Archive for the ‘blogtools’ Category
We can reclaim the Web and more broadly ed-tech for teaching and learning. But we must reclaim control of the data, content, and knowledge we create. We are not resources to be mined. Learners do not enter our schools and in our libraries to become products for the textbook industry and the testing industry and the technology industry and the ed-tech industry to profit from.
Really philosophical article about what it is Higher Ed is trying to do here. It’s not just about student portfolios, it’s Everything. It is the books you check out the seminars you attend, the videos you watched the notes you took all the artifacts of learning. And currently they are all squirreled away and stashed inside data silos like Learning Management Systems.
The original World Wide Web was like the Wild, Wild West, an open frontier without visible limit. Cloud services and commercial offerings has fenced in the frontier in a series of waves of fashion. Whether it was AOL, Tripod.com, Geocities, Friendster, MySpace, Facebook the web grew in the form of gated communities and cul-de-sacs for “members only”. True the democracy of it all was membership was open and free, practically anyone could join, all you had to do was hand over the control, the keys to YOUR data. That was the bargain, by giving up your privacy, you gained all the rewards of socializing with long lost friends and acquaintances. From that little spark the surveillance and “data mining” operation hit full speed.
Reclaiming ownership of all this data, especially the component that is generated in one’s lifetime of learning is a worthy cause. Audrey Watters references Jon Udell in an example of the kind of data we would want to own and limit access to our whole lives. From the article:
“Udell then imagines what it might mean to collect all of one’s important data from grade school, high school, college and work — to have the ability to turn this into a portfolio — for posterity, for personal reflection, and for professional display on the Web.“
Indeed, and at the same time though this data may live on the Internet somewhere access is restricted to those whom we give explicit permission to access it. That’s in part a project unto itself, this mesh of data could be text, or other data objects that might need to be translated, converted to future readable formats so it doesn’t grow old and obsolete in an abandoned file format. All of this stuff could be give a very fine level of access control to individuals you have approved to read parts or pieces or maybe even give wholesale access to. You would make that decision and maybe just share the absolute minimum necessary. So instead of seeing a portfolio of your whole educational career, you just give out the relevant links and just those links. That’s what Jon Udell is pursuing now through the Thali Project. Thali is a much more generalized way to share data from many devices but presented in a holistic, rationalized manner to whomever you define as a trusted peer. It’s not just about educational portfolios, it’s about sharing your data. But first and foremost you have to own the data or attempt to reclaim it from the wilds and wilderness of the social media enterprise, the educational enterprise, all these folks who want to own your data while giving you free services in return.
Audrey uses the metaphor, “Data is the new oil” and that at the heart is the problem. Given the free oil, those who invested in holding onto and storing the oil are loathe to give it up. And like credit reporting agencies with their duplicate and sometime incorrect datasets, those folks will give access to that unknown quantity to the highest bidder for whatever reason. Whether its campaign staffers, private detectives, vengeful spouses, doesn’t matter as they own the data and set the rules as to how it is shared. However in the future when we’ve all reclaimed ownership of our piece of the oil field, THEN we’ll have something. And when it comes to the digital equivalent of the old manila folder, we too will truly own our education.
Jon’s article points out his experience of the erosion of serendipity or at least opposing view points that social media enforces (somewhat) accidentally. I couldn’t agree more. One of the big promises of the Internet was that it was unimaginably vast and continuing to grow. The other big promise was that it was open in the way people could participate. There were no dictats or proscribed methods per se, but etiquette at best. There were FAQs to guide us, and rules of thumb to prevent us from embarrassing ourselves. But the Internet, It was something so vast one could never know or see everything that was out there, good or bad.
But like the Wild est, search engines began fencing in the old prairie. At once both allowing us to get to the good stuff and waste less time doing important stuff. But therein lies the bargain of the “filter”, giving up control to an authority to help you do something with data or information. All the electrons/photons whizzing back and forth on the series of tubes exisiting all at once, available (more or less) all at once. But now with Social Neworks, like AOL before we suffer from the side effects of the filter.
I remember being an AOL member, finally caving in and installing the app from some free floppy disk I would get in the mail at least once a week. I registered my credit card for the first free 20 hours (can you imagine?). And just like people who ‘try’ Netflix, I never unregistered. I lazily stayed the course and tried getting my money’s worth, spending more time online. At the same time ISPs, small mom and pop type shops were renting off parts of a Fractional T-1 leased line they owned, putting up modem pools and started selling access to the “Internet”. Nobody knew why you would want to do that with all teh kewl thingz one could do on AOL. Shopping, Chat Rooms, News, Stock quotes. It was ‘like’ the Internet. But not open and free and limitless like the Internet. And that’s where the failure begins to occur.
