By Stephen Downes
October 15, 2003

A Brief Overview of the Linguistic Attributes of the Blogosphere
This "brief" (40 page PDF) essay makes two points. First (and importantly), bloggers form a community (or probably more accurately, a network of communities). Probably the most convincing evidence of this are the graphical representations of links between blogs. Second, interestingly, blogs are evolving their own linguistic conventions, beginning with a basis in written style, but blending in elements of the oral tradition in order to extend and enhance meaning. Fascinating. Via Mathemagenic. By Stephanie Nilsson, October 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

RFC: myPublicFeeds.opml
Discussion is filling the Syndication list at Yahoo! groups over a proposed public feeds file format. The idea of the proposed PublicFeeds.opml specification is that a website could display, in a commonly understood way, a list of all the feeds available. The proposal, which was defeloped to staisfy a specific use case generated by Yahoo!, has become a full-blown controversy, partially because it does not offer enough flexibility for may users (myself included) and partially because the usual RSS personalities are involved. This link is to the main proposal; see more notes and an implementation here. By Dave Winer, Technology at Harvard Law, October 13, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Districts Line Up In Laptop Opposition
If you had the chance to distribute a laptop to every student at $25 per, you'd jump at the chance, right? Well, not these schools in Detroit, which find the program too expensive. "The laptops would cost each district $25 a child under the state proposal, but schools argue that the costs of maintaining and integrating them would far exceed that." By Christine MacDonald, Detroit News, October 6, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

For my own future reference, some CSS tutorials, as I think about what I want to do for the next redesign of Stephen's Web. Say, if you have ideas, send them in. I'd like to take the next design of the site into new, uncharted directions... By Various Authors, Max Design, October, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Don't Torch Musicians' Incomes, Burn Media Piracy
Though the purpose of this article is to launch PureTracks, a Canadian music subscription service similar to iTunes, the author, the president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association, takes the opportunity to launch a one-sided harangue under the guise of a news article in Canada's national newspaper (guess which side of the debate they're on). Much of the article is misleading in the extreme, such as suggestions that "other alleged infringers were ignored," that file sharing in Canada has been "counted", that 10,000 people in Canada have been laid off due to file sharing, and so much more. The Globe should give me a technology column! But the chances of that happening are about as slim as the chances of a music industry paying fair royalties to artists. The author urges Canada to ratify WIPO, saying we are "behind the times" because we haven't - but the author (and our legislators) should understand that there is deep opposition stricter copyright in this country, albeit an opposition with rather less access to traditional media. Since (as predicted) the Puretracks server failed under the traffic load, here is some Slashdot coverage with some interesting tidbits and a lot of scathing criticism. By Brian Robertson, Globe and Mail, October 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Contribute to EdNA Online
EdNA continues to show the world how it should be done as it issues a national call for learning content providers to make their metadata available for harvesting. "'Harvesting' is the process of gathering metadata records from education and training-related websites and repositories and including them within the EdNA Online repository, and then making them accessible through the EdNA Online search." By Various Authors, EdNA, October 15, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

What Happens When There Are No Standards In Curriculum Design?
This article expresses a point of view that is widely held in academic, that it is important that courses following one another conform to something like a standard approach in order to allow for a smooth transition from one to the next. "becuase there is no consistency between different sections of the same course, the student suffers. The problem is that the student enrolled in what they thought would be a consistent two course sequence, only to find they enrolled in two very different courses with very different expectations. This is what happens when there are no standards in curriculum design." Well maybe, but what happens when a graduate moves from one company to the next. Should they expect the same smooth transition? Of course not. So we have to ask: is a smooth transition approporiate? Sure, it's easier for the student, but easier is not always best. Standardized curriculum design achieves greater interoperability, but at the cost of diversity. While I would be the first to agree that there ought to be some consistency (first year chemistry courses should not cover advanced aerodynamics, for example) variations in expectations, workloads, course format and more should not only be allowed, they should be encouraged. By Randy Brown, Carving Code, October 14, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2003 Stephen Downes
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