Monthly Archives: December 2008

Connected Future

A recent survey among experts on the what to expect on the Internet by 2020 shows unsurprising visions:

  • The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.
  • The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.
  • Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.
  • Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.
  • The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.
  • Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the architecture from scratch

Technical progress aside, the rather worrying social message can be summarised as: less openness of content – more transparency of people and further diminished privacy.


Business Approach to Education

We see (public) education slip more and more into developing a business approach to learning. This is not to say that the humanitarian mission of “education free and for all” has failed or has been given up, but governments force universities to work on shoestring budgets that merely/rarely keep the status-quo, not to mention innovation, change or new approaches.

Who suffers is the student population (customers as they are called nowadays), cause someone has to pay for it. Don’t get me wrong, as tax payers we like value for money and transparency of public spending, but many students end up in debt or cannot pay the fees in the first place.

This cut in public funding requires HEIs to radically change to business tactics, including e-commerce style approaches. However, one thing that hasn’t changed much yet is the strict industrial approach of product-based education that sells content and courses to students. Newer models like OCW suggest process-based business approaches, where students pay for service (e.g. tutoring, exams, certification).

What has not been tried yet is a price-based business model, where affordability of education is the key element for large sales. Can your university offer competitive pricing and still deliver reasonable quality? – the no-frills education pack? Start with pricing your educational offer and adjust the service to the basic needs of students. Not every driver needs remote control keys to be able to drive a car.

We also need to go away from mere B2C thinking (students as the ‘only’ end-consumer). B2B offerings may be just as attractive, based on alliances and collaborations between institutions. This in turn can cover for lower earnings from student fees at the other end (student affordability).


PS: A personal note: I am a fiery believer that education should be free for all, and that it is the only way to provide equal opportunities to all citizens. The above post is a reflection on current trends not on idealism 😉

Is Iron the new Chrome?

A new browser called Iron has recently been launched. It is based on the Open Source Chromium browser engine and looks and feels like Google’s Chrome. However, it claims that all compromises on privacy which are built into Chrome, such as the recording of websites visited or search history, have been removed, and that it is also easier on resources using less memory than Chrome.

Online Educa Berlin – Online!

Great live webcast by Graham Attwell and Josie Fraser from the Bazaar project! Their interviews of participants really gave me the impression of being in the middle of it all, despite sitting at my desktop in the office.

The whole online event not only showed that radio/tv have missed two great presenter talents in Graham and Josie, but also excellent use of Web2.0 community tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Twemes, etc.

I just wonder whether Graham intentionally pronounces ‘Sounds of the Bazaar’ as ‘Sounds of the Bizarre’?!

Clouded desktop

For many ordinary users, the hail of the PLE (Personal Learning Environment) is negatively charged with the challenge of managing an increasingly complex environment, with some apps being online (Google Docs, Zoho, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) and some local (Word, Outlook, etc.), sometimes spread over more than one computer in different places (laptop, PC, mobile device).

Lately some new applications have emerged to make this easier and merging them into an integrated user experience. One I mentioned previously was Syncplicity which allows automatic syncing of documents between different computers and also linking them to your online applications.

Another application worth noting in this area is Gladinet Cloud Desktop. The main difference to Syncplicity is:

Syncplicity: local files –> online editor
Gladinet: online files –> local editor

Gladinet aggregates your online files from Google Docs, Picasa, Amazon Storage, Skydrive and integrates it neatly as a new virtual drive into your Windows Explorer. This is cool! You can now take a picture which sits in your online Picasa album and edit it in your local image editor.