30 July 02007

Top Ten tools for learning

Jane Hart, Head of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, is polling a number of online learning professionals and bloggers about their favourite tools for learning — from RSS feed aggregators to paper and pencil. Here's the list of Top Tens so far and here are my selections. The latter are a mix of old favourites (some of which may no longer be best-in-class, but in which I have too much time invested to make switching cost-effective) and a few recent discoveries that I'm still exploring.

Jane would welcome you submitting your own list, if you haven't already.

She's compiling the Top 100 tools by aggregating all the submissions. The value of this chart isn't at the top, which comprises common and mostly generic tools that you already know about (unless this is your first day online) and have probably already considered. The interesting stuff is lower down the chart, where you find more specialist and niche tools that may fill a need you have.

13 July 02007

Is Web 2.0 a manifesto for anarchism?

Anarchy In Action book coverHere are some chapter headings from a book I read on holiday:

The Theory of Spontaneous Order
The Dissolution of Leadership
Harmony Through Complexity
Topless Federations

So was it Charles Leadbeater's latest book or Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything? Nope, it was the book on the left: a 01982 reprint of Colin Ward's Anarchy in Action, originally published in 01973.

Anarchy in Action is no call to guerilla direct action to undermine the state apparatus. But it was both radical for its time, and prescient. "Anarchists are people who make a social and political philosophy out of the natural and spontaneous tendency of humans to associate together for their mutual benefit," writes Ward near the start of the book. He goes on: "we have to build networks instead of pyramids." So are we all anarchists now, and what does it mean to be an anarchist in the era of Web 2.0? I read this book because I had a hunch that there was a common thread running through old theories and current practice, and I wanted to see how strong this thread might be.

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4 July 02007

Revisiting Subscription versus A-La-Carte models

E-commerce Times iTunesThe contention between subscription and à-la-carte models for online music has been running for at least five years, and I suspect it has at least another five years left to run. Rhapsody was the first to start offering a subscription service, where you pay a monthly fee in return for access to (but not permanent ownership of) a vast catalogue of music, in 02001. iTunes has remained firmly in the à-la-carte camp, selling music track-by-track for a unit price. Steve Jobs has maintained that consumers don't want to 'rent' music, and so far the market has backed him up. Then there are hybrid models such as eMusic, which offers a fixed number of permanent downloads for a regular monthly fee.

Max Blumberg sent me this E-commerce Times article in which he's quoted explaining what puts people off subscription services. We had a bit of an email exchange about this, and here are some of my thoughts.

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