Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A bequest from Aaron

It is a tragedy that Aaron Swartz had to die in order for some good sense to prevail. As soon as possible after his death the White House has directed federal agencies to make the results of publicly funded research available to the public within a year, according to this Huffington Post article.

There are, of course, limits to this requirement. In many cases formal reports of taxpayer funded research ARE available within a year, if one knows about the research and, thereby, knows to go look in the first instance.

But "results" might be a bit limited. Some executive summary or similar artifact might be what we get. But that is hardly what a lot of people will be looking for, and what they deserve. Rather, anyone with a research interest will want the other stuff that is associated with "results". They'll want the thinking that went on, information about the literature reviewed and the theoretical framing, and all the rest that is supported and has life breathed into it by taxpayer funding.

We are NOT just talking "results" here. We should also be talking about maximally free access to the intellectual fruits generated from public funds derived from revenue. Not just from research funds. The work of anyone employed in an institution supported from taxpayer revenue should be in there. Authors submitting work for publication should be invited to confirm the extent to which their work has been publicly funded, and publishers should have to agree to provide free access to such material after a determinable period on some kind of sliding scale.

The White House initiative is a small step in the right direction, for which Aaron Swartz has already paid the supreme price. But it would be wholly unacceptable if this first small step were anything other than the smallest first step, with muvvering big ones quickly following.

Because they don't already have enough to do (NOT), the best minds on this stuff, like Larry Lessig among many others -- people who have researched, have studied the issues at depth, have done publicly funded as well as not publicly funded research -- could be invited to think tank these issues through to the point where we get a new and sensible and workable and JUST/FAIR set of arrangements in place.

Something like that would be my bottom line.

At that point we might have collectively begun paying our debt to Aaron Swartz.

Tee shirt works, if Straitjacket Fits

After the long haul from Sydney to San Francisco a good meal was going to be welcome. I seemed to remember the best stuff was in the South Court food hall. At first I thought memory had failed as I could only see fresh sort of stuff that didn't appeal. My eyes eventually focussed a little better and dimly picked out Burger Joint.

It was good, and I was enjoying seeing lots of folk going for cola and fries, many of whom looked as though they surely knew better.

Just as I was about to leave a youngish guy walks up to order,  sporting a black teeshirt that simply read Flying Nuns Records. My heart soared. I thought I have to say hello and pass my compliment. I picked up my tray and walked the 10 paces to make my greeting.

Too slow, at least to be first. By the time I got there I only came in second. Another bloke was already there. Talking. Animated. I didn't want to butt in, so just slid by with my tray and said "Great music" in passing.

But in SFO when Flying Nun is the catalyst you don't untrash your tray that easily. In no time it was all on. Memories trading. The Verlaines, Tall Dwarfs, The Chills, Straitjacket Fits ... Didnt Chris Knox have a heart attack? No, it was a stroke. How'she doing? No so well last I heard. I always meant to get down there, but I only saw the ones who came here, says the guy who got to the teeshirt first. Pity, I replied, you'd have had some great all-nights. But TG for the digits to give us the 3rd best thing, after live and analogue.

The teeshirt recalled for me how sometimes the message is the medium.

Monday, February 04, 2013

New book out by Laura Nicosia: "Educators Online"

Enormous congratulations to Laura Nicosia on the publication of her new book, Educators Online: Preparing Today's Teachers for Tomorrow's Digital Literacies!  Laura's book is chockfull of experience-based sugestions, wise advice and practical activities for weaving digital technologies into
a wide range of school (and university) classrooms, all grounded in a participatory media approach to teaching and learning.

From the back cover:
Educators Online fills a significant need, introducing educators to social and collaborative technologies that will enrich their own lives and those of their students. Proceeding from the understanding that once teachers become comfortable with these technologies, they will be more willing to experiment with them in their classrooms, Laura M. Nicosia blends theories of new media literacies with anecdotal accounts from her much-sought-after professional development offerings. Educators Online focuses on why teachers should use these technologies; thus, even as the technology evolves, this book will be seminal. The social practices associated with these applications nurture stronger professionals and, by extension, improve both teaching and learning. The book will compel professional educators, support staff, and pre-service teachers to dive into these networks at their own pace and have a Ā«virtual coffee breakĀ» with each other. This book will prove valuable in courses on teaching methods, educational technology, introduction to social media, introduction to digital literacies, and digital rhetoric.

And the contents page:

Who is this book written for?
1. Your Avatar, Yourself: Who Are You When You Are Online?
2. Social, Educational Networking and You: Perfect Together
3. Resistance is Futile: Collaborative and ParticipatoryTechnologies Are Here to Stay
4. Digital Repositories, Storehouses and Conduits: Oh, My!
5. Virtual, 3-D Worlds and Augmented Reality 
Conclusion: Travelers Along the Technology Timeline 
This is a must-read text!

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