By Stephen Downes
August 24, 2005

GoogleTalk Of The Town
Well today's big news is the release of the Google instant messaging client. In one fell swoop (because it uses the open Jabber protocol) it obsoletes the competition and at the same time poses significant competition for Skype (will Google and Skype ever talk to each other... oh, it is but to hope). Anyhow, it's all over the blogosphere, so you don't need me for this. Oh, and don't miss Google Desktop, the other blockbuster announcement this week. By Jeff, SEGA Tech, August 24, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Controversy Accompanies Arrival of Virtual Schools in Wisconsin
Some things I just don't get. Like this: "Controversy has accompanied the arrival of virtual schools in Wisconsin. Home school organizations have attacked the new schools for luring parents into public schools disguised as home schools." By Amy Hetzner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, August 22, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Mindset of Freshmen
Sure, it's fun to imagine the mind-set of students who are 18 years old today (born in 1987), but really, the list in Inside Higher Ed is pretty lame. A better list? The moon landing ahppened 18 years before they were born (by contrast, World War II ended 14 years before I was born). There has never been a Berlin Wall (fell in 1989) and Russia has always been a (chaotic) democracy. Europe has always been (more or less) united. Africa has always been poor, but Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore have always been well off. The price of oil has always been rising, the envrionment has always been warm and stormy, monarch butterflies have always been scarce and houses have always been too expensive to afford. The people they know from China and India (and they know people from China and India) have always been educated and engaging, chat and content have always been free, and the web (1995) has existed almost as long as they can remember. By Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, August 24, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Companies Dinged on Web Privacy
From time to time I voice the opinion that corporations are simply not to be trusted to respect such things as personal privacy. I'd like to be able to say that this is merely blind prejudice, but sadly, it is an opinion based on cold hard fact (and, indeed, the myth that corporations can be trusted seems to me to be more like fantasy). Facts like this one: "a new study released this week shows that many major American companies misuse information they collect from consumers over the Web." The worst offenders? "Pharmaceutical and health care firms." Which is why I have been a firm opponent of private sector involvement in personal health care records. By Alorie Gilbert, CNet News.com, August 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Sun Launches Open DRM Project
This headline has been splayed across the IT press sector this week: "Sun Microsystems has launched an ambitious community project aimed at building a universal system of digital rights management based on 'open source' software." But I think the final and authoritative word belongs to (Sun's) Tim Bray: " What all the DRM dreamers donít want to admit is that 95% or more of the population hasnít yet encountered DRM, and when they do, they arenít going to like it. Theyíre going to scream and scream and scream and get mad as hell and not take it any more. Iím talking about the honest people who play by the rules: they buy a house and the vendor moves out and pulls no more strings. They buy sofas and flowers and wine and paper and the store where they bought them doesnít try to limit what you can do with them, and when the digital-media vendors try to horn in on this relationship, the response is going to be 'you and whose army?'" By Unknown, LunuxDevices, August 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

Talks between DVD groups break down
Talks between the two major DVD groups have broken down, and so the format will fork between the Blu-ray and the rival HD DVD system. But you know what? Who cares! The DVDs I've purchased have never worked because of DRM, I'm never buying another, and if the prepackaged content industry fights its way into oblivion, that's all right with me. By Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News, August 23, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

The Stellenbosch Declaration
A forward-looking document, addressing not only the importance of universal access to lifelong learning but also framed in a recognition that governance, including governance of learning, is changing. "One main characteristic of the Knowledge Society is being networked and this means that many activities are no longer organised in a hierarchical or pyramidal way." Via ICT in Education. By Various Authors, UNESCO, July, 2005 [Refer][Research][Reflect]

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