Interactive website depicting noise levels in the city of Paris.
In Gaming the System JC Herz discusses how Slashdot moderates posts and awards karma: “This complex exchange of social capital is what differentiates this networked experience from a non-networked one. In order to ‘network’ a course, the question is not, How can the content be delivered digitally? but more preferably, What are the students getting out of this experience that they wouldn’t be getting in the classroom or library? How does the structure of the experience make the students useful to each other? (that is, how can the collective consciousness of 20, 100, or 600 students be brought to bear on the learning process?)” A profile of the Slashdot model is also included in Manifesto for the Reputation Society, a very long and very thorough overview of recommender systems published in the current issue of First Monday.
The Embedded Linux Development Kit (ELDK) includes the GNU cross development tools, such as the compilers, binutils, gdb, etc., and a number of pre-built target tools and libraries necessary to provide some functionality on the target system. It is provided for free with full source code, including all patches, extensions, programs, and scripts used to build the tools. Packaging and installation is based on the RPM package manager.
The current issue of the Bulletin du RISQ (Réseau d'informations scientifiques du Québec) has a fantastic article comparing various videoconferencing solutions, including NetMeeting, iChat AV, DVTS, VCON, Polycom, Tandberg, and others. In French. The same issue also has an interesting interview (in English) with CANARIE's Jane Hermanson, From Videoconferencing to the Access Grid.
We are currently multicasting our local NPR affiliate at 384kbps using VideoLAN, a freely available open source software that supports MPEG1, MPEG2 and MPEG4 streams, IPv4 and IPv6, unicast and multicast. If you are able to receive multicast streams and would like to test our stream, download the VideoLAN client, available in all platform flavors. Once installed, you will need to select File -> Open Network, click on UDP/RTP Multicast, and enter the address 126.96.36.199. And please let us know what you think.
” Kids start out learning by playing, and then we start teaching them—and they stop learning.” Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan
I finally got around to reading JC Herz’s Gaming the System: What Higher Education Can Learn from Multiplayer Online Worlds. (Interesting how you feel like you have to apologize for talking about an article that’s already two years old.) Herz writes:
“In terms of the speed and volume of learning—the rate at which information is assimilated into knowledge and knowledge is synthesized into new forms—the networked ecosystem of online gaming is vastly more multidimensional than the 19th-century paradigm of classroom instruction. This is primarily because games fully leverage technology to facilitate ‘edge’ activities—the interaction that happens through and around games as players critique, rebuild, and add onto them, teaching each other in the process. Players learn through active engagement not only with the software but with each other.
“In universities, it is widely accepted that much learning occurs outside the classroom. But universities have no coherent strategy for leveraging that edge activity online. There are online syllabi and course catalogs, threaded discussions that graft section discussions onto threaded message boards, and e-mail between students (and sometimes even between students and teachers). But these activities are not integrated in a constructive way; they don’t comprise the kind of socially contextualized learning to which young people weaned on PlayStations are increasingly accustomed.”
And then she adds, provocatively,
“It’s not a question of whether such learning will happen, since the current generation of students is notoriously good at ‘getting around’ institutions that fail to address their needs. The question is whether the university will assume leadership in the innovation process, or whether the standard applications and conventions will be rigged together and disseminated by undergraduates, possibly not reflecting the institution’s pedagogical agenda. Perhaps it would be better if students evolve their own best practices in cyberspace, with no regard to disciplinary boundaries or departmental turf, in the cool shade of institutional ignorance. There is, in fact, a good case to be made for this scenario.”Herz was also a contributor to the National Research Council’s imminently readable Beyond Productivity: Information, Technology, Innovation, and Creativity, which is still only a year old.
