By Stephen Downes
February 21, 2005

Community Blogging
So anyhow I have been stranded by the weather for the second time in as many weeks, this time thanks to a snowstorm in Toronto. I'm on my way home from Northern Voice where I delivered this talk, an analysis of community as it emerges in blogging: how it is formed, how it should reshape the blogosphere, and how it can be implemented (quite easily) technologically. And along the way, deflating a few pet concepts of the blogerati, such as the value of the long tail and the utility of tagging. The main link is to the slides (about 9 mB); I have also posted an MP3 of Community Blogging (about 6 mB) (Also available here).

Commentary on the talk in the blogosphere has been widespread, so if you don't want to listen to it, you can read summaries and opinions from any of these sources: a whole minute, Nancy White (who with Jon Husband was influential in its creation), Blogaholics, Mark Hamilton, Lee LeFever, Northern Blog, Ryan Schultz. I also sat on the Blogging in Education panel: here is the MP3 of Blogging in Education and here is a summary by Nancy White. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, February 19, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Not Ready for Prime Time: feed://
Alan Levine says it's not ready for prime time - and I agree - but this seems to me to be the best solution of all to the problem of automating feed subscription. By Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, February 16, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Increasing Visual Literacy Skills With Digital Imagery
I very much agree with this statement: "Visual literacy is becoming more important from a curricular standpoint as society relies to a greater degree on images and visual communication strategies. Thus, in order for students to be marketable in modern society, they must acquire visual literacy skills." All part of the new literacy. By Lance Wilhelm, T.H.E. Journal, February, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Cost of Ethics: Influence Peddling in the Blogosphere
J.D. Lasica takes an extended look at what is going to become a real problem - the use of blogs by corporations, politicians and others with a message to sell. The problem isn't that it's advertising, it's that the advertising content is hidden, unknowable. Lasica explores the deployment of ethics as a means to counter the worst of this phenomenon. But let's face it - most of the entities we're talking about here won't behave ethically unless compelled by law, and will obey the law only if caught. Look at spam. The blogosphere response will have to be structural, not moral, ethical or even legal. By J.D. Lasica, Online Jorunalism Review, February 17, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Balancing Personalization
This argument is as old as the hills: "customized personalization-- smart, self-adjusting, filtered system--limits discovery." The idea is that if you get only the content you want, you will never get anything new. The author and several of the links he cites eventually wind their way to the response: social networking allows discovery via relationship, not content, hence allowing novel information through the filters. By Ross Mayfield, Ross Mayfield's Weblog, February 14, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Blogging and Benefiting
Overview of blogging in education written for ASCD's Education Update which looks sound at first but suffers from questionable research. As Will Richardson notes, the author's assertion that "Of the 10 million to 15 million people who blog daily, technical experts estimate that only a few hundred thousand are educators" is questionable - the "technical experts" are not identified, and none of the people I know in the field would place the figure so high. The author also gets some acronyms wrong in the (short) glossary (and actually differeing from his cited source). And one wonders about the rest. "I would never use a blog for venting," it quotes someone as saying at one point. Or: "Blogs can be helpful in combating burnout." No, this article is about blogs, but it doesn't understand blogs. By John Franklin, Education Update, February 20, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Getting to Grips with Learning Design
Summary of the IMS Learning Design workshop in Valkenburg, essentially a fest where people tried out some new learning design authoring tools. Some 'person on the spot' reviews reflecting a reasonable level of comfort with the tools. But here is the kicker: "Completed Units of Learning are available from the OUNL's Moodle site. The site requires free registration, and it should be emphasised that the units only make sense if you have installed Reload 2.0.1 and CopperCore 2.2.2." It's XML! Why should you need special viewers? By Wilbert Kraan, CETIS, February 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An Analytical World View: Tsunami Crisis
A lot of people, when they compare blogs (and personal publishing in general), tend to compare on a one-to-one basis: how a given blog compares to a given newspaper, how a given blog compares to a course or program. This article shows nicely the effect of the blogosphere taken as a whole, not as one of its parts. And when you look at it as a whole, the picture changes dramatically. The blogosphere is more responsive, more creative, more varied, more inclusive, and ultimately, more accountable. This, now, is the standard to which both journalism and learning must look to, must look up to. By Unattributed, Intelliseek, February 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Music Industry Doesn't Need More Government Protection
When the recording industry calls opponents of copyright extension 'communist' or, in this case, 'comrade', it is to hide their own dependence on the big hand of government to defend their interests. Canadian Recording Industry Association president Graham Henderson, for example, recently "argued that the industry was fundamentally opposed to proposals that would replace a market-oriented approach where sales determine revenues with new alternative compensation systems." The day the Canadin recording industry is ready to free itself from government interference, it should let us know. We could then end the subsidies and grants, end the enforcement of their copyrights, end Canadian content legislation. Or, on the other hand, it could learn to live with the idea that law is intended to support the interests of everyone in society, not just the music publishers. By Michael Geist, February 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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