August 31, 2006


Miguel Guhlin[Edit][Delete]: Full Disclosure?, Around the Corner [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: 4 Hits] I ask, and Miguel Guhlin answers, squarely and directly, giving me no reason to believe he is dissembling. "Does this comment count as full disclosure?" Yes. And it also counts as a nice lesson in clarity for our corporate friends, especially those who seem to consider honesty a business liability. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

bleckb[Edit][Delete]: Worst Corporate Use of Email?, Kairosnews [Edit][Delete]KairosNews [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: 2 Hits] OK, everybody is going to line up to slam Radio Shack for this one. Now I'm no fan of Radio Shack, and especially of the company's history of labour relations, but I have to ask this: in what sense is it better to be 'informed of a meeting with the general manager' on Friday to which 'all section Y employees must attend'? Hm? Does having the $1.5 million guy come down and give you the hatchet personally make up for that week of waiting and wondering while you slog away at your $5.50 job? The people complaining about the impersonal nature of the firing are clinging to the notion that there remains some sense of decency, integrity and loyalty in the boardroom. I envy them. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Denise Deveau[Edit][Delete]: Portability and Piece of Mind on a Keychain, Globe and Mail [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: 1 Hits] When I was in Bogota, I pulled a thumb drive out of my pocket and said, "This is your personal learning environment." This is basically what I meant. Only lighter, simpler. "With the tiny USB device that's small enough to attach to a keychain, Mr. Ohnona can log onto his work system from any Internet-connected computer in the world. And, he never has to worry about viruses or compromising the security of sensitive client data." [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Michael Geist[Edit][Delete]: 30 Days of DRM, August 31, 2006
[link: Hits] I'm glad to have found this page, because I'm not going to run a Michael Geist link 30 days in a row, no matter how compelling the content (and this is pretty compelling). The 30 Days of DRM series is up to day 13 now. If the issues surrounding digital rights interest you, don't miss it. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Greg Sandoval[Edit][Delete]: RIAA Copyright Education Contradictory, Critics Say, CNet News.Com [Edit][Delete]CNET [Edit][Delete]CNet [Edit][Delete]CNet news.Com [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: Hits] I like the way this one starts: "The music industry's educational video about copyright law is full of baloney, according to several trade and public interest groups." The point of the article is to highlight contradictions in the RIAA's campaign, which is essentially to make people think it's always wrong and illegal to download or copy a song. The problem is, this sentence is false, even you agree with the law as it is written. The RIAA declarations do not take into account personal use, educational use, and fair use. And even the article doesn't mention open content and Creative Commons licensed works - I have been downloading a number of these in the last couple of weeks, and it is perfectly legal. Is copying always wrong? Not by a long shot. So shouldn't there be some sort of sanction for, say, lying? [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Announcement[Edit][Delete]: Google Book Search Offers Free Downloads of Public Domain Books, Google [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: 1 Hits] Sometimes I worry about Google, but I like it when they do things like this. "Since people can search the full text of these books, they can find previously buried information about historical events or people, places of interest and matters cultural or scientific. What has been tucked away in large research library collections and available only to a few, can now be discovered and read by people everywhere." [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Miguel Guhlin[Edit][Delete]: Communist Linux Users?, Around the Corner [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: 1 Hits] The conflict between proprietary and open source software and content is worldwide, and educational technology is one of the major flashpoints, as is seen in this coverage of an Indian school division's decision to adopt Linux. It is, of course, immediately branded as 'banning Microsoft' but "It is well-known that Microsoft wants to have a monopoly in the field of computer technology. Naturally, being a democratic and progressive government, we want to encourage the spread of free software," M. A. Baby, Kerala's education minister, said. [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Tony Karrer[Edit][Delete]: First Time Visitor Guide, eLearning Technology [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: 7 Hits] Tony Karrer writes a guide for first time visitors to the blog. It's a good idea, something I should consider, so people can get a quick look at my 'best' or 'most popular' items without having to search through hundreds of articles. [Tags: ] [Comment] [Edit] [Delete] [Spam]

Paul Bacsich[Edit][Delete]: Alt talk to Blackboard's General Legal Council Matthew Small, ALT [Edit][Delete] August 31, 2006
[link: 3 Hits] Morten Flate Paulsen writes in, "Your blog readers, following the BlackBoard discussion, may be interested in reading my article Two Decades of Online Sustainability. The article describes NKI Distance Education's development and use of LMS systems from the early start in 1985."

The one-sided Associated Press article about the Blackboard lawsuit has hit mainstream with its belated publication USA Today.

Additional coverage is provided in CNet, where executive editor Mike Yamamoto blames the government bureaucrats for the problem.

I guess the old saw about not talking about things that are pending before the courts doesn't apply to Blackboard. Good thing, because Matthew Small says a bunch of things that should be noted in this interview with Britain's Association for Learning Technology (ALT) ( via Leon Cych).

"Therefore prior art after 30/6/1998, i.e. 12 months before the provisional filing date, is not relevant.... It [Blackboard] sees the Wikipedia History of VLEs as a great compendium, but not as a threat....

"Blackboard cannot speculate as to what the DOJ considered in its review.... Nor is it the case that the first public mention by Blackboard of the patent was the issue of its 27 July press release. For example, Blackboard had already begun to mark its products as being patented, from earlier in 2006 (see for example the footer of the press release of 1 March 2006 ); and knowledge of the patent was 'out in the wild' several months before the press release, for example on a Moodle discussion board.

"I do not know the specifics of what Blackboard did for IMS in the late 1990s, but the inventions embodied in the patent were derived entirely by Blackboard inventors. The patent and the IMS work had nothing to do with one another. Did Blackboard notify IMS of its intention to make a patent application in 1999? I do not know. That would have been proprietary information, so I doubt it....

"We do not see this development as in any way 'game changing". We are not trying to put anyone out of business; reasonable royalties are all we want. We have a stated business policy of not going after individual universities, nor are we focusing on Open Source initiatives."

Eww. All slimy! I have to go wash my hands off now.

I mean, if they ask you, "Did you tell the DOJ?" and you didn't tell the DOJ, just say "no, we didn't." Don't weasel your way around it. And if you are asked, "Did you tell your IMS partners about the patent?" and you didn't, again, just say, "no, we didn't" instead of sliming your way through a couple paragraphs of evasions. And really, saying "I don't know" mere minutes after talking about how extensively you investigated all this? I mean, really now. Small should be ashamed.

Barry Dahl, commenting on the Small interview, writes, "They are quickly on their way to becoming the most hated vendor in high ed. Not that they care."

On the question of whether Blackboard informed IMS (which certainly appears to be a 'no', based on Small's comments) Michael Feldstein covers (with appropriate scepticism) a response from IMS CEO Rob Abel: "It's difficult for Blackboard or any other vendor to 'game' the standards process in IMS due to our IP policies." Well, maybe, but if the company simply ignores the policies, that's a different matter. As Feldstein says, "it is not so easy for standards bodies to protect themselves from abuse by aggressive patent holders."

Scott Leslie quite rightly takes the Blackboard blog to task for "impersonating a blog", given that its near total silence on the patent issue is "not what I'd call an 'authentic' engagement with the concerns of their readers/customers."

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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