Stephen's Web

[Chat] [Discuss] [Search] [Mobile] [About] [Archives] [Options]


by Stephen Downes
January 5, 2010

Access your notes even after your textbook subscription expires
I still have my university textbooks - and the idea of these texts expiring is offensive to me. Yes, it's true, I don't look at them a lot, though I have, in the past (like when I was trying to remember year 2 stuff in year 3). But on the other hand, I have an excellent scientific and philosophical library. It wouldn't matter to me if the library were digital (in fact, it would be better in many ways). But it would matter if it didn't exist. The idea of being required to study something I won't even be able to read later (without paying a toll) is not only odd and disturbing to me, it is offensive. (p.s. I will be at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, assuming I can fly in the U.S., so watch for some video and commentary). Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Whatever happened to Second Life?
It's desolate, dirty and deserted: is anyone still using Second Life? From this author's perspective, even if the site is still making money, the edge is gone. "Three years on, and the hype has been extinguished. Second Life has seen its status as the web wonderchild supplanted by Facebook and Twitter. The newspapers have forgotten about it, the Reuters correspondent has long since cleared his virtual desk, and you can walk confidently around tech trade shows without a ponytailed 'Web 2.0 Consultant' offering to put your company on the Second Life map for the price of a company car." Barry Collins, PC Pro, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Doing It Wrong
I think Bray's criticisms of enterprise software development are accurate. And I think he highlights where the future lies: "the winning mix includes dynamic languages and Web frameworks and TDD and REST and Open Source and NoSQL at varying levels of relative importance... [and] the culture: iterative development, continuous refactoring, ubiquitous unit testing, starting small, gathering user experience before it seems reasonable." Tim Bray, Ongoing, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Networking Reconsidered
Hegel and Seely Brown get it partially right and partially wrong in this look at network strategies. The part they get right is critical: they reject "classical networking and schmoozing, driven by individuals intent upon prying business cards out of others and relentlessly expanding their contact lists," focusing instead on networks based on "intense curiosity, deep listening and empathy that seeks to understand the context that other person is operating in." But what they get wrong, I think, is the nature of this interaction. It's not about finding common ground, working collaboratively, or 'acquiring' tacit knowledge. Rather, it's about putting yourself into a position where you can have (even if vicariously) similar experiences, leading oneself to become similar to the other person (which is why it is so important to choose one's associates with care). Tacit knowledge, remember, isn't declarative or even procedural. Rather, it is more like 'having a feel for', and each person develops this sort of knowledge individually. John Hegel III and John Seely Brown, Harvard Business Review, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

The Mobile Internet Report
A huge new report from Morgan Stanley analyzes in great detail the mobile internet. They focus on a convergence of five major factors: 3G + Social Networking + Video + VoIP + Impressive Mobile Devices (personally I don't think 3G is fast enough, and there are already congestion problems, but coming 4G technologies will provide the needed bandwidth). The report argues, "we believe more users will likely connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years." This is probably true, and as the report states, because of the prevalence of existing billing methods, commercialization will occur a lot more quickly (of course, this is why there's such a push for the mobile internet, and away from that horrible mostly free desktop internet). You can view for free the short (82 slides) slide show, the long (659 slides) presentation, or the 424 page report. Via Gary Woodill. Mary Meeker,, Morgan Stanley, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Sojourner Truth
Any reflective writer - including me - must face self-doubts about being relevant and accurate. Vicki Davis, in a really nice post capturing this feeling, cites Phillip Yancy: "Every day a writer must cope with a deep-seated paranoia: I have nothing to say, I've said it all before, I'm a fake and a hypocrite, I write in cliches..." I think this sort of self-doubt is a necessary prelude to any creative act, and a useful check against thinking too much of one's own words. But there is a danger of letting it overwhelm you. Thoreau: "Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines or rather indicates his fate... the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." There is only one way to avoid this fate: I question myself every day, vigorously, but then I step beyond that questioning, and fearlessly assert what I have come to believe. Vicki A. Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

How to Learn Just About Anything Online ... For Free
It's pretty basic, but if you want to convince people about open learning, this will do the job. After a short introduction, the author surveys a wealth of free learning resources, beginning with the basics, then to the how-to section with offerings from Hewlett-Packard and Howcast, then into the 'deep thinking' sites of TED Talks, Nobel prize winners and Big Ideas. Bill Hogan, AARP Bulletin, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

China's Changing, Learning-Minded Party
China is embarking on a national learning initiative, according to this Forbes article. "In recent years President Hu Jintao has called for further reform, empowered by a new kind of mental emancipation. Circumstances have changed; the world is more complicated, variegated. This is why Hu stresses creativity and innovation in all areas: science and technology, industry and commerce, global partnerships, political participation, and cultural and spiritual life in all their diverse expressions." Robert Lawrence Kuhn, Forbes, January 5, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

This newsletter is sent only at the request of subscribers. If you would like to unsubscribe, Click here.

Know a friend who might enjoy this newsletter? Feel free to forward OLDaily to your colleagues. If you received this issue from a friend and would like a free subscription of your own, you can join our mailing list. Click here to subscribe.

Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.