By Stephen Downes
May 14, 2003

Is Palladium Getting a Bad Rap?
Microsoft is playing the coy innocent in its reaction to the criticism it has suffered since announced its 'trusted computing' (or as Richard Stallman styles it, 'treacherous computing') platform. In this article, MS developer Mario Juarez responds, "There's this mythology surrounding NGSCB that Microsoft is in league with the media industry to override consumers' rights. That makes no sense. Who would buy a product that doesn't allow them to do what they want to do? No one. So why would Microsoft choose to commit professional suicide in that fashion?" Still. Even as Juarez admits, content publishers would have to exercise self-restraint. "Any overly restrictive DRM would boomerang back on the company that imposes it. It's a big world out there, and companies know that there are plenty of sources for content. They want to keep customers happy." Maybe so. But it's a question of trust. And it's worth noting that the content companies - and the music publishers, especially - have found themselves in court far more frequently than most of the consumers they intend to regulate. If it comes down to a matter of trust, where do you place your bets: with an industry accused over the years of payola, collusion and royalty underpayments? Hm. Probably not. Maybe Microsoft isn't in league with the content industry, as Juarez suggests (though they probably are). But at the very least, they are placing their bets - with our money - on a two-time loser. By Michelle Delio, Wired news, May 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Canada's Advanced Technology Business Plan
Not actually a plan, this document is a set of recommendations forwarded by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) based on a survey of city executives and business leaders across Canada. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of major Canadian cities with respect to innovation in technology and offers suggestions based on that assessment. The subtitle of the report, "First the City, then the Country," reflects the bias inherent in the sampling. So too do some of the recommendations, such as the emphasis on tax credits for research. As you scroll through the individual city reports, a clear trend emerges: cities rate themselves strongly with respect to infrastructure and people, and less well with respect to money (and in particular, venture capital) and leadership. Hence, for example, the suggestion that Canada establish "a consolidated central information resource that would advise firms on where to go to find capital (and) how to apply for it..." - a resource, in other words, similar to the Atlantic Venture Networking group already established by NRC's Industrial Research Assistance Program here in the East. The report also urges high-speed links between urban hubs, greater emplasis on education and research, and the promotion of technology clusters. PDF document. By John de la Mothe, CATA, April, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Politics Kill School Vouchers in Louisiana
It's pretty hard to find more biased reporting than in this CNN article attributing the failure of New Orleans to approve school vouchers to "politics" rather than to the concern that the bill would have allowed private schools to operate free from scrutiny and accountability. By AP, CNN, May 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

From Thinkers to Clickers: The World Wide Web and the Transformation of the Essence of Being Human
This article tries to argue that our inclination to click our way through the world wide web has become a substitute for thinking. Oh for the days of the book, pines the author, when the delay of several hours or days before the next one arrives would give us time to think about, and perhaps even understand, the last one. Oh for the days when the answers were not at our fingertips, when instead we had to reason our way to a conclusion. Pardon me, but this is a load of hooey. Clicking is not a replacement for thinking, it's a replacement for waiting - waiting for the book to arrive, waiting for the information to become available, waiting for an author or speaker to finish droning on and on before something interesting can come along. We are, as the author asserts, a species of wanderers. But that is probably because we have found the waiting so unbearable. By M.O. Thirunarayanan, Ubiquity, May, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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