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EdTech Update





And I quote (again)...

Dance like it hurts,
Love like you need money,
Work when people are watching. - Scott (Dilbert) Adams

As readers of the Blue Skunk know, I like quotes. And I am a collector. For others who enjoy quotes, the feed at Quotes of the Day <> will plunk a few pithy statements into your RSS Reader a few times a week. Great fun.

I've also been enjoying Canadian Paul Cornies's quoteflections blog. He opens each of his posts with a quote or two on a wide variety of topics - and then personally reflects for a few paragraphs. Always worth reading!

Have a great Wednesday! 


Making a living in a post DRM world

It is always with great trepidation that I venture into the shark-filled waters of Digital Rights Management commentary. (Warm up your keyboards, Stephen, Tom, and Peter!) I am still unconvinced that the inability to control one's creative work is in the best interest of either the producer or the consumer, but I am doing my very best to be open-minded about the issue.

Kevin Kelly's latest post in his Technium blog  "Better Than Free" (via Stephen's Lighthouse) attempts to answer the question that bothers me as well:

"...the previous round of wealth in this economy was built on selling precious copies, so the free flow of free copies tends to undermine the established order. If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?"

Kelly suggests eight "generatives" that are better than free:

  1. Immediacy
  2. Personalization
  3. Interpretation
  4. Authenticity
  5. Accessibility
  6. Embodiment
  7. Patronage
  8. Findability

He details how each of these qualities can be used to generate revenue. For example Personalization:

"A generic version of a concert recording may be free, but if you want a copy that has been tweaked to sound perfect in your particular living room -- as if it were performed in your room -- you may be willing to pay a lot. The free copy of a book can be custom edited by the publishers to reflect your own previous reading background. A free movie you buy may be cut to reflect the rating you desire (no violence, dirty language okay). Aspirin is free, but aspirin tailored to your DNA is very expensive. As many have noted, personalization requires an ongoing conversation between the creator and consumer, artist and fan, producer and user. It is deeply generative because it is iterative and time consuming. You can't copy the personalization that a relationship represents. Marketers call that "stickiness" because it means both sides of the relationship are stuck (invested) in this generative asset, and will be reluctant to switch and start over."

Stephen Downes made some similar observations in his blog post, "Economics in a DRM-Free World" a couple months ago. John Perry Barlow in The Economy of Ideas (Wired, Mar 1994) and Ester Dyson in Intellectual Value (Wired, July 1995) were to my knowledge among the first writers addressing the "when everything can be duplicated" issue and its impact on livelihoods.

My sense/hope is that DRM is a short-term stop-gap measure in the longer economic/cultural/legal picture and that variety of sensible economic models will replace selling large volumes of one's creative work.

Figuring out these models, however, will be a learning experience for our students (and for many of us!)


Oh, I worry about the patronage model that both Kelly and Downes mention. This is from Bill Bryson's book, Shakespeare: The World as Stage in a footnote on James Stow, author of the "great and stately" book Survey of London:

A tailor by profession, Stow spent a lifetime and endured decades of poverty to to put together his great history. He was seventy-three when it was published. His payment was 3 [pounds] in cash and forty copies of his own book. When James I was asked to provide some charitable patronage for the old man, he merely send him two letters giving him permission to beg. Stow actually did so, setting up alms bowls in the streets of the City, though without much effect. p. 48

I hope I get a good corner.

beggar_seated_on_bank_282x470.jpg Rembrandt. Beggar seated on a bank, 1630. Etching; 116 x 70; only state. © Trustees of The British Museum.


Student Guide to Cyberbullying


The misuse of technology including, but not limited to, teasing, intimidation, defaming, threatening, or terrorizing another student, teacher, administrator, volunteer, contractor, or other employee of the school district by sending or posting e-mail messages, instant messages, text messages, digital pictures or images, or Web site posting, including blogs, also may constitute an act of bullying regardless of whether such acts are committed on or off school district property and/or with or without the use of school district resources. from ISD77 school board policy 542 BULLYING PROHIBITION

I've been asked to write a guide to cyberbullying for students by our elementary principals' group. Our short guide to plagiarism, Cheating and how to avoid it has proven to be useful and will serve as model for this guide.


Before I start reinventing the wheel, can you, Blue Skunk readers, point me to any existing guides on cyberbulling written for students that you think are good?

I have Nancy WIllard's excellent "Appendix J" from her book Cyberbulling and Cyberthreats and I will use it as a resource, but it's 9 pages long and I am looking for something about 3 pages in length.

I will happily share whatever I wind up writing. Thanks!