By Stephen Downes
March 30, 2005

Centered Communication: Weblogs and Aggregation in the Organisation
James Farmer weighs in with a nice post describing how aggregation networks foster communication in social networks such as intranets. The key, argues Farmer - and he is exactly right here, right in an important and subtle way - is that the networks formed through aggregation foster community in a different, and more effective, way that networks formed through structures such as category trees. The analogy is between the pre-planned city, which stifles community, and the organic city, which thrives on it. Farmer taps not simply into the technology but the underlying principles of information organization - principles that should have a fundamental impact on educational design in the years to come. This paper fits right alongside my Learning Networks, George Siemens's Connectivism, Robert Paterson's Going Home - we are all talking about the same thing here, the same underlying principle. By James Farmer, incorporated subversion, March 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Laying the Newspaper Gently Down to Die
Newspapers are still as profitable as ever. That, though, is part of the problem facing the industry; as the tsunami bears down on it, close enough to feel the foam, it is hard to escape the feeling that all is normal. Jay Rosen notes, "the fact that it's still (highly) profitable is one of the signs of this death." Same for the music industry. Same for the education industry. But note: the key issue facing us, say people like Rosen and Dan Gillmor, is how to preserve what we value in journalism, an independent, free press dedicated to honest reportage. "The only way to save journalism is to develop a new model that finds profit in truth, vigilance, and social responsibility," Phil Meyer said. We, too, in learning, face the same issues - and while the wave may be further away, it's still in sight. By Jay Rosen, PressThink, March 29, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Social Literacies: Some Observations About Writing and Wikis
Short item observing, correctly, that "writing is being treated more and more as a visual entity. No longer is the unbroken, uniform, left to right flow of text the norm. Instead, in the new media especially, text plays a secondary role to images, meandering around them..." The author then considers the question of how people comprehend such writing, especially when, as in a wiki, it is written by multiple authors. It may be a long time before we understand this comprehensively - the traditional linear format could be understood with tools such as syntactic analysis. But in this new form of writing, so much of the meaning is derived from outside the text - there will not be a simple grammar we can use ourselves and teach our students. Via Will Richardson, who links to James Farmer (above) on this. By Ulises Mejias, ideant, March 4, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

EVDB is a calendaring service that supports RSS feeds of custom calendars. The beta launched today. As the website says, EVDB "helps people find relevant events and share their discoveries with others. We're building a worldwide repository of event and venue data that the whole world can use. Our goal is to help people discover all kinds of events they might have otherwise missed, and to profitably be the best at what we do." I like the idea - but where is the code? Oh - we all go to their site. That's not how it should work. Such systems will begin to work when there are multiple interoperable calendars like this. I give it a month, two months max, before the decentralized approach takes flight. But for now, EVDB is pretty nifty. By Brian Dear, et.al., March 30, 2005 9:32 p.m. [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Integrating Library Reserves and Course Management Systems: Aleph, RSS, and Sakai
This is pretty neat - a presentation describing the use of RSS to display library course reserves through CTools, the Sakai-based course management system (Sakai is an open source learning management system). Good discussion, along with results from a pilot project. What I like was the ease with which a short PHP script was able to set this up. Via Scott Leslie. By Susan Hollar and Ryan Max Steinberg, EDUCAUSE Midwest, March 21, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Greasemonkey as a Lightweight Intermediary
We're still in the early stages of this, but rapidly approaching a time when websites will be manipulated at will by the browser. This item is a description of Greasemonkey, a Firefox extension that lets you create a JavaScript function that is executed whenever your browser loads a given page; the script loads and displays extra data in from another server. In other words, it is very similar to my rotating themes, except that it's called from the browser, not the web page. And you know, I look at this and I ask, where was Microsoft for all those years when Internet Explorer was the only game in town? It's like innovation stopped for five years - and now, with Firefox, it's back again (and so is that giddy feeling from the late 90s when the web was so much fun). By Simon Willison, Simon Willison's Weblog, March 30, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

An open source version of del.icio.us, a system that allows people to make tagged bookmarks. Written in Perl, which adds another project to my growing heap. By Anonymous, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Hybrid CSS Dropdowns
Half the article deals with how to make nice standards compliant menus for your web page. The other half discusses how to make them work properly in Internet Explorer. In other words, a typical design experience. By Eric Shepherd, A List Apart, March 30, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Seven Myths about Voice over IP
Reasonable article with a typical IEEE conservatism addressing the prospects for Voice over IP (VOIP) technologies - that is, internet telephones. The author takes an enterprise point of view, noting that VOIP entails bandwidth and equipment costs, but also points out that it is likely to replace traditional telephony. Some discussion of Skype, but for the most part a treatment of commercial VOIP. By Steven Cherry, IEEE Spectrum, March, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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