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by Stephen Downes
February 8, 2010

What's the Platform of the Future for Developing Interactive Graphical Educational Software?
I hit a bit of a brick wall today - not always a bad thing - which makes me rethink the state of software. Could there ever be a seat-of-your-pants startup, like Facebook or Twitter or Flickr? I'm thinking not. The internet has evolved to the point where you need quite an infrastructure to create any sort of popular application, and existing applications have closed most of the niches, creating a large 'reinventing the wheel' hurdle to any new development. This will be the case for the new graphical software discussed in this post, especially as the applications favoured even by largish university projects are insufficient for the new environment.

It's hard to explain what I mean (which is the story of my day today) but I've been thinking of it like this: there was a time when you were inventing a new car where all you had to build was the car, but by the 60s or 70s you had to design not just the car but production lines, supply networks, dealerships, and a whole lot more; and moreover, the cars, with electronics and braking systems and the rest became a lot more complex. You can't just invent a new car today; it can only be done by an existing major player. The same, largely, with software.

Or - could you just build small simple things that interact? Do you have to build an enterprise system every time you want to build an application? Doug Holton, EdTechDev, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

"The Class" - parody of The Office
Making the rounds today is this classroom parody of The Office (which itself is parody). Not only does the classroom ring true, in more ways than once, it's also a great example of students exercising their own creativity (in a manner exactly opposite to the classroom portrayed in The Class). Note how one act of creativity uses a prior act as a frame. This is common, and fundamental to creativity. Also, it wouldn't be a YouTube hit unless it was inspired by something people already know. Michael Wesch, Digital Ethnography, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

Laser, 3D Printer, and an Onion, OH MY!
What I like about this is that it's e-learning having nothing to do with screen or keyboard. Rather, it's a laser scanner and a 3D printer, and what it produces is a series of models of an onion growing, so you can see for yourself the stages of growth. If a garden is slow music, as Michael L Umphrey says, then this is the score. Wayne Hodgins, Off Course On Target, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

British Library to offer free ebook downloads
I'm looking forward to a wealth of new reading material available for free online. This time, it's courtesy of the British Library (though of course there are some obligatory sponsorship spots built in). We'll see if it's a case of books really being available free, or whether it's a case of them being free if you buy someone else's hardware. Rocjard Brooks, The Times, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

How To Monitor What Is Being Said About You Online
I admit it - I monitor what people have to say about me online. I need to do this for Twitter, otherwise I'd never get messages. It's also pretty useful if I want to be able to respond to blog comments. But most of all, I do it to find new stuff - if someone's linking to or talking about me, then probably they also link to or talk to things that I'm interested in, which makes them a pretty good source for me. So the techniques mentioned in this post? Yes, I use them. Tina, MakeUseOf, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: , , ] [Comment] [Tweet]

25 places to find instructional videos
Because everybody loves these 'list' posts - so much easier to read than posts with sentences. Jane Hart, Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

About "P"!
Chaouki Regoui talks about what puts the "p" in PLE. "What information to have about the learner (simply called learner profile)? Which information is provided by the learner and which is collected about him/her (through his/her learning patterns, from external sources etc. )?" Chaouki Regoui, Plearn Blog, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

We Love xkcd
Awwww. I love XKCD too. Elaine Doyle & Olga Nunes, Weblog, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: none] [Comment] [Tweet]

Meta Data
The way music works, you use one song as a frame from which to create a new song. You need to do this - derive from existing archetypes - because otherwise you just end up reinventing songs that have already been written, and get sued, like George Harrison did, even if you did no wrong (thanks to musician Don Belliveau for explaining all this to me). So anyhow, Lady Gaga and Elton John performed a duet at the Grammys, and as this item explains, they "went meta" - "'How wonderful life is with Gaga in the world,' John sang." But it's not just that the lyrics were self-referential. Gaga's Speechless uses Elton John's Your Song as its frame, something that was evident by the way they merged, so when Gaga sings "this is your song, I hope you don't mind" she's acknowledging the song's origins. Which is why it's nice that Elton sings back, "You can tell everyone this is your song." That's how creativity and innovation works, and that's what our intellectual; property system is in the process of wrecking, and be fairly warned, once you break that chain of innovation, you can't get it back; you have to start from scratch again. Which is why the dark ages were so, um, dark. Merrill Perlman, Columbia Journalism Review, February 8, 2010 [Link] [Tags: ] [Comment] [Tweet]

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Copyright 2008 Stephen Downes

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