By Stephen Downes
January 9, 2004

New Laws Will Make Spam Worse
In my predictions paper a couple of weeks ago I said that new anti-spam laws would effectively legalize spam, making it worse. The laws are in effect now, and the early result is that they are making spam worse. "The US Can Spam Act became law on 1 January, but US email security company Postini saw the proportion of spam rise from 74 per cent in December to 84 per cent within the first couple of days of the new year." I'd like to take some credit for this prediction, but as predictions go, it was a pretty easy one to make. This failure of the legal approach will now force people to think more seriously about a technological solution. By Dinah Greek, VNU.Net, January 9, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Try It!
I don't know how long ASTD has been doing this - it looks like it has been a while - but it's a great service. On this page is a list of current demonstration software and trials - all of them free - to help developers see what's on the horizon. Gosh, wouldn't this be a great page to have its own RSS feed? Wouldn't it also be great if the page allowed users to enter comments on the products they are trying? The extra content would hardly cost ASTD a dime - but would make the location the place to be to scope out new tech. By Various Authors, Learning Circuits, January, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

WebTurbine Impacts Learning
Just a quick glimpse from NASA into the future: "Educators and students can become Web publishers of information that includes live, always-changing content using the limited resources available to them. Sharing this content amongst themselves, remote peers at other schools and/or becoming directly involved with NASA and its partners becomes part of the daily curriculum. The student becomes a contributor and partner, and, in doing so, gains the perspective and motivation to become an active participant in the quest for knowledge." That's it. That's the model. That's what I'm trying to work toward on a wider scale. By Larry Freudinger, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Fall, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Project Gutenberg 's Anabasis
Via Open Access News: Why have ebooks failed thus far? We can get at this by looking at why Project Gutenberg does not use image scans of printed texts: "eople are not interested in scans. Some Project Gutenberg sites each hand out 10 million eBooks per year -- impossible with scanned images or full text eBooks due to their bandwidth-consuming oversize. The "scanners" want to be the only source for "their" books, even when those books are in the public domain -- and are willing to claim copyright on the public domain works of Project Gutenberg in the process. They deny themselves true access to the public... Additionally, the huge scan files hold just a single book, are not searchable, cannot be copied, indexed, or cited by off the shelf applications, typos can't be corrected, and are not truly portable due to their size." By Sam Vaknin, UPI, January 7, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Do Web Search Engines Suppress Controversy?
Interesting article that touches on distance learning by using the David Noble 'digital diploma mill' controversy as one of five examples. The author asks, do we search engines stifle controversial subjects? There is some evidence that some such issues do not show up in simple searches, but this is more a result of social factors, not technological. In the discussion there is an interesting distinction drawn between the 'organizational' web of "companies, universities, trade associations, consortia, alliances, and government agencies", and the 'analytic web', consisting of "full–text (or tables of contents) journals, technical reports and preprints, opinion pages, bibliographies, and pages of links to these." While the former is well interlinked, the latter is not. I think there is more than could be more said about this. Why do we present our analytic works online as dead-end linkless PDF files? By Susan L. Gerhart, First Monday, January 5, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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