Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Net Equality Threatened

The World Wide Web will no longer be an "open information space" if broadband providers abandon Net neutrality, says WWW inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

In an interview with Canada's Toronto Star, he says he's, " 'very concerned' about North America phone and cable giants desire to collect so-called Web tolls from content suppliers and e-commerce companies that want assured access to broadband subscribers," ...if a supplier of downloaded video pays to connect to a particular set of consumers who are connected to a particular cable company. It would no longer be an open information space.
"The whole point of the Web is when you arrive it's more or less the same for everybody. That integrity is really essential. ... I'm very concerned."

Supporters of Net neutrality includeGoogle, Microsoft and Amazon who argue that resist the "idea of a tiered Internet - where how much one pays determines the level of access to an online consumer - arguing it would stymie online innovation."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Edmonton's Slow Uptake on Municipal WI FI

Municipal WIFI in Edmonton??? Sure, maybe, but not now, maybe never?A few weeks ago, as I posted the action by Toronto to establish municipally controlled wi fi, I suggested this as a story for the Edmonton Journal. Well, Shawn Ohler, reporter for the Edmonton Journal, was in fact planning to do such a story and interviewed me on my feelings on whether Edmonton should join Toronto and other municipalities in the wi fi push. The result was an excellent article, complete with comments from city councillors like Michael Phair, who is ready, and anxious, to move on this initiative, and Kevin MacMillen, Edmonton banker and member of Edmonton's Next Generation Task Force who sees an affordable municipal Wi-Fi network as a hot-button topic.

But will it happen? The answer is it should - but that doesn't mean it will. Shawn reflected reality by titling his piece "Edmonton slow to hook up with urban Wi-Fi revolution". And it's true, that the go slow approach will probably win the day, and Edmonton will lose the opportunity to be in the vanguard of providing access to the world wide web for its citizens. Instead money will be unnecessarily expended for small, isolated efforts which will not address the issue of free and equitable access to public information - like the Edmonton city website - or community information sites like the Edmonton Journal website.

So unless you have the dollars to pay for your own connection, try to grab one of the few access points available to the general public - library, hot spot coffee shops, or book a hotel room.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Casting the Net - Teacher's Resource

Danny Maas at tilttv.blogspot.com - Teachers Improving Learning with Technology - deserves a lot of respect. Visit his site and experiment with his pod and videocasting experiences. You'll come away refreshed, amazed and just a tad envious. But don't worry, Danny is a fellow Nettraveller who will gladly help you become an avid netcaster too!

When I find half his energy, (and some time), I too will post a vodcast!

Municipal Wireless: Social Good or Private Gain?

Municipal Wireless: Social Good or Private Gain?

Is your city next? Why not? talk it up with your elected officials and join the public wireless movement!

Jon Lebowsky has a great entry about why municipalities should be building and operating public access to the Internet…”if a significant percentage of the population lacks access to information services, who is going to bridge the gap, and how? Private companies provide service only where a clear market opportunity exists, and only to a market that will pay top dollar for service”…the result is another divide - wireless haves and have nots.

“…if services are provided by subscription only, and in different areas, will it constrain economic development and innovation?,

"…as long as policymakers and others see networks as a business, not a public good, we will be struggling for what should be fundamental and universal access to information services."

Here's an interactive map on Municipal broadband initiatives nationwide (US)

See stats about public wireless implementation in St. Cloud, Florida

From fight to free enterprise.... "
Companies that fought against Wi-Fi now rush to join in" by Amol Sharma, The Wall Street Journal (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), 21 March:

"Having tried to stop cities from offering cut-rate or free wireless Internet access to their citizens, some large phone and cable companies are now aiming to get into the market themselves… Now, in an effort to compete with similar initiatives by Google Inc., EarthLink Inc. and others, some of the companies are changing their tune.

"'It's inevitable that municipal wireless is going to become prevalent in cities large and small,' said Craig Settles, author of the book Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless. 'That can't be ignored. I don't care how much you dislike it as a telco incumbent. You just can't get away from this wave.'

Monday, March 06, 2006

Toronto to become wireless hotspot

Internet access - just another public utility! Other cities take note - boost revenue, offer a service to all citizens and attract business opportunities.

"Toronto Hydro Corp. will announce Tuesday that it plans to turn Canada's largest city into one giant wireless hotspot, directly challenging the country's major mobile phone carriers for a chunk of the $8 billion a year wireless market.
Toronto joins a growing list of North American cities, including Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco, that have announced plans to bring low-cost, broadband wireless access to their citizens and businesses."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Apple Bites! iTunes U vs. educational freedom

OK - isn't it only natural that mobile learning should evolve and the IPod is part of the package? And of course Apple - Education - iTunes U wants to, in their words " advance teaching, learning, and research through innovation, and engage and empower students.... a campus environment that accommodates their digital lifestyle, adapts to their individual learning needs, and encourages collaboration and teamwork."

But as Scott Granneman, educator and internet security specialist points out, Apple is not telling the whole story - failing to inform us about the limitations thanks to their use of Digital Rights Manager technology. As Scott explains,

"Apple's successful iTunes Music Store, in addition to forcing users to accept a pretty sonically-limited format with a proprietary DRM scheme called "FairPlay" which limits what you can do with the music you buy, leaving Apple in charge of your music, not you. Want to play a song you purchased from iTMS on a device other than an iPod? Uh-uh. Want to load music onto an iPod using something other than iTunes? Silly boy."

Want to transfer that lecture mateial? Want to make copies for future use? Ahh, no, can't do that. So much for using iPods for learning. What we have here, again, is third party control of our learning - just another box to lock in learning and diminish learner freedom.