By Stephen Downes
November 4, 2004

One-Minute Site
The contents of this manifesto should need to be repeated, but a scan of the web shows that companies (and educational institutions, and governments) continue to fail to follow its sage advice. In a nutshell: remove the fancy animations, the corporate advertising, and the press release talk, and make your company's people the focus of your website. And you know - exactly the same advice applies to online learning. Administrators should pay special attention to page 17 - the website swindle. Via Jay Cross, who also links to an important item by George Lakoff cited here a few months ago on the concept of framing. By Oliva&Toscani 2002, Change This, November 2, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Cendant Sues Amazon Over Book Recommendations
We have another entrant in the litigation lottery as yet another obscure company that produced essentially nothing with whatever knowledge it had claims to have invented and patented the idea of recommender systems and has launched a lawsuit. The patent was issued in the U.S. last August. Business method patents expire in 17 years; the nonsense, it seems, does not expire. By Dawn Kawamoto, CNet News.Com, November 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Lost Under the Streetlight
The author argues that colleges and universities should not be held responsible for file sharing. The case, if you will, seems pretty clear cut: "the RIAA reports that just 191 of the 5,441 individuals who have been the named targets of RIAA P2P lawsuits over the past few years are based on college campuses, using campus networks." He asks, "how long before the media industries and members of Congress focus their public comments and copyright efforts on the consumer ISPs?" The answer is, of course, as soon as the RIAA can get the softer targets - the colleges and universities - to comply. Having established a precedent, it becomes much easier to mount a wider campaign. So it's not just a numbers game: colleges and universities will continue to be targeted because they're the thin edge of the wedge, the segment of internet service provider most likely to abandon any defense of user rights.

If you see this analysis as overly cynical, read between the lines of this case, reported today. Appalachian State University was issued a subpoena from the RIAA to obtain identifying information about the users of the particular machines. As an educational institution, Appalachian State is subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which makes studentsí educational records confidential. But the university "will cooperate as we should in any litigation matter like this... [it] will comply with the subpoena." Just like that. By Kenneth C. Green, Campus Technology, November 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Content Packaging Specification
Version 1.1.4. This is a minor 'maintenance release' upgrading numerous small elements in the specification. By Various Authors, IMS Global Learning Consortium, November 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Bloglines Step-by-Step
Some practical advice describing how to use Blogines, a popular web-based RSS aggregator. By Alex Halavais, A Thaumaturgical Compendium, November 5, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Object Metadata (The Buntine Oration - Reflection 3)
Albert Ip offers his third (or fourth) post in response to my learning Networks talk in Perth, looking this time at metadata. As with his previous posts, there is a great deal of resonance between his views and mine. It's insteresting - as you read through his article you'll see the utility of metadata shrink smaller and smaller, untill we're left with the professor's desktop: "Most academic are expert in their own discipline. They have a very good knowledge of the kind of resources they can and would use. They don't need resource discovery support. They need tools to help them use the resources they already own!" Discoverability is about consumption and use - but what we needed, have always needed, was something that helped with creation and discourse. By Albert Ip, Random Walk in E-Learning, November 4, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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