Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Give up our software tools for Web 2.0?

While there are many features I love about the Web 2.0 model, I don't find the tools are quite capable to replace my productivity tools just yet. But the idea is intriguing: are the capabilities becoming advanced enough for users to consider switching over? If not now, when does it become compelling?

While it is easy to dismiss these tools as too limited to replace the desktop software model, one must also consider that users needs constantly. It is easy to look at the use of our productivity tools based on our past use of technology, but this view can become static and irrelevant quickly. New needs and capabilities arise that the older tools cannot necessarily address--at least not very quickly. It is contingent on technology leaders to continually keep a pulse on these changing user needs along with the continually expanding capabilities of the Web 2.0 tools. When considering both factors together, it gets harder to dismiss the tools.

One interesting article challenges that the time is getting close. While I am not a full believer in all the author suggest, I find he makes some interesting and convincing points about problems with our current model of computing and why that compels us to look closer at using the Web 2.0 model.

Zoli's Blog :: Desktop Software: A Failed Model

...So where are we? Performance issues, overload of patches, need to become one's IT support: these are all signs of a failed model: installing and updating software on the desktop... It's nice to see even the absolute Office 2.0 proponents to have come around and realize the importance of offline access. Seamless computing for a while will require online/offline access.

We're clearly not there yet. However, I feel we've passed a tipping point: while 2 years ago the ideal mix would have been desktop computing with additional online access, now I feel as a user I am better off fundamentally working online, with occasional offline access. I've half made the transition, and there are two features I'm waiting for to complete it:

* synchronization of my calendar and contacts data
* a better way to manage/search documents (I have a half-baked, soon-to-be-released post on the inefficiencies of the folder system).

My bet is on Google or Zoho to get there first. As soon as it happens, I'm going 100% on-demand.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, March 19, 2007

New Broadband Access

Here is an interesting idea to help bring broadband to rural areas. It leaves a lot of questions about the ability to take a one-way communication technology and turn it into a two-way technology, but it is an interesting idea to keep watching.

FCC mulls new broadband service - eSchool News online

eSchool News staff and wire service reports
March 19, 2007

A new method of delivering broadband internet access to millions of Americans has the potential to expand greatly the number of students with broadband service at home--and it could provide a cheaper way for schools in remote areas to get online...At the center of this dispute are unused and unlicensed TV airwaves, part of the spectrum known as "white spaces." These white spaces are located between channels 2 and 51 on televisions that are not hooked up to satellite or cable, though use of these services would not preclude anyone from accessing the internet over unused spectrum in their region.

"This is some prime spectrum real estate," said Ben Scott, policy director for Free Press, a national nonpartisan public interest research group, which supports using the public airwaves for internet service.

In a nutshell, the technology companies want to beam internet access through the white space and into computers and mobile devices. And they argue rural Americans would benefit greatly, because the technology enables internet service to remote areas at a fraction of the cost of cable- and telephone-based subscription services.

"This is Wi-Fi on steroids," Scott said.

powered by performancing firefox

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New proposed federal legislation - DOPA renewed

The blog Learning.Now details some new proposed legislation in the House that resurrects DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act) that was passed by the House last year but received no movement from the Senate.

At first glance this bill looks laudable, putting further restrictions to keep pornography from children. It then targets social networking sites to be blocked, which probably would not cause much heartburn for most educators. The problem is: how do you define a social network website? One of the characteristics that, according to the legislation, defines a site to be blocked is a website which "enables communication among users." THOMAS (Library of Congress)

This kind of definition goes well beyond social networking websites.

It appears that this legislation is so broad in nature that schools would be required to block most Web 2.0 types of tools that many schools use today for educational purposes: blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. It is yet another case of frustration for many educators who must fight to keep access to these types of tools that have great educational value and capability which cannot be emulated with more traditional tools.

I encourage everyone to watch closely how far this legislation goes--the version last year passed with only 15 nays.


Wired: AP Technology and Business News from the Outside World on

A federal judge on Thursday dealt another blow to government efforts to control Internet pornography, striking down a 1998 U.S. law that makes it a crime for commercial Web site operators to let children access "harmful" material. In the ruling, the judge said parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech. "Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr., who presided over a four-week trial last fall.