Stephen's Web

[Chat] [Discuss] [Search] [About] [Options]


by Stephen Downes
September 4, 2007

Avatars Without Virtual Worlds: an Alternative Platform
Sorry about the unscheduled deliveries of OLDaily this morning. They were the result of unscheduled system reboots while I had the 'send newsletter' window open. I promise that mistakes like this will happen again in the future. Anyhow, how do things like this reach 10 million users before I've even heard of them? Some days I think I'm plugged in, other days I really wonder. Stardoll is a site that lets you create your own doll. Or your own avatar. Bryan Alexander finds this gem: "We spoke with CEO Mattias Miksche in July to discuss the importance of avatars versus virtual worlds, and he emphasized the importance of identity and realism over immersiveness." Which raises the question, do avatars need virtual worlds? And the answer is, of course not. Bryan Alexander, Infocult: Information, Culture, Policy, Education September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Content-Aware Image Reduction
Traditionally, there were two ways to reduce the size of images. You could either crop them, or you could shrink them (aka 'scaling' them). Each has its disadvantages - when you crop photos, you may cut bits you want to keep, and when you shrink photos, you make the big bits smaller. This video introduces you to 'retargeting', a technique that allows you to keep the things you want to be big, but to just move them closer together. Via Tom Smith. Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir, Mitsubishi September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

MP3 Search Engine: Find Audio in a Snap
Very cool. I tested this a bit yesterday. Skreemer is a pretty effective search engine for MP3 audio. Works quite well for now. Enjoy it while you can. If the RIAA doesn't find it illegal, the spammer will pollute the listings (as they already have MP3 searchers on Google). Dan Colman, Open Culture September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

PRISM: Open Letter to Cambridge University Press
Peter Murray-Rust writes an open Letter to Cambridge University Press on the subject of PRISM. "The language of PRISM it implies that publishing in Open Access journals (as I do on occasions) is 'junk science'," he writes. "There is much more from PRISM which is both deliberately factually incorrect and misleading and I cannot see how a reputable scholarly organisation such as CUP could be associated with it." Quite so! Briuan Vickery, from BioMed Central, also attacks the veracity of PRISM. "The real goal of PRISM seems to be protecting publishers' perceived entitlement to copyright the research results of authors they publish." Via Peter Suber. Peter Murray-Rust, A Scientist and the Web September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Network Learning Environments and Hypertext: Constructing Personal and Shared Knowledge Spaces
This is a very nice paper from 1993 that I found while looking up something else. It just goes to show that the ideas we have been talking about here have been brewing for a long time. Like this, for example: "Network-based information is not a static, fixed 'thing' but rather is dynamic, fluid, and changing." And this: "As networks and information technologies become more wide-spread and integrated into the world of work, the goals of education are shifting from knowing a fixed body of knowledge to knowing how to think independently and how to find information when needed." Here's a more detailed article from the same authors. Michael J. Jacobson and James A. Levin, Tel-Ed '93 Conference September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Why Teachers Don't Use Web 2.0 - an Historical Perspective
I think that Gary Stager has struck at the heart of what's wrong with the 'School 2.0' movement, a movement that is essentially about teachers using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. He is quite right when he says that many of the proponents have no sense of the history of school reform, and certainly no grasp of the grounds for school reform. As it is now, he suggests, the movement is essentially a leaderless group of anti-intellectualists centered around the tools, not any big or deep ideas. There's a lot more in this post, including a history of Logo and a consideration of some of the thinking behind it. This forms the basis for a sustained set of criticisms of the 2.0 crowd that does deserve a reply, not so much because they're incorrect, but because, in being addressed to people like Warlick and Utecht and Richardson, they're really misdirected. What I have called 'e-learning 2.0' is absolutely not about using Web 2.0 in the schools - it is not about preserving existing structures and existing authority. It is about deschooling, not reschooling, and it is about putting the capacity to learn into the hands of indivduals, wherever they may be, not locking them in a room and blocking their internet access. I address these themes at greater length on the other blog. Gary Stager, Stager-to-Go September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Scholarly Communication: Survey Findings From the University of California
Results from a large survey (1118 respondents) of academics in the University of California system. Respondents were self-selected, so the survey will skew to involved and interested in the issue. Among other things, the researchers find that "The current tenure and promotion system impedes changes in faculty behavior" and that "The disconnect between attitude and behavior is acute with regard to copyright." PDF. Various Authors, University of California September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

When people talk about 'personal agents' this is often the sort of thing they have in mind. "A Searchbot is your own personal search robot that continuously searches the Internet trying to find all the best websites it can on your behalf. When you build a Searchbot you give it a personality and then program it's search circuits with all the things you want to find. You can search for websites based on factual information like tags and locations, or more creative ways like colour and the mood you're in. You can even ask your Searchbot a question and it will talk to other Searchbots to find you an answer." Nice interface and I really like the results sets, which I assume will only improve. But the Flash implementation is a bit inconsistent, at least on Linux - the site evaluation tool disappears, and the tool froze my computer a couple of times (this is what caused the unplanned mailout this morning). Via Jane Hart, who continues to find them. Various Authors, Website September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Help Wanted
The best statement in this useful article is the last: "Wittgenstein at his death had one book and one article published. Another book was on the way, but unfinished. "Heaven knows what would have happened to him in today's academia." Readers will also want to view Stevan Harnad's excellent summary and commentary in JISC Repositories. Unattributed, The Guardian September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

The Cult of the Amateur and How Internet Changes Our Culture
The Keen criticism doesn't interest me, but this statement does: "in this day and age, being expert is not about getting more and more knowledgeable about a narrower and narrower field. It's all about being as clued up on the reasoning behind a wider and wider range of fields. Expertise has been redefined." Ewan McIntosh, edublogs September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Blogging - Not If but When and Where
This post - which summarizes a presentation on blogging given at UPEI - makes the case for blogging. Nice links to examples. It responds to the Chronicle question, "What is the purpose of broadcasting one's unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world?" My response is, simply, I think that my unfiltered thoughts are valuable and worthwhile. Dave Cormier, Dave's Educational Blog September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Quechup? No, Thanks
Like many other people this week, I received an invitation to the social networking site Quechup. The person who sent it probably doesn't even know he did. Quechup tricks users into granting access to their email contacts, and then spams every one of them with an invitation. There's no way to complete your registration into Quechup without completing this step (I checked) so the service requires that you spam your friends. My advice? Don't. Anna Creech, BlogCritics September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Why E-Teaching Is Knocking Down E-Learning in Nigeria
According to the author, "Emphasis is shifting all over the world from e-learning to e-teaching. This is because there is a growing feeling that e-learning is defective – that it has too many holes." The article thus focuses on blended learning, and in particular, the challenges faced by Nigeria, which include bandwidth issues, infrastructure needs, and power supply. Chidibere Nwankwo, Business Day September 4, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.