By Stephen Downes
March 11, 2005

Annotating the Planet
Where is this image from? You know it's probably Palermo, but where? The Botanical gardens. But what is it? I can't help you with that, except to observe that it is probably Roman. There was no annotation at the site - and annotating Palermo would be a major expense. But if everyone who visited a site could add their own comments - photos, background information, stories - then the landscape would acquire a richness and dimension previously unimagined. And I would know who the headless figure was and where he came from.

This is Thursday's newsletter - Friday's newsletter will be along some time Saturday. :) p.s. How do you like the addition of images in the newsletter? I have been unsure about whether to add them. Let me know. By Jon Udell with a photo by Stephen Downes, Jon Udell's Weblog, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Google News: Customized News
The blogosphere is gaga over Google's new customized news. From where I sit, Google has now replicated the functionality of the 1998 My Netscape page - except without the RSS feeds that allow you to select your own sources. Good summary by Aaron Swartz. The other thing the blogosphere is gaga over this week is eBay's launching of Kijiji, which is essentially a city-based classifieds listing. It is essentially a clone of Craigslist, except it is offered outside the United States. eBay had better not start complaining about people using its ideas after this. By Various Authors, Google, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Structural Holes, Part One
I torn, at least on the surface. As I stated a couple of days ago, and see increasingly in my own work, no one person can master everything in a domain; innovation is therefore the product of a group and not an individual. So the answer is to form a team, right? But I'm not about subsuming my ideas under some sort of corporate or messianic 'vision' or 'programme' - I function best when I am pursuing my own agenda and my own ideas. I want autonomy. The tenor of this article helps resolve the dilemma: "As managers, we need to shift our thinking from command and control to coordinate and cultivate -- the best way to gain power is sometimes to give it away." This reflects my own feelings about management - and about learning, for that matter. But too few managers, and too few instructors, are willing to let go. Via George Siemens, who also links to Part Two. By Bruce Hoppe, Connectedness, January 18, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

ContentGuard Employees Sue Owners over IP Licensing
Why doesn't this surprise me? "ContentGuard employees are claiming that Microsoft and Time Warner, having bought ContentGuard's DRM-related patents, are now essentially giving them away through various deals and not channeling royalties to ContentGuard." Given that ContentGuard employees wanted to make money from all rights management on the web, effortlessly skimming from other people's creativity, I don't really have any sympathy. Though I'm sure Microsoft and Time Warner weren't acting benevolently; as the author suggests, they were likely looking at other DRM IP coming out of the woodwork and decided to get what they could out of an increasingly bad investment. By Bill Rosenblatt, DRM Watch, March 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Developing Self-Directed Learners
Summary of research on self-directed learning, including a useful chart matching specific work to types of self-directed learning. Most of the article addresses student motivation and linking student choice to responsibility. Some discussion of linking self-directed learning to state curricula and high-stakes testing. Good starting document. Via Rosanna Tarsiero at IFETS. By Unknown, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, December 31, 200-31 8:33 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How and Why Smart Companies are Harnessing the Creativity of Their Customers
Interesting article about the way companies solicit and use ideas generated by their customers. Take note of the last paragraph: "One really exciting thing about user-led innovation is that customers seem willing to donate their creativity freely, says Mr Von Hippel. This may be because it is their only practical option: patents are costly to get and often provide only weak protection." On the other hand, protection for the same companies is very easy to get and those same consumers are easy targets for lawsuits. The law is supposed to provide balance. It is not doing that. By Unattributed, The Economist, March 10, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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