to cash in on decades of free software development undertaken by the Linux community after sitting quietly in the sidelines, saying nothing about its supposed ownership of parts of the operating system. And worse, it is being used as a shill to support the commodification of all of that development. By Eric Hellweg, Business 2.0, January 27, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect] Shuts Down As Columbia Withdraws More coverage of Columbia's decision to shut down Fathom. "The people who committed themselves to this believed that the Internet universe would expand at a certain rate and with a certain profile, and it didn't happen," Professor Richard Bulliet said. "It was a gamble, and it didn't work out. I don't think there was anything you could point to that would have made it work." Well that's a nice rationalization, but the numbers (number of web sites, number of web users, page hits) don't bear it out. What sunk Fathom was that students weren't willing to pay the prices required to make the investment-heavy initiative profitable. And why should thay? By Chris Beam, Columbia Daily Spectator, January 27, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

College Loans Rise, Swamping Dreams When CDs were first released, the cost to produce an album was cut in half while the price to buy that album doubled almost overnight. Consumers have never forgotten, and now the record companies are reaping their wrath. Why would an industry that shows such a callous disregard for its customers deserve any consideration in the face of a technology that threatens to wipe it out? Well, the university is in the same position as the music industry. Reacting (if it could be called that) to the information economy, universities are continuing to raise tuitions at an accelerating rate. The possibility of owing tens of thousands of dollars is daunting. Or to put it another way: at 43, I still owe money on my student loans - a fact that ruined my credit for many years, placing me at a distinct financial disadvantage. Now I ask: why would anyone display any loyalty, or any consideration whatsoever, should an alternative arise? By continually raising tuition, the university system is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Mark my words. By Greg Winter, New York Times, January 28, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Response to Globe and Mail Article: Bank tunes in to TV training Satellite-based training up from time to time as the next big thing. Responding to article in the Globe and Mail, Learnstream's Ken Reimer explains why satellite-based may leave employers - and employees - cold. "This was supposed to be a training session, but it didnít look like much learning was happening. Some were fidgeting, looking out the window, at the ATM customers. No one was armed with a pen and paper for taking notes." By Ken Reimer, Learnstream, January 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright © 2003 Stephen Downes
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