By Stephen Downes
September 30, 2003

First Fame, Then Fortune: An Alternative Look At Micropayments Potential For Social And Economic Change
I think there's a good point here: "If we are really serious about not creating more generations of digital have-nots, the micropayment ethical approach may provide the best way to rapidly spread information of all types while keeping a sustainable, happy and growing system in place." As Josef Hasselberger writes, "The suggestion that the open software community might wish to come up with a common standard and a neat little program for making such payments as simple as possible is for sure a step upward from purely commercial, institutional, for-profit providers of payment schemes." By Robin Good, September 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WGA Policy Resolution 03-20
I hadn't seen this until Chris sent me the link, but the Western Governors (of the United States) have adopted a resolution on sharable digital content for learning. It's a forward looking document, recommending the use of open standards and encouraging that universities provide incentives that include "recognition in promotion rules (e.g. if a faculty person or teacher creates a module that is widely recognized and used, it should count toward promotion and tenure) and shared royalties for faculty who create content that is shareable." By Various Authors, Western Governors Association, September 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

File Sharing vs. The Broke College Student
Not that they would, but if the music industry wanted to know whether their lawsuits are working, they would talk to students. "The student also said, 'As long as you don't share any files, there's no way to know what you have.' For the most part, students are a little on edge, but willing to keep downloading songs anyway. Another student said 'Sure it's bad if you get caught, but just about every student is doing it, so it's tough to get caught,'" especially outside the United States. The Chronicle of Higher Education, meanwhile, enters the fray, and given that their article on the subject is behind a subscription barrier, you can figure out pretty easily which side of the issue they're on. As quoted in digital-copyright Digest, Dan Carnevale writes in the article 'No Such Thing as a Free Song' (I guess he hasn't listened to the radio recently), "College students around the country have been given fair warning: Download music in violation of copyright laws, and you may face a lawsuit." I suppose the Chronicle, too, would start suing little old math professors if their articles started circulating through a peer to peer network. Of course, people would actually have to want the articles. By J. Parker Adair, University of Nebraska at Omaha Gateway, September 26, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Case Against Micropayments
This is a pretty good article outlining the case against the adoption of micropayments. Some of the arguments are a bit weak - the analogy from America's slow adoption of debit cards, for example, does not presage a similar slowness to adopt micropayments. Other arguments are stronger: the loss of privacy, 'behaviour economics' (or what Szabo would call the 'mental transaction cost'). But the real barriers are posed not by consumers but by vendors, who would prefer closed and locked-in subscription services. In the end, I don't think that the case against micropayments will succeed. PDF document. By Andrew Odlyzko, Computer Science, September, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Archives Initiative and Project RoMEO Initiate OAI-rights
Something to keep a close eye on: the Open Archives Initiative is investigating the question of how to express digital rights in a harvesting environment. This is, of course, something we at NRC have been working on for the last year (software coming soon), and so we may be able to offer some input. If you are interested in the OAI initiative, be sure to read the associated White Paper surveying DRM issues in harvesting. By Press Release, Open Archives Initiative, September 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

eLearning Latest Battleground in Privacy Wars, Says eLearn Magazine
I have finally found a way to link to eLearn Magazine articles (usually a problem since the articles are not given a permanent link): link to the press release announcing the article. And at 538 words, the press release is almost as long as the article (601 words) itself! The article, by Lisa Neal, warns that "In today's technology-mediated learning environments, the data flowing between student and instructor may be funneled into database and analysis programs for use in ways that are unexpected by both students and faculty." We are still waiting, of course, for eLearn Magazine to join us in the Information Age: give each item its own URL, then syndicate the links in an RSS feed. By Press Release, eLearn Magazine, September 29, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Communities and Learning Networks
Short article tha gets at the heart of some of the fundamental changes facing education in the years ahead. "Courses are artifacts of a learning model that is becoming obsolete. Courses work in an environment when knowledge/information is fairly static and developing slowly. The more rapidly information develops, the more quickly courses cease to serve the needs of learners. The information is outdated before the ink is dry." By George Siemens, elearnspace, September 30, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WWW Past & Future
Slides from Tim Berners-Lee's address to the Royal Society. These are well worth viewing if you still don't understand what the Semantic Web is. A video of the talk is also available. By Tim Berners-Lee, W3C, September 30, 2003 7:36 a.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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