By Stephen Downes
July 25, 2005

Voices For Change!
This is a website run by and for Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU) members. If you are a Telus internet subscriber then you (as of this writing) cannot access this site (not without a reflector, at least). Telus is blocking access to its employee union website. I have commented before on the dangers of placing public policy and public infrastructure into private hands, and this is exactly what I am talking about. What would be completely unacceptable for a government is just another day at the office for a corporation. If we are not willing to require that corporations respect basic rights and freedoms, and to enforce this in law, then we should not be placing essential services into their hands. Where is our government on this? By various Authors, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Welcome to the OPML Editor
I haven't tried it yet but there has been a lot of pre-launch buzz in the blogosphere with enough positive comments that it seems worth passing along. "An outliner is a text editor that allows you to control the level of detail that's visible, and allows you to reorganize text according to its structure." By Dave Winer, OPML Editor Support, July 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

World Universities' Ranking on the Web
I thought this was pretty funny, but I should hasten to add that it points to something deeper. This site purports to rank the top 1000 universities based on a web measurement metric: Position = 2 * Ranking(Size) + 4 * Ranking(Visibility) + 1 * Ranking(Rich Files). It was the last - rich files - that gave me the biggest giggle, as I was left wondering about the correlation between PowerPoint, PDF, and academic merit. So I didn't take the rankings very seriously. But there is a deeper point here, and that is that these sorts of rankings won't be caricatures in the future, and that eventually a university's (or a person's) web footprint will yield some useful data. Via Information Policy via Jeremy Hunsinger. By Various Authors, Webometrics, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Politics of Web 2.0
Jeff Jarvis writes of web 2.0, "This is a new architecture. It's a dynamic architecture." Susan Crawford adds, insightfully, "It's even more than that it's political. These meta-informational thingies are letting us see our online environment in ways we can't possibly see the offline world. What's important isn't just that these thingies are dynamic (although that's clearly important) but also that they can be (1) visualized and (2) affected by the attention of individuals. When humans can see something and act on it, they are suddenly in charge of their own environment..." By David Weinberger, Joho the Blog, July 25, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Early Film, Early Internet, Early Days, Network Learning
Leigh Blackall begins by talking about finding old movies on the Internet Archive (which alone makes his post worth reading) but makes his main point here: "This post is not so much an outcome of any particular study (such as a paper or essay might be) but is more a piece in the process of learning. Its an ongoing conversation of learning, with the recorded voices in the conversation contributing to the content used in someone else's learning." And me? Now I want to get some proper video editing software (and a computer that can run it) so I can make some documentaries. By Leigh Blackall, Teach and Learn Online, July 24, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Microsoft Frowned at For Smiley Patent
With people already raising their eyebrows at the renaming of Longhorn to Microsoft Vista (people especially including those with companies named Vista or products named Vista) the Redmond software company poured oil onto the fire with the news that it is patenting the creation of custom emoticons (aka smileys). "We now appear to be living in a world where even the most laughable paranoid fantasies about commercially controlling simple social concepts are being outdone in the real world by well-funded armies of lawyers on behalf of some of the most powerful companies on the planet," said the Open Source consortium's Mark Taylor. I have written about this sort of theft before, which is why I cry foul when it is the people who share files who are branded criminals. Via Slashdot. By Ingrid Marson, ZDNet UK, July 22, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Edubuntu Summit: Eat Your Heart Out!
Ubuntu is a new semi-commercial Linux distribution. Edubuntu is an organization exploring the use of this version of Linux in education. This link is to the wikified version of the Edubuntu Summit conference notes. And if you haven't been to SchoolForge before, you may want to linger on the site and look around. By Various Authors, SchoolForge, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

My Podcast on Why Podcasting isn't Interesting
To me, this is the big one: "It takes 30 minutes to listen to a thirty minute podcast, but if you give me 10 pages of material to read, I can scan through it in 15-30 seconds. I follow over 150 Web sites daily with my RSS aggregator - but I couldn't digest 150 podcasts every day because there simply aren't enough hours in the day." By Dave Taylor, The Intuitive Life Business Blog, July 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Prensky Takes a Beating!
As a 46 year old who is not a baby boomer it's hard not to agree with Tom Hoffman. I was too young (ie., 8) for the Summer of Love and Woodstock; I grew up with wiring diagrams, techno-pop, Pong (and Galaga- heh) and punch cards. I saw Tangerine Dream in concert. And I am a digital native. By Leigh Blackall, Teach and Learn Online, July 24, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

How Great Is Free?
Scott Belford writes, "It's gotten so that I just can't tell enough people about all the great edutainment applications included with each revision of the K12LTSP. Furthermore, until someone sees the delicious GUI that is the gnu/linux Desktop, they think of it as something DOS-like and unfriendly. With this in mind I have finally captured screenshots of all the apps found on the latest revision, 4.4, of the K12LTSP disto." By Scott Belford, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Modernising with Purpose: a Manifesto for a Digital Britain
Comprehensive look at the deployment of information and communications technologies (ICT) in Britian with an emphasis on economic impact and public policy. This is a longish document (72 pages plus notes) divided into three major sections (innovation and wealth, checks and balances (eg., identity, security and trust), and democracy). Each section is concluded with a set of principles (so if you're skimming, look for those). Some good understanding not simply of technological affordances but also of human nature. A fourth, concluding section emphasizes choice, common sense, trust and access. Government officials should read this document; citizens and those in e-learning (which is discussed a fair bit) will find large protions of it interesting. Via Seb Schmoller. By William Davies, Institute for Public Policy Research, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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Copyright 2005 Stephen Downes
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