Monday, July 31, 2006

The U.S. DOPA Legislation

Damming the Ocean!

US House Resolution 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA), was passed by a 410 to 15 vote tonight. If the Resolution becomes law social networking sites and chat rooms must be blocked by schools and libraries or those institutions will lose their federal internet subsidies.

Techcrunch » Blog Archive » US House: Schools must block MySpace, many other sites

This American move could have a huge impact on Canada, and the world, and the Web, but I think they are simply trying to dam the ocean. It's too late. And it's totally ironic.

It's Too Late

Pandora's Box has been opened, the genie is out of the bottle, this new semiosis will not be stopped, as long as there's electricity, computers, and networks. If/When those are destroyed, we'll have more to worry about than MySpace!

It's Totally Ironic

Guess who created the ancestor of the Web? The American military during the Cold War, wanted a way to make sure they could keep controlling their fighting forces even if all major cities were wiped out, so they created ARPANET, and from ARAPANET came the Internet, followed by Tim Berners-Lee's development of a visual interface, and, thus, the World Wide Web, and, currently Web 2.0, the Read/Write or Social Web, where the fearful MySpace is located.

Net Neutrality and the American Internet Regulator

The video, with sound, will start to play after you click - almost 5 minutes - on YouTube and Jon Stewart - It's funny, but it's terrifying because the people making the rules appear to know so little.

Net neutrality, BTW, is a different issue than DOPA - it's the attempt of commercial interests to make the Web less democratic, to set up a two-tiered, or multi-tiered system where some sites would be less available than others depending on your service providers whims, or business deals. And this could affect Canada directly too, as Michael Geist has pointed out:

Websites, e-commerce companies, and other innovators have also relied on network neutrality, secure in the knowledge that the network treats all companies, whether big or small, equally. That approach enables those with the best products and services, not the deepest pockets, to emerge as the market winners.Internet users have similarly benefited from the network neutrality principle. They enjoy access to greater choice in goods, services, and content regardless of which ISP they use. While ISPs may compete based on price, service, or speed, they have not significantly differentiated their services based on availability of Internet content or applications, which remains the same for all.In short, network neutrality has enabled ISPs to invest heavily in new infrastructure, fostered greater competition and innovation, and provided all Canadians with equal access to a dizzying array of content.

Michael Geist - The Search for Net Neutrality

But I digress.

To Learn More About DOPA, go here -

and find this section and read the links

I’m not the best person to analyze this though. Here’s who I recommend:

  • Declan McCullagh at ZDNet has posted a very thorough background article on DOPA.
  • Andy Carvin writes Learning Now, a blog about education and technology for PBS, and has set up a page called DOPAWatch to aggregate blog posts on the topic.
  • danah boyd is probably the web’s leading expert in analyzing the politics of MySpace and youth social networking.
  • Will Richardson’s Weblogg-Ed is a great source for all things Learning 2.0
  • Vicki A. Davis is a Christian school teacher in Georgia who uses blogs, wikis, podcasting and more in her classrooms. Vicki has written a number of powerful posts on DOPA

Techcrunch » Blog Archive » US House: Schools must block MySpace, many other sites

The most important communication development since the printing press, maybe even since the creation of writing, is being threatened! The most significant education tool is being blocked because some people misuse it. Why not ban cell-phones instead, because way more people misuse them!

What Is Needed

People of all ages need to learn how to use the Web safely and intelligently, because it isn't going to go away. The older and/or less Web-aware need to learn more about how it works and what it can do for them. The younger and supposedly Web-adept (but often strangely Web-naive) need to learn about b.s. detection (academically known as critical thinking) and privacy-protection. IMHO.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age: Books: Daniel H. Pink

A Whole New Mind reveals the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend, and includes a series of hands-on exercises culled from experts around the world to help readers sharpen the necessary abilities. This book will change not only how we see the world but how we experience it as well.

Dan Pink | A Whole New Mind... and more

This is a conceptual book, and deceptively easy to read. In some ways it is a travel guide to surviving our future. Pink points out the impact of "Abundance, Asia, and Automation" which is already affecting the kinds of jobs available. He then explores, and helps the reader think through, the six senses that are central to our developing culture: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and, the most important of them all, Meaning.

