12 June 2004

Thoughts on Schooling

I came across Thoughts on Schooling posting on the Gurteen Knowledge-log (RSS feed URL link). This Gurteen is not, as it sounds, a small place in Ireland, but a knowledge management expert's on-line knowledge management system making heavy use of XML-based technologies such as RSS feeds and metadata. The content of this posting is interesting, I have long been a fan of Illich anti-institutional appraoch to education, but so is the actual website architecure and the use of a Moveable Type platform for an integrated knowedlge management system like this.

I am a huge fan of John Holt and you will find much about him on this website and in my knowledge-letters so I was delighted to find this nice little summary of some of John Holt's ideas on education and schooling in Robert Patersons weblog.

Just a taste:

I think children learn better when they learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it, and how they want to learn it, learning for their own curiosity and not at somebody else's order.

Reading this, got me to thinking and searching the web some more on the subject of schooling and making the link between three people whose ideas and writings I greatly admire. John Holt of course but also Ivan Illich and Alfie Kohn.

Ivan Illich also has some interesting things to say on schooling. This is how chapter 1 of his book Deschooling Society starts:

Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavor are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question.

And to complete the trio Alfie Kohn who also has a great deal to say about schooling, teaching methods and the negative role of rewards and punishment.

Posted by mofoghlu at 1:06 PM | TrackBack

11 June 2004

Semantic Web Debates

Two recent postings on the O'Reilly sponsored XML.com site shed some light on developments and debates in the W3C Semantic Web world (linking to my recent posting referencing Jon Udell's comments on Longhorn). Quoting from XML.com Xtra!:

A far-fetched vision of a utopian computing future? Not so, says Daniel Zambonini in our lead feature this week. In fact, all the component parts of web infrastructure already exist to make this a reality. Find out how tomorrow's web is already here today.


In this week's XML-Deviant column, Kendall Clark looks at the arguments espoused by Semantic Web skeptics in the XML world. He also introduces a new working group at the W3C, the Data Access Working Group (DAWG). DAWG has been deputized to do standardization work on a query language and data access protocol for RDF. http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2004/06/09/deviant.html
Posted by mofoghlu at 10:45 PM | TrackBack

10 June 2004

ZMailer test MX records and smtp

ZMailer test MX records and smtp and actually checks if an email address exists: Zmailer.org.

Posted by mofoghlu at 12:00 PM | TrackBack

9 June 2004

Questions about Longhorn

Three excellent postings on Jon Udell's weblog (as usual) on the issues of Semantic Web (abbreviated to SemWeb), RDF and Microsoft's new file persistence layer in Longhorn.

Questions about Longhorn, part 1: WinFS

Questions about Longhorn, part 2: WinFS and semantics

Questions about Longhorn, part 3: Avalon's enterprise mission

(from part2 ....)
"It seems that the point being argued is that with RDF you can get more understanding of the information in the document than with just XML. Being that one could consider RDF as just a logical model layered on top of an XML document (e.g. RDF/XML) I find it hard to understand how viewing some XML document through RDF colored glasses buys one so much more understanding of the data. [Dare Obasanjo] Dare aims this critique at RDF/SemWeb, not WinFS, but I'll take the liberty of extending it to both. And I'll argue that in theory, an information system based on explicit knowledge representation -- using triples, or relationships, or whatever flavor of item-linking you prefer -- is way more powerful than a system in which the same knowledge is available only implicitly. But in practice, I wonder if anybody, whether it's Tim Berners-Lee or the Longhorn architects, can mandate such an approach given the chaotic messiness of reality. My favorite Joshua Allen quote, for example, is this one -- which I also used in my XML 2003 keynote: The lesson, of course, is that real-world information is chaotic. In any but the smallest "proof of concept" systems, the best that one can hope for is to be able to recognize small pockets of structure within a sea of otherwise unstructured information. [Joshua Allen]

Maybe it depends how you construe "small pockets of structure." I've been getting decent mileage using nothing fancier than unschematized XML fragments. Microsoft, meanwhile, has taken a great leap forward in Office 2003 with support for schematized XML documents. The first glimmer of this stuff came almost two years ago. It shipped last fall. If asked to paraphrase the Office XML strategy then, I'd have put it this way:

Let's get schematized information out into the open, where any XML-aware tool can see it and touch it and work with it -- locally and globally, on Windows or any platform -- and then let's see what happens. If we play our cards right we'll broadly legitimize schematization, and we'll be able to use Windows to layer semantic value on top of it.
If asked to paraphrase the WinFS strategy now, I'd put it this way:
Let's put schematized information into Windows, where any CLR-aware Windows application can see it and touch it and work with it.

The first strategy envisions a plurality of schemas arising from the grassroots. You won't often hear support for this strategy from Microsoft, but I heard it last fall at the Enterprise Architect Summit from Jean Paoli, who appeared (with Sun's Jon Bosak) on my panel Schemas in the wild.

The second strategy envisions a canonical set of schemas woven tightly into Longhorn. Years from now it'll ship. Years later, it'll reach critical mass, developers will have mastered its APIs, and schema-aware Windows apps could start to make a "semantic" way of organizing and finding information real for lots of people.

Why wait? Microsoft is telling us to disregard the grassroots Office XML strategy, which is here now and doesn't lock us in, in favor of the ivory-platform WinFS strategy, which is years away and does lock us in. If a compelling argument can be made for the second approach, I haven't seen it yet."

Posted by mofoghlu at 10:27 AM | TrackBack

8 June 2004

AI for Service Composition

There are numerous AI Planner tools available (most based on Lisp/Prolog with backwards chaining of some description).

Firstly SHOP2 (Simple Hierarchical Ordered Planner). This page explictly lists a paper on the issue of using DAML-S (now OWL-S) service descriptions for service composition.

See also POP (Partial Order Planner).

Alternative platforms for this type of thing include JESS (Java Expert System Shell).

Posted by mofoghlu at 3:43 PM | TrackBack

7 June 2004

Building Web Applications with Maypole (Perl-based Framework)

I recently came across this article Build Web appplications with Maypole (A Perl framework for quick and easy database-backed applications) by Simon Cozens on the IBM DeveloperWorks site.
It explains a perl framework based on the popluar MVC pattern (model-view-controller) that creates a logical three tier architecture separating presentation, business logic and data persistence layers.

I am very interested in design patterns and it is good see they are having an impact on light-weight scripting environments such as Perl as well as on more heavy-weight development environments.

Posted by mofoghlu at 1:42 PM | TrackBack

1 June 2004

QoS for IPv4 and IPv6

The TSSG has been involved in a number of projects that relate to Quality of Service (QoS) for IP networks (both IPv4 and IPv6). The EU FP5 IST Intermon project focused on inter-domain monitoring of QoS. In fact, our contribution to this project was mainly in the software for the measurement and monitoring, and the visualiation of the results. The Irish TSR Strand III funded Converge project looked at QoS, security and accounting for IP networks.

One of the research students on the second of these projects, Jesse Kielthy, published an overview of our approach An initial investigation into QoS provisioning in a DiffServ Network.
It is interesting to see that other research groups have cited this paper as part of the context for QoS in IP e.g. Quality of Service Aspects in an IPv6 Domain (Bouras, Gkamas, Primpas, Stamos) of Research Academic Computer Technology Institute, Patras, Greece.

Posted by mofoghlu at 10:22 AM | TrackBack