AOL had to police it’s population, enforce some codes of conduct. They could kick you off, stop accepting your credit card payments. One could not be kicked of the ‘Internet’ in the same way, especially in those early days. But getting back to Jon’s point about filters that fail and allow you to see the whole world, discover an opposing viewpoint or better mulitple opposing viewpoints. That is the promise of the Internet, and we’re seeing less and less of it as we corral ourselves into our favorite brand name social networking community. I skipped MySpace, but I did jump on Flickr, and eventually Facebook. And in so doing gave up a little of that wildcat freedom and frontier-like experience of dial-up over PPP or SLIP connection to a modem pool, doing a search first on Yahoo, then AltaVista, and then Google to find the important stuff.
- Four short links: 27 January 2014 – O’Reilly Radar (radar.oreilly.com)
My first blogging platform was Dave Winer’s Radio UserLand. One of Dave’s mantras was: “Own your words.” As the blogosophere became a conversational medium, I saw what that could mean. Radio UserLand did not, at first, support comments. That turned out to be a constraint well worth embracing. When conversation emerged, as it inevitably will in any system of communication, it was a cross-blog affair. I’d quote something from your blog on mine, and discuss it. You’d notice, and perhaps write something on your blog referring back to mine.
I would love to be able to comment on an article or a blog entry by passing a link to a blog entry within my own WordPress instance on WordPress.com. However rendering that ‘feed’ back into the comments section on the originating article/blog page doesn’t seem to be common. At best I think I could drop a permalink into the comments section so people might be tempted to follow the link to my blog. But it’s kind of unfair to an unsuspecting reader to force them to jump and in a sense re-direct to another website just to follow a commentary. So I fully agree there needs to be a pub/sub style way of passing my blog entry by reference back into the comments section of the originating article/blog. Better yet that gives me some ability to amend and edit my poor choice of words the first time I publish a response. Too often silly mistakes get preserved in the ‘amber’ of the comments fields in the back-end MySQL databases of those content management systems housing many online web magazines. So there’s plenty of room for improvement and RSS could easily embrace and extend this style of commenting I think if someone were driven to develop it.
Now, you’re probably thinking, isn’t Xeon the exact opposite of the kind of extreme low-power computing envisioned by HP with Project Moonshot? Surely this is just crazy talk from Intel? Maybe, but Walcyzk raised some valid points that are worth airing.via Cloudline | Blog | Intel Responds to Calxeda/HP ARM Server News: Xeon Still Wins for Big Data.
So Intel gets an interview with a Conde-Nast writer for a sub-blog of Wired.com. I doubt too many purchasers or data center architects consult Cloudline@Wired.com. But all the same, I saw through many thinly veiled bits of handwaving and old saws from Intel saying, “Yes, this exists but we’re already addressing it with our exiting product lines,. . .” So, I wrote in a comment to this very article. Especially regarding a throw-away line mentioning the ‘future’ of the data center and the direction the Data Center and Cloud Computing market was headed. However the moderator never published the comment. In effect, I raised the Question: Whither Tilera? And the Quanta SM-2 server based on the Tilera Chip?
Aren’t they exactly what is described by the author John Stokes as a network of cores on a chip? And given the scale of Tilera’s own product plans going into the future and the fact they are not just concentrating on Network gear but actual Compute Clouds too, I’d say both Stokes and Walcyzk are asking the wrong questions and directing our attention in the wrong direction. This is not a PR battle but a flat out technology battle. You cannot win this with words and white papers but in fact it requires benchmarks and deployments and Case Histories. Technical merit and superior technology will differentiate the players in the Cloud in a Box race. And this hasn’t been the case in the past as Intel has battled AMD in the desktop consumer market. In the data center Intel Fear Uncertainty and Doubt is the only weapon they have.
And I’ll quote directly from John Stokes’s article here describing EXACTLY the kind of product that Tilera has been shipping already:
“Instead of Xeon with virtualization, I could easily see a many-core Atom or ARM cluster-on-a-chip emerging as the best way to tackle batch-oriented Big Data workloads. Until then, though, it’s clear that Intel isn’t going to roll over and let ARM just take over one of the hottest emerging markets for compute power.”
