Miscellaneous

How The New York Times, CNN, and The Huffington Post approach publishing on platforms

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 15:00


Joseph Lichterman, Nieman Lab, Apr 12, 2017

I'm not sure whether this represents a sea change or is just a blip, but the New York Times, which was one of the original partners when Facebook launched  Instant Articles in 2015, has not ceased publishing that way. It still publishes a lot of content to platforms (as do most major publishers) but now in the form of links rather than full content. It is worth noting that the Times is trying (still) to make its way as a subscription-based service. This article documents the trend for a number of publishers.

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The Truth About Zero Calorie Foods

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 21:00


Alex U. Nickel, Technicality, YouTube, Apr 10, 2017

Wrapping 'post-modernism week' we have this video explaining why a packet of zero-calorie Splenda has 4 calories. What I like of course is the way a student uses science to prove this, then records a video for YouTube. When you wonder why people don't believe in authorities or facts any more, consider perhaps why we allow non-facts to inform FDA-approved food lables. I got this from George Couros, who asks, "Do we ask our students to do this type of work in our schools?  Not only tackling ideas but sharing them through a medium that reaches so many people." And of course we don't, though the supply of material to work with is endless.

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How A Former iPod Chief Built The World’s Most Advanced First-Aid Kit

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 12:00


Mark Sullivan, Fast Company, Apr 10, 2017

“ Everybody is focusing on doing things in the cloud, but the place where you really control the experience is the endpoint.” I agree, and that's why I think there will be a swing back from cloud-based to local technologies (but no time soon). This health clinic in a box is a good example. "Gale is a breadbox-size chest containing diagnostic tools in the bottom drawer and medications and supplies in the top drawer. On the top is a pop-up touch screen that displays various interactive treatment guides." It is designed for environments where medical assistance (and internet access) are not readily available, though it would be very useful in a connected environment as well.

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OER Curation at Scale: An Opportunity to Support Personalized Learning

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 12:00


Mark Hannah, Getting Smart, Apr 10, 2017

This is a nice case study in the use of OERs but I think it's more significant because of its reference to the definition of personalized learning: “ A student experience in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimized for the needs of each learner. Standards aligned learning objectives, instructional approaches and instructional content (and its sequencing) may all vary based on learner needs. In addition, learning activities are meaningful and relevant to learners, driven by their interests and often self-initiated.”

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Is Matter Conscious?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 12:00


Hedda Hassel Mørch, Nautilus, Apr 10, 2017

This is a tantalizing suggestion: "Philosophers and neuroscientists often assume that consciousness is like software, whereas the brain is like hardware. This suggestion turns this completely around. When we look at what physics tells us about the brain, we actually just find software— purely a set of relations— all the way down. And consciousness is in fact more like hardware, because of its distinctly qualitative, non-structural properties. For this reason, conscious experiences are just the kind of things that physical structure could be the structure of."

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This is what AI sees and hears when it watches 'The Joy of Painting'

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 09:00


Andrew Tarantola, Engadget, Apr 10, 2017

Bob Ross's  The Joy of Painting is probably the most relaxing show in the history of television. But in this video recording of how an AI might perceive the show, it's a collection of eyeballs, creepy insects, spiders and assorted sea creatures. Humans do the same thing, but with less creepy results, as we have a much greater store of images to select from and match to the phenomena. When we see things, we're always trying to match what we see to what we've seen before. What the video should make you do is question how much of what we see is 'really' there and how much is our interpretation. Exercise for the reader: compare what the AI does with  what science does and draw your own conclusion.

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How French “Intellectuals” Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact, Explained

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/09/2017 - 13:00


Helen Pluckrose, Aero Magazine, Apr 09, 2017

I am more or less a post-modernist, though I arrived at my understanding of the core ideas independently of the authors cited in this article (though on reading them find myself nodding in agreement). So I appreciate this clear and articulate description of postmodernism, and the argument offered against it. And I am sympathetic with the observation that the postmodernists did not exactly make their position clear. To me, it is clear, but you have to step through a rhetorical mess to get to it. It's a bit hard to do in one paragraph, but let me try:

Let's take the criticism offered by Erazim Kohak to the effect that "tennis balls do not fit into wine bottles". How is this not a fact? he asks. On observation, it is easy to see that tennis balls do fit into wine bottles, but the context here is of trying to squeeze it into the bottle through the opening. Now what has happened here is that the problem has been framed in such a way as to allow only one way for a tennis ball to 'fit' into a wine bottle. But why would we frame it that way? Why do we privilege Kohak's description of tennis balls and wine bottles and how one fits into the other? Once you ask that question, you become a postmodernist.

