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by Stephen Downes
August 4, 2009

In Search of the Real Network Science: An Interview with David Alderson
It's one thing to say that networks can inform knowledge and learning, and quite another to say just what it is about networks that does so. According to the introduction, "David Alderson has become a leading advocate for formulating the foundations of network science." The interview that follows offers us his vision of a science of networks. There's some good stuff about the distinction between graphs and networks, and between real networks and virtual networks. For example, "Almost every large Internet service is implemented with a "cloud." A lot of connections within the cloud, which are measured and recorded in graphs, are virtual, not real. The graph we are measuring bears no resemblance to the network system behind it." Related: danah boyd asks, Would the real network please stand up? Peter Denning, Ubiquity, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Times Must Be Tough: Harvard Becoming A Trademark Troll
Having gambled away a large chunk of its endowment, Harvard is now trademarking common expressions in case it wants to use them some time in the future (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried). More. Mike Masnick, TechDirt, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

2845 ways to spin the Risk
From the continuing (non-)series on critical thinking and the web, this very nice site adds an element by presenting the same information in hundreds of different ways. "In the animation below we show how risks can be ‘spun' to look bigger or smaller, how medical treatments can be made to seem useless or to be wonder cures, and how lifestyle changes might look worthwhile or not worth bothering with. All by changing the words used, the way the numbers are expressed, and the particular graphics chosen." This is a great tool, and the skills that result help learners see through the hype.

David Spiegelhalter and Mike Pearson, Understanding Uncertainty, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Talkin' Bout Open
Alan Levine's video promo for his Open Education presentation in a week or so has me convinced! Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment]

Download a la Mode Series - Capturing Media off the Web
Nice set of practical resources, very useful for teachers preparing media for fall classes (it's never too soon). Related: how to embed only a part of a YouTube video. Miguel Guhlin, Around the Corner, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Defining the Big Shift
Harold Jarche reminds readers (quite appropriately) that writers like him have been on about 'the big shift' for a number of years. "It's great," he writes, "to get confirmation from someone like John Hagel that what I've been saying here for the past five years appears to be on track." Harold Jarche, Weblog, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment]

Technology or Unions - which is the problem?
From the Wall Street Journal: "The authors believe there exists a magic bullet that is capable of shattering the unions' political power and, at last, bringing the sort of reform and excellence to U.S. K-12 education that might make U.S. students competitive with Finnish teenagers. The ammunition? Technology." The irony? As a commenter just pointed out on my blog, 96 percent of Finnish teachers belong to a union. Perhaps the WSJ should contemplate the possibility that its misguided campaign against unions is the problem. Raj Boora, EDITing in the Dark, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

MySpace to Unveil Integration With Sites Around the Web, Using Open Standards
Not only did MySpace get a starring role in Funny People (which I saw tonight, which is (partially) why this newsletter is late), (according to Marc Canter) it's opening up its content with two-way APIs. Yay! The article says it not only "will allow third-party websites to write updates into the MySpace activity feed just like Facebook Connect, but will also incorporate open semantic microformat code." Marshall Kirkpatrick, ReadWriteWeb, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment]

Toward a Larger Left
Aaron Swartz was helping define RSS and content syndication when he was in his early teens. Now he's in university and trying to define "left" to a largely sceptical readership.Has nothing to do with ed tech, but I've always been a fan of Aaron Swartz and I like this item a lot, especially this brief definition of "left": "democracy. Media democracy, to prevent the population from being misled by deluded elites with big megaphones. Economic democracy, to promote a better mix and fairer distribution of societal goods and necessary evils. And political democracy, so that our military isn't led by murderous thugs into endless immoral engagements." Which, regular readers will know, looks a lot like my own philosophy. Realted: Education Based on a Democratic Ethic? Aaron Swartz, Crooked Timber, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

Kindle Problem: No reformatted PDFs, no Instapaper since late July
Amazon may have accidentally revealed another feature of the Kindle: a proprietary marketplace. Amy Gahran writes, "the only content I can get onto my Kindle is content acquired through Amazon's Kindle store: purchased or free books, sample chapters, my Technology Review subscription, the Amazon Daily newsletter, etc. It's weird." Now this may be, ahem, temporary, just like the vanishing Orwell books fiasco, but it is nonetheless illustrative of what Amazon would really like to see with the hardware. Related: the future of book banning and the Book vs the Kindle. Amy Gahran, Contentious, August 4, 2009 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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