The key phrase here is cluster on a chip, in essence exactly what Tilera has strived to achieve with its Tilera64 based architecture. To review from previous blog entries of this website following the announcements and timelines published by Tilera:
- Tilera throws gauntlet at Intel’s feet (go.theregister.com)
- Tilera routs Intel, AMD in Facebook bakeoff (go.theregister.com)
- The ARM v. Intel fight just got good (gigaom.com)
- ARM daddy simulates human brain with million-chip super – The Register (carpetbomberz.com)
- Diving into Big Data (blogs.cisco.com)
- Jason Gerard DeRose: Calxeda is more disruptive than you might think (jderose.blogspot.com)
Cisco killed off the much-beloved Flip video camera Tuesday. It was an unglamorous end for a cool device that just few years earlier shocked us all by coming to dominate the video-camera market, utterly routing established players like Sony and Canon
I don’t usually write about Consumer Electronics per se. This particular product category got my attention due to it’s long gestation and overwhelming domination of a category in the market that didn’t exist until it was created. It was the pocket video camera with a built-in flip out USB connector. Like a USB flash drive with a LCD screen, a lens and one big red button, the Flip pared down everything to the absolute essentials, including the absolute immediacy of online video sharing via YouTube and Facebook. Now the revolution has ended, devices have converged and many are telling the story of explaining Why(?) this has happened. In the case of Wired.com’s Robert Capps he claims Flip lost its way after Cisco lost its way doing the Flip 2 revision, trying to get a WiFi connected camera out there for people to record their ‘Lifestream’.
Prior to Robert Capps, different writers for different pubs all spouted the conclusion of Cisco’s own Media Relations folks. Cisco’s Flip camera was the victim of inevitable convergence, pure and simple. Smartphones, in particular Apple’s iPhone kept adding features all once available only on the Flip. Easy recording, easy sharing, larger resolution, bigger LCD screen, and it could play Angry Birds too! I don’t cotton to that conclusion as fed to us by Cisco. It’s too convenient and the convergence myth does not account for the one thing Flip has the iPhone doesn’t have, has never had WILL never have. And that is a simple, industry standard connector. Yes folks convergence is not simply displacing cherry-picked features from one device and incorporating into yours, no. True convergence is picking up all that is BEST about one device and incorporating it, so that fewer and fewer compromises must be made. Which brings me to the issue of the Apple multi-pin connector that has been with us since the first iPod hit the market in 2002.
See the Flip didn’t have a proprietary connector, it just had a big old ugly USB connector. Just as big and ugly as the one your mouse and keyboard use to connect to your desktop computer. The beauty of that choice was Flip could connect to just about any computer manufactured after 1998 (when USB was first hitting the market). The second thing was all the apps for making the Flip play back the videos you shot or to cut them down and edit them were sitting on the Flip, just like hard drive, waiting for you to install them on whichever random computer you wanted to use. Didn’t matter whether or not it had the software installed, it COULD be installed directly from the Flip itself. Isn’t that slick?! You didn’t have to first search for the software online, download and install, it was right there, just double-click and go.
Compare this to the Apple iOS cul-de-sac we all know as iTunes. Your iPhone, iTouch, iPad, iPod all know your computer not through simply by communicating through it’s USB connector. You must first have iTunes installed AND have your proprietary Apple to USB connector to link-up. Then and only then can your device ‘see’ your computer and the Internet. This gated community provided through iTunes allows Apple to see what you are doing, market directly to you and watch as you connect to YouTube to upload your video. All with the intention of one day acting on that information, maintaining full control at each step along the path way from shooting to sharing your video. If this is convergence, I’ll keep my old Flip mino (non-HD) thankyou very much. Freedom (as in choice) is a wonderful thing and compromising that in the name of convergence (mis-recognized as convenience) is no compromise. It is a racket and everyone wants to sell you on the ‘good’ points of the racket. I am not buying it.
- RIP Flip cameras.. You will be missed! (chatootsboots.wordpress.com)
- Alternatives to the dearly departed Flip camera (trafcom.typepad.com)
- Farewell, Flip Camera (www.readwriteweb.com)
- Cisco fades out Flip camera (www.consumerreports.com)
- Why Cisco’s Flip Flopped in the Camera Business (www.wired.com/gadgetlab)
First 37Signals announced it would drop support for OpenID. Then Microsoft’s Dare Obasanjo called OpenID a failure (along with XML and AtomPub). Former Facebooker Yishan Wong’s scathing (and sometimes wrong) rant calling OpenID a failure is one of the more popular answers on Quora.
