Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Broader, Older Swath of IP Resources

If you're interested in exploring intellectual property rights in some breadth, if not depth, below are a few more pointers to round out those in a previous post about Aussie copyright concerns. These are from three collections:

1. A working bibliography on disk (entries lacking annotations, for resources currently accessible):

Downes, Stephen. (2003). Copyright, ethics and theft. Journal of the United States Distance Learning Association 17(2), 51-62. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from

Downes, Stephen. (2006). A Patent Dilemma. Innovate 3(2). Retrieved January 31, 2007, from

Lessig, Lawrence. (2002). Free culture [Flash media recording]. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from

2. Bookmarks on (not necessarily annotated, either):

3. Another place I'd look, Educause.

If you discover any articles at Educause (or elsewhere) that you find particularly easy to understand and applicable to our work (educational blogging), please don't hesitate to say which and why in a comment related to each.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Australian (& others') Copyright Concerns

The message extracts below pose some hard questions about copyright laws that I wrote in reaction to the 08 Nov. Internet Industry Association (IIA) news release cited in the message. I got a pointer to the news release from the Teach and Learn Online Google Group.

New Copyright Laws Risk Criminalising Everyday Australians [news release]...

That article quotes Peter Coroneos, Chief Executive of the Internet Industry Association (IIA) saying, "The US Free Trade Agreement does not require Australia to go down this [onerous] path, and neither US nor European law contain such far reaching measures" [as the Australian parliament enacted].

Is that [the IIA's] assessment of current U.S. law accurate?

The risk scenarios here [on the IIA website] are quite illuminating....

Do you think the U.S. Congress will follow suit? [What about other countries?]

Cheers, Paul

PS: Here is a related podcast, if you're interested, ... [in which Brian Fitzgerald interviews the IIA's chief executive].

Personal correspondence
November 30, 2006 17:28:04 JST
Re: Australian intellectual property law

Friday, January 26, 2007

B4B: One Stop Shopping

Food for thought:

All that I am really doing is putting together on single spot for my students to be able to access it quickly and efficiently so that they can expand their knowledge about certain topics we cover in class.

Blogging for Beginners
Re: ... K...'s Blog - Message #856 of 909
Wed Jan 24, 2007, 10:50 am (JST)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Identifying Desirable Blog Features (B4B: Wk. 2, Task 2.a.)

This post covers a review of eight blogging applications in which Campbell (2005) offers guidelines for choosing amongst them and other tools like them to use for language learning purposes.

Campbell suggests that blogs provide opportunities for "authentic use of language" that will challenge and stimulate learners "in ways that classroom experiences cannot" (Campbell, 2005, Choosing the right weblog application, paragraph 1).

Below are principle blog features to seek (Merits) and avoid (Demerits) that I've gleaned from Campbell's review of existing applications (2005), combined with a few others, and arranged roughly in descending order of importance:

  • user-friendliness from the get-go (signup) including language choices;
  • WYSIWYG, drag-&-drop editing and automated link assistance;
  • author-ownership with edit-ability at any time, including time stamp updates;
  • search and tagging or labeling functions;
  • ease of setting levels of access, moderation, publicity & security;
  • integrated, nearly unlimited file, A/V media and photo storage, and independent page options;
  • variety of simple, easily accessible themes with intuitive (drag & drop) module arrangements;
  • readily accessible, easy to use, built-in aggregators;
  • networking options extending beyond immediate blogging services/venues, including whole and partial RSS feeds; &
  • spell-checking functions.
  • external email necessary for confirmation, and forced local language displays;
  • HTML coding skills necessary
  • text-only comments;
  • low contrast (text to background) themes with restricted font sizes;
  • fixed or heavily constrained column, frame and window sizes for both input and display;
  • same-service membership required to comment; &
  • advertising.

Campbell, Aaron. (2005). Weblog applications for EFL/ESL classroom blogging: a comparative review. TESL-EJ, 9(3). Retrieved January 24, 2007, from

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

EVO: B4B Database and Identity - A Cautious Approach

The following are snippets from email that I'm representing here as a cautious approach to construction of online identity:

When I first browsed the b4b database about a week ago, there were entries in it whose "names" were a jumble of letters and numbers, followed by no more information whatsoever.

So I decided to approach the database ever so cautiously. It wasn't until yesterday that I discovered all of the entries included at least a nickname and some other information.

... I recommend the same course of action to students and teachers with whom I work, basically: "Provide no more information than is necessary until you know what's really going on in any online environment."