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Why we never think alone

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/09/2017 - 13:00


David Gurteen, Gurteen Knowledge-Log, Apr 09, 2017

This short post is a restatement of something  from Steven Sloman that has appeared numerous times in these pages over the years: "Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don't even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Because whilst individuals know very little, the collective or ‘ hive' mind knows a lot." To make this work, though, is to walk a fine line. Yes, there is the "fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge," but we can create it only if we interoperate as autonomous individuals.

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Getting Web Services Up and Running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Using Vagrant and the AWS CLI

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sun, 04/09/2017 - 13:00


Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, Apr 09, 2017

This is the sort of stuff I've been working on recently. This is a particularly useful project: "here’ s an example of how to get a browser based application up and running on EC2 using vagrant from the command line." The description is pretty detailed and is probably not for everyone. But the main point here is that this type of server virtualization is the wave of the future - and (more importantly) is what will enable the next wave of personal web presences (I'm not really sure what to call them - more than sites, less than applications).

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Vodafone Zambia introduces e-Learning portal

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 19:00


IT News Africa, Apr 08, 2017

Vodafone Zambia is launching something called the JUMP Academy, "an internet-enabled application that offers unlimited access to a wide range of educational materials, tailored to the local curriculum and accessible through any device." Access to the academy is free and it was planned and developed locally in Zambia. "The JUMP Academy is a major component of the company’ s online portal dubbed JUMP, which is an educational and socially managed portal that serves to enhance e-learning for personal development and growth."

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Computing Conversations: Bob Metcalfe on the First Ethernet LAN

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 16:00


YouTube, Apr 08, 2017

From the description: "Computer magazine's multimedia editor Charles Severance interviews Bob Metcalfe about the creation of the first Ethernet local area network 40 years ago at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center." We still use ethernet today, and Metcalfe, of course, is the namesake for "Metcalfe's Law", which states that"the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system" (per Wikipedia). More on Metcalfe's Law.

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Can pre-school children learn to do science?

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 13:00


Jenny Rohn, The Guardian, Apr 08, 2017

Of course the answer to the question in the headline is 'yes'. If you've ever tested the water with a toe before diving in, you've done science. But what, exactly, is science? This article is a bit weaker on this front. True, it's not just measurement and units of measurement and it's not just description. But science isn't just about asking questions, either, not even if they're 'why' questions. And children aren't "naturally prone to being good scientists," as the author avers. Science is, at core, about method - it's a process of looking and discovering, trying things out, seeing what happens, and reasoning about that in a more or less systematic way. This is a process that takes skill and development; it needs to be learned.

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It’s Not Their Pop Idol, but a Bot. Fans Cheer Anyway.

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 13:00


Ben Sisario, New York Times, Apr 08, 2017

I suppose the new form of fame and immortality will be to have someone create a bot based on your personality. The 'Downes' bot will visit websites randomly and give them negative reviews. More seriously, this article on bots focuses - as it should - on the growing acceptance of bots in society. It turns out that we don't mind communicating with bots if they give us the sort of experience we're looking for (and that experience is not 'press 1 if you want to renew your account'). "“ As A.I. develops, everything is going to go into a mixed-reality world where you could dial up a hologram of your favorite pop star and have ‘ real conversations’ with the artificially intelligent version of that person." Or as Steven Tyler would say, "Rock on!"

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What you’re revealing to your ISP, why a VPN isn’t enough, and ways to avoid leaking it

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 13:00


Benjamin Hutchins, HackerNoon, Apr 08, 2017

This is a long, detailed and technical post about what information your internet service provider (ISP, called 'BIAS' in this article) can gather about your internet use and sell to the government or other customers. It's written clearly, though, and it should be easy enough for most readers to follow. In a nutshell, here's what you should do to protect your personal information (quoted):

  1. Switch providers (see below) is at all possible, to one that will not sell your data.
  2. Use a VPN  to protect and encrypt your traffic from your BIAS and to hide your source (your home’ s) IP address from others.
  3. Enable DNS security, use DNSCrypt or DNSSEC and change your DNS provider.
  4. Use HTTPS as much as possible, install HTTPS Everywhere.
  5. Be sure to use a device you control as your Internet gateway, so none of the device’ s unique identities can be revealed. Setup your own wireless network and replace any provided hardware if possible.

