By Stephen Downes
March 4, 2005

Living in a Distributed World
The MP3 of my online talk, Living in a Distributed World is now available. In this talk I contrast centralized and distributed approaches to learning technology and outline the distributed approach. The PowerPoint slides are also available, or if you wish, you can view the session directly on Elluminate. By Stephen Downes, Stephen's Web, February 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Jeff Gannon Scandal and the Blogosphere
Don't worry, this article is not about Jeff Gannon. Rather, ti deals with changing trends in jorunalism. We are moving from an era in which people pay to read (or consume) content to an era in which people pay to produce content. And this has as a consequence a transfer of infleunce over the medium from those who adhere (at least ostensively) to a principle of journalistic integrity to those who can afford to pay for coverage. I raise many of the points I raise in Community B,ogging, but in a more accessible manner. Discussion on the Online News list is covered by Douglas Fisher. By Stephen Downes, NewsTrolls, March 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

George Siemens launches a companion wiki for his article, Connectivism Still a bit empty, but a good starting point. The best part so far is the blog. By George Siemens, March 2, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Educating the Net Generation
I read the EDUCAUSE online book, "Educating the Net Generation" through the course of the week. I had highlighted one paper, the final piece in the book, by Chris Dede, giving it a lukewarm review. My feelings about the work as a whole are similar. But how to put such a nebulous feeling into words? Cognitive Dissonance does the work for me. "My contention is that nobody likes being talked down to. The same people who think instant messaging is disruptive and who donít like answering email on weekends are the ones who are designing and driving these online classes." And I wonder how much influence this sort of thinking had over the design of this book, from the carefully selected and well-schooled students perfectly trained to use the term "Greatest Generation" as though they meant it to the "a ha!" feeling exhibiting by faculty discovering instant messaging. "And you need to feel bad if you think this is new. Maybe a good dose of guilt will get you moving, because we have to become more flexible." By Various Authors, EDUCAUSE, February 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

UKeU: The Final Curtain?
Seb Schmoller sent me this link to the Third Report of the Education and Skills Committee in Great Britain, a fascinating and often scathing discussion of UKeU. "UKeU did not have anyone with e-learning expertise in a senior management position." Recipe for failure. Turn anything over to the beancounters, and they kill it. Auricle, in this item, extracts much from the report, including this: "We have found that UKeU inherited a narrowly focussed definition of e-learning and chose to pursue that approach without questioning it at any stage. It did not focus on research and development concerning the definition of e-learning, and it did not have a 'learner-centred' approach." That about sums it up. By Derek Morrison, Auricle, March 4, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Building Online Communities Beyond Dating
Addressing the online dating community, Michael Jones observes that social networks are increasingly taking on a matchmaking function and suggests that, in order to compete, dating services need to incorporate blogs and social networking tools. This item comes up in the course of a discussion about the introduction in Friendster of Typepad blogs. Here's an example. The Friendster blogs, being tied to community identity, include in their RSS a dc:creator tag identifying the author. Now the cat is out of the bag; we should expect rapid progress in the development of the semantic social network. But now come the really hard questions, like: what are the ethics of going on a virtual date with someone you're quoting in your English essay? By Michael Jones, Userplane, January, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Search, Serendipity and Bricolage
Someone who finally understands search. "Search that's not anti-learning, not about discrete data points and perfect-fit puzzle pieces, tends to be all about learning. It's about stumbling across seemingly unrelated ideas that sometimes turn out to be strangely related." Perceiving patterns. Twilight of the Idols. By Christopher Locke, Chief Blogging Officer, March 3, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Duke Evaluates iPod Experiment
It's still a couple of weeks before we see the results of Duke's iPod experiment, but I think one thing will be clear: in order to obtain a benefit from the technology, you have to use it. But: "Six months after the Duke University iPod First-Year Experience began, a stack of unopened iPods line Lynne O'Brien's office. As the director of the Center for Instructional Technology, her office has become the temporary storage room for the leftover devices." With a $500,000 budget, one would have thought someone would have noticed this. By The Chronicle, Daily Illini, March 1, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

AutoLink Again
Google's new Toolbar has the capacity to insert links into web pages. The links point to things like maps from Google's map service and definitions from answer.com. Some in the blogosphere have not reacted well to this development, Dave Winer for example launching a barrage of criticism. There is no question in my mind that Google ought to be allowed to do this - we work under the assumption that Google will allow me to do the same to its pages, and that Toorbar advertisers will allow me to use and repurpose their content. Rip, Mix, Feed. I think the constarnation in the blogosphere arises from the idea that commercial publishers are doing to blogs what those very same agencies were suing bloggers for doing to them. We know by now that these companies will pretty much ignore any licensing you put on your webpage - the 'non-commercial' constraint on my Creative commons license doesn't even slow them down. But hey, that's OK, and I can't wait to see what the blogosphere has in mind now that it's OK to do to Google what Google does to us. By Tim Bray, Ongoing, March 4, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Total Cost of Ownership and Open Source Software
Readers looking for a nice bottom-line favoring open source or proprietary software will be disappointed. Readers seeking to understand the concept and to get a good model in order to conduct their own assessment will be delighted. This detailed review of the concept of TCO (total cost of ownership) is a delight, and while it looked to me that the open source approach was significantly cheaper (see pp. 37-39) establishing this was not the point of the paper. The author observes that the result will vary depending on the nature of the installation and the intended use of the application. PDF. Via edna-for-schools. By Kathryn Moyle, Department of Education and Children s Services, South Australia, July, 2004 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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