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by Stephen Downes
September 5, 2007

Bill of Rights for the Social Web?
Eight years ago I wrote and posted widely something called the Cyberspace Charter of Rights. Now along come people like Marc Canter and Robert Scoble promoting a shortened and Americanized Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web expressing basically the same principles. Canter's announcement. Scoble's announcement. Peter Cashmore's hot air alert. That's the way of the web - things are deemed Not To Exist until the Right People invent them (and which point they are credited as the inventors). I know I shouldn't be snippy about things like this, but sometimes it's exasperating. Karoli, odd time signatures September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

CIHR Introduces New Open Access Policy
The Canadian Institute for Health Research has announced, formally, its Open Access mandate for all funded research. Peter Suber has coverage. Stevan Harnad notes that it makes CIHR the 31st organization worldwide to do so. It's worth noting that this amounts to "five percent of the world's health research scholarship" - an awful lot, considering the size of our country, and pretty convincing evidence that you do get original research even if you have a public health care system. But it should be noted, as Heather Ross points out, there's a pretty big loophole for publisher embargos. Finally, as Geist says, "It places renewed pressure on SSHRC and NSERC, the other two major granting councils, to at least match CIHR. The same principles apply - taxpayer funded research should be made available to the public that pays the bills and with CIHR now on board, it is now clearly time for the other two councils to adopt open access policies." Quite so, and to that I would like to add my own organization, the National Research Council. We're funded by the people of Canada, our work should be made available to that public. All of it. As Disparate argues, "this can be a turning point in Canadian academia." Michael Geist, Website September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

Sideways Computing
There seems to be some momentum developing around a programming languaged called Erlang. The logic of Erlang is very different, and I will confess that I don't get it yet (and of course the syntax is sometimes just pointlessly non-standard - cf the notation for comments). A strength of Erlang is (apparently) that it is much better suited to multi-core processors. But I am also sensing that this is where some of the backlash in the Java community is landing.

Anyhow, courtesy of Tim Bray: "Erlang disruption. Erlang influence. Erlang (and Erlang and Erlang) database substrate. Erlang for C#. Erlang thoughts. Erlang for Web 2.0. A first Erlang program. Erlang influence. Erlang distributed DBMS. Erlang message passing. Erlang (and Erlang and Erlang) for Jabber and Atom and IPC." And also, see this nifty conversion from Atom to JSON using Erlang by Sam Ruby. Tim Bray, ongoing September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

I Am a Deviant Tool User. You?
More reaction to Gary Stager's take-down of Web 2.0 proponents, most of it not as nice as I was yesterday. Guhlin wonders, "Is Gary's call for us to wake up and do more than rally around the tools REALLY a call to submit to the accepted culture of schools, or one more in line with his point of view?" That was my interpretation, though people like Tom Hoffman suggest that Stager isn't so "bound to traditional schooling." Maybe not, but if the heart of his argument is that the challenge is "to frame the presentation of these tools to teachers in the best thinking about pedagogy," then it seems pretty 'traditional schooling' to me. More: Dave Warlick asks, Web 2.0 is like Logo? James Farmer writes a screamer of a criticism, including a set of (what I now dub) loljabs characterizing Stager's argument. Dean Shareski comments, "personal freedom and empowerment doesn't have to involve schools." Ewan McIntosh wonders why Stager can't find any research when he's read and summarized more than 100 research reports. And it's not directly related but you'll want to listen to George Carlin's take (language warning) on the relevance of the educational system, courtesy of Chris Sessums. Stager, meanwhile, simply changes the subject. I haven't yet seen him reply to any serious criticism, just the fluffy straw men he likes to set up. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner v2 September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Feedshow - A Feed Powered Web Page Presentation Tool
I had thought in the past of writing XSLT to convert RSS to S5. But this example of a working Feedshow shows that it makes more sense just to pipe a feed directly into a player. Tony Hirst, OUseful Info September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Instructionally Investing in VoiceThread
Wesley Fryer recommends VoiceThread as a way for classes to capture stories and memories. It looks good. But when I look at their example I'm turned off. Couldn't they have explained it without pictures of a whole bunch of soldiers and guns? Also, the website makes it really difficult to read more information; fortunately, Wesley Fryer provides links like this one to VoiceThread in the classroom. Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Are PLEs Low Maintenance?
Tom Haskins has posted a number of items over the last few weeks on PLEs. I haven't been linking to most of them because they're mostly just fragments of an idea. But taken collectively they amount to a good discussion. This post links to a number of them (not all of them - he misses this one for some reason). I will have more on all this in the future, but for now, just one comment: 'the middle' of a debate isn't always where you want to be. Because what counts as 'the middle' is too easily manipulated. It's an old political trick - if you want people to adopt, say, a left-wing position, adopt a radical left wing position. This shifts the 'middle' to the left, normalizing the position you want people to adopt. Online discussions (can) work in the same way. You want your PLE to put you in a position where you have various points of view to consider - but you don't want it to dumbly normalize positions based on the input of spammers and trolls. Tom Haskins, growing changing learning creating September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

How Facebook's Public Search Listing Could Empower Users
Facebook is launching 'public profile' listings, which means that Facebook profiles will be searchable by Google and other search engines. Users can opt to keep their profiles private, though Facebook hasn't exactly been pushing that option. "This move transforms Facebook from being a social network to being quasi-White Pages of the Web," comments Om Malik. I'm wondering whether Facebook is trying to become thre de facto OpenID of the web - in direct competition with OpenID. More commentary from Scott Karp, Steve O'Hear, ZD Net September 5, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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