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by Stephen Downes
April 14, 2008

It's a Mad, Mad, Mobile World
The Economist runs an article titled nomads at last which manages to malign both Bedouins and cybernauts on the same page. My own knowledge Arab nomadic culture is limited, but a reading of Seven Pillars of Wisdom is enough to put to lie the Economist's claims about the certainty of there being water at the next well. As for the cybernauts, well, I would say that the Economists misrepresents what people, most people, want in their lives - and it is not to be depending on fickle service providers for one's life and livelihood. I don't think we're all eager to become migrant workers for GoogleMicroHoo just yet.

And, I echo, word for word, Anne Galloway: "Anyone who reads this blog knows I have serious concerns about academia, but I figure that's all the more reason to try and improve it. Call me a Canadian socialist, but I believe in government and non-profits and academia, and I don't see how turning my back on them will help me or anyone else. Plus, I'm pretty sure that 'escaping' academia for the corporate world just implicates us in a different set of problems." Anne Galloway, Purse Lip Square Jaw, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Coherence or Interest: Which Is Most Important in Online Multimedia Learning?
This is worth noting. "The coherence principle states that all non-essential information in multimedia messages should be eliminated to minimise demands on cognitive resources." So we should keep our online learning on topic and unadorned with any extra context-specific information, even if it's drop-dead boring. But does hold in real life? Maybe not. This study "suggests that in authentic learning settings, interest may mitigate the effects of the coherence principle." It may be that relevance is important after all. Which make, to me, rather more intuitive sense. Treating 'cognitive load' as though it were a constant seems absurd. PDF. Via Helge Scherlund. Derek A. Muller, Kester J. Lee and Manjula D. Sharma, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Download YouTube Videos As MP4 Files
Simple instructions for downloading YouTube videos as MP4 videos instead of the Flash format that is viewed on web pages. This makes it a lot easier to edit then and mix them with other videos. Ionut Alex Chitu, Google Operating System, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

The Web OS. It'S Coming, Just Not Too Soon.
A fair amount of ink is being spilled these days pondering the nature and relevance of online apps. In this post, we're advised not to hold our breath waiting for the all-online operating system. Maybe, but I would expect 'virtualized' operating systems running on removable media sooner rather than later. Another post, on , suggests we need offline functionality for web-based applications. Like Microcontent Musings, I don't agree with the reasons (I don't agree with the conclusion either). If you wonder about multi-tasking with your browser: count the number of tabs you have open in Firefox (as I write, I have seven tabs open). Paul Glazowski, Mashable, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Rocketboom Founder Puts His Twitter Account On Sale
This was the weekend to abandon online things, I guess. I can't think of anything funnier (or weirder) than Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron putting his Twitter account up for bids. Here's the eBay page ($1550 as of this writing; if it's gone you read this item too late). Rocketboom, of course, is the online video channel that dropped from the map ever since co-founder Amanda Congdon was fired. Not sure which is jumping the shark most here: Twitter, Rocketboom, or eBay.TonNet suggests it's probably better to leave than to stay in the echo chamber. Duncan Riley, TechCrunch, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Why I'm Dumping Facebook
I think we've all learned by now, that there isn't any good thing that won't be abused by some scam artist or another. And hence we see Rick Schwier being hit by a particularly nasty application, which results in his closing his Facebook account. I can't say I blame him, and I can't help wondering what long-term changes in attitude are going to result from the continuing barrage of offensive material every internet user is faced with. Doesn't the business community realize that this is the image it is presenting to the general public every minute of every day? Richard Schwier, Rick's Café Canadien, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Hands Free 3D
This demonstration got a lot of attention over the weekend. Mitch Kapor demonstrates software written by Philippe Bossut which enables hands-free navigation in Second Life. The interface is partially borrowed from the Segway - lean forward to move forward, lean back to move back. Nice. Found in a variety of places, including SLED Blog. Mitch Kaopr and Philippe Bossut, Kapor Enterprises, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Essays by Marvin Minsky
Marvin Minsky has been writing essays on a wiki this spring. One set concerns the learning of mathematics ("Oh, mathematics isn't anything special: it's just the smart way to understand things."). A second set concerns the segmentation (by class, by sime) of learning. And the third set looks at role models and mentors. The essays are short and light - but they're by Minsky, which gives them some weight. Marvin Minsky, OLPC, April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Conceiving an International Instrument On Limitations and Exceptions to Copyright
I am sympathetic with the intent of this report, which is to examine (in detail) the international copyright landscape, and to report on the feasibility of an international standard for limitations and exceptions. But I am sceptical about the consequence, partially because where these negotiations actually occur - at bodies like WIPO and WTO - the talks are shrouded in secrecy and democratically unresponsive interests hold sway, and partially because so long as the legal system allows moneyed interests to threaten people without the means to defend themselves, it literally does not matter what the law says, and therefore, any international agreements on the law are moot. PDF, via UNESCO. P. Bernt Hugenholtz and Ruth L. Okediji, Open Society Institute (OSI), April 14, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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