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by Stephen Downes
November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day
Today, November 11, in Canada is called Remembrance Day, and it is the day on which we as a nation reflect on the cost of war. I have been lucky enough never to have been close to a war. But I am cognizant of my own involvement in military affairs, from my days as an Army Cadet in high school to drinking with German soldiers from Shilo in Manitoba to working with the military and speaking at their conferences both in Canada and the United States.

This has been a test for me. For as long as I can recall, I have been a pacifist, and remain a pacifist to this day. I do not believe in war, and do not believe it solves problems. I believe that was is the result of failed politics launched on behalf of failed politicians. I weep for those who are killed and maimed in wars, from those Canada fought in the past and in the present, to those agonizing conflicts in Darfur and Congo that persist to this day.

I believe that if we glorify war and its participants - something our politicians and traditional media are ever happy to do - we propagate its existence and perpetuate its suffering. When I work with the military, I look for the little things that tell me that our men and women at arms do not perpetuate this glorification of violence, that they are opposed to the use of force - hearing them, for example, describe "the right result" as one in which there are no casualties, not even of the 'enemy'. And the people I respect on this day are not simply the warfighters, but those in all walks of life who remember the many victims of war, the many lives shattered, and who actually believe, as I do, in an end to war. Unattributed, CBC, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Seven Questions
Short video in which I respond to a series of questions about learning, the current educational system, and what we will need in the future. Stephen Downes,, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Revolution Will Be Syndicated
If you have the time, take a look at this hour-long presentation, a recording of a talk given in Second Life. As Jim Groom summarizes, "We'll be discussing the current Zombie state of institutional Web 2.0 fakery and the chains of expedient enslavement that bind us; exploring the means for surviving our current LMS malaise through imaginative resistance." Tom Woodward, Brian Lamb and Jim Groom, TechTicker, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Weaving Your Own PLE - Session Outline
This is one of those events I would really like to have attended and sat in the back of the room and soaked it in. I feel in certain ways at the centre of the whole idea of the Personal Learning Environment, yet in other important ways I am an observer. Anyhow, this workshop had four major components: choosing your blog, networked workspaces, weaving your blogging networking, and mashing your own PLE. Also, more from Scott Leslie, and a link from Jared Stein and a summary from Chris Lott. Scott Leslie,, edtechpost, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Lying About Personalized Learning
David Wiley argues that 'personalization' ought to include more than simply personalized software, because learning is about interaction with other people. Fair enough, and it would be hard to disagree, but in my reply I try to be more specific about what we mean by 'personalized' when we are talking about interaction. David Wiley, iterating toward openness, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

The 2008 Eddies Are GO!
So the edublog awards are on again for this year, complete with a prize system guaranteed to skew the results - "the winner of each category will get a years free Edublogs Campus subscription for themselves or their institution." This, of course, is a prize that is basically useless to a person working outside an institution. Accept the prize and either blow off your blog after a year or start paying If we are to have awards in our field, we need awards that aren't tied to some company or sponsor. And it is really bad form for that sponsor to publicly announce his own nominations (not that I don't appreciate the nomination). Various Authors,, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Spot.Us: Community Funded Reporting
Odds are good we will see something like community funded learning as well. I the model George Siemens and I have pioneered in the Connectivism course can be made to work on a wider scale, community funding will emerge as a viable support mechanism. The trick, though, is to remember that not just anyone can become community funded. You need to have a base of recognition in the community, to have already established the network that would fund you. Beth Kanter, Beth's Blog, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Typealyzer applies the Myers-Briggs personality test to blogs. The fact that my site turns out to be INTJ - exactly as I test consistently on the Myers-Briggs tests - is coincidence. Right? Via Amy Gahran, who is an ENTP, according to her site. Various Authors, Website, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Straight to the Point: the Miniskirt Theory of Writing
On this site, I have a story to tell in 100 words or so. I try to tell it in the first 23 words. The remaining 77 words are for added detail, quotes or whatever. The 23-word rule defined the length of the 'lede' in print journalism. That's how much attention your newspaper reader would give you. You had to write the whole story in the lede. People talk about how online writing is different, but in this respect, it isn't. It's just that the vast majority of people have not been taught how to write for newspapers (to me, that means they haven't been taught to write, but that's another story). Amy Gahran, Contentious, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

How Wikipedia Works
Written by three people with a long history of involvement with Wikipedia, this guide has been dubbed 'the missing manual' for the popular online encyclopedia. Some of the best material is dedicated to explaining Wikipedia's policies for inclusion and its neutral point of view (NPOV). The book is free to read online, or you can order a printed copy. It is licensed under GFDL (which is also explained). I think this is a fabulous contribution to the canon of online literature and recommend it to anyone interested in the subject area. (My favorite Wikipedia moment, one in which I let myself "ignored the rules and be bold", was inserting 'eh' at every appropriate moment in the article on Canadian English (see it here). I was accused of vandalism, but I maintain that my edit stands as a cultural artifact.) Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, and Ben Yates, Website, November 11, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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