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by Stephen Downes
Mar 31, 2016

An Animated Carl Sagan Talks with Studs Terkel About Finding Extraterrestrial Life (1985)
Dan Colman, Open Culture, 2016/03/31


Carl Sagan is one of my heroes, extraterrestrial life would be really cool to find, so of course this item interests me. Not so much you? Oh well. "The conversation touched on some the big questions you might expect: the compatibility between science and religion; the probability we’ll encounter extraterrestrials if given enough time; and more."

[Link] [Comment]

6 Reasons Platforms Fail
Marshall W. Van AlstyneGeoffrey G. ParkerSangeet Paul Choudary, Harvard Business Review, 2016/03/31

These are some good lessons; here they are, with some comments from me:

  1. "Failure to optimize openness" - I see this a lot; the platform is 'sort of' open, but the developers hang on to key components of it (eg., 'we will only allow pre-approved content') which stifle the value.
  2. "Failure to engage developers" - I always think of that famous Steve Ballmer video. You have to engage the broader developer community to invest in it, otherwise it's a flop.
  3. "Failure to share the surplus" - everybody engaged in the platform has to win. If you favour one side over another in a buyer-seller marketplace, your platform will fail.
  4. "Failure to launch on the right side" - I'm not sure I'd say this the same way the article does. The problem is, if you have a pre-existing content monopoly, you have to find a way to break that monopoly, either by enticing existing producers into the platform (as Netflix did) or by providing viable alternatives.
  5. "Failure to put critical mass ahead of money" - I keep repeating the mantra here - companies don't acquire technologies nearly so much as they acquire audiences. If you're trying to sell a platform with no users, you have a real uphill battle.
  6. "Failure of imagination" - pretty much everyone I talk to is engaged in the existing platforms, and therefore see innovation in terms of those platforms, and as the article notes, fail to see the platform play at all.

Good article, worth the read.

[Link] [Comment]

Microlearning, millennials and successful companies
Natalia Gan, teachlr blog, 2016/03/31


People are talking about 'microlearning' again. Today's learners, writes , "are equipped to research what they need to know and learn about it from various sources such as blogs, online courses, websites or YouTube videos." This, mocrolearning. "Microlearning is a method to teach and deliver educational content through short and concise segments that cover focused topics while fulfilling specific objectives." Try to ignore the hype and sensationalism (like, for example, "...has caused the attention span to fall to eight seconds (eight!)" or the broad over-generalizations about "millennials"). The main thing is to take the concept seriously, and maybe follow some of the links for more detail.

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Stacking vs. Replacing LMS; Learner as Content Producer
Elliott Masie, Elliot Masie's Learning Trends, 2016/03/31

Some tereminology from Elliott Masie: "we are seeing more 'Stacking', which means accepting the role of the existing LMS as the base system for the organization and then adding Stacks or Layers on top that will create added and more targeted functionality... In other words, some organizations are shifting from replacing their LMS to adding these technologies on top of the LMS. Some may be limited to a specific line of business or segment of learners.  Others are layered in almost as extensions of the LMS." No links, and not much content beyond this (because it's Masie) but I wanted to make sure I shared at least this.

[Link] [Comment]

What’s the Difference Between a VPN and a Proxy?
Jason Fitzpatrick, How-to-Geek, 2016/03/31


Useful and clearly explained description of how VPNs and proxies differ, and what they're best used for. With a proxy, you simply route your internet traffic through another server; there is no encryption, but it hides where your original request is coming from. A VPN, on the other hand, will encrypt the traffic between you and that second server. "In summary, proxies are great for hiding your identity during trivial tasks (like “sneaking” into another country to watch a sports match) but when it comes to more series tasks (like protecting yourself from snooping) you need a VPN."

[Link] [Comment]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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