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by Stephen Downes
May 21, 2007

Webheads In Action Online Conference
Archives from a remarkable online conference hosted over the weekend by Webheads in Action and hosted by organizations such as Worldbridges, Learning Times, Tapped In and others. Keynotes, in addition to my own, were delivered by george Siemens, Barbara Ganley, Leigh Blackall, Etienne Wenger, Teemu Leinonen and Robin Good. Dozens of other really high quality presentations. Links to audio archives and other materials for almost everything; resources are still being added. Various Authors, Webheads in Action May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Do You Ubuntu?
The answer is yes. But if you want to know how I spent a good part of my long week-end, well let me tell you, the result of typing the command (as root) "cp thunderbird2.tar.gz /usr/lib/*" is to have your computer erase both thunderbird2.tar.gz as well as the entire contents of /usr/lib - the directory where all your applications are located. No recovering from that error; I had to reinstall Ubuntu. It takes very little time to install Ubuntu, true, once you have the disc. Longer to put your computer back the way it was (once again, let me take this opportunity to say back up your data - do it now, if you haven't done it recently - you could be one asterisk away from losing everything). Beth Kanter, Beth's Blog May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

A Fair(Y) Use Tale
Video - consisting entirely of excerpts from Disney Cartoons - describing the principles of copyright and, most importantly, fair use. It is worth nothing that a video like this, while quite legal - the author is very careful to use only small snippets of Disney content, hence respecting fair use provisions - would be impossible under DRM, as these technologies are intended to prevent any copying, not just illegal copying. See al;so the video home page (wasn't responding when I wrote this post). Eric Faden, youTube May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Publisher Position On Author Rights
Peter Suber calls this recently released position paper "wishful thinking" and Im inclined to agree. The document stressed how important it is for publishers to own exclusive rights in order to manage the 'publication of record' and (more importantly) 'enforce' strictures against plagiarism. But mostly, the paper the paper is intended to present arguments against mandated public access for research funded with public money. Arguments that are, ultimately, unconvincing Kevin Smith, Duke Scholarly Communications May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Groups, Networks, Collectives
Scott Wilson joins the groups and networks discussion. He writes that he is not sure about the introduction of 'collectives' and that "there is a lack of clarity around the difference - very large, I'd say - between a network operating within a single managed service (such as an Elgg installation) and a network formed by people blogging and tagging things of mutual relevance." Of interest are his diagrams - "cybernetic modeling" of groups, distributed networks, and bounded networks. Scott Wilson, Scott's Workblog May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Quote of the Day
Trying to track this down leads you through a merry-go-round (people should link to actual posts, not merely home pages) so the link isn't really worth following (I found a much better link, here, about five hours later). But the thought is definitely worth echoing. "You can't figure this stuff out from the outside." Quentin D'Souza adds, "Never listen to a presenter or keynote that has not been immersed in the environment that they are talking about. You will be misinformed." That's a bit extreme. But people who are not immersed are much more likely to make mistakes about the environment. This is why it's better to be immersed in a topic rather than to be merely told (or 'taught') about it. Quentin D'Souza, Teaching May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

What If Every Child Had A Laptop?
The most important bit in this article - which focuses mostly on the competition between the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project and Intel's Classmate - is in the very last paragraph: "If you're wondering if the One Laptop will be available in the U.S., right now Negroponte's in talks with some states and school districts. He says it will be sold commercially in the future, but you'll have to buy two: one for your child and one for a child in a poor country." Via Thoughts from a Technospud. Se also this discussion at TechDirt. Lesley Stahl, CBS - 60 Minutes May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Is There a Future for Bibliographic Databases?
Professional databases, such as Books in Print (BiP), WorldCat (WC), Ulrich's or the Serials Directory (SD), have been a valuable tool for researchers. But as this author argues, they are facing increasing pressure from companies like Google and Amazon, enough that they will have to change or die. In order to prevent being replaced by free services, the author argues, these databases will have to be a lot better than the competition - not just a little better, but pervasively better. "Better as in way better on 80% of my usage rather than just somewhat better than on 20%. Better as in saving time, saving effort, saving more money than they cost, making my life easier." Via NLA IT Architecture. John Dupuis, PersonaNonData May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Games and Learning
This is a good paper, though it's frustrating to watch a completely undefended approach to learning being applied over and over again. The authors, after describing how games support learning in general, attempt to apply this to the formal environment. Part of the problem is a lack of experience with the games - the authors complain that the 'enemies' in war games are usually German, Vietnamese or Arab, for example, without realizing that in many games players can pick either side to play. But mostly, the authors' application of the games to a classroom environment contorts them - in the case study involving Civilization, for example, a value of the game is that players learn that there isn't a simple cause-effect relation between actions and consequences, but in the chart (pp. 18-19) the authors say that the players should be able to "infer from the feedback supplied how their actions have caused particular effects." In the recommendations (p.30) the authors state that "Educators should be clear about the exact learning goals they are hoping to achieve when using games." This does not follow at all from the description of games previous, and reflects nothing more than presumption on the part of the authors. Via Alexander Hayes, who links to several other useful reports from FutureLab. Richard Sandford and Ben Williamson, FutureLab May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

African Scientific Network
From the description: "African Scientific Network (ASN) is a network of African faculty members, students and colleagues, grass root African Scientific Organizations, interest groups for the development and promotion of science education and research in all disciplines including humanities. More significantly, this network is composed of the African Physics Forum, the African Naterials Research Society, the MRS-Africa Working Group, the African Mathematical Forum, the African Biotechnology Forum, African Telemedicine, African Chemistry Forum, The African Biology Forum, The African Laser Network and others." Various Authors, Website May 21, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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