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by Stephen Downes
December 20, 2006

Myths, Research and Sharing
Harold Jarche looks at flaws in corporate research, asking, "Is it plagiarism if you steal a lie?" Some companies are named. Hm. Of course, it would be pretty hard for me to plagiarize in this forum, as every word I write is subject to instant scrutiny. Jarche writes, "The free information and research is just as good, if not better, than the 'research' that is sold as fancy white papers to large, unsuspecting organisations." I agree. Of course, I would - but then again, I have to stand behind my work every day in a public forum. That keeps you sharp. Harold Jarche, Jarche Consulting December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Strategies and Frameworks for Institutional Repositories
I'll say it again, because I can. Libraries should stop buying books, and start supporting local content; they should stop worrying about other people's content and begin hosting their own people's content. In this regard, "Institutional repositories (IRs) are proliferating as they become an indispensable component for information and knowledge sharing in the scholarly world" and "users now desire and expect transportable content that can be utilized within various digital environments and reused in multiple formats." Good level-headed and informed look at the subject. See also Digital Library as Network and Community Center and especially Figure 1 in this article. Tyler O. Walters, D-Lib Magazine December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

The Names Database
I received an email today, "Stephen Downes ( sent you the invitation below on 10-18-2006 15:56 from" Pretty clearly I didn't invite myself to the service. Still, I go to the site and see, "Stephen Downes sent you here personally. Enter your info to find out why." I did this a while back, for some other name, and discovered they still don't tell you why - you have to pay them money first. So if you get an invite that appears to be from me from this service, ignore it. I didn't invite you. This site is part of the group of sites, an enterprise that is getting very spamlike and annoying. I once made the mistake of signing up for them and have received no end of emails saying 'you have 1 new classmate' (the total now exceeds the number of people I ever met in my small school) and that demands I pay a subscription fee. Various Authors, December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Cultural Implications of Social Software, Teaching, and Learning: Ready or Not
I think the title suggests more ambition than the paper delivers, but the result is still worth a look. The implications are drawn from Fast Company writers David Teten's and Scott Allen's 10 cultural implications of social software. Most of it has been said before and some of it (eg. "The prosumer is always right.") is dubious hype. Sessums also looks at the barriers to implementing social software in schools and argues, "advancing the adoption and use of social software in schools requires the three C's--comfort, confidence, and creativity." I still think social software is much more important in informal learning, and wonder how much of a fit it is for schools. Christopher D. Sessums, December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Beginning of the End For Open Web Data APIs?
Google is abandoning the Google search API (glad I never built anything that depended on it) and replacing it with an AJAX widget, which "forces you to hand over part of your web page to Google so that Google can display the search box and show the results the way they want." Just remember - when there is centralized ownership and control, there will eventually be limitations and restrictions intended solely for the benefit of that ownership, at your expense. It's true in the realm of world government, which is why we oppose fascism. It's also true in software. In both realms, though, people are blinded by convenience and shiny toys. Via Simon Willison. David Megginson, Quoderat December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

This is a neat idea. On the left is a Flickr image search. On the right is a simple image editor. The idea: find an image, edit to taste, then save as a new image. Same concept as RSS Writr, but with images. Of course, the two should be combined. Peter Shanks, December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Graham Attwell Needs to Take a Closer Look at Second Life
Article responding to the criticisms of Second Life offered by Graham Attwell, not successfully, in my view, but makes up for it by linking to the Second Life Education Wiki where you'll find Real Virtuality in your Second Life and beyond, a paper on Second Life and education, the Second Life educators' forum ("users have posted a total of 154 articles"), graduate student colony, info on private islands (you need one if you are an educational institution - "Islands are priced at US$1,675 for 65,536 square meters (about 16 acres). Monthly land fees for maintenance are US$295"), a list of organizations on Second Life, a bunch of stuff I have to be logged in for (and I don't like that bit about 'valid payment info on file for your account'), and a list of websites about education and Second Life. The Fitzgerald article is housed in another wiki.

Fitzgerald links to a more detailed argument against the sceptics, The Second Life Doubters Club, this article posted on the apparently anonymous Pacific Rim Exchange blog, which "will chronicle the development of the Pacific Rim Exchange island in Teen Second Life," where 'Teen Second Life' is a parallel world where adults are barred (except, presumably, administrators and Second Life sanctioned educators). I don't like the tone of the article; the first line, in response to a Danah Boyd article: "Add another doubter to the pack, how many people can fit on this bandwagon?" Bandwagon? This is one of those articles that refers to Shirky by his full name and Boyd only by her first name. And who insists that critics must be "someone who has either not spent time in SL, or has had a bad experience and now wants to convince the world that SL has no value and no future." There's no actual discussion of Boyd's post, which is unfortunate. Sean Fitzgerald, seanfitz December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Nadia
I remember Stephen, when your beloved cat passed away three or so years ago, and I remember seeing the video of the three little ragamuffins that these cats were. I'm deeply sorry to hear that Nadia has died after such a brief life. However, I know that she lived a full life with you two and that she was well loved... kind regards.. Janet Anymouse, December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Nintendo's Wii Selling Out in Japan
So, what kind of implications can you see for online learning, Stephen? I'm intrigued - I have a Wii, and a PS2, and an XBox360. I have used the PS2 in class, but can't see why you think that the Wii should be a better tool for online learning, unless you're talking about physical education. Please say more... Anymouse, December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]

Re: Turning God and Learning into Commodities
My last name is Groothuis. Anymouse, December 20, 2006 [Link] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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