By Stephen Downes
April 14, 2003

Scholarly Associations and the Economic Viability of Open Access Publishing
A nice analysis of the economics of open access publication for academic societies. As the author notes, the bulk of income for these societies is derived from journal subscriptions, so at first glance they would take a significant hit were fees to be waived. But for many societies (probably the majority), the cost of publishing the journal exceeds subscription revenues, and so the publication is in general a drain on revenue from mebers' fees. Associations would come out ahead were they to abandon the print publication and move, as so many have already, to a free online publication. "With print there was reason to make readers and libraries pay for elaborately published volumes, prepared in specialized print shops, well-bound on good paper, meant to stand as a permanent scholarly record of scientific and intellectual achievement. The Internet changes what it means to go public." By John Willinsky, Journal of Digital Information, April, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Three Objections to Learning Objects
This survey paper attempts to identify some of the major causes of discord in the learning object community. There is certainly plenty to choose from, but the author boils it down to three major issues. the first, familiar to anyone with access to a dictionary, is the problem of defining what a 'learning' object is supposed to be; this problem is only compounded by the fact that the definitions offered are almost completely meaningless to the people who are supposed to use them. A second, and deeper problem, centers around the idea that learning objects, in order to realize their potential, ought to be pedagogically neutral, but, as the author asserts, "specifications and applications that are truly pedagogically neutral cannot also be pedagogically relevant." The best (and most controversial) is saved for last: "Learning objects and e-learning standardization bear the imprint of the ideology and culture of the American military-industrial complex--of ways of thinking that are related either marginally or antithetically to the interests and values of education generally and public education in particular." In case you had any doubt about this assertion, the author hammers the point home with damning diagram depicting learning content begin shoved by a set of gears into the compliant brain of a "warfighter." We haven't had this discussion yet. But maybe it's time we started: just how badly is the military investment in the United States distorting talk about learning objects? Anmd what damage will this do to education in general? By Norm Friesen, Athabasca University, April 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

EdNA Developer's Kit
Along with the EdNA HTML services kit, the really good bit here is the EdNA Online XML APIs documentation, linked from this site as an MS Word document. Included in the kit are addresses to the major EdNA RSS news feeds (the main one has been added to my Edu_RSS online learning headlines aggregator). But there's a lot more, including means to search EdNA's resource library and to harvest OAI-compliant EdNA metadata. My major criticism, though, is that most of the useful stuff - such as metadata harvesting - is restricted access only, which really defeats the purpose. EdNA has some top-notch people working for it, but the project itself seems to have been subverted by the 'content hoarding' faction. Too bad; they could be leading the world otherwise. By Various Authors, EdNA, April, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

If you are like me, you do not have a reliable Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) viewer available - yes, I know that Adobe makes a plug-in, but it has never worked for me, either for Internet Explorer on Windows (which it hangs) or Galeon / Mozilla on Linux (which it crashes). So anyhow, in that light, I refer to you but work of email only something that looks like it will be useful one day: "The MetaMap is a pedagogical tool in the form of a subway map, the goal of which is to help people understand metadata standards, sets, and initiatives related to information studies... The MetaMap exists to help gather in one place information about these metadata initiatives, to try to show relationships among them, and to connect them with the various players involved in their creation and use." By James M Turner, EBSI - Université de Montréal, April, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ich Bin Ein Illiterati: An Interview with Mihai Nadin
I'm thinking today that it's not so hard to see the future, not so hard to see where we ought to be. Yet another thinker crosses my path today saying pretty much the same thing as is advocated in these pages: that we need to understand how technology is creating a post-literate world, how we need to be able to choose our own futures, how the educational institution needs to be dramatically reformed, how we ought as a society to form the objective of making a basic education abvailable to everyone for free. All this and more is in this interview with Mihai Nadin, the author of Civilization of Illiteracies. This future is out there, it is within our grasp, but it's almost as though it has been, like Nadin's book, marginalized, forced out of print. We need to abandon our pragmatism if we are to go forward, abandon it not in the sense that we no longer need to get things done, but abandon it in the sense of adherence to the traditional determinates of value. By Thom Gillespie, Technos.Net, Summer, 2002 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Spyware — It's Lurking On Your Machine
This article is a good description of the problem posed by spyware, that is, software designed to hide on your computer and to report information about your web viewing habits back to an advertising agency. Spyware may also try to reset your home page or to pop up ads on your screen. A good list of anti-spyware products (with links) is provided. By Cade Metz, PC Magazine, April 22, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google Washes Whiter
The Register's Andrew Orlowski continues on his tirade against Google and against weblogs as it appears that the search engine has washed the term 'Googlewash.' As one critic pointed out over the weekend, though, the fact that the Register simply titles its pages 'The Register' might have an impact on its low rankings in Google. By Andrew Orlowski, The Register, April 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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