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October 5, 2011

COOLCast - October 5, 2011
Jeff Lebow, COOLcast, October 5, 2011.

We had a very interesting COOLcast on the subject of central cores and threads in MOOCs. Participants: Vance Stevens, carol yeager, Stephen Downes, Lisa M Lane, Kate Robbins, Jenny Ankenbauer, Jeff Lebow Chat Logs and other recordings at: http://jefflebow.net/coolcast

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Things We Can Learn From Facebook
Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus, October 5, 2011.

files/images/wpid-imag0754.jpgw280h374, size: 19611 bytes, type:   Every time I go into Facebook there's more and more unwanted stuff in it, including what now appears to be an arbitrary news stream composed of posts written by people I don't know and haven't linked to. What can we learn from this? Brian Kelly first responds to a couple of prevailing threads, first calling the view that "you are Facebook's product" an "elitist" point of view, and second refuting the continuing belief that Facebook tracks its users even when their logged out (Facebook no longer does that, he says). So (in an effort to "move the discussion on from the Twitter echo chamber"), what can we learn, he asks. He proposes:
- “Seamless sharing” could be an appealing concept
- We want to understand and respond to user interactions
- Walled gardens can provide a nurturing environment
- Users understand the need for sustainable business models

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Twitter, Interaction, Books]

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files/images/readability.PNG, size: 123166 bytes, type:  image/png
Stolen from the best
Dave Winer, Weblog, October 5, 2011.

Dave Winer is working on a blog redesign and the mantra appears to be 'simplicity and readability'. I'm totally in favour. What's interesting is that he is borrowing design ideas from Readability, "a web & mobile app that zaps online clutter and saves web articles in a comfortable reading view... Readability turns any web page into a comfortable reading view right in your web browser. Too busy to read right then and there? Readability makes it simple to save your favorite articles for reading later." It's a pretty good idea, and while Winder's design more or less eliminates the need for Readability, many other sites would benefit from the treatment. And for me, with vision poor and getting poorer every day, something that makes the text easy to read is a big deal.

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Frequency-dependent changes in NMDAR-dependent synaptic plasticity
Arvind Kumar and Mayank R. Mehta, Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, October 5, 2011.

files/images/Mehta-Brain-prv.jpg, size: 59208 bytes, type:  image/jpeg This is a very interesting article. Before diving in you may want to read the summary press release first, or the Psych Central article, where I found it first, which is a virtual word-for-word copy of the press release (that's what counts as journalism these days).

Here's the story in a nutshell: we learn by forming connections between neurons. The strength of these connections depends on the frequency (and to an extent, amplitude) of the incoming signal. For each connection (that is, each synapse) there is a 'sweet spot' - a certain frequency increases synaptic strength the most. And the frequency of this sweet spot gets higher the further away from the neuron's nucleus the synapse is (see the illustration, at right). The entire neuron, in other words, functions like a tiny sense organ attuned to specific types of signals. The authors write, "The model could explain a vast amount of data on both the rate and timing dependence of synaptic plasticity. Thus, the model provides a unified theoretical explanation of those experimental observations, and also makes novel predictions." There are more related publications here.

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Ed Radio Show Notes, October 5, 2011

- Gillian Welch, Red Clay Halo, Wolfgang's Vault
- Jeff Mangum, playing at Occupy Wall Street
- Tried out Twiddla -- it's another one of those that requires a second step to join the audio portion of the meeting -- also, no video conferencing. I also tried BigMarker - it's Flash sound & therefore not very good. MeetingBurner - looks like it starts with default Flash sound (but I couldn't tell) or you Skype or phone into it - attendees don't speak at all - not so good.
- Ed Tech Crew - An interview with Rodd Lucier aka @TheCleverSheep

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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