30 August 02004

Building a wiki learning resource

Over the last month I've built a web site that allows me to test out a few ideas about collaborative and 're-mixable' learning resources. And to indulge a passion for The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, my favourite album.

69 Love Songs information is a 'wiki' site. I've touched on wikis briefly before. The technology — which allows many people to edit the content of web pages without knowledge of HTML or restricted logins etc — has been around for several years, though its adoption has remained most enthusiastic with the technical community. I have found one other wiki site devoted to a cultural artefact or artist — a sophisticated site for They Might Be Giants with over 70 contributors — if you know of others, please let me know.

The rest of this posting covers how the site is built and develops, what its potential for learning might be, and the limitations that I have either hit already or expect to hit.

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29 August 02004

An embarrassment of riches

I am listening to Track 8 on a D.O.R. sampler CD that came free with The Wire magazine. The packaging gives no track information, so the piece is anonymous to me. If, 15 or even 5 years ago, I had heard it on an a radio programme adventurous enough to play this ambient mix that starts off evoking Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis with noodling bass and Indian hand drums, and accelerates towards a more qawaali feel, I would have pricked up my ears and been excited by it. I might have followed up by trying to find out more about the artist. Now I'm not sure if I'll even bother to put the CD in my Mac to see if there's a tracklisting on its data partition.

This stuff used to be rare. Now you can't move without tripping over free samples of it.

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24 August 02004

The job I'm aiming for

It's time to come clean about the motivation behind the many articles on this site about how people learn about, and consume, music online. Yes, I am angling for work in this area. My interests are in a niche music-and-learning opportunity that I believe will emerge over the next few years.

Right now this is probably some way from being viable enough to pay anyone a serious salary. In the medium to long term, I feel my mix of experience makes me particularly well suited to being a part of a team that could deliver a full product/service, but I'd need collaborators — both individuals with complementary skills and organisations that might offer alliances and help develop a 'route to market'.

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23 August 02004

BBC interactive Media Player: news & review

There are contradictory reports about the BBC's interactive Media Player (iMP), which would significantly extend the scope of on-demand listening and digital storage of broadcast media. Last Tuesday Netimperative quoted a BBC spokesperson saying the iMP remains an "aspirational service", with "no concrete plans for a roll-out" of the trial service to the general public.

But today a Guardian journalist reports at the end of an extensive review of the iMP that he was told that its launch "could be just nine months away".

There's nothing official and recent I could find on the BBC web site, though the iMP is mentioned in this October 02003 speech by the BBC's Director of New Media & Technology and in this chapter from the BBC's assessment of its future.

20 August 02004

Rise of digital intermediates in D-cinema

Hollywood Reporter has a useful article on the latest trends in the impact of digital technologies in independent film-making, covering shooting, post-production, and exhibition.

Some might be surprised to hear that digital mastering is leading to an increase in the use of Super 16mm film for shooting, as well as digital formats. One post-production agency reports seeing 50% 35mm film, 30% High Definition video (digital), and 20% Super 16mm film. One factor in the return of 16mm, is the increased use of digital intermediate (DI) mastering. A digital intermediate digitises an entire film with a scanner, creating digital image files that can be manipulated with color grading and special effects, and then 'output' in a variety of forms.

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18 August 02004

Guardian digital music survey

Having previously said it would be useful to see more real data about people's listening behaviours, it's good to see that The Guardian is running quite an extensive online survey of digital music use. Fill it in if you feel like it. [Postscript, 2 October 02004: the survey has now been withdrawn — see my posting on the results].

However, the way a few of the survey questions are structured betrays some of the same myopia as is evident in the digital music 'debate' generally. And there's a strong argument that surveys are not the best approach to get evidence of trends.

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16 August 02004

Web site charts

It's a year since I started running this site. I don't think there was a clear-cut launch date, but 15 August sticks in my mind as the first time I started posting in 'real time' (postings with dates earlier than that were added retrospectively to pad out the site in the early days).

Here are some notes on the most popular resources and searches.

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6 August 02004

Guidance for e-learning agreements

I am working on a guide for union negotiators that will help them get to grips with e-learning deployment in all sectors, particularly corporate e-learning strategies and agreements with suppliers. The guidance will help assess the possible implications of e-learning agreements on staff and promote approaches with positive impact on them.

The work has been commissioned by the TUC, and I'm collaborating once again with Seb Schmoller. We'll be presenting our work at an event in Brussels on 22 November, and the guidance will be published free of charge by the end of the year.

If you have any experience of implementing e-learning in organisations — from whatever perspective — you may be able to help us by completing a five-minute (I promise!) questionnaire and sending it to me by 16 August. Seb and I will also be arranging 45-minute telephone interview with a selection of people who volunteer, but you can opt out of this.