By Stephen Downes
May 12, 2004

Musings on the Internet, Part 2
A wandering article that discusses convergence, internet security, RFID, and paying for Voice over IP. Cerf also discusses the idea of a 'layered' internet, or of regulation by functionality, in order to handle things like the regulation of internet telephony, copyright, and similar matters. He also looks at internet governance, and in particular the tension between ICANN and some of the proposals emanating from the WSIS. The best bit is at the end, where he devotes six or so paragraphs to discussing the proposed Interplanetary Internet. Sorry about the acronyms in this post; if you need to learn more, remember you can click on the [Research] link and look up associated links and descriptions. By Vinton Cerf, EDUCAUSE Review, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Current IT Issues: 2004
Somebody asked me the other day to name the three major issues facing e-learning administrators. I replied: copyright, technology selection, and staff training. Now my point of view is different from the panel of administrators surveyed for this EDUCAUSE study, but the differences are start. Their number one issue is "Funding IT", followed by "Administrative / ERP / Information Systems". Faculty development ranks fifth, while copyright doesn't make the list. By Donald Z. Spicer and Peter B. DeBlois, EDUCAUSE Review, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blackboard Inc. Outlasts Rivals, Eyes Stock Sale by End of May
More information on the Blackboard IPO (riding in the Google wake). "The company disclosed plans to sell 3.8 million shares at $13 to $15 each. The sale, which likely will occur before the end of the month, will raise an estimated $53.9 million." Via University Business. By William Glanz, Washington Times, May 10, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Open Access: A PLoS for Education
Why do I continually write about open access? Because of things like this: "PubMed was restricted to those institutions that could afford the subscription fee; now PubMed is freely available to all who have Internet access. This change in access to PubMed has significantly improved undergraduate training by providing students with the opportunities to do literature searches for their lab reports, papers, seminars, and of course original research." Significantly improved undergraduate training. That's why. By A. Malcolm Campbell, PLoS Biology, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Extenza e-Publishing Services implements Google Indexing of Hosted e-Journal Content
In what is an emerging trend, Extensa, an e-Publishing Service, announced that Google will begin indexing its journal holdings. The process will work like this: "Users who select Extenza client publishers' content from the results list on Google will be authenticated using Extenza standard access control mechanisms. If they have authorized rights to the article they will be granted immediate and seamless access. If they do not have appropriate access rights then users will be taken to the abstract for the content, where they will be able to log in and purchase access to the article on a Pay Per View or Document Delivery basis or request a subscription to the relevant journal." I hope that Google understands that when it links to sites I cannot read (and instead redirects me to what are essentially advertisements) that it is breaking its search functionality. I don't mind Google indexing such items, but if it does this, then I want to be able to filter these results out of my search. Google, are you listening? By Press Release, Extenza, via SPARC-OA Forum, May 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Commonwealth of Learning Conference
More links from the Commonwealth of Learning conference, because even though I am not really participating in the discussion, I am enjoying the process of tracking down the many resources cited: Student Office for Alternative Resources (SOAR); A Review of Good Practice in ICT and Special Educational Needs for Africa; Skype; Oke-Ogun Community Development mailing list; ZMS, open source content management for science, technology and medicine; he South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE). By Various Authors, COL, May 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Information Cannot be Owned
Good discussion on the nature of information and its relation to law. The central argument is that "[the] norms governing the handling of information are not by themselves of a legal nature. As far as they are not, they are of course not legally enforceable. And contrary to the law promulgated by the agencies of the state, they are of a relational nature. They are created by individuals for themselves." By Jean Nicolas Druey, Berkman Center, April, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Apple Wants to Open Song Vaults
Apple is pitching to have music companies make available currently unavailable tracks - something like two thirds of their inventory - through iTunes. "What Steve Jobs is saying is, 'We'd be happy to take all this content that is rotting away in warehouses and turn it into a new revenue source for you.'" One of my major criticisms of current online music offerings is the limited selection of materials - if I want to be mainstreamed, I'll listen to AM radio. Of course, once these stores are exhausted, Apple will discover that the music cartel's stocks are still too limited - the fun begins when the marketplace opens to all music vendors, whether they are part of the current monopoly or not. By Katie Dean, Wired News, May 12, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

InSITE 2004 Papers By Research Area
Papers from the upcoming InSITE conference (Informing Science and Information Technology Education) are now available for free download online. A lot of good stuff here - it looks like a fascinating conference. I have picked three papers for today's OLDaily, below (though I could have picked a dozen). P.S. many people ask how they can get their conference mentioned in OLDaily. This is how: get good papers, make them freely available online, and send me a note. I won't do your advertising for you, but I will carry top quality content in these pages. By Various Authors, InSITE Conference, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

A Contribution to Defining the Term Definition
I frequently become impatient when people want to begin by defining things (for example, 'learning objects'). Not because I don't think we should be clear, but because the process of definition then commences with little or no reflection on what constitutes a definition. This paper is an exercise in that sort of reflection. It's of fairly narrow scope, but it does allow me to make here the point that there are many types of definition, and that not all types of definition are appropriate to all things. The usual lexical definition ('P' is a thing if class C that has defining feature F) only works in a well definied (and agreed upon) ontology. A logical definition (P is a Q if and only if P is an A,B, and C) only works is the term being defined is cohesive (as opposed to what Wittgenstein calls a 'family resemblance). An ostensive definition (this is a P) only works if there is point to and, as Quine observes, agreement on the sort of things that are pointed to. A functional definition (P is something that does Q, or P is something that is used to do Q) works only if the object has a function. Definitions are not straightforward, and the demand that discussion begin with a definition is usually a means of attempting to circumvent some of the difficult questions through stipulation. PDF. By Sead Spuzic and Fons Nouwens, InSITE Conference, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Communication Management and Control in Distance Learning Scenarios
I don't really agree with the conclusion of this paper, but I know many people do: in the recommended communications environment, "a tight, scheduled support structure is applied to the communication processes of students and tutors. An integrated communication platform offers appropriate communication channels according to the actual communication needs of a student or tutor." I just don't deal with time well enough to support a tight schedule of anything. And I don't like interfaces that offer me features that I won't ever use, so an integrated platform doesn't appeal to me (in the same way, I wish my telephone would stop interacting with my email). PDF. By Freimut Bodendorf and Manfred Schertler, InSITE Conference, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Biases and Heuristics in Judgment and Decision Making: The Dark Side of Tacit Knowledge
Knowledge management theorists are engaged in the goal of 'extracting' tacit knowledge from people's minds, making it explicit in a knowledge base. Forget about whether or not this can be done: suppose it can. What happens if the thus-extracted knowledge turns out to be useless? In some cases, it may be contextually inappropriate, but in others it may be the result of bias and prejudice, misinformation, ignorance, or plain stubbornness. The authors spend a fair number of words on context and timing, but the deeper question is: once we have tacit knowledge in our knowledge base, how do we validate it? PDF. By Tayyab Maqsood, Andrew D. Finegan and Derek H. T. Walker, InSITE Conference, May, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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