I just received this email:
OEDb: Online Education Database has just named its Top 100 Education Blogs, and I'm pleased to inform you that A Difference has made the list. The full list is available at http://oedb.org/library/features/top-100-education-blogs for your perusal. Congratulations!
OEDb: Online Education Database
On the face of it this sounds like great news! It sounds like I've won some sort of award. At the very least a significant badge of distinction ... but I don't know Jimmy Atkinson. I've never heard of the Online Education Database. So, I did some digging ...
First, off to the site to see what it looks like. No Ads. Seems to be a clearinghouse for information about online university degrees. The about page links to three articles on the net written about the site. Actually, two of them are link lists. The third references OEDb as a resource for learning about online education programmes. It also says on this page that OEDb was launched in September of this year. The link provided is to a site called PR Leap. It has ads and describes itself as: "PR Leap is an online press release service that offers both free and paid distribution to search engines, newswires and websites since 2003." All other links on the pages that I looked at linked to other pages on the site. No external references.
Next, off to Google to see who is linking to the site using the "link" search command (link:http://oedb.org). According to Google no one is linking to this site (Dec. 20, 2006). Over to AltaVista to try the same search. 821 results (Dec. 20, 2006). The first 20 results seem to point to sites publicizing OEDb. One link caught my eye, hit #14, dotmarketer properties (see below). This is their homepage.
Now off to easywhois.com; I entered the domain: oedb.org. The results:
I zeroed in on:
Created On:05-Apr-2006 17:33:16 UTC Last Updated On:09-Oct-2006 22:58:35 UTC Expiration Date:05-Apr-2008 17:33:16 UTC
as well as the Registrant Name, City, State, Country and the email addresses.
Next a Google search for "Jimmy Atkinson." Some self promotion sites but there could be more than one Jimmy Atkinson in the world. The sixth hit was to the Six Sigma Blog which also appeared on a list of sites sourced back to dotmarketer.com. The fourth and fifth hit were to a recent Stephen Downes post at OLDaily where he gives a positive but reserved review of a "post" by Jimmy Atkinson at OEDb called Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better. (I only skimmed the article but it did catch my interest and I plan to go back and read it sometime next week.)
Last stop on this tour was to the Internet Archive to use the Wayback Machine (I searched for http://oedb.org). This showed the url http://oedb.org first went live in August of 2000. It was about the Oahu Economic Development Board (OEDB) in Hawaii. In July of 2002 the site undergoes a major redesign and name change to Enterprise Honolulu which is still active at http://www.enterprisehonolulu.com. The next major change is when the domain switches ownership and becomes the Outdoor Education Database (OEDB) on August 6, 2004. The last record of the domain is April 28, 2005. It is still the url for the Outdoor Education Database. From what I learned above it looks like Jimmy acquired the domain for the Online Education Database (OEDb) in April of this year and went public with it three months ago, in September.
I looked at the top 100 list of education blogs. There are a lot of folks I know there. It's a pretty good list although I'm glad I didn't write it. I really wouldn't know where to begin, or end, such a list.
Jimmy seems to like my blog. I'm gratified that he feels my work belongs in his top 100; but is it "big news" that A Difference has made this Top 100 list? Well, no, not really. It looks like it's just one person's opinion. The site and email made it look like it was a significant accomplishment. I think the Eddies were a much bigger deal.
Why would Jimmy do this? Go to all the trouble to find, organize and link to 100 different edublogs? That's a lot of work! He might just be trying to generate some traffic on his site or he might just want to share his personal favourites list. Either way, there's some opacity here that should be made transparent.
I hope my students are reading this.