Sunday, September 30, 2007

More UOCWA Press

I believe we had three newspapers, and an NPR radio station at our Utah OpenCourseWare Alliance launch on Thursday. It looks like the Deseret News did their writeup this morning.

You can read it here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sweet Keynote

I've attended several of Brian Lamb's presentations, and I'm never disappointed. Brian's keynote today was no exception. I didn't take notes because I wanted to just sit back and enjoy. However, you will be able to watch/listen to it here shortly. Most presentations have been up within 24 hours. I highly recommend it.

Just one of the more memorable quotes:

"When somebody puts the Creative Commons logo on their stuff, it's like a little button that says, 'I am not a jerk'".

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Utah OCW Alliance

The Utah OCW Alliance got a bit of press today! insidehighered.com did a writeup about the Utah Alliance, in conjunction with our public launch this morning. You can read the article here...

Friday, September 21, 2007

I love my job...

I don't think I've blogged about how much I love my job, lately. I mean, I haven't just loved it lately, I've loved it for a long time. I just haven't mentioned it in the past little bit.

I am the director of Utah State's OpenCourseWare project, and we've got 70 courses online. They are more than just 'free', they are 'open', which is even better. It means you can take the content, modify it, build upon it, and re-share it with the world.

Last winter I was given some additional responsibilities. Instead of just helping out with USU OCW, I was asked to act as director of the Utah OpenCourseWare Alliance. Today, we've passed a milestone. We now have 8 schools in the state involved with OpenCourseWare, and we have passed the 100 courses mark. You can visit the Utah Alliance site here, or see the entire list of courses here.

It's nice to like your job. I was sick all last week, and I missed the work. I count myself lucky.

I wonder...

Looks like the Heinlein Archives are now online. You can access any of the manuscripts, look at his early drafts, the finished products, etc.

When I first saw the article, I thought they were making them freely available. But alas, you have to pay. I can't help but wonder if the better model wouldn't be to make all of his stories available online, and then put up google ads. I wonder how much revenue would be generated one way verses the other. Maybe the Asimov Foundation should pick the latter model, and we can revisit the topic in a few years.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm becoming one of THEM...

I remember quite clearly sitting in Sunday School, watching my middle-aged teacher try to get this new-fangled VCR to work. She had tried to plan ahead. She had the tape just where she wanted it. It was in the VCR, she was hitting play, and nothing was happening. She hit stop, then play. She checked the cords connecting the TV and VCR. She was lost. She was clueless. And 6 teenagers sat and watched, every one of them knowing exactly what was wrong.

The power was off. Oh sure, the clock was blinking, but the VCR was off. She had to hit power first, then play. The solution was so obvious. We all knew it but none of us bothered to help. She was middle-aged, she just shouldn't be messing with technology.

I swore I would never become one of them. A person who struggles with technology. I love technology. It's a big part of my professional and personal life. I'm a digital native, so I'll never become like that, right?

More and more I wonder. I bought a blackberry 3 weeks ago. I can't figure the thing out. It seems to me that the engineers built it specifically to be counter-intuitive. The phone shuts itself off, seemingly at random times. I have missed over a dozen calls. There is an envelope icon that has a number next to it. The number continues to increase over time, but despite the fact that I've checked my voice mails, my text messages, and everything else on there, I can't seem to access that feature.

I sit next to a student who works for me. I think of her as 'just a few years younger' than me, but she was born when I entered high school. I want to ask her for help, but I know if I did, she would know the answer. Immediately and intuitively. She would take the phone, push a button, and pass it back. And it would all work. And then I would certainly be one of them. One of those that just doesn't get it.

And that thought makes me shudder.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sick

If you live in Utah, you've heard about the swimming pool parasite going around. Well, it went around at my house. It his us HARD.

Friday night we had dinner and then loaded the kids in the van and headed to Payson to see the in-laws. As I got in the car I thought, "I kind of feel like I'm getting the flu". By the time we got to Payson, I could only crawl into the house and crash in the bed. I didn't leave the bed until 2:00 the next afternoon. I crawled out to the van and we headed home. By the time we got home, my wife was starting to feel sick. We turned the kids loose, told them they should act like adults, and went to bed. The next day, Sunday, was spent in the bed. My wife and I were both hammered. Fever, chills, intestinal problems, dehydration... I realized at this point that I hadn't eaten anything since Friday. Nor did I want to. I could hardly stand. At one point I remember thinking I had to eat something, so I ate a bit of yogurt. There weren't any clean dishes (remember, the kids had been placed in charge), so I ate it with a butter knife.

Over the course of about 3 days, I lost 8 pounds. We finally gave in, called my mom, and she came over to take me to the doctor. They ran a test to determine what we had already decided, we had cryptosporidium. It slowly made it's way through the whole house. My mom saved us by bringing dinner, cleaning the house, and taking us to the doctor. Mom's are the BEST.

Anyway, it's Friday, and I'm almost back to full strength. I'm weak, but at least I can eat. I came up with all of these great blog ideas while lying on my bed, swearing I would never go swimming again, but I think I've forgotten most of them. If I any come to me, and they are actually good ideas, and not delirium induced silliness, I'll post them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Interesting article...

It's been a while since I've blogged about wikis. I'm afraid my attention moves from one area of interest to another. But I came across an article that was very interesting.

The article is a review of a book called Wikinomics. The general idea of the book is that the internet hasn't even scratched the surface of how we live and work. The article references Ronald Coase, and his essay on firms. It costs money to collaborate, and companies found it was cheaper to gather people and tools together in one spot to 'build' whatever it was they were building, than to go out and try to collaborate with others every time they needed something.

But now the internet is changing things. The article gives several examples. A gold mine was going out of business. They weren't finding gold and the owner was ready to shut the plant down.

Then he visited MIT and heard about 'open source' software. He wondered he could mine gold on the internet. Sounds crazy, but he opened his maps, his charts, and his data. He gave away $500,000 in prize money for people who could tell him where to dig.

The locations came pouring in from retired geologists, grad students, and others. Half of the locations were spots they had not mined. Eighty percent of those spots turned up to contain gold. His company went from being worth 100 million to 9 billion.

The author gives other examples, like the motorcycling industry in China that is a collection of very small firms that are open and collaborating.

It's an interesting idea, and a great article. I do have to quote one part from it. I'd never heard of the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, but I'm going to have to check them out. As quoted from the article...

"Are you personally affected by this issue? Then email us. Or if you're not affected by this issue, can you imagine what it would be like if you were? Or if you are affected by it, but don't want to talk about it, can you imagine what it would be like not being affected by it? Why not email us? You may not know anything about the issue, but I bet you reckon something. So why not tell us what you reckon. Let us enjoy the full majesty of your uninformed, ad hoc reckon, by going to bbc.co.uk, clicking on 'what I reckon' and then simply beating on the keyboard with your fists or head."