When I read Pink's work, I kept having a "Yeah!" response as he repeatedly wrote about things I'd noticed but hadn't read other people writing about. The computer and the Web are changing our culture at very deep levels. Reading A Whole New Mind will help you recognize this new space we're moving into. I recommend it.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006


Steve Rubel says in his blog Micro Persuasion: Only Generous Bloggers Influence and I agree.
The generosity dynamic that exists in the blogosphere is really important.

Micro Persuasion: Only Generous Bloggers Influence

Being generous is an act of creativity. In an interesting way, blog generosity is, in my opinion, a good metaphor for how generosity works in life-off-the-Web.

There's no way around it. You have to lavishly dish out links, advice, news, ideas, commentary, freebies, you name it. It's up to you.

Micro Persuasion: Only Generous Bloggers Influence

When you help people connect with others or ideas relevant to what they want to/need to do, you help them create by linking them. That can happen on the Web, and, as I said before, in life-off-the-Web. This is also the pattern that makes a good teacher or learning community member. I think it is more innate or socially patterned in some people than others; I also think it can be learned.

A major difference between generosity on and off the Web is that in life-off-the-Web generous people can be burned. I remember, in my late twenties, feeling really ripped off by a few people whom I had been friendly and generous to, but who just didn't bother to help a mutual friend when it would have been easy to. I started feeling like I had been designated "the server of others" by them. I decided to try to limit my generosity to those who I had received generosity from, or whom I had seen being generous to others.

Maybe I'm making an artificial distinction between life on and off the Web. Rubel also notes about selfish bloggers and reacts much like I did -

They focus solely on themselves and not an iota on others. I have unsubscribed from all of these blogs. They're just not worth my time.

Micro Persuasion: Only Generous Bloggers Influence

Targeting  my generosity is the choice I make. I don't want to throw my energy into the service of the greedy and neglectful. I try to be conscious of receiving generosity, and only welcome those who also share.

There are also, though,  the free gifts to the universe, and that are both generosity and something that is spiritual. WebToolsforLearners, for example, is my attempt to share what I know to anyone, generous or not, who might want to learn more about using Web 2.0 for themselves, their associations, and for teaching. And the Web is filled with people offering that kind of generosity, and I hope that spirit continues to be a major part of the Web culture.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Summer & Blogging Tools

It's hot, hot, hot! And time to play.


I suggest you read Seven Blogging Tools Reviewed  and then play with the one(s) that sound most promising. Play (practise) now so you can use them when school begins again in the fall.

Although I love Elgg, and think its Community Blogs are the best for teaching, you can set up group blogs on Blogger and add audio with AudioBlogger.

It's easy, if you just read the instructions!

Have fun and learn!

Happy heatwave!

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Where We Are Now

Social software and learning: An Opening Education report from Futurelab
By Martin Owen, Lyndsay Grant, Steve Sayers and Keri Facer

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning


For anyone who wants to understand the implications of what is happening on the Web now for education, this report is essential. It is clear, easy-to-read, long, and filled with information and ideas. I cannot recoomend it too highly as a foundational overview.

Here are some quotations from it, (collected by using WebSnippits, part of the Flock browser, which I am more and more impressed with.)

If learning to learn, if collaboration, and if the personalisation of educational experiences are at the core of current educational agendas, we need to find ways of enabling young people to come into contact with, collaborate with and learn from each other and other people. Social software is about bringing minds and ideas into contact with each other and is already, in the world outside schools, creating what was described by McLuhan as the global village.

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

New forms of collaboration tools are also emerging, based on collaborative document building rather than individualist blogs. We are also seeing a shift in the ‘modality’ of communication away from text alone: podcasting or audio publishing via the net is a growing movement and it will be relatively a short time before there is also good support for video publication on the net. Locative and geographically mediated activity is also a likely area for growth.

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

... there is a shift in the nature of knowledge and how knowledge is created and organised, and secondly there is a cultural shift growing from the use of information and communication technologies, the so-called cyberculture. These two strands mirror the twin concerns of those arguing for a shift in educational processes to align with the perceived demands of a knowledge economy: namely, the concern with developing young people able to act as innovators and creators of knowledge; and the concern with developing young people able to operate effectively within digital and information-rich environments.Identity, space, attention and creativity are all clearly central to the question of how we learn with digital technologies. These are not marginal questions to be relegated to the ‘out of school’ world, but are intimately bound up with the ways in which young people may be coming to expect to learn in a digitally rich environment.

