Note to self, must get around to participating on the Wiki site that's sprung up around one of the presentations at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference 2004. Alan Levine, D'Arcy Norman and Brian Lamb are inviting people to align themselves with one of the camps in a centralist vs decentralist debate about the use of software tools in web-based collaboration but ultimately about (I guess) e-learning. As I don't subscribe to either extreme view I appear to be forced to join the FenceSitter camp, though that's an unfortunate title as I don't think I'm a fence sitter in the sense of being undecided. However in the spirit of Alan, D'Arcy and Brian's invitation these camps aren't meant to be too serious, they're just there to provoke debate.
There's a lot to read on the related Wikis already so I'm just working through that before leaving my own comments. I expect the comments I'll likely make will draw some distinction between informal web-based collaboration for whatever purpose (e.g a community of patient self-help groups) that can be conducted in a completely decentralized manner and formalised education where some degree of centralization is essential to provide continuity and context in a student's experience, not least from the point of view of accreditation (e.g. formal medical education & training).
Oh great, there goes the credit card limit. The Apple iTunes music store has hit the UK. Just tried my first purchase, Yello's “You Gotta say yes to Another Excess“. The music store works beautifully. Simple one-click purchase and really fast download, 79p per track. Although I've downloaded maybe hundreds of MP3s it's not had a major impact on my CD buying, I still like to own a physical CD and I have no wish to deprive songwriters of their rightful royalties (for example I'm very happy to support an artist like Morrissey and his rather good comeback album “You are the Quarry” album especially as hits the stores after Morrissey was dropped by his record label so I'm sure he could do with a few quid), but downloading using something like Acquisition is just so darned easy. Well now I guess I've got no excuse as the iTunes music store is just as easy. I'm happy to use it and to pay for downloaded music, but will it change the fact that I like to own a CD? And will I hang up my copy of Acquisition? Time will tell.