It's nice to see how often practical concerns and more philosophical issues intersect. It would seem that self-knowledge and awareness of expectations are personal keys to defining and finding groups that suit one's needs. See for instance this by Flemming, commenting on my post on what I call personal activation levels. There's a discussion of group purposes here, where we're trying to find a distinction between "interest groups" and "purposeful groups" or teams.
Eric is taking a stab at theorizing group-forming systems and propose to define group-space as the set of potential groups in a group-forming system. He distinguishes between finite, or predetermined, group-space (such as implemented by meetup.com) and infinite group-space systems. The latter type of system has more potential for allowing self-organization.
Citing woes. This is a very rough piece on the "how to cite others in your Weblog post" issue that is coming up every now and then. I had no time to review and edit but wanted to put it out quickly before the recent interest here and there fades away ;-) Comments and feedback wanted... [Seblogging News]
I hope to find time to assimilate what Seb said in this piece. But as he said it's a little rough. Perhaps I'll wait for a better polished version.
Eleven (maybe 12) parents, three teachers, one book. So let's see what happens with this. At some point I'm going to have to take a week out of my excruciatingly busy life to really look at what the heck my students and I are getting from all of these "experiments". Not going to happen any time soon, however. And besides, that's the heavy lifting part. This part is FUN! [Will Richardson]
Sounds like Will managed to attract enough parents for his little collaboration experiment... Congratulations!
Evan analyzes the PageRanking of news sites. "Most of the time when a site had disproportionally fewer links I could see why it still had a high pagerank. The Economist, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post are all considered important establishment news sources. What surprised me the most was how poorly both the BBC and the UK Guardian were PageRanked."
In the November-December Searcher, Carol Ebbinghouse surveys a very wide range of initiatives to give away digital content, from free software and music, to science and scholarship. She quotes at length from the BOAI. Her conclusion: "These are exciting times." [FOS News]
I really like articles such as this, that take a step back and look at the general phenomenon rather than specific instances. Lots of worthy links in there, though some of those initiatives are mostly empty vessels (not the case for Wikipedia, though: it is on the verge of reaching the 100,000 article mark.)
More Sites Targeted For Shutdown. Having successfully shut down PubScience, a site that offered free access to scientific and technical articles, commercial publishers are now looking to attack other sources of free information. The lobbying campaign is led by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), a trade association of commercial electronic publishers. According to the SIAA, "it is fairer to charge researchers for the articles they use than to charge taxpayers for the cost of running a Web site that makes them available for free." As Peter Suber comments, "Let's get this breathtaking assertion straight. When the research is funded by the government and the articles donated by authors, then taxpaying readers should have to pay a second levy to read them, and pay it to a third party with no role in the research?" Suber calls the SIAA action "piracy." It's hard to disagree. By William Matthews, Federal Computer Week, November 13, 2002 [OLDaily]
This paper by John Willinsky "examines contradictions in how copyright works with the publishing of scholarly journals."
This paragraph from the conclusion explains what I think is perhaps the most important point (emphasis mine):
Scholars do not share the same copyright interests as commercial academic publishers. The financial incentive for the scholars lies in the cash value of recognition and reputation, which translates into salary increases, promotions, merit bonuses, paid speaking engagements, consulting contracts, more lucrative job offers, and counter-offer retention packages. The financial value of this recognition is also realized through the research grants and awards which provide their own form of financial independence for scholars. The principal copyright (and financial) interest of researchers is to ensure that their work is properly credited when reproduced or cited, and that it is reproduced and cited as often as possible for as wide a readership as possible. Copyright protects this critical element of recognition for the author against plagiarism and other false claims to authorship.
The economic interests of faculty are not furthered by preventing illegal copies of their publication. Just the opposite.
One of my dreams would be to extend that "gift economy" system to all culture makers. I happen to think it's possible.
Medieval Mickey Mouse Discovered. An image bearing a striking resemblance with Disney's copyrighted Mickey Mouse character was discovered on a wall in the Austrian town of Malta yesterday. The image can be seen in the Wikipedia article about Mickey Mouse. It was likely painted in c. 1300 AD. I wonder whether this means that it is now possible to use Mickey-like characters, since the image clearly is in the public domain? Of course, Disney will continue to use its trademarks to pursue all mouse thieves. [infoAnarchy]
Humans actually codify most of their knowledge not in terms of mathematical tables, sets of statistics and scientific laws, but in terms of metaphors. Most of the things we normally have to deal with understanding are complex, fuzzy, messy, changing, and in fact poorly delineated. We don't actually know where the boundaries of them are, let alone being able to make clear questions about them. We spend a lot of our time as ordinary humans navigating through complicated situations with one another, that require constant negotiation, and constant new attempts to understand.
[...] The work of a lot of modern culture is to say to people: you're making value. When Marcel Duchamp exhibited a lavatory, in what he called an act of deliberate aesthetic indifference, what he was saying was, "look, I can put anything in an art gallery, and I can get you to engage with that thing in a way which makes it valuable." He was quite clearly saying that it's the transaction between you and it, and this context, which creates the value.
Looking at the world of art, of culture, from the point of view of the transaction changes a lot of things. Between transactions, an individual is on a constant and predictable path. Only when he interacts and conciously process external information does he modify this path. I like to think of culture, on a personal level, as the imprint left by the successive transactions. ] frontierless [