Friday, March 31, 2006

Give away the product...

Make money some other way.

I'm often trying to convince faculty that opening up their course is a good thing. I even tried to convince my publisher (I love my publisher) to let me license my book under Creative Commons, effectively 'giving it away'. Why? What good can possibly come from giving away your product?

Well, you can always make money some other way. There is an interesting article over on CNN that talks about an airline that is planning on making money by letting people fly for free.

In the information age we shouldn't try to round up, capture, monopolize, and control information. We should set it free, and then find new ways to make money. There are ways to do it. It might be hard. But giving folks access to information is always a good thing.

Chapter Three

Chapter 3 is posted to the wiki. It's still not quite there, but it's getting much closer. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

First Snow

First Snow
Originally uploaded by firemeboy.
I took this picture last fall. It was the 'first snow'. I'm waiting for the last snow while dreaming of Arizona.

Monday, March 27, 2006

New Location

I've found a new location for my next writing project. I've got a site where there aren't any of the adds, and I have a bit more control over the site.

If you would like to play along with my second book, Bullies Don't Have Armpits (like to be changed to Bullies in the Headlights), then you can go here.

If you don't want to actually participate in the writing, that is ok, but please feel free to leave comments about the chapters. I've got two up so far, and hope to have the third up soon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

No more coat

So if there is one thing that my Ph. D. program has taught me it's the mind boggling confusion of statistics. First and foremost is the whole correlation and causation idea. Just because two things happen together, doesn't mean that one thing causes the other.

So I have a theory. Every time it's cold, people put on their coats. You might say that the cold weather causes people to put on their coats. But I don't buy that. I think that putting on the coats causes the cold weather. Forget that silly theory about the sun hitting the earth directly or indirectly; that's just plain rubbish. The snow gods see everybody in their coats, so they throw snow at us.

So, I've had enough of winter and I'm in open rebellion. I put the coat away, and I'm going to single handedly bring in spring. Is anybody with me? If so, then pack that coat away, pull out the short sleeve shirts, and let's usher in some spring.

Mark my words. Within a month of me putting away my coat, we WILL be having warmer weather.

No need to thank me.

Note to skiers, if you want the ski season to last, by all means, take your coat up the canyon, and put it on up there. Snow in the mountains is fine, as long as it doesn't reach the valley.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Go Podcasters...

More podcasts than radio stations.

I don't even listen to the radio anymore. Unless I've forgotten my mp3 player.

More on Collaborative Writing

I was talking to my sister-in-law/editor, and she brought up some good questions about how a group might write collaboratively online in a wiki. It made me think more about how such a group might be organized.

In my mind, there would be several layers of participants. At the top, you would have one lead author. I've talked about this role before. One step 'below' the author you would have a group of folks whose input is trusted. They are either writers who can write close to the voice of the author, or editors who can clean up grammatical problems. I would think that there would be less than 10, probably more like 5-6 of these authors. Any more and it will be too hard to keep up with all of the changes. This group has full editing rights. They can go in and make changes to the text. Ultimately the author decides what stays and goes, but this group will be making contributions right within the text. Some of the writers may even take over a character, writing most of the 'voice' for that person.

Finally, below this group is a larger group of readers. These people would not have access to edit the text, rather they will spend their time reading sections and giving feedback. It wouldn't be the 'oh, that's a great chapter' kind of feedback. They would highlight sentences or paragraphs that were rough. Maybe they didn't understand this dialog, or they felt something was too obscure or obvious, or maybe they feel a particular character wouldn't have made that choice. The lead author and the secondary authors would decide if they needed to alter the text based on the feedback. It may be that the readers, and even the secondary authors feel something is amiss, but ultimately the lead author must make the decision about where and how the story unfolds.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I was talking to my good friend Shelleylyn the other day and she made an interesting comment. She said that whenever people told her what kind of music they hated, it was almost alway rap or country. I realized that this indeed is the case. Nobody ever says they hate ska. So I've decided that whenever anybody asks me what kind of music I listen to I'm going to reply with the following. "I like pretty much anything. Well, except for the mid-period baroque stuff, that music drives me crazy."

New Course...

We just published a new course at USU OCW. It's a course that I actually took at the university last fall. It was a very enjoyable course, and when we were done we had not only learned all there was about games and learning, but we had created our own game. The course, along with a free download of the game, can be found here.

Bonus points to anybody who can find my epitaph.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Google and Writley

Om Malik's blog is reporting that Google has purchased writley, a nice web app I came across several months ago. It's basiclly a simple word processor, but it's done online, and you can collaborate with anybody else. Similar to a wiki, but with different functionality. A similar product, writeboard, is even more basic, can be found over at 37signals.

Interesting write up and speculation in the article as well...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

If technology causes change, abandon it!

I am not sure if I should grab my belly and laugh, or slap my forehead and groan, at this article in the Deseret News.

From the article:

"The students thought they were getting everything because I was putting PowerPoint notes online, but they were missing all the discussion that was happening in the classroom," Wight said. "They were unwittingly fooled into thinking they could get by in the class without ever coming to the classroom."

So why throw away a technology just because it looks like adapting that technology may change the way we do things? I agree with the instructor, a student is probably not going to get what they need from a few slides. But why take away that avenue of instruction because some students will stay home? Chances are the students will quickly realize that notes aren't enough, and come back to class. Learning comes from interaction. But it seems silly to limit the ways students can access information, just because some students skip class.

"Now, Wight refuses to put his class notes online, revoking the luxury that had become just one more excuse for absenteeism."

Blazing Fast Computer

Japan has a new fastest computer. It does 59 trillion calculations per second. Which means you can do your taxes in about, oh... 8 seconds.

But you'll still do them wrong.

And you'll still be audited.

And you'll still owe money.

Career Fair

So I walked through my campus's career fair today. I wanted to see what my options are just in case I fail my comps. I had about 7 conversations that went like this.

Them: So, what is your major?

Me: Instructional Technology.

Them: Oh, we don't hire those, but I've seen several construction companies who are here...

Me: No, sorry. Not constructional technology, in-. INstructional technology.

Them: Oh, your in structural technology. We don't hire those either, but if that is the same as structural engineering, I've seen several...

Me: How about I take a [mini snickers, pen, squeezy foam ball] and just slowly back away?

Them: Yeah, that would probably be best.