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by Stephen Downes
June 15, 2009

The First Few Milliseconds of an HTTPS Connection
This is a fabulous article that is well worth the half hour or so it will take you to read it. There will be parts you don't understand; don't worry about that, just plow through. The article describes the communications that bounce back and first in the first few hundred milliseconds of a secure connection. There are excursions into signing and cryptography, and information that makes the utterly ordinary seem amazing. If you have any interest in the technology, don't miss this article. Your brain cells will thank you. Jeff Moser, Moserware, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

I spent way too much time playing this. Just so you know (I also spent most of Saturday fighting the Russians on Civ IV). See also this link describing another game, Passage. As Jim Coe says, "Educational gaming must move beyond parlor tricks" wx3lab, Kongregate, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Dasher - Open Source software helping skilled users to write at over 30 words a minute by pointing
I worked with this for quite a while before deciding it was too slow - maybe there's a way to speed up the animation. I think it's a really neat idea, very cool, way outside the box, and worth spending more time looking at. Seb Schmoller, Fortnightly Mailing, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Pandering to the News Cycle, or Enriching It?
Not sure if people will be interested, but this is a back-and-forth between Tony Hirst and myself on the idea of crafting news and information especially for traditional media sources. Of course, to me that just feeds into the culture of branding and celebrity, which is so pervasive it should not be fed. But Hirst responds that that's where people still get a lot of their news. Maybe so - but nothing we do is going to change in any great measure the toxic stew traditional media serves as information, and feeding them simply gives them a credibility they don't deserve. Just my view. Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Acer Aspire Revo: A Parallelogram Nettop
Some more new terminology for you. A 'nettop' is like a 'netbook' except it sits on the desktop. Not clear? Well, recall that a netbook is a really cheap laptop - priced in the $300 range, like the Ausus Eee - which is used mostly for using the web. Well the idea of a nettop is the same, except that it sits on your desktop and has a bigger screen. In fact, it looks like it's nothing but a screen. Liam Green-Hughes, Weblog, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Facebook: Over 3 Million Usernames Claimed
So now I am known at least to some as - yes, I strayed up late Friday night after the hockey game and signed up for my own Facebook URL. Because someone else would have taken 'downes', probably within the first 30 seconds. This article is a really nice look at the Facebook offices the night of the launch. 200,000 new usernames were claimed within the first three minutes and three million in total were claimed over Friday night. Remarkable. Ben Parr, Mashable, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

On socialism: round II
Last week Lawrence Lessig ran himself into hot water while criticizing Kevin Kelly's depiction of the internet as the new socialism by arguing that "At the core of socialism is coercion" and definig social as "using the power of the state to force a result that otherwise would not have been chosen voluntarily by the people." Of course, no real socialists believe anything remotely like that characaterization, but this has not stopped Lessig from trying again. "By "coercion" I meant simply law -- that "socialism" is a system enforced by law, and enforced contrary to the way individuals would freely choose autonomously to associate." Well this is equally indefensible, as I elaborate in the comments. Lawrence Lessig, Weblog, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The Genius Index: One Scientist's Crusade to Rewrite Reputation Rules
This is a pretty good discussion of the idea of ranking publications by the prestige of the journal in which they are published, as compared to the amount of reaction and subsequent work (and references and links) they generate. It's mostly about the h-index created by Jorge Hirsch (not the first nor even necessarily the best of the citation ranking systems, but Wired really likes to trump up one person as though he 'invented' the field) but provides good background and history as well. Guy Gugliotta, Wired, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Why group norms kill creativity
I tried to work this into a paper I was writing today, but it wasn't happening. I still want to link to it, though. "The unwritten rules of the group, therefore, determined what its members considered creative. In effect groups had redefined creativity as conformity." Cited from Psyblog. George Siemens, elearnspace, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

What Happens to School Choice if People Aren't Rational and Choose Bad Schools?
For the longest time the mantra of the private school set was 'choice'. As in "If parents selected their children's schools, they would not choose bad ones, so bad schools would not be able to survive. Schools would have to improve or close." and choice, of course, would be impossible in the public system. Now that Obama has trumped the choice card with charter schools in the public school system, the rhetorical use of 'choice' has softened. So now I find myself in the position of agreeing with Dan Willingham. "School choice might benefit the system, or it might not. But the argument that it will work because 'Parents will pick the best schools for their kids' is not persuasive." And - importantly - it never was. Daniel Willingham, Britannica Blog, June 15, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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