By Stephen Downes
November 23, 2004

Blogs, RSS and Other Cool Stuff
People seem to like that title. They also like the presentation, which covers everything from content management systems, blogs, wikis and RSS. The MP3 audio of my session Friday in Whitehorse, Yukon, is available online. The main link above points to my Yukon photos, which you can use to decorate your desktops, slides or web pages. On Saturday I went hiking at Miles canyon in the Yukon wilderness with fellow photographer and former RCMP officer Hank Moorlag, who offers his photographs of the day (including one of me on a cliff). Don't miss his other set of Yukon photos. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, November 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Global Learn Day: GLD8 Educational Technologists Talk Online
My contribution to Global Learn Day is available as an MP3 audio feed (2.9 M) - I talk about the Firefox launch, the emergence of blogging in the Yukon, and the spirit that lies behind all this - the idea that we could provide learning to everyone in the world (please note the sound is bad for three minutes during the introduction, then my talk comes out very clearly). Another recording of my talk (by Robin Good) is available here. Robin Good also contributed a useful presentation to the event, Ten Technologies That Are Going To Change The Way We Learn - search technologies, data visualization tools, blogs, audio and video, RSS, P2P, unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth (Wifi, WiMax), real time collaboration tools, and collective and collaborative filtering. By Stephen Downes and Robin Good, Stephen's Web, Robin Good, November 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Learning Management Systems: The Wrong Place to Start Learning
The debates surrounding learning management systems continue as George Siemens weighs in with this good analysis of where they miss the mark. "The very notion of 'managing learning' conflicts with how people are actually learning today... [LMSs] still view learners as canisters to be filled with content." Worth reading as well on this topic is James Jarmer, who comments on LMS marketing tactics, and Albert Ip, who reports that LMSs "failed miserably in terms of version management of more dynamic content or allow just-in-time creation of content by the instructor based on perceived performance abilities of the cohort." By George Siemens, elearnspace, November 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Ads Making Overtures in RSS
Some discussion of recent moves by companies like Overture, the search advertising division of Yahoo, which is working with Feedburner, to insert ads into RSS feeds. There are only a few places ads could be inserted into feeds; these services insert them at the source as they offer to create RSS feeds for you. More. More. The only other place, really, is in the RSS reader - and with 640 different readers available, that's not really a reliable placement. With RSS ads, though, the difficulty is that if the ads are intrusive, the reader will simply discontinue the feed. The more long-term danger is that if ad placements become revenue sources, then copyright will be used to discourage the aggregation of feeds, since this would usually results in the ads being removed. And if aggregation is discouraged, many of the benefits of RSS are lost. Meanwhile, RSS ad strippers have already begun to appear on the scene. By Susan Kuchinskas , InternetNews.com, November 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Every Ontology is a Treaty
The latest issue of SIGSEMIS: Semantic Web and Information Systems is out - and once again, I am forced to ask why a semantic web organization can't publish their journal in XML, or at least HTML, instead of the decidedly non-semantic PDF. Anyhow, the highlight is this issue is the interview with Tom Gruber, well known for his work on ontologies. Some good quotes asking what a knowledge portal is for, analyzing the cost and benefits of strict ontologies, and pointing out that an ontology is a treaty, not a law. By Miltiadis D. Lytras, SIGSEMIS, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Anti-Virus Companies: Tenacious Spammers
Many schools, colleges and universities have installed anti-virus and anti-spam filters on their systems. As a popular target for such annoying emails, I am sympathetic with the need to block the garbage before it gets to unsuspecting users (especially those using Windows and Outlook, and hence could really be harmed by the messages). But as this item notes, these programs are worse spammers than the people they try to block. It's bad enough that I get a slew of these messages when I send a newsletter with a bad word in it. But I also get a continuous stream of notifications involving messages I have not sent, where the sender has simply used my email address to hide their identity. Administrators: turn off these notifications. They are worse than the actual spam - and sometimes even carry the viruses they are trying to screen. By Brian Martin, Attrition, January 28, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Rod Savoie sent a couple of links along today: this one, to a search engine that produces fairly good clustered results, and another, to the visual thesaurus. Neither will replace Google for me, but I like having the alternative views of the web. By Various Authors, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

It's getting harder and harder to stay out in front in this business. I found out about Wikalong Saturday night at the Firefox 1.0 launch party in Vancouver but forgot to include it in yesterday's newsletter (I blame jet lag). Wouldn't you know that Derek Morrison of Auricle has an item on it today. Anyhow: "Wikalong is a FirefoxExtension that embeds a wiki in the SideBar of your browser, indexed off the url of your current page. It is probably most simply described as a wiki-margin for the internet." Simple technology, but with a potentially groundbreaking impact. Hard to say - it could just as easily end up as a mire of defacement and grafitti (which is how it started Saturday night). It installs with a push of a button in Firefox; to turn it on, select View-Sidebar-Wikalong (or ctl-shift-L). By Unknown, November, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Weblogs: Niche or Nucleus?
Detailed presentation with many references on the educational use of blogging. Looks at blog affordances, use in educational contexts, and issues. Broken into segments for easy downloading (or you can download the whole 4 megabyte PDF if you wish). An HTML version is also available. By Derek Morrison, Auricle, November 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Linux Helps Kids, Brings Hope, in Hawaii
Mostly just one of those inspirational stories. But, you know, I like inspirational stories. People like Scott Belford are my role models. By Tina Gasperson, NewsForge, November 22, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2004 Stephen Downes
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