30 December 02003

How boring is the e-learning market?

Having finally moved home and got Christmas out of the way, it's time for some not-very-seasonal, scroogy observations on the Future of UK E-learning Market event.

In 1997 the Internet was really getting under the skin of many in what was then called the Computer-Based Training (CBT) industry. The Net's limited bandwidth and generic browser-based approach threatened their investment in laser disc and CD-ROM media with proprietary viewer software. When we launched our Living IT online Internet fluency courses that year, many people whose opinions I otherwise trusted were doubtful that our approach, which assumed no more than a 14.4 Kbps modem, could work. Instead of packing the interactivity into flash graphics and video, we designed lots of communication activities such that learners interacted frequently with their tutors and with each other (thus exploting the Net's killer application: email).

I'd have liked to have seen this as having the same 'three-chord' immediacy and energy as punk rock, in response to the bloated production values of CBT. But, unlike punk, the response failed to stick. Why and how did the market re-establish itself with the traditionalists still in charge?

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28 December 02003

Spam for Christmas

According to a feature on BBC News, "40% of emails sent are thought to be spam" and "British workers spend up to an hour a day clearing their inboxes of junk e-mails."

I've been away from my desk for just under 100 hours over Christmas. During which time 596 messages hit my in-box. Of these 575 were filtered out by Spamfire (one incorrectly, a bulk mailing coming from a genuine contact who was using a different email address from usual). Of the 21 that were not filtered, eight were in fact spam. That means 97.7% of my Christmas email was spam. Ho, Ho, Ho! (But I only spent five minutes dealing with it.)

22 December 02003

Music from North Korea

I remember hearing John Cage being interviewed sometime in the late '80s: he was asked what type of music he recommended people to listen to. The question seemed to expect an answer in terms of current schools of composition, but Cage typically confounded this and shifted the frame. Listen to the music that your political leaders and environment make it hard for you to hear, he said.

So listen to Andy Kershaw's Radio 3 programmes recorded in North Korea. Interesting, funny and occasionally scary. Good old BBC!

12 December 02003


I'm effectively shutting up shop for a few days as I move home and office. I'm not quite there yet, but I've updated my full contact details, so please note these if you're interested!

10 December 02003

RSA Music and Technology event - 15 January

I mentioned in an earlier posting about the future of music about the RSA's forthcoming programme on music and technology, the RSA web site now has details of the first event, entitled Policy Frameworks for the Future. It's on 15 January 2004, the day after Lawrence Lessig, noted commentator on Intellectual Property Rights in the digital age, gives an RSA lecture called Getting the law out of the way.

Apologies for the scarcity of postings recently, which will continue until after I have moved office and home on 16 December.

1 December 02003

Digital cinema and changing film aesthetics

Thanks to planning my move of home/office, it's taken me over a week to collect my thoughts on a debate on the impact of digital technologies on the film industry, which was organised by Cass Creatives. Happily this delay has saved me time, since Interactive KnowHow has now posted a comprehensive eight page report on the event. Together with their background paper on the issues involved, these make very useful resources.

I've complained in the past about discussions of music and technology ignoring aesthetics, but happily this debate did address how digital techniques and formats are tied together with changes in the process and product of film-making, and in consumption. My notes concentrate only on these topics in the debate, and a few points not covered in the report.

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