Some interesting links

I’ve been offline all weekend, and here’s what I discovered on my return:

Java is now open source, licensed under the GPL (the same as Elgg). Hopefully we can expect a raft of improvements – Java has made itself useful on mobile and embedded platforms, but is still a painfully slow alternative on desktop systems and the web. A lot of educational web software is written in Java, and I’m not really sure why, except that Java is the language that they now teach computer science students to program in. Someone (unfortunately I can’t remember who) once suggested to me that as a result, many e-learning projects are treated as research or coursework instead of actual production code; this makes a lot of sense to me. Aside over; Java being free is a great boon to the whole computer-using / cellphone-using / embedded-system-using community. In other words, just about everyone.

Google Maps now offers historical maps as well as its usual offerings. You can overlay them and adjust the opacity in order to discover, for example, how 17th century London compares to the modern version. How cool is that? And what an excellent educational resource.

Licensa allows you to syndicate your blog content for reuse, with or without a fee, using Creative Commons licenses as its backbone. I really love the Creative Commons idea, and this seems like a valuable reminder that it’s not just about allowing your content to be remixed for free. It’s flexible enough for you to assert your rights in a variety of different ways. Remember though: if authors don’t display a copyright notice, full copyright is assumed, and in most cases – fair use aside – you cannot reuse it.

And finally, bless ’em, the New York Times ran a piece on Web 3.0 yesterday. What’s Web 3.0? Apparently, the semantic web, which has been around as a concept since the nineties. Don’t be fooled: Valleywag correctly asserts that this is to sell papers, and doesn’t really mean anything. Neither does the semantic web, by the way.

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