Stephen Downes 史蒂芬·道恩斯

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About OLDaily

OLDaily - short for Online Learning Daily - is my contribution to the growing world of email newsletters. You might ask, does the world need another online newsletter, especially in the field of online learning? My answer - obviously - is yes.

What makes OLDaily different from other email newsletters, then? Three things: content selection, value-add, and website support. A subscription form is available below. But before you subscribe, take a moment to make sure this newsletter is for you.

There are many ways to read OLDaily; pick whatever works best for you:

Content Selection

OLDaily covers the world of online learning, and as a daily there is an expectation that it will be fresh, that it will contain the news of the day. True enough. But:

  • Not everything that happens on a given day is news. Thus the endless reports about mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, alliances, layoffs, and other run-of-the-mill coverage does not form a part of OLDaily's content.
  • What makes news is the fact that it's new. That is, it reflects a rising trend, it describes a new approach to online learning, it recenters our thinking. Only items which look forward are included in OLDaily.
  • Not all the news that's important today happened today. A groundbreaking essay, written six months ago, may be newly relevant. Or a valuable resource, laying hidden and unrecognized, may rise, or deserve to be raised, to widespread attention. OLDaily is not fixated on the date of a publication, only its content.
  • News appears everywhere, not just on the wire services, the online magazines, or the press release circuit. Some of the best items appear in discussion lists, forums, and personal pages. OLDaily scours all these sources and more for content.
  • Events outside the discipline have an echo within the dicsipline. Fields such as online publishing, software and multimedia design, information and communications studies - to name a few - impact on online learning. OLDaily casts a wide net to spot trends before they hit the education scene.


It's a hackneyed phrase, but an issue of OLDaily contains more than just a cut-and-paste extract from the original source.

Because the purpose of OLDaily is to spot trends and to assess the importance of news in and around the field, news items are listed with some commentary about the event's significance or its place in the wider picture.

While the reporting on OLDaily is concerned first and foremost with truth and accuracy, it is important to note that it is not unbiased and value-neutral. Each development is assessed, commentary is added and opinions voiced. Press releases and media spin are not given a free ride on OLDaily.

And the news reported is given a name and a face. Certain outlets and certain writers create certain expectations. Most items are listed with the author and publication source so readers can make these judgements before clicking. Press releases are labelled as such.

From time to time the news listings are supplemented by longer articles. The purpose of these articles is to explain a technolgy, describe a trend, express an opinion, or to highlight a new way of thinking.

Website Support

News occurs in a contenxt; it has a history, and it has a set of related events. The news items on OLDaily do not stand alone, and they are not merely discarded when sent.

Each item is placed into the OLDaily database. Readers can search this database by keyword or by pre-defined categories. Results are displayed in reverse chronological order, showing the most recent listing first. The database extends back into 1998 so even today readers can obtain background into an event or topic.

For any given news listing, readers can view a list of related events, drawn from the database. Click on [Research]. And the original item may be sent by email to one or more friends. Click on [Refer].

OLDaily also draws on the support of the rest of the Stephen's Web site. Discussion areas are available should you wish to express an opinion. Chat is available for more free form interaction.

OLDaily is available in multiple formats. This is to provide maximum flexibility to the reader. Specifically:

1. There are four email formats:

  • Daily (i.e., Monday to Friday), in HTML format
  • Daily, in Text-only format
  • Weekly (i.e., Friday), in HTML format
  • Weekly, in Text-only format

2. There are five web formats:

Supporting OLDaily

Your subscription to OLDaily is free.

From time to time, advertisements will appear in OLDaily. Advertising information and rates will appear once the product and distribution is of sufficient quality. Advertisements will be text-only, highlighted in a different colour, and will point to a Stephen's Web page containing the advertising content. If the advertisement is not useful to OLDaily readers, it will not be run. Haven't run ads yet, have no plans to.

Readers are encouraged to donate to OLDaily. The more donations received, the less we will have to rely on advertising. Again, it is too early to ask for a donation, so take some time and assess the information you receive in your email each day.

Take a Look

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Take a look at Today's OLDaily (if you don't want to receive email, visit this page every day for fresh content).

OLdaily archives are here

Subscribe to OLDaily:

Click here to subscribe

Privacy, Spam and Stuff

Your email address will never be distributed to a third party for any reason. It won't even be distributed to other people in this office. You will not receive spam as a consequence of your subscription, nor will you receive promotions or announcements from so-called 'partners'. When you subscribe, you get OLDaily, and that's it.

If you register, OLDaily will store a cookie on your browser so it knows who you ware when you post a message or use the chat (it's pretty hard to guess your name otherwise). OLDaily does not use third-party cookies of any sort and does not track your use of this or any other site. Quite frankly, I don't care, and even if I did, I'd probably have to clear some sort of ethics commission and get your permission. Who has time for that? These days, even our normal website logs are turned off, not so much because I value your privacy, but because the files (mostly from referrers) were swamping our server. But hey. I do value your privacy. And I will go to the wall to make sure it isn't violated here.

On the other side of the ledger, while OLDaily makes a reasonable effort to clear spam filters, there are limits to what I will do, which means that if your filter is set to 'God-like purity' some of our mail might not get through. I will not alter the content of the newsletter to satisfy filters; if some issue requires that I use the words 'sex' or 'porn' or 'free' (three classic triggers for filters) then I will use them, not some sanitized alternative.

OLDaily Policy on Challenge-Response: The idea of C-R is that if an email comes from an unrecognized source, the email is blocked until the sender, in response to an email (the 'challenge') goes to a website and answers a question only humans can answer (the 'response'). Some C-R systems collect the senders' email addresses that pass the challenge, and send them spam. OLDaily has already been hit by some C-R systems. I have sent the response, and gotten spam for my troubles. But like the authors of this article, I have too many subscribers to do this manually. And so, like most newsletter distributors, I will simply delete C-R requests. Yes, spam is a pain. But breaking my nice subscription system isn't the way to fix it.

Sky and Airplane, seen from the top of Taipei 101, Taiwan

Stephen Downes
Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada



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