Brian Lamb of the University of British Columbia sums it up nicely: “The Stanford iTunes project benefits from goodwill generated by the growth of open source and social software communities, even as it tacitly undermines them. … I wish they weren’t wrapped in an impenetrable cloak of virtue.”
D’Arcy Norman, a software developer at the University of Calgary, asks whether these objections would vanish if Apple provided a Web front end and offered vendor-neutral MP3 files. For the most part, yes. And if iTunes U also provided Web services interfaces to enable creative remixing, I’d be wholly satisfied.
Dudes, you rock! Green with envy here in Arizona. Congrats! The first round of drinks at NV2006 is on me.
Udell’s been writing lately about the Apple iTunes U effort — Apple offering free pocasting hosting for colleges/universities — for being at the same time generous to the open communities of education and critical of Apple’s walled in garden strategy. Specifically, the “free” stuff can only be pod-captured to an iPod (not any MP3 player), and today, how iTunes freeze dries in the podcast URLs where they cannot be cut and pasted elsewhere.
I’m really conflicted here. I do agree with Udell and Brian and D’Arcy on the zingers thrown at Apple, as I would anyone who offered a big free carrot with a stick of sorts behind their back. I am double conflicted since I found out recently I was going to get an early peek to play with iTunesU. My hope is that this stuff is happening so fast that Apple has time to adjust.
On the other hand, our community college has NO infrastructure in place for every day mortal faculty to put rich media online. We have no streaming servers, no podcast publishing platform available for all of Maricopa. We are not Michigan, Stanford, MIT. And we are considered more advanced with technology for community colleges. The current strategy is dumping video and audio files on the web server (and at some of our colleges they have small disk quotas). So the option that Apple may host stuff, a lot of stuff, for free, and more than just lectures, but student work, digital video, is tantalizing. I cannot fully ignore it. Yet.
So I am playing on the edges of the walled garden, just to have a good idea what’s on the inside..