By Stephen Downes
February 10, 2005

Why This Internet Thing is Just Starting
So I'm on the 27th floor of a hotel in downtown Montreal, wrapping up early because I have a flight back to Moncton this evening, and outside my window I see nothing but white. The Air Canada website says my flight is on time, which is no doubt a hopeful fabrication. Today's newsletter is a mixture of hope and fear: awe at the ongoing technological revolution described in this article, a revolution that is sweeping through the internet as we watch - podcasts, vidcasts, Skype recording, and more; and disquiet at the way these new technologies are being subverted as a means through which the powerful can exert greater influence, greater control. Today I'll opt for hope - but it's easy to be engulfed in the snowstorm, isn't it?

Oh, and this just in: "I just heard from the PSC and you received a 'B' in your oral interaction test. You now meet all your language levels." Yes folks, I passed my test (the reason for my visit to Montreal). Woo hoo! I am now officially bilingual. :) :) :)

Hope, sometimes, does win out. By Seth Godin, Seth's Blog, February 7, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The multimedia revolution continues with the introduction of ANT - currently for Apple computers only - which is in essence a podcasting tool for video. James Farmer describes it: "ANT helps you download and watch video published on the Internet. ANT allows you to organize and manage video playlists. ANT is a video aggregator that allows you to subscribe to RSS 2.0 feeds with video enclosures. ANT seeks to build opensource software tools to enable an emergent, grassroots, bottom-up, video distribution network based on existing technology such as weblogs and RSS." By James Farmer, incorporated subversion, February 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Garret the Copyright Propagandist
From the annals of industry propaganda (which seems to be a theme for this issue - but hey, I'm just reporting what's happening here) we have this item on "Garret" the "copyright crusading" ferret featured in "Copyright Crusader to the Rescue." I'll let J.D. Lasica express my views here: "Having a corporate-sponsored comic book is fine, I suppose, but incorporating this one-sided, misleading propagandist claptrap into the teaching curriculum is an outrage." By J.D. Lasica, Darknet, February 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Educational Metadata FAQ launched
Coverage of the newly launched educational metadata FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). I toodled around in the site for a while, and while the information appears accurate, it's pretty basic. But then again, that's what a FAQ is supposed to be. By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, February 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

CombattingNon-Transparent PR with Grassroots Energy
This item, only a week old but already prescient, applies directly to the next item (about 43 Things). "The lack of transparency in the world of opinion-making is an ongoing scandal. What we have today is a system of opinion laundering, where powerful interests try to create public support for their side of issues without disclosing the hidden agendas." I heartily concur with this assessment, and observe that it applies to a wide range of domains, everything frompolitical activism to data gathering exercises to online marketing. And, one presumes, online learning. By Dan Gillmor, Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc., February 04, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

43 Things Amazon Conspiracy
There was a social networking meme that went around a few weeks ago called '43 Things' - the idea is that you would form online groups dedicated to doing one of the 43 things would would like to do. I thought it was interesting but not really applicable to online learning, so I didn't cover it here. Now I sort of wish I did, but am glad I didn't, because it turns out that the whole thing was a front for Amazon.com. Well. I don't know what to think, except to observe that companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their online efforts. And it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between a genuine grassroots movement and a marketing campaign. Meanwhile, I'll classify this story about 43 Things under the heading: funny. By Jason Kottke, Kottke.org, February 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Distributed Engagement With Courses and Other Units of Learning
Scott Wilson pushes the concept forward a notch, discussing the array of services that would be needed to support an online course - or as he has decided to call it, a "shared learning context". After listing the various elements - resources, forum, portfolio - he then matches the requirements against the e-learning framework. Existing specifications - RSS or Atom, FOAF, iCalendar - are sufficient to provide most functions. ELF, of course, interprets each of these in its own way. Where he runs aground is in assembling these services - "it would make quite a long list of little orange XML buttons!" Well yeah, but instead of IMS Enterprise services, or autodiscovery, why not use OPML, which is designed for exactly this task? See, the thing is, all this stuff being 'discovered' by ELF has already been encountered in the RSS and blog worlds - there's no need to reinvent the wheel here. By Scott Wilson, Scott's Workblog, February 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Recording Online Audio Interactions - The Easy Way?
Well I have a lot of fun trying to make the setup described in this item work, bothered Alan Levine, but ultimately could not make it work - my laptop, an older Dell Latitude, apparently does not support microphone boosting (because it uses the limited Crystal drivers instead of the better Intel ones), so I can record someone else's conversation, but not my own voice. Still, if you have a new system, this might be worth a try. By Derek Morrison, Auricle, February 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Audio of OSN 2005 Keynote
I will be participating in the Online Social Networks conference as a last minute educational stream addition. This page links to an MP3 of a converstaion among keynotes Howard Rheingold, Lisa Kimball, and Joi Ito. Neat idea. I will also be participating in the KnowTips online conference, taking place in a couple of weeks. Could be interesting. This will follow my visit to the Northern Voice conference in Vancouver, the only one of the three that will require airfare. By Joi Ito, Joi Ito's Web, February 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How to Create Your Own Mobile Podcasts and Mobcasts
Richard Roth sends this link to a nice set of clear instructions on how to create a group mobile audio weblog is well worth a look - the long distance charges will still deter many, but long distance charges are about to become a thing of the past, opening up worlds of opportunities. By Andy Carvin, Digital Divide Network, January 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Cooperation, Sharing And Social Networking As Emergent Economic And Production Forces
As Robin Good summarizes, "a growing body of literature on social norms, social capital, common property regimes, and the emergence of peer production, outline the contours of social sharing as a third mode of organizing economic production, alongside markets and the state." Here is the original article in the Economist. By Luigi Canali De Rossi, Robin Good, February 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Scott Matthews proposes DRUMS, a database of creative works and relevant metadata including, crucially, rights and permissions. "The intention is to enrich the environment for creating and consuming digital works by enriching the environment for developing new applications and services to interact with these works." Doesn't sit well with me, and I comment on Joho, where I found the link (it's a Joho day today). My own work on digital rights management is collected here (due to a coding error, my wiki will ask you for a user ID and password - I can't just take it off, I'll be deluged by spam - as a temporary measure, please use UserID: Anymouse password: anymouse). By Scott Matthews, February 8, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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