Educause 2009 – Day 2

Thursday started with a bang – a typically brilliant and inspiring talk by Lawrence Lessig, where he systematically expounded the reasons the same copyright paradigm that might work for big entertainment artists doesn’t serve the needs of creative artists, science, or education. The video should be available at this link so I won’t try and recap the session, but it’s worth watching.

Lessig did have a great Peter Drucker quote that I wanted to capture: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Educause’s leadership award was presented to the late, much lamented, Seminars in Academic Computing meeting (the Snowmass meetings, which took place annually from 1971 until 2007). Bob Gillespie, formerly of the UW, was one of the founders or SAC and was one of the folks there to accept the award. They had a great slide show of photos from the years of Snowmass – made me realize just how much I had learned from attending that meeting, how many relationships had been formed. It’s sad not to have that intimate and informal gathering venue anymore.

I spent some time catching up with ECAR’s Toby Sitko, and we discussed updating my 2007 ECAR Research Bulletin on social software. I’d like to devise a way of involving the community in the authorship and editing of such a document.

Greg Jackson gave a session on the institutional requirements around p2p file sharing mandated in the Higher Education Opportunities Act. The Dept. of Education rules that lay out how to interpret the law’s requirements were finally issued just last week. Under the rules institutions have to have “written plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material…” The session made me think that I need to go back to the draft of the plan we’ve been working on and make sure that it includes all of the required elements. We also need to make sure that the notice that is sent to students regarding copyright contains all the elements required in the rules. Educause will be maintaing a list of legal downloading sources that institutions can point to to satisfy the requirement to “To the extent practicable, offer legal alternatives to downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted information…” That list is now available at

During lunch there was a meeting of ITANA (IT Architects iN Academia) that was well attended. The group laid out areas to work on during the future conference twice-monthly conference calls. The next meeting, this coming Thursday, will feature an analyst from the Burton Group discussing enterprise workflow systems, which the group has been working on.

I spoke on a panel discussing research support at universities in the net@edu Campus CyberInfrastructure working group meeting. Other panelists included Kurt from Princeton, Kevin Moroney from Penn State, and a fellow from Guelph University. Seems like research support is an area that’s emerging with some differing models at different campuses. There seemed to be some interest in finding a venue for continued discussion of these support models with an aim of discovering and sharing strategies that work (and perhaps those that don’t).

Jim Loter and I met with Jim Helwig who leads the portal team at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We spent some time discussing the re-visioning effort they’re going through – they discovered that not only do people want to access everything in the portal, they also want to access portal content in other locations where they are, like iGoogle, Facebook, SMS messages, etc. Jim showed us in some detail how they’re using uPortal to organize university content. They have (at least) three ways of building content into channels in the portal: actual portlets built to the JSR168 standard; RSS feeds; and an “active menu” type of channel that they built.

I met with Klara Jelnikova from Duke. We both serve on the Common Solutions Group (CSG) Steering Committee, so we spent some time discussing the future of CSG, which is undergoing some reconceptualization this year. We both agreed that much of the value of CSG is in the sharing of information among like-minded institutions and in forming loose common directions, rather than in trying to formulate concerted group action. I was struck by the thought that I would hate to be thinking of CSG in the same past tense nostalgic way as the Snowmass meeting.

Klara and I talked about trying to do some work around understanding federated Active Directory infrastructures that integrate well with our campus ID infrastructures. There appear to be four use case areas: federating multiple ADs within a campus; federating ADs across different campuses and institutions; and federating AD with other identity and directory platforms. I need to sit down with RL Bob Morgan and Nathan Dors and get their thoughts on this set of topics.

Klara and I hooked up with Asbed Bedrossian (USC), Charlie Leonhart and Heidi Wachs (Georgetown), and Jim Loter (along with Charlie’s mom) and had an excellent dinner at TAG in Larimer Square. Lots of good conversation and bonding ensued.


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