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by Stephen Downes
November 29, 2007

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration
I know the people behind this declaration mean well, and the signatories include people I know and respect - but I can't, you know, sign on to this version of open education, a version that is institution-centered, teacher-centered, and commercial. We can't pay for the schools and teachers we have now (and the teachers we're educating can't pay for their students loans on their salaries), do we want that to be the model of learning we give to the rest of the world. And goodness, the internet is already awash with really vile and intrusive commercial activity, do we have to export it too? We have the opportunity to do something really special in the world; why do we have to carve into every declaration of principle a paean to Things As They Are (and Those Who Profit From Them)? Well anyhow, here's the declaration and here's my statement of opposition to it. Various Authors, Shuttleworth Foundation and the Open Society Institute November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

PHP in Contrast To Perl
I have long resisted the temptation to join the crowd and work in PHP, even though today's most popular applications - things like WordPress and Drupal - are coded in the language. When discussing it, I am prone to grimacing and saying "spaghetti code". This post, which compares Perl (my language of choice) and PHP in exhaustive detail, explains why. Now yes, I know that the article glosses the miserable inconvenience of installing Perl modules. But I favor Perl, not simply because PHP requires 3079 functions to do the job Perl does with only 206, but because those functions are inconsistent eight ways over Sunday. That plus the security weaknesses, the deliberate crippling of the language for commercial reasons, the lack of namespaces, and much more... all these lead me to stay with Perl, even if it's less popular. Unknown, Website November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Reflections On a DIY Streaming Experience
Video streaming in a multimedia environment is the new black. The solution we agreed on included the use of a basic Web-cam, a podcasting kit, two laptops (one for the streaming and one for Second Life - note that a very well spec'ed single laptop might have sufficed for both tasks but one wasn't available and using two felt like the safest option). I plan to do some of this sort of stuff while in Colombia next week, as well as from Malaysia in January. So stay tuned. Andy Powell, eFoundations November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Social Network Transitions
What will the next big thing be? "It will be a situationally relevant social experience that exploits dense, underserved clusters, treating the ego-centric aspects as a sub-feature." If that's not clear, then you want to read this post, which makes a very useful distinction between ego-based and object-based social networks (the former center around people, the way Facebook does, the latter around objects, such as photos, the way Flickr does). Because ego-centered social networks do not have objects around which to based networks, they need to mine dense clusters opf relationships - in the case of Facebook, for example, previously existing social strata in schools and colleges. Any migration from Facebook will have to be similarly based. "I'm almost certain that the experience will be mobile based, incorporating geolocational data and personal beacons," writes Fred Stutzman. Via Terry Anderson, who asks, "what combination of ego-centric versus object-centered site is most appropriate?" My own approach has been to think of learning networks as neither object nor ego centered, but rather, to be centered around some activity or purpose. This is what we see in online discussion groups (for example) already. Fred Stutzman, Unit Structures November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment]

Use Google As Your Own P2P Network
The title is a bit misleading but the video is nonetheless a good object lesson in some of Google's less known search features. Albert Ip, Random Walk in Learning November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Sugata Mitra Was Inspiring!!
Summary of a talk by Sugata Mitra, the man behind the Hole in the Wall project, where kids were given an opportunity to learn how to use a computer for themselves. And more: "The most amazing experiment was one where he gave a computer with a course on it which was biotechnology and the course was in English, while the children were only speaking Tamil. After three months the children had learned biotechnology ideas and had taken in a lot of the English words of the course." It's funny how that which we are told is impossible seems to be done every other day. Ignatia, Ignatia Webs November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

How To: Run the OLPC's Sugar OS in Ubuntu
If you're wondering what the OLPC computer feels like to work on, but haven't received yours yet, you can always follow the instructions provided by Tom Hoffman describing how to display Sugar, the OLPC operating system, on your Ubuntu desktop. Scott Gilbertson, Monkey Bites November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

New Terrain Layer in Google Maps
A number of people have commented on this addition to Google maps, which displays the terrain. It's a nice feature, but it could be better implemented - when I zoom in I'd like the display to be more sensitive, more detailed. So that the territory I'll be cycling doesn't look absolutely flat when I know it's not. That said, it's a nice addition to the service. Ionut Alex Chitu, Google Operating System November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Only Connect...
This post rambles a bit but is probably worth a look for some thoughts - a restatement, for example, of the idea that knowing is essentially 'connecting' (which, in turn, to my mind, is pattern recognition - but I digress). There are also indistinct links to embodiment, affordances, and slow learning (a pretty obvious derivative of the whole 'slow food' movement). The strength of weak ties. In related news, I have edited and (slightly) revised my cornerstone essay on the subject, An Introduction to Connective Learning, which is now available an an MS-Word document. George Siemens, Connectivism Blog November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Ottawa Opens Up Wireless Industry to More Competition
What we know is that the big three (Bell, Telus and Rogers) have combined to give Canada some of the highest wireless rates around, which is why more than a third of us do not even today use mobile phones. So although I agree that opening part of the spectrum to other parties does not "guarantee" lower prices, I don't see how it could hurt, and I could certainly imagine how it could help. Unattributed, CBC News November 29, 2007 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]


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Copyright 2007 Stephen Downes

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