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by Stephen Downes
July 23, 2009

Looking at some stuff online on a lazy Thursday afternoon, Prezi, a non-slide-based presentation tool I might try out in the future. And Backpackit - "Backpack is an easy intranet for your business. Store, share, discuss, and archive everything that's essential for your team." Also, Using Python - I've been stepping through this so I know what I'm doing as I work through the examples in Programming Collective intelligence (yes, my free afternoons are like that - jumping from one thing to the next to the next, with a little bit of email reading, blogging and paperwork sandwiched in between). Various Authors, Website, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Dear Auntie Siobhan: My Students Won't Put Away Their Phones
Siobhan Curious (an obvious pseudonym of someone who claims to be a teacher from Montreal) argues in (for pay?) that "today's young people - and adults, for that matter, myself included - need to learn to STOP multitasking, and to focus on one task, with concentration, for an extended period of time... By forcing them to put their phones and laptops away, I am giving them the opportunity to stop the random, jittery stimulation and instant information that surrounds them at all times." You would think that a teacher, of all people, would know that a forced behaviour does not reliably become a learned behaviour. Outside the coercive environment, a student is just as likely (if not more so) to engage in the contrary behaviour. So what is Siobhan Curious, really? Not a teacher, evidently. Via Education week, which makes me think Curious is a plant. Siobhan Curious,, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

UK Music Industry Economists Admit: Music Industry Getting Bigger, Not Smaller
This is what has generally been projected by advocates of free content; it's nice to see it confirmed, even by the music industry. "Despite all of the whining and complaining about the state of the music industry, some of the music industry's own economists are admitting that the market is growing. Not surprisingly, it found that retail product sales have declined, but the other parts of the industry have grown noticeably more than the decline in retail sales." The same is true for education. Revenues from tuitions and books may decline, but making education accessible to all will increase, rather than decrease, the overall education economy. Mike Masnick, Techdirt, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] Launches: My New Site on the Copyright Consultation
Michael Geist has launched - "The site features dozens of posts and videos on Canadian copyright law, the Twitter #copycon stream, information on Bill C-61, and a Take Action page that highlights the ways individual Canadians can speak out on copyright." Michael Geist, Weblog, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment]

EMD X: UCaPP Leadership: The End of Embodied Leaders
BAH is an acronym standing for Bureaucratic, Administratively controlled, and Hierarchical organizations, courtesy of Mark Federman. He adds, "The theory of a BAH organization is that only legitimate leaders – those typically higher in the hierarchy – possess sufficient information, vision, and scope of knowledge to provide appropriate impetus that is consistent with achieving the organization's overall purpose." Ubiquitous connectivity and pervasive proximity (UCaPP) organizations, by contrast, do not need the embodied leader. "The extensive socializing of information means that each member can act relatively autonomously, assessing circumstances with a high degree of accuracy, enabling the organization to move quickly in actually accomplishing the task-at-hand." Mark Federman, What's The Next Message?, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Ivan Krstic: XO Crippled...
Maybe if I get despondent about my own projects I should come back and review this post about the horrors behind the development of the OLPC. Language warning. One of few bits I can quote, about fixing a keyboard driver: "after a long battle - received the source, under strict NDA, only to find a jungle of nested if statements, twelve levels deep, and no code history. (The company that wrote the code doesn't use version control, see. They put dates into code comments when they make changes, and the developers mail each other zip files with new versions.)" Wayan Vota, One Laptop Per Child News, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

The CellScope
This ranks right up there in the world of coolness, so far as I am concerned. The CellScope attached to a mobile phone and essentially converts the phone's camera into a microscope. It was designed for medical applications, especially in the developing world where microscopes are in short supply, but the teaching applications should be obvious. More from PLOS One. Via Golden Swamp. Unattributed, NeuroPhilosophy, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

I am haunted by you - flowers and impossible cream cakes
I have long maintained that this website is a learning resource, my version of what I think online learning should be and look like. It is, of course, mostly my learning resource, but over time it has engaged a community as well. So how well does it succeed? Instead of the usual metrics - how many subscribers, how much does it cost to produce, etc., here's an alternative set:
Address vital and relevant needs/issues within the community.
- Engage a diverse public.
- Act as a catalyst for action.
- Stimulate intergenerational interactions.
- Link existing community groups to one another.
- Initiate or enhance long term collaborative relationships.
- Create partnerships that empower community groups.
- Result in products/processes that have tangible impacts in the community.
I think, overall, that the site fares pretty well against these metrics (Worts, D. "Measuring Museum Meaning: A Critical Assessment Framework." Journal of Museum Education, 31 2006, 41 - 48). Artichoke, Artichoke, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Never Mind Amazon, Get Your Free Orwell Here
Dan Colman links to free audio books of 1984, Animal Farm, and numerous other titles. Also, it took me about ten seconds of Google search to find a full text version of Animal Farm. Also, you can find a copy of 1984 here. Dan Colman, Open Culture, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment]

Teacher Dude's Grill and BBQ
When the first words you read from a teacher's blog are "I love the smell of tear gas in the morning" you know you've hit on something unique. Teacher Dude writes, "I'm a teacher, originally from England, now living in Northern Greece teaching EFL." He is also a photographer and a social commentator of some wit. Teacher Dude, Weblog, July 23, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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