This is fairly comprehensive and not the easiest things for an average home user to set up (corporate users already do most of this, or should). At a certain point these need to be bundled into a 'secure' internet service. ISPs will be loathe to offer such a package. But a market exists.

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The New Skills Agenda for Europe

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 16:00


Dana Bachmann, Paul Holdsworth, DVV International, Apr 07, 2017

This is one of  four papers article that set the stage for a virtual seminar currently taking place in Europe (register here). "The proposal is that Member States should introduce a Skills Guarantee, which would involve offering to low qualified adults... skills will to a great extent determine competitiveness and the capacity to drive innovation. They are a pull factor for investment and a catalyst in the virtuous circle of job creation and growth. They are key to social cohesion." There are numerous priority areas listed which should be the subject of discussion and debate.

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Why 'A Domain of One's Own' Matters (For the Future of Knowledge)

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 13:00


Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Apr 07, 2017

The hardest thing to convince people of in education technology, it seems to me, is that students need a space to create. This is what i discovered in the years working on a PLE, where there were all sorts of ideas for content recommending and resource consumption, but outright resistance to creative workspaces of any kind. But this is what is needed, and this is what is behind initiatives such as Domain of One's Own. So I a, supportive of Audrey Watters's argument in this post.

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The Promise of Administrative Data in Education Research

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 13:00


David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Kjell Salvanes, Education Finance, Policy, Apr 07, 2017

"Although these data are collected for purely administrative purposes," write the authors, "they represent remarkable new opportunities for expanding our knowledge." This short essay (8 page PDF) examines some of the purposes to which administrative data in education could be put, and raises some of the issues associated with using data in this way. "Administrative datasets are collected for different reasons than research, and the types of variables that are captured in administrative data often do not comport with the types of variables that testing many educational and social science theories demands." There are also, of course, issues with privacy and security. Good essay, cogently written. Image: OECD.

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My open source Instagram bot got me 2,500 real followers for $5 in server costs

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 10:00


Tim Grossman, Free Code Camp, Instagram, Apr 07, 2017

The author's Instagram bot is described in detail in this post, with links to Github and to a lot of documentation on the various tests he ran. Stuff like this is why  Facebook is in trouble and why Instagram isn't worth the effort. I don't use Instagram at all and left Facebook last August. But even closer to the core of the problem is this statement: "Likes and engagement are digital currency..." No they're not. They are dross. The number of followers you have is meaningless, just as meaningless as the number of people you  follow. Amassing quantity is industrial-age thinking. Creating quality is millennial thinking.

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Creating Usability with Motion: The UX in Motion Manifesto

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 10:00


Issara Willenskomer, Medium, Apr 07, 2017

When people talk about 21st century literacies, or digital literacies, they usually talk about using social networks and spotting fake news. But this is the sot of thing they should be thinking about. We've never really had motion in user interfaces before; the closest we've come is television, which has its own set of tropes. But with modern web design, motion in user experience (UX) design has become standard. This article leads with 12 principles of motion in UX. I look at these and ask, what do they mean? What do they signify? And of course there is no meaning inherent in the motion; it is entirely socially constructed. And that process is still underway, which makes it really fascinating.

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The Top Ed-Tech Trends (Aren't 'Tech')

Stephen Downes' OLDaily - Thu, 04/06/2017 - 19:00


Audrey Watters, Hack Education, Apr 06, 2017

Audrey Watters gives us a reprise of some of her annual 'tech trends' reports and talks about some of the thinking behind them. I'm inclined to agree with the observation that the trends resemble themes or categories or narratives more than they do trends. She also admits "they’ re narratives that are quite US-centric. I’ d say even more specifically, they’ re California- and Silicon Valley-centric." And she says "my reference to 'Silicon Valley narratives' are meant to invoke these: libertarianism, neoliberalism, and 'the ideology of the ‘ new economy.’ " She takes this through a nice turn into a discussion of personalization and platforms. Still, from my perspective, the more her narrative focuses on a specifically U.S. social and political view of the topic, the less relevant that narrative becomes.

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