Photo of Me November 21, 2005
I'm not sure whether the world needs another photo of me, but here is one, taken by someone (I don't know who) at the open source conference in the Netherlands. I quite like it. Anyhow, I'm on my way to Ottawa in ten minutes for meetings, which means that tomorrow's issue may be delayed or otherwise missing. But hey, once I'm back from that, I have no travel planned for a couple of months. [Tags: Open Source] [Comment]

George Roberts, et.al.: Reflective Learning, Future Thinking: Digital Repositories, E-portfolios, Informal Learning and Ubiquitous Computing November 21, 2005
After that title, I hardly need to write a summary. Seriously, there's some pretty good thinking in this document, including some points worth repeating as frequently as necessary: "Disaggregation of components and support for repository, e-portfolio and ubiquitous informal systems is necessary; central units supporting monolithic systems are unlikely to have the flexibility to respond to future needs.... The bottom-up approach was proving to be very successful and indeed called into question the need for a single institutional-wide (or national) repository, as opposed to community based systems." And I think it would be helpful, too, to clearly distinguish between (a) providing a repository service to which people would contribute, and (b) enabling academics and others to create repositories for themselves. This distinction isn't clear in the document, and forms the basis for much of the disagreement, espacially as seen on page 5. Thanks to Seb Schmoller for the link. PDF. [Tags: E-Portfolios, Learning Object Repositories, Academics and Academia, Ubiquitous Internet] [Comment]

Gustavo González: The Internet, Friend or Foe of Learning, TerraViva November 21, 2005
Interesting look at some of the issues raised by using computers in schools in Latin America (and in particular, Chile and Peru). This seems to be a key point: "Teachers who are not familiar with the use of information and communication technologies are at a clear disadvantage in relation to their students. Technology is advancing at a far faster pace in daily life than in the schools, even in remote and impoverished areas where basic services are lacking." And it seems to me that this disadvantage is the cause of some of the criticisms, listed in this article, of the use of online learning. Via Education-India. [Tags: Online Learning, Schools] [Comment]

Gary Bustin: Overview of the ICT Industry With a Focus on Atlantic Canada, NRC / IRAP November 21, 2005
Good overview of the ICT industry with a focus especially on the challenges faced in Atlantic Canada. Outlines what venture capitalists are looking for (including: "where users can type in a postal/zip code, and the Web site will present headlines, photos and classified ads from all the local news sites" - I could produce that very easily, if any VCs want to give me a call...), barriers to entry, open source, and some interesting and telling comments on the nature of research in the field. This is exactly right: "The technical challenges in the 'science' of software are not usually whether software can solve the general problem or address the general need. Rather, can the company accurately identify and develop the right software to meet the specific market need to the point where the customer will pay?" That's why it's so important to understand the market and the environment, and not simply to understand the software. [Tags: Canada, Research, Open Source] [Comment]

Michael Feldstein: LMOS Services and Service Brokers, Part II, E-Literate November 21, 2005
Some discussion of what a service-oriented learning management operating system would look like. Nice example, showing clearly the role of RSS in the system and illustrating how a student's stand-along blog, along with simple identity management, could integrate with the learning management system's record-keeping and discussion systems. This is the sort of picture I have in mind. [Tags: Online Learning, Operating Systems, Web Logs] [Comment]

Michael Geist: The Lasting Impact of Sony's Rootkit November 21, 2005
Michael Geist opines on the long term impact the discovery of the Sony rootkit debacle will have on the future of DRM, suggesting that "the incident should also galvanize Canadian regulators and political leaders." I am less optimistic, though I certainly think that the rootkit is exactly the sort of incident opponents of strong DRM have been warning about. As some have commented, too, Sony is merely the company that got caught. When you look at Intel's new trusted computing chips, or at Microsoft's plans for Vista, it becomes evident that rootkit-like capabilities will be the norm, not the exception. This should seriously concern legislators, but my observation thus far is that their sympathies lie with the media producers and copyright owners. [Tags: Microsoft, Canada, Copyright and Patent Issues] [Comment]

Various authors: English Language Unit: Web Resources, University of Kent November 21, 2005
The ease with which audio files may now be created has resulted in a proliferation of recorded lectures and other materials. For an indication of how this has taken off, have a look at this lsting of dozens of lectures. [Tags: None] [Comment]

Various authors: Python Tutorial, Edgewall Software November 21, 2005
Pretty nice Python manual, organized and formatted well enough that you can run it as a sidebar, thus keeping it handy while you write your nifty Python scripts. [Tags: None] [Comment]

Stefano Mazzocchi, Stephen Garland and Ryan Lee: SIMILE: Practical Metadata for the Semantic Web, XML.Com November 21, 2005
This is pretty interesting. The goal of SIMILE (an acronym for Semantic Interoperability of Metadata In unLike Environments) is to "to extend DSpace, enhancing support for arbitrary schemata and metadata and providing an architecture for disseminating digital assets." Specifically, the developers are creating tools that allow users to browser the semantic web using a standard browser. Links to downloads and screenshots are provided. [Tags: Schemas, Metadata, Semantic Web] [Comment]

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Browse through the thousands of links in my knowledge base sorted according to topic category, author and publication.

Stephen Downes

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Copyright © 2004 Stephen Downes
National Research Council Canada

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I want and visualize and aspire toward a system of society and learning where each person is able to rise to his or her fullest potential without social or financial encumberance, where they may express themselves fully and without reservation through art, writing, athletics, invention, or even through their avocations or lifestyle.

Where they are able to form networks of meaningful and rewarding relationships with their peers, with people who share the same interests or hobbies, the same political or religious affiliations - or different interests or affiliations, as the case may be.

This to me is a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence.

This is what I aspire toward, this is what I work toward. - Stephen Downes