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A week or so ago I was having a late night txt chat Alex Hayes about online free ranging – the idea of not paying for server space or software, basically building an online presence only through the free and maybe even temporary publishing services like this here blog. In the end we found that to be truly free you have to let go of the importance of your work, let go of the need for it to persist.

Quite some time ago I took down the leighblackall.com and turned away from the idea of having my own wordpress and moodle install, instead settling for a leighblackall.wikispaces.com, OurMedia account, this blog, etc…

Of course most would ask, but how can you be sure of those services? What is their quality of service like? how long will they be around for? what might they do with your content?

At first I thought these to be legitimate concerns, and potentially a real problem. But now I see it differently. Now I’m not at all precious about the persistency of the URLs for my various online markings. And just like the feeling I had when I at last decided to stop maintaining my own .com I feel free and unfazed.

Posting this thought to this blog, loading that picture to flickr, spreading that movie across all the current video servers available at the moment is just like bill postering slogans and images at 2am down the main street of your local town. I make an image and now I go about sticking it up around town for it to get noticed. I paste a few copies down Flickr St, as well as a few on BubbleShare while I’m at it. I tag my posters so they appear in other streets around the block, I scribble a few words in chalk on the pavement knowing that they’ll wash off in the next rain. I cut and spray stencils to provoke thoughts in an otherwise sterile urban landscape, and accept that tomorrow the council or local do-gooder will have painted over these marks and others like it.

So you see, I think it quite a different and liberating thing to think about in terms of web publishing – comparing web publishing to graffiti and pavement chalk poetics. Once we’re prepared to accept that time will wash even things digital, then we’ll realise that for our presence to persist, for our markings to remain, we must remain active in remixing, reformatting, recreating, and republishing our works so that they reappear and reappear again – copied and redistributed by others across the Net.

I think its quite liberating to let go of the obvious – that digital means recorded, and think of it as a more fluid and transitory medium. The fact that a record or archive can be dug up if you really tried is just an added benefit, but its the here and now and what we say about before that catches me.

Pass the glue, this one’s going here.

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Jo Kay has posted some very interesting reflections of her day’s learning through web conferencing as well as a virtual world.

It has been really interesting watching Jo’s photo journal of her SecondLife, and her latest post gets me thinking. Do we perhaps now have 3 new learning styles subbing under digital networked learning?

There are the web conferencers who seem to preference powerpoint looking lectures with synchronous instant messaging and voice.

There are the virtual worlders who like the dimensions, fantastic space, colour and character… again with synchronous comms.

And there are the networkers who exist through blogs and webfeeds,, communicating asynchronously.

Of course you can be all of these, as Jo certainly is. But Jo’s asking which do you prefer?

Well I certainly don’t like web conferencing. I have tried virtual worlding, but not at the level Jo is delving into it. And I really dig the idea of using your print-screen key like a camera in these worlds. But I guess over all I prefer the recorded, published, distributed and asynchronous communications. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t get right into virtual worlding… watching Jo go there is inspiring to say the least.


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A comprehensive article by Derek Morrison on his blog Aurical, about the Personal Learning Environment. Listening to the accompanying audio interview – it seems those UK guys are persisting in their endeavors to develop software and systems around the PLE idea. Derek is playing half way man in his article – helping them to consider that we already have PLEs playing the small pieces loosely joined harp. Derek takes the time where I don’t have the patience to articulate arguments against PLE, LMS and VLE.

Listening to the audio recording of an interview on PLE development was interesting. I wonder if my shout outs are being considered over there. Probably not, but its nice to hear that my perfect LMS may be around the corner.

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Wara makes some important comments on Forecasting productivity growth 2004-2024 – a report put out by the Australian Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

Wara highlights the report’s suggestion that Australian Education may be helping to worsen Australia’s massive IT related trade deficit by developing the community’s ICT skills almost exclusively in proprietary software.

Wara says:

I think that our government bodies must promote the open source stuff. Government bodies are settling for prepackaged, expensive solutions where the money is pouring out of the country. The skill set for implementing these solutions is relatively low. If they choose an Open Source solution they need advanced skills to adapt it and to make it work. These skills are not in abundance and cost. At least the cost is being invested in Australian people in this Open Source option.

Right on Wara! I think you just better articulated what I was trying to get at with that paper I wrote, Digital literacy and how it affects teaching and learning – A critique for the Knowledge Tree.

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A while ago now, I jumped up and down with excitement about the release of the $100 laptop project out at MIT. I wished for the opportunity to buy one myself even if it meant I had to spend more.

Well now that opportunity has arrived, as well as a new video of the first working prototype of the laptop. You can pledge to buy a $100 laptop for $300. I did. I just have to get my paws on one of these things.

The suggestion has been made that he also offer it for sale for ~$300 to the rest of us so that we do have an interesting machine and can help to support the cost computers for the developing world. If he does offer it, then I will buy one at three times the cost and thus contribute to supplying two to the proposed users.

I suggest that you might want to also pledge so that he would consider this “We Purchase, They Benefit” option.

Thanks Chris for the pointer.

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From the EdNA news:

Have Your Say On Adult Literacy and Numeracy Research Priorities for 2006 The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) is currently in the process of identifying national priorities for adult language, literacy and numeracy research to be funded in 2006. Visit the web site to provide input on which contemporary issues require research or further research.

Sadly NCVER have made it far from easy to give feedback, requiring you to open and print a PDF, fill it out with ink and send it in. I suspect this reflects a lack of awareness in NCVER of the need to develop digitally networked information and communication skills in the Australia Society, so I’ll help it along a bit:

To have your say
email: joanne.hargreaves@ncver.edu.au
and tell her:
Is there a specific research project which you would like to see undertaken in 2006–2007?
Why?
Can you offer specific questions that the research should address?
Please list the three key issues you see as warranting the highest priority in future research.
Your contact details

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From the May edition of old faithful – First Monday: Open Source Disaster Recovery, case studies in networked collaboration:

Volunteers eager to help disaster victims have begun to draw on open source models of organization to mobilize and coordinate vast resources from around the world. This paper investigates two such groundbreaking efforts, involving responses to Hurricane Katrina and to the South East Asian tsunami. The study sheds light on how these organizations evolve so rapidly, how leaders emerge and confront challenges, and how interactions with traditional, more hierarchical disaster recovery efforts unfold. Lessons from these early efforts show how they can be improved, and also point to the need for more research on networked non–state actors that are playing increasingly prominent roles.

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Quite an interesting post from Graham Wegner again reflecting on the value of Interactive White Boards and/or WiFi mobile devices in schools. Graham goes through some of his thinking and refers to the extended discussion he and Alex have been having over the weeks.. The post and its hypertext is well worth the read, but the comic just about sums it up in my view.

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