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

Digital technology allows easy peer-to-peer exchange and amateur cultural production. Consumers can easily become producers. Mass market and user-generated cultural media is appropriated and critiqued, adapted and remixed allowing users and consumers to change the meanings intended by the original producer. This critical culture of consumption and remix blurs the line between consumption and production.

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

The researchers suggest that what these young people are doing is creating and projecting their emerging identities within a group of friends. Blogs, as with mobile phones and other technologies, facilitate a range of social and emotional work for young people (Ito and Okabe 2003, referenced in Carrington 2005).

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

schoolsshould not expect students to leave the 21st century in the cloakroom,for example, many schools do not allow e-mail, instant messaging,mobile phones or blogging. As a corollary there is an imperative toteach appropriate use and appropriate behaviour for ICT. This shouldinclude protection of students’ own identity.

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

There is a “substantially more subtle shift” pertaining to forms of reasoning. “Reasoning, classically, has been concerned primarily with deductive, abstract types of reasoning. But what I see happening to today's kids as they work in this new digital medium has much more to do with bricolage than abstract logic. Bricolage, a concept originally studied by Levi Strauss many years ago, relates to the concrete. It has to do with the ability to find something - an object, tool, piece of code, document - and to use it in a new way and in a new context.”2

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

Contemporary creativity may no longer be focused towards creating original content, but is a practice of rip, mix and burn, where content is taken, appropriated, adapted, mixed, and distributed in a way in which consumption of media and information also becomes a productive act. Digital technology can, then, give young people the opportunity to take control of information and media to consume and produce cultures of importance and relevance to their own lives and identities. Social software adds to the ways one can be creative and it has changed and expanded the audience for personal and social creativity. [Emphasis added]

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

Students who pool their research (in a bookmark tool or in a wiki) can clearly help each other do better. Students who peer assess their work can clearly help each other. Students who can work in different media extend the range of their thinking. Students in contact with people outside the school can learn more. Students who have a sense that their work is for a wider audience may be better motivated.

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

4.7 Conclusion: e-Learning 2.0?Our discovery of new ways to transform our lives using digital technologies is not slowing down. In recent years we have witnessed the emergence of new tools and services. Some of these have been characterised as Web 2.0, some of them have been characterised as social software. The significant attributes that these new tools and services display are that they are about knowledge creation, knowledge management, knowledge sharing and knowledge dissemination. Keywords have been creation, collaboration and communication. These technologies are changing the way we are able to deal with knowledge. This raises two issues for those engaged in education. Firstly they supply the enterprise of learning with new tools and new and useful ways to go about learning. The second suggests that because of the changing nature of human knowledge management we need to change priorities in what we need to learn.The individual learner has many choices available for their personal learning. The list of social software activity is long and is growing. However, there is also a need for a response in formal education. These technologies do provide a mechanism for transformation in education that appropriates these technologies for educational advantage. This includes a change in our vision of e-learning to a more open approach to the acquisition, organisation, creation and assessment of knowledge: e-Learning 2.0.

Futurelab - Research - Publications - Social software and learning

All teachers at all levels should be reading this and responding to this paper, IMHO!

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

MySpace + YouTube = The Global Village

You can see the enormous changes in communication that have occured in the last few years by looking at MySpace and YouTube.

We live in a global village, as Marshall McLuhan predicted in the 1960s. My daughter, an active MySpace participant, told me several weeks ago about a group she'd discovered through MySpace called Gnarls Barkley. She talked with great energy and enthusiasm about noticing the spread of their music in Toronto, hearing it on the street, and finding people who already knew about it. This was not formal advertising, but the new "word-of-mouth" based on social networks such as MySpace.


When I heard that I could see the Gnarls Barkley video for their song "Crazy" on YouTube, I searched for it, and found it there. The lyrics are great, and the video is striking, both beautiful and interesting But that's not what this post is about. What is amazing is that in a very few weeks, this music and video spread "virally", as they say, through the social networking sites, MySpace and YouTube.

Most of the social netwarking I look at is in English, my language. But YouTube uses videos, a more univeral language of images. We may not uderstand what is on the audio (or what they were thinking, for that matter) but there can be no doubt that we are only part of the world.


Look at the variety of languages that show up on YouTube. The Web shows us that we live in a global village, and the ease with which people can put content on the Web shows us how the enforced passivity of movies and television is being superceded by the activity of posting on the Web, whether it be homemade or professionally produced content.

To me, this worldwide activity is what is most amazing about the Web.

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