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by Stephen Downes
February 27, 2008

Spaziergang Mit Stephen Downes
I had a pleasant interview with Ulrike Reinhard for the SCOPE fiuture of learning conference (mostly in German - there's also a blog and a Ning). This has resulted in a veritable cavalcade of material - there are embedded videos, as well as a blog post, article, and another article, plus the MP3 recording and direct video download. Wow. Stephen Downes and Ulrike Reinhard, Timelines February 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Freeconomics: What About MY Cost for YOUR Free?
I had a look at Anderson's article in Wired (a magazine now a sad shadow of its former self) on the flight to Toronto. My suspicion is that the people saying that Anderson has written some kind of 'communist manifesto' haven't read the article. My word for what Anderson calls 'free' is 'loss leader'. In all cases, the purpose of 'free' is to lead someone to purchase some higher value good or service - because the value (and margins) on the free stuff are trending toward zero. There's no problem with that line of thinking - but it's certainly not communism. Steve Borsch, Connecting the Dots February 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

A Very Special Issue of IRRODL Is Out the Online Door
I haven't had the time to review any of this yet, but I do want to let people know it's happening: "This is first collaborative effort we have undertaken, simultaneously publishing on a common theme with 5 other peer reviewed Journals." I'm not sure what the theme is, because Terry Anderson then writes, "The articles cover a wide range of issues, in multiple languages, from many countries of the world." Still - nothing actually reading the isues shouldn't resolve. Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck February 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

So Many Reasons to Dislike Blackboard
Not to be left out, the people on Slashdot weigh in on Blackboard. The first comment says it all: "why the hell would anybody want to infringe on their patents? It's a really horrible design and interface." Heh. All downhill from there. Note especially the comments from Blackboard system administrators - ouch! Marion Manton, TALL Blog February 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

The Downside of a Good Idea
I have commented before about the importance of autonomy for the reliable functioning of networks. I have also commented that network theorists - I've cited Varela in this regard - find that the optimal density of a network is somewhere between zero connectivity and total connectivity. So the suggestion that the performance of a completely connected non-autonomous network is not optimal is... not surprising. George Siemens, elearnspace February 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Free Will?
The idea that 'new research' could show whether or not we have 'free will' misunderstands, I think, the meanings of the words. What the words 'free will' describe is a sensation we have of making decisions for ourselves. We can experience more of less of this sensation depending on external constraints (in the same way that the availability of food, say, allows us to feel the sensation of 'sating our hunger'). The idea that research could show that we do not have this sensation is absurd; it's like the idea that research could say we do not have a sense of taste. All that research could say is that the nature of 'free will' is not some sort of miraculous causeless creation of something - an idea, say - out of nothing. But people don't think that's what free will is - do they? And if they do - well, it's a pretty flimsy basis for morality, don't you think? George Siemens, elearnspace February 27, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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