By Stephen Downes
July 7, 2003

Checking in with Mr Safe
The debate about Echo continues with this commentary from Dave Winer, which puts the issue into a nutshell. Winer beliefs two things. First, as he writes here, he believes that standards development must be the work of a single person, maybe two or three, not by committee. "Format and protocol design doesn't actually work that way no matter what some open development advocates say." An open process "only works for cloning ideas that have already been designed." Second, Winer believes that he is that person when it comes to RSS. Opponents disagree with Winer on both counts. They believe that standards creation must be a community process. And even if they agree that there should be a single author, they argue that Winer - who has a vested interest in promoting his own software - is not the person who should be in charge. By Dave Winer, Backend.Userland, July 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Knowledge Economy: Learning and Work Integrated
The premise of this paper (MS Word document), which looks at workplace learning, is that "the role of education in preparing individuals with differing interests and ambitions to become responsible citizens in a democratic context, and in creating an adaptable workforce, will continue to grow." But how do we understand this trend? The author outlines three major theoretical approaches: the system theory perspective, which looks at the interaction between the learning system and the working system; the actor theory perspective, which looks at the involvement and role of various stakeholders such as students, employers and educators; and the societal context perspective, which looks for explanations for convergence and differences between different national contexts. The paper is a discussion paper for the World Congress on Cooperative Education (WACE) conference in Rotterdam this August. By Ben Hövels, WACE 2003, July 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Q&A with Professor Karen Stephenson
Karen Stephenson is known for her work in the field of social network analysis (SNA), the study of patterns of communication and the transmission of ideas. According to Stephenson, trust is the major facilitator of communication. "Are you going to talk to this disinterested person over here with whom you have to do routine work with--No. You are going to find and seek colleagues you trust--someone you have worked with in the past or someone you are currently working with but with whom you have shared past confidences." I think that's a bit over-stated: it is possible to build trust solely on the basis of electronic communication. By Maish R Nichani, elearningpost, July 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AOL blogs!
The buzz late last week and over the weekend was around AOL's planned foray into blogging, a foray unveiled by means of a private showing to some influential blogger (the amount of publicity generated shows that the marketing plan obviously worked). Jeff Jarvis says out loud what everybody has been thinking: "The real point: Ultimately, your content is more valuable than professional content." Think about that. When you open the morning mail, and you have a letter from your Aunt Mabel and a copy of a glossy magazine, which do you open first? A lot follows from this simple observation, and while I'm not sure how much of it AOL understands, it is clear that the get at least some of it. By Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine, July 4, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

On AOL's Entry Into Weblogs
Dave Winer sounds the warning bells. "Will AOL's equivalent of the "Blog This" button in their IM user interface work with Radio, Movable Type, Manila or Blogger? Or, more likely, will it just work with their blogging software? For all we know AOL took the high road, that would be unique and very cool, and would set the bar high. But I'd bet against it." Microsoft is next, he warns, with a "gated weblog community" and hence blog software vendors should "circle the wagons." By Dave Winer, DaveNet, July 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AOL, Weblogs, and Community
The key question about AOL Blogs, writes Clay Shirky, is, "Is this a community tool, or a lightweight publishg platform?" Shirky expects it to be a closed community tool, much like LiveJournal. "It's not much fun to write for 6 random strangers, but it can be lots of fun to write for your 6 best friends." This would fit the AOL model as well; as Greg Ritter writes, " AOL's insularity is part and parcel of its success." This link may give you trouble; Corante's snoop and tracking link - rateyourmusic.com - is bogging down under the load. By Clay Shirky, Corante, July 2, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Embracing New Brunswick E-Learning
Still no permanent URLs at After Five, so this link will expire in August. But this editorial describes a newcomer's impressions of the state of e-learning in New Brunswick and provides a nice list of links. By Philip Duchastel, After Five, Jul7 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

University Presses: 'Sleepless in St. Louis'
This summary of a conference last week for university press staff reveals a discipline under siege. "The meeting, whose stated theme was 'We're All in This Together,' came against a background of both public and private anxiety about the presses' position, at a time of diminished sales, rising returns and much disagreement..." By John F. Baker, Publishers Weekly, July 7, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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