By Stephen Downes
April 30, 2004

A Prescription for Business Innovation
Pollard's essay (in three parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three) are chock-full of good insights, like this one: "With the advent of the near-perfect consumer information these tools provide, traditional marketing has no remaining role, and the knowledge-driven transition of power from producer to consumer is complete." But more to the point, his overall conclusions regarding the nature and structure of innovation and business are very similar to my own. For example, I completely agree with this: "Hierarchy and Autocracy are the Enemies of Innovation: There is a strong creative tension between individuals and the communities they elect to or are asked to be part of, caused by divergent needs, drivers, and behaviours. Each individual and each community needs its own space. Flat, small, responsive, democratic organizations are inherently more innovative." This essay is strongly recommended. Via elearnspace. By Dave Pollard, How to Save the World, April 27, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

School Reaps Profits From Corporate Naming Rights
More evidence of the increasing incursion of commercial media into schools as we read of the "ShopRite (Gym) of Brooklawn Center and the Flowers Library and Media Center." I certainly agree that corporations should support schools. Only I think they should do it the same way the rest of us have to: through their taxes, and without what amounts to free advertising. This is an issue of fairness: if a corporation can spend its money to get its message into schools, then why can't I? My taxes pay for, at least, a locker. Why can't I name it the "No more war" locker? Or the "Save the environment, boycott paper goods" urinal? This isn't about money, it's about power, and about making sure students hear one and only one message in school - the one that ShopRite or Brooklawn Center or Pepsi wants them to hear. And that's why it's wrong. Via PEN Weekly NewsBlast. By AP, CNN, April 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Taking the Public Out of Education
This article contains a reasonably good assessment toward the spread of private schools - as founded on what may be called 'marketplace democracy' in which dollars, rather than votes, determine public policy. But the public school is defended because "A democracy of consumers focused on their private interests ceases to be a democracy" because "To be civilized is to understand the nature of commonality, to be learned is to grasp the rights and responsibilities of liberty, to be educated is comprehend the meaning of citizenship." This sounds fine, and is more or less a conclusion I agree with, but the reasoning in this article is unfortunately circular, and hence will convince only those already convinced. By Benjamin R. Barber, School Administrator, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Essay About Trends
Joi Ito: "It may seem unintuitive to argue that packaged commercial content can co-exist alongside consumer content while concurrently stimulating content creation and sharing. In order to understand how this can work, it is crucial to understand how the current system of copyright is broken and can be fixed." Right. Exactly right. "Today, technology allows us to find, sample, edit and share very quickly. The problem is that the current notion of copyright is not capable of addressing the complexity and the speed of what technology enables artists to create." By Joi Ito, Joi Ito Web, April 24, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The RSS Bubble
Another RSS bubble article, this one looking at the business potential for the format. "The conventional wisdom is a Bubble. The Bubble isn't back—it never left. We are still surfing along on this mass hallucination called the Internet. Virtual reality? Give me a break. Mass customization? Dynamic real-time always-on always-connected mall in the sky? Free phone calls and video chats? Tablet PC? WiFi? What are you smoking?" But still, "I've yet to see anyone move to RSS and then abandon it. If that's a Bubble, bring it on. But if hype turns out to be true, is it hype?" What Gillmor misses, though, is that RSS could do everything it promises and still be called a disappointment if nobody makes a pile of money from it. That's the thing about bubbles: the expectations shift, from technological to commercial. And while RSS may deliver technologically, it may not satisfy the venture capitalists. That's when the bubble bursts. Via Robin Good. By Steve Gillmor, Steve Gillmor's Blogosphere, April 18, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Online Presence Spiral
Interesting article on the potential and current limitations of audio visual communication over the internet, based in practical experience. The author identifies two major issues: voice quality and image lag. Both of these are caused by lack of bandwidth and lack of processing power, both of which will ease over time. The author also talks about more interactive video cams - I have seen systems like this, both in standard videoconferencing suites, and also as an attachment to a standard webcam (but for Windows only - bleah). The key message, though, is this: "this user has learned that Wi-FI Skyping from HotSpots is better than a Mobile phone when available. Thus the paradigm that threatens the landline system may have more impact on mobility than current projections suggest." Something to think about. Via Robin Good. By Stuart Henshall, Unbound Spiral, April 21, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Practicing the Liberty He Preaches
It's at the end of the article, and you have to be looking for it, but it's nice to see this little bit of honesty from Lawrence Lessig as "he was gratified that remixes of his book had popped up (free-culture.org/remixes), although it took some getting used to. 'I confess when it first happened, I had to take a deep breath and reconvince myself of the principles here,' he said." This is well worth noting. Open access takes getting used to. There is a certain loss of control, and this (more than the money, I think) is probably the greatest barrier. By Thomas D. Sullivan, New York Times, April 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

New Report Reveals Open Access Could Reduce Cost of Scientific Publishing by up to 30 Per Cent
I personally think the savings are greater, because as open publishing is adopted the model of academic publishing changes as well, becomes more streamlined, but I welcome this report that cites benefits of up to 30 percent beased on the models that exist today. By Press Release, The Wellcome Trust, April 29, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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