By Stephen Downes
July 1, 2003

My Canada
Canada has, in the words of some commentators, suddenly become a beacon of openness and tolerance. But what we are seeing today is the beginning of the fruits of our labour. We set out to build a nation based not on a particular language or culture or even a particular geography, but as a set of background assumptions and institutions. And we have created a culture that evolved not by accident, but by virtue of the hard work and sacrifice of generations of Canadians. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Photographs of Toronto
Five pages of photographs from my trip to Toronto last week. I also have some other photo pages pending, but since I owe an essay to some very nice (and very patient... hint hint) people from Australia, that will have to wait for a few days. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Weblogs at Harvard Law
In this article I review the most publicized of the educational blogging initiatives, Welogs at Harvard Law. "Designed by Dave Winer, author of the popular UserLand weblogging software, the site represents one of the first institution-wide forays into weblog publishing. As such, it also represents a noteworthy precedent for other institutions seeking to promote freedom of discussion and thought among their staff and students." By Stephen Downes, The Technology Source, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RSS: The Next Killer App For Education
I am at last able to list this article (as an editorial board member for Technology Source I had to respect the publication date). By now you have probably already seen this article, declaring, as it does, that RSS is the next "killer application" for education. It receive wide circulation and wide praise throughout the blogging community. By Mary Harrsch, The Technology Source, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blogging as a Course Management Tool
Practical article that looks at the implementation and use of blogging tools in an educational environment. "On the one hand, a method that allows anyone to publish directly to the Web on a whim, regardless of technical skill or even content, could be regarded as providing a serious disservice. But the ability to publish trash is by no means exclusive to those who do not have HTML coding skills, and numerous instant publishing talents can be liberated by the blogging approach." By Jon Baggaley, The Technology Source, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Corbis Sues Amazon Over Digital Images
Corbis has gone to great lengths over the years to promote and preserve its place as a provider of digital images (the stories I could tell). Now it is expanding its efforts, hitting Amazon and others with lawsuits pertasining to the (allegedly unauthorized) sale of images and posters of stars such as Meg Ryan. Corbis - which readers should recognize is yet another Microsoft brand - has clearly learned nothing from the experiences of the music industry, and if they're not very careful about how they proceed, we could see the rollout one day of Megster (the peer-to-peer Meg Ryan image sharing natwork). All I can say is that the last thing we needed was another round of lawsuits from content hoarders, and that I'm not in the least surprised that it was Microsoft entering the fray. By Lisa M. Bowman, CNet, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Interactive Web: Personal Web Publishing and the Future
This article is a pretty good summary of the capabilities and the trends inherent in the current weblog and content syndication movements. Worthy of note is the FOAF (Friend of a Friend) system, which carries endorsements of identity forward through the network. The slogan, "the network is the community" will come to the fore especially in the next couple of years as individuals and entities define themselves through their real and virtual attachments. Worth a read. By Seyed Razavi , Monkey X Hairy Thoughts, January 10, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy
A large group is its own worst enemy. This is the paradox of social software, one we've seen over and over again from online games (or MUDs) to community bulletin boards. Which means three things: first, an online community - any online community - must be managed. You cannot separate the social from the technical. Second, social networks have a core group - members - that matter more than casual users. And third, this group's rights sometimes trump individual rights. Consequently, an online community needs to create handles users can invest in and use to create an identity. You need to establish barriers to participation. And you need to create ways to subdivide the group, to "save it from scale." All this seems right to me... but ah, the implementation. By Clay Shirkey, Clay Shirky's Writings About the Internet, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Giving Sharers Ears Without Faces
This - and not portable user logins, such as are instantiated in Shibboleth or Passport - is the wave of the future. After all, we do not sign in when we buy a coffee at a local 7-Eleven. Why should we give out our identity when we purchase, or otherwise access, something of even lower value, like a song? Digital rights developers need to think about this long and hard: that user mistrust of content providers runs even more deeply (especially after the recent spate of lawsuits) than the providers' distrust of users, and any DRM system will have to take this into account, protecting the user's privacy and identity. By Xeni Jardin, Wired News, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

OpenContent is Officially Closed
David Wiley has shut down the OpenContent project, carrying his efforts toward that end into his new role as the director of educational licenses for the Creative Commons project. While I congratulate Wiley and wish him all the best, it seems prudent at this point to sound a cautionary note about the process through which he was appointed - with no nomination process or apparent vote - to the position. Process matters, the evidence of which is that the decision of one person could suddenly and without notice shut down the five year old OpenContent project. By David Wiley, Open Content, July 1, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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