... Though I may be failing miserably, I do want to be able to keep the extents and locations of online identities to an affair that I can manage on the whole, rather than one needing updating in all of the particular instances.
(personal correspondence, January 23, 2007)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

B4B EVO: Database, Personal Info. & Trust

It has taken a couple days for me to get around to reopening the b4b evo Session Participants' database to take another look at what's there in response to a moderator's question asking which information I consider personal (personal correspondence, Jan 17, 2007, at 04:55, JST).

As part of this point by point reflection on b4b evo backchannel messages, I'd like to suggest that, among other items of info. collected in the database, full names, gender, Yahoo ID and Skype names are personal (no Hotmail MSN for me, thanks, but that would be, too).

If there is order to these reflective pieces, it probably entails ease of collecting thoughts, exploring group moderator proposed work-arounds, and responding to requests for explanation or assistance.

The original post in this reflective series raised an issue of "ambivalent trust" (Jan. 18, 2007, 14:54 JST). Here I'd like to explore a couple of recent interactions that rekindled thought-fires regarding trust.

The first of those interactions was run of the mill. That is, when applying for group membership, I supplied the Yahoo! (R) Groups' interface with a concise rationale for asking to join the b4b group.

In return, I got an automated, "Please give us more information, or wait," sort of message. Though the application form had allowed only a few more characters (200-250 character limit?), I didn't want to wait and succumb to a foreseeable avalanche of introductory messages. As I noted later:

...I had hoped that gaining admittance to the group prior to the weekend launch would enable me to avoid a huge backlog of posts, come Monday morning....

I'd never wish that kind of reading load on EFL learners unless I wanted to extinguish their enthusiasm, or to train them to ignore the majority of posts from their peers.
(personal correspondence: January 15, 2007, 21:12:10 JST).

So I wrote back right away to demonstrate humanity, to show that I wasn't some sort of spamming robot, and to find out whether more info. really was necessary to do so. In short, it wasn't.

However, the possibility of surrepititious humans gaining access to the group retraced synapses when I opened the group database. I figured that anyone who could pass the human screens would have access to all the information earlier arrivals had posted there. That was well before I'd even browsed the hundreds of introductory posts that had already arrived to see who's whom.

When I had last checked the group participants' database (Tue., Jan 16, 2007, 9:58 am JST), there was still an ID in the database for whom automated searches of all messages retrieved no messages. With 160+ participants now on list, I can say neither that I know everyone, nor that I've even scrolled, paged, and scrolled through all of the database records to double-check who's there.

In reviewing that database today, however, I have discovered "Actions" (Edit/Delete) controls which I consider a plus because they enable participants to update their records without dependence upon group moderators. If any personal info. that participants' list changes (or gets abused), they apparently will be able to manage it to some extent, as long as group owners permit access.

The short story ends here; I did go back and add a limited amount of info. to the database. Participants photos will probably be the next point I take up.

Back-Channel Messages about the B4B EVO

This is the beginning of reflection on back-channel messages about the Blogging for Beginners Electronic Village Online workshop (b4b evo). As energy and time permit, it will continue in subsequent posts.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2007 6:44 AM (JST), I wrote to the b4b evo moderators to let them know:

... I've decided to pass on a few of the activities that you suggested before the launch, namely the following:

On Jan 12, 2007, at 21:16, bloggingforbeginners Moderator wrote:
I thought you might like to know why I've passed on those particular activities. This has to do with privacy and ownership issues that I'll endeavor to explain below, and probably rehash along with these lead-in remarks in some blog post(-s) later.

I appreciate the value that knowing about one another can have in fostering and developing a sense of community, and I realize how the survey and database may ease and consolidate your access to information about community members.

Yet I generally avoid posting personal information in public or unsecured private online environments. I also read privacy policies closely and explore sites' verification mechanisms as well. Below are my current perspectives on the four tools underscored (hotlinked) in the list of activities above.

The b4b introductory survey, for example, opens to fields for collection of personal information. Yet the opening page includes no whisper of implicit or explicit purposes for collecting such information, processes for storing it, or limitations on access to it and its use.

Photos uploaded to Yahoo! Groups albums that some else has created would leave my ownership and control. I discovered that I would not be able to remove or replace them at a later date, if I so desired (and yesterday the same was true about comments on the b4b blog).

The Frappr map was just another tedious sign-up process waiting to happen, for a functionality that has mis-functioned for me in the past. I decided that posting two words ("southern Japan" or "Kumamoto, Japan") on the mailing list is a quicker and easier way to provide a global fix - one unencumbered by physical appearances. (I haven't taken time to find out whether I could change or remove Frappr pictures or comments at a later date because I believe it probably isn't worth the time it would take to ascertain control over a thumbnail identity.)

Finally, although the Yahoo! organization is bound by its privacy policy not to abuse information in group databases, group members with access to database information may well ignore both that privacy policy and its underlying principles. Here perhaps I could sum my concerns up as a matter of ambivalent trust....

