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by Stephen Downes
March 21, 2007

Why the Semantic Web Will Fail
So I was just getting ready for bed last night when a thought came to me. So I popped into Blogger and spent ten minutes writing the post. Maybe I should have given it a different title - but sheesh, someone has to say it. Here is the central idea: "The Semantic Web will never work because it depends on businesses working together, on them cooperating." Readers might not like the examples that were top-of-mind last night (or my peeved state about Yahoo killing my Flickr account) but readers of this newsletter have over the last seven years seen an unending list of examples. Well, today I've been getting comments all day and - incredibly - I have, for the first time in my life, been Slashdotted. Go figure. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

24 Hours to Secure Collaboration On Interoperability
The unedited plain-text version of the report on the meeting about LETSI - the body that will take over control of SCORM - that took place in London a couple of days ago. The final version will appear in the April ALT newsletter. "The first panel, with speakers from ISO/IEC, IMS Global, Microsoft UK and Ariadne, discussed global governance of interoperability. The common thread was the inter-connection of design and engineering. This meant a tension (although at times creative) between teachers (who 'don't need to know that they are using SCORM') and the design of learning, and technologists." Via Seb Schmoller. Kevin Donovan, Website March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Piloting Second Life Voice
Will voice work in Second Life? Here's a chance to try for yourself. Related: Australian universities in Second Life. ejp10, Penn State Virtual Worlds March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies: A Survey
UNESCO report (PDF) constituting an overview of ethical implications of new technologies, including things like the semantic web, identify management, RFID, and more. Taking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a point of departure, the document does not delve deeply into any given issue but merely serves to outline the scope (as such it would be a good document for in-class discussions). In the end, the recommendation is to form a UNESCO advisory committee on the ethical implications of emerging technologies. I would volunteer (I am, after all, both a philosopher and a technologist), but I think you need to be a member of the secret decoder-ring club to get involved with these international agencies. Via Bill St. Arnaud. Mary Rundle and Chris Conley, UNESCO March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Allegations From an Industry "Expert"
Richard Nantel, a Brandon Hall blogger who was missed in Tony Karrer's summary yesterday (and consequently in my list, which simply repeated his), writes in defense of his organization against an unnamed "expert" who writes that their "'researched based' reports... rely heavily of donations and payments from the platforms they 'research'." I tried to find the author of the quote, however, the discussion list is not indexed by Google. Nantel responds, "It is completely untrue that Brandon Hall Research accepts any fees from vendors to be included in our research." Via Tony Karrer, who added Nantel to his list today. Richard Nantel, Weblog March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

Elgg has become EduSpaces. This has been in the works for a few weeks, but the official emails have landed in my in-box (I have a couple Elgg accounts). The URL has changed (from to, but the old URL still works. Not everything has changed over yet, including the big message on the front page that says "You can join up, learn more about Elgg here or create your own social network instantly at Elgg Spaces." The designers should also implement RSS Autodiscovery - they are about the only personal publishing provider that doesn't. Author, Journal March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

How I Became A Music Pirate
A common message, well stated. "Does DRM drive even honest well-meaning people to piracy? Yes, of course it does." In particular, in this case, the author tries to purchase music with Windows DRM. This is designed to prevent it from ever playing on an iPod. It also prevents it from ever being played on his own computer, or even on a CD-ROM. "Call it piracy. Call it whatever you want. But at least I tried. I gave you several chances and you failed miserably at every level." Related: MIT drops a journal subscription because of DRM. Meghann Marco, The Consumerist March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]

VON Spiel: It'S Our TV
I frequently disagree with Jeff Jarvis, as he comes from some place where advertising is good and online media is all about business. But he also picks up technology trends really well and sees through to the essence of the thing. As in, for example, this post. "We are taking over TV," he writes. "We are reinventing TV... And this means we have a great opportunity to reinvent TV from scratch..." How? Well, this is where we disagree: "Blogs didn't do it right. Not the economic side of the equation. We bloggers make it extremely difficult for advertisers to love us..." Seems to me, that's exactly what we did get right. Advertising (even if spread through the long tail) is a mass phenomeon - it is about privileged messages exerting unearned influence through the network. And like mass phenomena, it depends on the goodwill of those with the privilege. And, well, we know how that has worked out... Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine March 21, 2007 [Link] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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