By Stephen Downes
September 28, 2004

More Australia Photos
In the usual location (I won't be able to create proper galleries until I get home) are many new photos from Darwin, Alice Springs and Uluru, in Australia. I'm in Adelaide now, where it's cool and rainy - just like it was in the Australian Outback. Go figure. The new colour scheme is based on my outback experiences; the masthead is a composite of various Aboriginal cave paintings I photographed. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, September 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

NAWeb 2004
You still have time to register for NAWeb 2004 - it's the tenth and final edition of NAWeb - and though I have attended most of the ten years, it's my first as a keynote speaker. By Various Authors, September, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Forecast: Song Costs May Fall Like Rain
See, it's not just me. As NewsScan Daily summarizes it, "The music industry is fighting a losing battle, says Newsweek columnist Steven Levy, who says the RIAA's legal tactics make about as much sense as trying to sue a hurricane." Yup.

And the music industry's problems may just be beginning. In this Wall Street Journal article (normally subscription, but Google cached a daily freebie) we read about a CD of free (and freely sharable) music being released by Wired.

Meanwhile Microsoft is testing a commercial-free web based radio service that costs $30 per year.

And Sony has embraced the popular MP3 file fomat (the same format I use for my audio clips).

And Yahoo's purchase of Musicmatch is "has raised speculation that it plans to use the acquisition to enable Yahoo Messenger users to share and interact with one another's digital playlists," something Microsoft is also doing with MSN Messenger and a test application called ThreeDegrees. Do you see a pattern here? I see a pattern here. How long before commercial music becomes the exception, rather than the rule.

Audacity, anyone? By Steven Levy, MSNBC, September 20, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Theses for Your Perusal
You always wonder about these announcements during an election, but according to this news item the Australian government is funding $500,000 (Australian) to put up an online directory of all research theses and dissertations from Australian universities. By Louise Perry, The Australian, September 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

In a Flash, the Latest Fashion in Computing
It occurs to me that I mentioned flash memory in passing yesterday without really saying what it was. Fortunately, Bonnie Bracey sent this link to WWWEDU today providing an overview. The article talks mostly about flash memory attached to a USB plug - often called 'memory sticks' - but flash memory can also be plugged into many other types of slot as well, such as in a digital camera. My 512 megabyte flash memory for my camera cost about $100 - the 64 meg memory stick I picked up in Canberra (I lost my other on) cost be about $A 50. By Michel Marriott, International Herald Tribune, September 25, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Driving Higher Ed Institutions to an Enterprise Approach
The message in a nutshell: "Adopting an enterprise approach to e-learning results in systems and processes that are powerful, reliable, and, most of all, flexible enough to support all stakeholders and provide benefits across the institution." The author outlines signs that your institution is ready to move to an enterprise system, describes the major changes such a move entails, and offers practical steps toward moving in that direction. Me, I've never seen an enterprise system that I've liked, and while the author touts service and standardized processes, these seem to me to be the major weak points, not the benefits, of an enterprise system. By Barbara Ross, Learning Circuits, September, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ebooks Ready for Take-off as Sales Accelerate
As sales have nudged up slightly, a print publication (with, we observe, a vested interest) has once again touted the coming wave of ebook readers. It's an easier call to make today - witness the success of the iPod as a music-specific device. But with prices still hovering around ten dollars for a title and with the content locked down, we're not there yet. I mean, 10 megabytes built-in memory? Give me a break - my cambera has 50 times that. But a very portable ebook with the capacity to read standard format flash memory - that might work. Of course, you'll still have to offer the flash memory - with, say, fifty titles on it - for the same ten dollars for the format to take off. Are publishers ready for the inevitable decline in the cost of content? Probably not. By Ciar Byrne, The Independent, September 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

If RSS ain't broke...
Good article on some of the discussion surrounding the potenmtial traffic problems that may be caused when numerous RSS readers check for new content every hour. The author argues that the complainer, Robert Scoble (who works for Microsoft) is depending on a flawed example to make his point, an MSDN aggregator that pulls together a thousand RSS feeds and which must be reloaded every time one of those changes (probably built by the same geniuses that brought us Outrlook). The author argues - and I agree - that RSS is not broken - after all, if we can check for new email every minute or so, we can manage RSS once an hour. But it goes beyond this - an RSS network itself should be distributed, so that there are few, if any, really high-demand traffic locations. I wish the author had explored this aspect a bit more. By Steve Gillmor, ZD Net, September 26, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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