Way back in 1998, SunSITE brought together campus content creators, technologists and faculty to discuss the feasibility of repurposing instructional materials and resources for the K-12 market, using interactive online games as a model, and we spent several meetings brainstorming with refugees from Cyberflix, a Knoxville-based company that achieved some success in game development before eventually disaggregating. Several ideas were kicked around, such as Clicking Appalachia, which would explore 300 years of change from the vantage point of a local East Tennessee community; We Did It First, an exploration of Native American technology, utilizing artifacts and images from UT’s McClung Museum; and Ecodynamics, a game in which students try to manage the resources of a rain forest while increasing the well-being of the region's indigenous peoples. The meetings were exciting enough, but nothing came from all that combined energy. While I would like to think that we were simply ahead of our time, there was then and remains still a lack of time and incentive that would allow faculty and staff to pursue such work. (Heavy sigh.)
Herz’s article is included in a bibliography compiled by EDUCAUSE’s National Learning Infrastructure Initiative, which has chosen Games, Simulations, and Learning as one of its key themes for 2004. (Diana Oblinger, VP for EDUCAUSE, prepared a somewhat broader bibliography for her presentation at NWACC’s conference Digital Expectations: New Tools, New Rules in June.) While all of the material listed in the bibliography is worth reading, the most comprehensive in my opinion was Wendy Rickard’s and Oblinger’s Unlocking the Potential of Gaming Technology (from September 2003, and the source of the opening quote) and Oblinger’s The Next Generation of Educational Engagement, published in the Journal of Interactive Media in Education just this past May. In the JIME article Oblinger writes: “Games inspire players to seek out data and information in order to be successful rather than starting with facts and figures and then figuring out how they may be relevant.”
Imaging Solutions Group expects its QuadHDTV camera to be available in 6-9 months. The camera, developed in conjunction with NASA Ames Research Center with funding from DARPA, provides a video frame rate of 30 frames per second at 8.3 million pixels, 4x current HDTV resolution. "The system allows a person with 20/20 vision standing half a meter away from the screen to see a view that is arguably equivalent to looking through a window, according to the researchers." (This also by way of Piquepaille and Technology Research News.)
I first learned of Facetop, a new videoconferencing system developed at UNC-Chapel Hill, through Roland Piquepaille's blog; it's also been featured at Technology Research News and Wired. By superimposing a transparent video image of the user on top of an image of the desktop, the user can appear to interact with the desktop, and view the desktop and the video simultaneously. A point-to-point version places a reflection of the two users side-by-side and allows them to share control of the desktop. Piquepaille has some nice screenshots, but there are many more included in the technical report prepared by the UNC researchers.
Reporters Without Borders has just released a country-by-country report on Internet surveillance.
Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs is now out and available online. In the words of Clancy Ratliff, one of its editors, "This online, edited collection explores discursive, visual, social, and other communicative features of weblogs. Essays analyze and critique situated cases and examples drawn from weblogs and weblog communities. The collection takes a multidisciplinary approach, and contributions represent perspectives from Rhetoric, Communication, Sociology, Cultural Studies, Linguistics, and Education, among others." This is a peer-reviewed text published as a blog, and released under a Creative Commons license.
Flexbeta has a comparison of Fedora, Mandrake and Suse installation, system configuration, available software, desktop environments, multimedia, and support. ".....if you like a system that has a good base and aren't afraid to use the command line to administer or build packages, Fedora is a good choice. If you like to have all the applications you use readily available, nice utilities to administer the system and a single website that you can go to for help, Mandrake is a good choice. If you like a polished, easy to configure system with additional corporate support, Suse is a good choice."
There is an interesting article over at the The Useful Information Company describing ways in which the integration of metadata with the desktop may be an inevitable and useful direction. The author argues that as the amount of information stored on desktops rapidly grows, new and innovative ways must be used to locate and interact with that data (down with inefficient hierarchical trees!). As a solution, he suggests using RDF as a potential model. Along with describing the problem, the article also provides links to some nifty RDF toolkits. Here is the Slashdot discussion on the article.
A summary of an Inter-American workshop on access to environmental data, just released, provides a good survey of regional and global initiatives and scientific, technical, policy and institutional issues. "Scientists in many Latin American countries already have significant capabilities and data resources that would be of benefit to North American researchers through increased collaboration. Latin American researchers similarly would be afforded new or enhanced capacity-building opportunities and greater exposure to North American data management principles and know-how of direct relevance to their activities."