by Stephen Downes
Jan 01, 2015
Hotels Fight for the Right to Block Guests' Wi-Fi
This story has been around for a while, but it points to the danger of commercial provision of essential services. As everyone knows, price is determined by the law of supply and demand - it is, essentially, whatever the market will bear. But the often unspoken corollary is that creating artificial demand is a reliable means of driving up price. This is what hotels are trying to do when they block personal Wi-Fi hotspots. It's a vile practice that creates no value for the customer at all. How much of the 'free market' is based not on provision of goods and services, but on creating artificial scarcity? Education is an excellent case in point. Learning should be ubiquitous, but we channel it through institutions, create the requirement for degrees, and charge students a large mortgage for passage.
Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future
Hans de Zwart,
So what is life like in the surveillance state? Ask artist Ai Weiwei. He lives under constant observation courtesy of the Chinese government. This article describes his efforts to understand and test the limits of constant observation, including the impact it has on the observers (ware in many ways less free than he is). Weiwei's present is our future. Perhaps we will rely less on humans to do the watching, simply because the workload makes it impossible. But I have no doubt we will respond by testing limits, adapting (as urban youth already have with the hoodie) and accommodating. This article is a good account, but I think it misses something important. With privacy at a premium, I think that the unexpected result will be that the range of unacceptable acts will be reduced. It's simply a matter of practicality - when you see everything, you can only focus on the worst things, and the lesser evils become effectively decriminalized. But in such an environment corruption and petty theft can prevail, and the end result is that people feel less safe, and not more safe.
6 Tips To Turn Your Presentation Into An Interactive eLearning Course
The six tips aren't especially interesting, and the relentless overlays begging you to subscribe or like are annoying. But the first 'tip' is actually a pretty good list of what are called 'rapid e-learning tools' - basically authoring suites that allow you to create traditional e-learning. The only drawback is that they are all commercial tools, and generally expensive (I don't know of an open source rapid e-learning tool). It's clear from this list and from a review of the sample courses that this part of the industry is pretty mature. The list includes dedicated e-learning tools like Captivate and Lectora, cloud-based like Lectora Online or Gomo, or inside Powerpoint like iSpring.
Old Literacies and the “New” Literacy Studies: Revisiting Reading and Writing
Norm Friesen takes an entire essay to get to making this point, but it's worth the wait: "A curriculum –whether in Nippur or New York-- is not a description of development, it is a prescription for it; and this is the difference that separates a relativist study of inscriptive and expressive practices from the practical realities of education." What that means is that literacy isn't some sort of invariable, but rather, is the result of layers upon layers of cultural norms that have piled up over the years, and it is one that is (importantly) created through education, and not merely revealed through it.
OpenSocial and the OpenSocial Foundation: Moves to W3C
UK Web Focus,
The Open Social Foundation is moving standards work to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). There will be two groups, as described by Brian Kelly:
- The Social Web Working Group, which is defining technical standards and APIs to facilitate access to social functionality.
- The Social Interest Group, which is coordinating development of social use cases, and formulating a broad strategy to enable social business and federation.
Kelly describes one case of interest, cross-platform commenting on (for example) photo uploads. This sort of thing exists now, but only inside silos like Facebook. The open social web is an endeavour to make social work everywhere. As such, the would could be of significant importance.
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