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by Stephen Downes
February 4, 2008

Don't Congratulate the Butterfly ....
This is a good post that picks up on Duncan Watts's criticism of Malcolm Gladwell's suggestion (in The Tipping Point) that you can target a few "influencers" in order to market a product or an idea. Watts's arguments are summarized in three precise points:
- people and groups work in very different ways
- common sense notions of cause and effect are deeply misleading with respect to social processes
- data gathered retrospectively is biased
It's this last point that has always troubled me about the whole 'science' of management. It is very difficult to separate good business practice from simply being in the right place at the right time. Fior more on this, and on Snowden's perspective, see this post on the Cynefin Framework in ACRLog. Dave Snowden, Cognitive Edge February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Blackboard Advertises an Open Source LMS
As the Blackboard patent case goes to trial in East Texas, we have here a report that the company is using Google Adwords to advertiose themselves as an open source LMS. Michael Feldstein has images as proof, but notes "Blackboard's ad no longer shows up. It looks like they may have pulled it. If so, good for them." Well, maybe, but they should never have run the ads in the first place. Michael Feldstein, e-Literate February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , , ] [Comment]

Twine: The Semantic Web Is Here!
Is the Semantic Web really no different from a self-tagging saved search? "If I save the URL of a Web page into my Twine account," she said, "Twine will skim the page and turn it into tags automatically. It's a way to tie together things that my husband and I find over days, and months and years." Gerry McKiernan, Friends: Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Winner: Make Your Very Own Virtual World with OLIVE
The buzz is Second Life (as in Art Fossett's summary of an Eduserv event and Mark Oehlert's summary of virtual world related events) but the industrial strength virtual worlds engines are being created by companies like Forterra. "It's all happening through just one application, for medical training, of a new software package called On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment, or OLIVE. Developed by Forterra Systems of New York City and San Mateo, Calif., OLIVE creates virtual worlds for customers in health care, the military, and the media." Via Stan Trevena on the Educators Digest mailing list. David Kushner, IEEE Spectrum February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Learning Webvolution
I'm sorry - but 'webvolution' sounds like something Elmer Fudd would say. Anyhow, the authors offer a three-step process: "the first step is to learn the confusing terminology, jargon, and acronyms... the second step focuses on addressing and overcoming the resistance to, and misapplication of, new technology... the third step focuses on having learning and development professionals understand what makes virtual worlds so appealing to millions of people." Funny. I would do that in exactly the reverse order. Karl Kapp and Tony O'Driscoll, Learning Circuits February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Social Graph API
Simon Willison writes, Code for the social graph is available. "Input one or more URLs to your profile pages and it returns a huge dump of crawled relationship data, based on XFN, FOAF and OpenID links. No API key required and it supports JSON callbacks so you can incorporate it in to a site without even needing to write any extra server-side code." Simon Wistow has uploaded a perl module to CPAN and Steve Ivy has written the corresponding PHP code. Simon Willison, Weblog February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Software Essentials for the Modern Educator
My former colleague at Assiniboine Community College offers this list of 'software essentials' for educators. It's comprehensive and no doubt based on experience and testing. Conrad Albertson, Website February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Welcome to the Digital Education Revolution!
This website has been launched to support Australia's new digital education' initiative. The program allocates money to schools to purchase equipment and funds high-speed fibre internet to their premises. Various Authors, Website February 4, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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