But if OpenID is a failure, it’s one of the web’s most successful failures.
I was always of the mind that said Single Sign-on is a good thing, not bad. And any service whether it be for work or outside of work that can re-use an identifier and authentication, or whatnot should make things easier to manage and possibly be more secure in the long run. There are proponents for and against anything that looks or acts like a single sign-on. Detractors always argue that if one of the services gets hacked they somehow can gain access to your password and identity and hack in to your accounts on all the other systems out there. In reality with a typical single sign-on service you don’t ever send a password to the place your logging into (unless it’s the source of record like the website that hosts your OpenID). Instead you send something more like a scrambled message that only you could have originated and which the website you’re logging into will be able to descramble. And the message it is sending is based on your OpenID provider, the source of record for your identity online. So nobody is storing your password, nobody is able to hack into all your other accounts when they hijack your favorite web service.
Where I work I was a strong advocate for centralized identity management like OpenID. Some people thought the only use for this was as a single sign-on service. But real centralize identity management also encompasses the authorizations you have once you have declared and authenticated your identity. And it’s the authorization that is key to what is really useful for a Single Sign-on service.
I may be given a ‘role’ within someone’s website or page on a social networking website that either adds or takes away levels off privacy to the person who has declared me as a ‘friend’. And if they wanted to ‘redefine’ my level of privilege, all they would have to do is change privileges for that ‘role’ not for me personally and all my levels of access would change accordingly. Why? Because a role is kind off like a rank or group membership. Just like everyone in the army who is an officer can enjoy benefits like attending an officers club because they have the role, officer. I can see more of a person’s profile or personal details because I have been declared a friend. Nowhere in this is it absolutely necessary to define specific restrictions, levels of privilege to me Individually! It’s all based on my membership in a group. And if someone wants to eliminate that group or change the permissions to all members of the group, they do it once, and only once to the definition of that role, and it rolls out, cascades out to all the members after that point. So OpenID can be authentication (which is what most people stop at) and it can additionally be authorization (what am I allowed and not allowed to do once I prove who I am). It’s a very powerful and poorly understood capability.
The widest application I’ve seen so far using something like OpenID is the Facebook ‘sign-on’ service that allows you to make comments to articles on news websites and weblogs. Disqus is a third party provider that acts as a hub to anyone that wants to re-use someone’s Facebook or OpenID credentials to prove that they are real and not a rogue spambot. That chain of identity is maintained by Disqus providing the plumbing back to whichever of the many services someone might be subscribed to or participate in. I already have an OpenID but I also have a Facebook account. Disqus will allow me to use either one. Given how much information might be passed along by Facebook through a third party (something they are notorious for allowing Applications to do) I chose to use my OpenID which more or less says I am X user at X website and I am the owner of that website as well. A chain of authentications just good enough to allow me to make comments on an article is what OpenID provides. Not too much information, just enough information travels back and forth. And because of this absolute precision, abolishing all the unneeded private detail or having to create an account on the website hosting the article, I can just freely come and go as I please.
That is the lightweight joy of OpenID.
Winer wants to demystify the server. “Engineers sometimes mystify what they do, as a form of job security,” writes Winer, “I prefer to make light of it… it was easy for me, why shouldn’t it be easy for everyone?”
Dave Winer believes Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is the path towards a more self reliant, self actualizing future for anyone who keeps any of their data on the Internet. So he proposes a project entitled EC2 for Poets. Having been a user of Dave’s blogging software in the past, Radio Userland, I’m very curious as to what the new project looks like.
Back in the old days I paid $40 to Frontier for the privilege of reading and publishing my opinions on articles I subscribed to through the Radio Userland client. It was a great RSS reader at the time and I loved being able to clip and snip out bits of articles and embed my comments around them. I then subsequently moved on to Bloglines and now Google Reader exactly in that order. Now I use WordPress to keep my comments and article snippets organized and published on the Web.
- RSS keeps me alive kickin’ (andrewspittle.net)
- EZTV Introduces BitTorrent RSS Standard, With Magnets (torrentfreak.com)
- Blogfather Accuses Twitter of Payola Scheme He Pioneered (gawker.com)