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by Stephen Downes
December 18, 2008

Marking with Voice Tools
Oh, I want one of these. I want, I want. Not so much to mar things. But to review blog posts. It would really be helpful, I think, to offer an insight to my thought processes as I read some posts (well, useful, that is, to those who think there is some use in my thought processes to begin with). I know they would be listened mostly only by the people who actually authored the post. But that's fine; very frequently, an audience of one is exactly the right size. Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Is ProCon.Org Neutral?
This is a pretty good example of how difficult it is going to be to work in the new information age. Propaganda will go from being really bad - people still remember raging cow - to being really good. Like this site appears to be. Have a look at Larry Sanger's assessment and scroll down for my own contribution to the discussion. And even if you disagree with either of us, you'll agree, I think, that this sort of assessment will become a lot more difficult - and vital - in the years ahead. More than ever, I want to get my critical thinking open course out there. Larry Sanger, Citizendium Blog, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

When the PLN Isn'T Really the Best PLAN
The key point here is the recognition that a personal learning network need not be big. What you want to do in order to extend your range is to select members of a network that have their own networks, with members that are different from your own network. Jennifer Wagner, Tech Thoughts By Jen, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

10 Sure-Fire Tips for Creating Your Own Stock Photos
This is actually a pretty good set of tips. They apply to all the images I create, because what I've found is that my own best supply of stock images for my slide shows and stuff is the set of images I shoot for myself every day. I don't agree with points 8 and 9, though. I don't agree with 8 because I prefer to start with the presumption that the employees of one's own company are not losers, even if this entails some risk, and I don't agree with 9 because if a person is standing there, pretty obviously posing for a photograph, that's a pretty good sign that he or she has consented to it being taken (if you're going to use the image to shill, though, then you ought to get consent). Tom Kuhlmann, The Rapid E-Learning Blog, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

By 2020, Access to Internet Will Be in Everyone's Pocket, Study Says
OK, so yesterday I confused the future trends report produced by Pew with the future trends report produced by the New Media Consortium, and while most probably would not blame me for the confusion, it prompted Alan Levine to write - twice - asking for a correction. Well, fair enough. So here's a proper link to coverage of the Pew Report. Meanwhile, here's the NMC Report, distributed in October, and their Australia / New Zealand Edition, from November. You can draw your own conclusion as to whether the NMC reports are rooted in 2008-centric straight-line thinking. David DeBolt, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Introducing... The Nessie Awards!
Scott Leslie - freshly back from Colombia - contributes his newly minted Nessie awards, including the one and only empirically verifiable award granted to this newsletter. Aw, shucks. Scott Leslie, edtechpost, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Most Likely to Succeed
Malcolm Gladwell knows how to promote a book, and he knows the pulse of American society - the New Yorker and football, respectively. Not that either - nor the economists he cites in the article - know anything in particular about education. So let me point out the big difference between NFL quarterbacks and quality teachers: we need only a hundred or so of the former (fewer, if we don't include backups), while we need tens of thousands of the latter. Why is this significant? Well, because while it's really hard to predict whether a person will be one of the top 100 in a field, it's rather easier to predict whether they'll be somewhere in the top 100,000 (even allowing for a fair degree of uncertainty in the cusp cases). Now this, in turn, should not be confused with the very specific pedagogical points Gladwell makes - things like the encouragement of engagement and direct and pointed responses to contributions. Because there seems to be nothing that prevents us from either teaching these strategies to new teachers, or evaluating them in teachers put up for tenure. More from Chad Orzel. Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Soon, We'll Be Reading Your Minds!
This is pretty interesting. Not so much because it reveals an image in collections of neurons - though it does - but because it suggests a form of brain scanning rather more effective than what dominates so much 'brain science' discussions. Current brain imaging techniques resemble (as I read once) measuring the heat pattern on the case of a hard disk drive and from that trying to infer to the operating system. This current system of scanning actually gives us the 1s and 0s. Still a pretty big reconstruction job - but at least possible, unlike the wholly unsupported inferences from heat signatures. PZ Myers, Pharyngula, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The ITunes Killer?
So I've installed Songbird on my MacBook and it's happily playing K.T. Tunstall and Celine Dion imported from my iTunes music library. I'll test it with a spare iPod, and if it works for me, will free me from Apple's music prison. Justin Beach,, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The E-Book Re-Visited
The e-book reader envisioned here is scarcely distinct from a small computer. For that matter, the iPhone and iPod are scarcely distinct either (except, of course, for the DRMified closed Apple environment). I still need to be convinced of the need for a device distinctly devoted to reading books - and I would need an argument that doesn't involve DRM, Steve Jobs, or the wage-slave factory known as Amazon. Kerrie Smith, You Are Never Alone, December 18, 2008 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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