In response (Jan 17, 2007, at 04:55, PST), I received an understanding reply. The gist of that reply was:
  • Participants are welcome to try anything they like, and to skip what they don't.
  • Your feedback and explanations are helpful; they will inform future endeavors.
  • If it is not too much to ask, please give us further feedback and assistance.
(a moderator)

Details of the moderator's reply addressed concerns that I'd had about the activities listed above. The moderator also suggested specific ways in which to further assist and inform the b4b evo team, and proposed work-arounds for aspects of the activities that I had found problematic. I plan to reflect further, and respond to each of the requests and proposals in subsequent posts.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Notes on Blogging for Beginners Workshop Blog

On Blogging for Beginners (B4B), pab commented...

In commentary on Andy Carvin's PBS post, What Exactly is a Blog, Anyway; Tom Daccord asserts, "The biggest challenge for teachers is not lea[r]ning blogging technology; it is figuring out where blogging fits into their curriculum objectives." Tom follows that assertion with a number of suggestions that I hope to take to heart.

Though I'd quickly pasted a terribly long URL for Tom's comment directly into that B4B comment, and planned to reopen the comment in wysiwyg view in order to tidy up - afterwards, I discovered that it was possible neither to reformat the cross-link nor to delete the comment and replace it with a new more carefully formatted one (such as the passage in italics, above).

I guess that in order for authors to be able to edit their own comments, blog owners must need to grant suitable permissions - if that is possible. If it isn't, then it may be necessary to learn HTML code to include in comments on the first go....

Vectors into anonymity, blogospheres, genres, literacy...

Thanks to a pointer from a colleague who shall remain anonymous, in a message entitled "anonymity, privacy, blogging" (personal correspondence, January 12, 2006), I discovered a Borderland post On Anonymous Student Blogging, but not immediately.

There had been a fault in the link that I followed, so I skipped across to another post, Blogs and Genre, in which Doug refers to blogospheres (re-)defined by John Evans (Are There Three Blogospheres (Revisited)?). Between the two of them (among other commentators), blog genre definitions emerge that hinge as much upon audience definitions as upon content, if not more so.

It's going to take a while to explore all the ramifications of that serendipitous sidetrack. Hopefully further explorations along those lines will reveal gems to share or ideas to implement perhaps sooner rather than later in a workshop on Blogging for Beginners. In the mean time, this post may well serve as a stepping stone for anyone hopping by.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pukman: Trying out beta slide shows

Pukman has been trying out online slide shows that he has produced with SlideShare (beta) and Zoho Show (beta).

Here is his latest go: Trying out Zoho Show. That looks buggy in both Camino and Firefox. In Camino, on the top page of Pukman's blog, slide one of the Zoho Show flashes on and off as I scroll down past it, but it doesn't display properly. Clicks in the display frame seem to advance to slide two (invisible) and beyond to: "End of Presentation. / Click here to start again." The two slides almost seem to be tucked under the top edge of the display frame.

A SlideShare presentation that Pukman modeled earlier works slightly better: 3 spots in Kumamoto. That seven slide show displayed after a while, as I painted the display frame with cursor rollovers; then the advance & replay buttons worked to display individual slides.

Hopefully slide shows are working better in students' blogs. If not, it is probably best to view the SlideShare presentations about Kumamoto that he and his students have posted in SlideShare proper (most of those you find with a search for "kumamoto").

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Moon Phase Module

Here's a moon phase module I've just tracked down through a blog that Rick had pointed out in a text chat during the last LTD Project meeting (Dec. 23, 2006). The blog he pointed out featured a vertically formatted version in the sidebar. Below is a horizontal alternative without JavaScript:


You can use the module for free, but must register first. There was bug in the code provided: no closure on the embedding tag for a description and view of the moon; but Blogger showed the problem when I tried to publish this post, and I was able to add a closing tag by hand.

Gmail spam filters add warning

The last time that I checked and purged my spam folder in Gmail was before Christmas. Since then Gmail spam filters have picked up over 500 items received, with no false positives.

During that period of time, about a dozen spam messages have slipped through Gmail spam filters. That's less than 0.025 of the total caught. They weren't caught by Apple Mail filters, either. I've marked them in Mail and reported them in Gmail.

In Gmail, among the messages flagged as spam were a couple that caught my eye, and I opened them to to take a closer look. Indeed they were spam, and preceding the body of the messages Gmail had inserted a readily visible warning: "This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information." Moreover, Gmail blocked loading of images embedded in the messages.

Not bad, eh?

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This is an experimental, informal blog for learning about blogging, blog development, and blog-related professional development activities.

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