How An Internet Without Screens Might Look Like


Hey there everyone,
Today I’m sharing another TED Talk: “An Internet without screens might look like this“.

The speaker Tom Uglow starts by saying that «we’re surrounded by natural light and organic elements. Natural things make us happy. And happiness is a great motivator; we strive for happiness. Perhaps that’s why we’re always redesigning everything, in the hopes that our solutions might feel more natural. So let’s start there — with the idea that good design should feel natural.»


He adds that «your phone is not very natural. And you probably think you’re addicted to your phone, but you’re really not. We’re not addicted to devices, we’re addicted to the information that flows through them. I wonder how long you would be happy in your happy place without any information from the outside world. I’m interested in how we access that information, how we experience it. We’re moving from a time of static information, held in books and libraries and bus stops, through a period of digital information, towards a period of fluid information, where your children will expect to be able to access anything, anywhere at any time, from quantum physics to medieval viticulture, from gender theory to tomorrow’s weather, just like switching on a lightbulb».

He continues the talk by telling that «Humans also like simple tools. Your phone is not a very simple tool. A fork is a simple tool…and we don’t like them made of plastic, in the same way I don’t really like my phone very much. It’s not how I want to experience information…I think there are better solutions than a world mediated by screens. I don’t hate screens, but I don’t feel —and I don’t think any of us feel that good about how much time we spend slouched over them.Fortunately, the big tech companies seem to agree. They’re actually heavily invested in touch and speech and gesture, and also in senses — things that can turn dumb objects, like cups, and imbue them with the magic of the Internet, potentially turning this digital cloud into something we might touch and move, because reality is richer than screens».

To summarize, Humans like natural solutions. Humans love information. Humans need simple tools.These principles should underpin how we design for the future, not just for the Internet. You may feel uncomfortable about the age of information that we’re moving into. You may feel challenged, rather than simply excited. Guess what? Me too.

It’s a really extraordinary period of human history.
We are the people that actually build our world, there are no artificial intelligences… yet.
It’s us, designers, architects, artists, engineers. And if we challenge ourselves, I think that actually we can have a happy place filled with the information we love, that feels as natural and as simple as switching on lightbulb. And although it may seem inevitable, that what the public wants is watches and websites and widgets, maybe we could give a bit of thought to cork and light and hacky sacks.

Best regards,
Pedro Calado

52% dos “cérebros” que emigraram não pensam em regressar


Estudo aponta para que os portugueses qualificados que emigraram para outros países europeus se orientem “para uma emigração para toda a vida ou de muito longo prazo”

Portugueses regressam do Egipto (MÁRIO CRUZ/LUSA)Um estudo realizado por vários centros de investigação sobre a “fuga de cérebros” de Portugal para países europeus conclui que cerca de metade dos inquiridos que emigraram considera pouco ou nada provável um regresso ao país de origem.

Dos 1.011 inquiridos, 52% consideram ser pouco ou nada provável regressar definitivamente a Portugal, sendo que a “fotografia” registada pelo estudo aponta para que os portugueses qualificados que emigraram para outros países europeus se orientem “para uma emigração para toda a vida ou de muito longo prazo”, sublinhou o coordenador do projeto que teve início em 2013, Rui Machado Gomes, professor catedrático na Universidade de Coimbra.

O projeto “Brain Drain and Academic Mobility from Portugal to Europe” (BRADRAMO) envolveu investigadores das universidades de Coimbra, Porto e Lisboa e contou com 52 entrevistas e um questionário “online” a uma amostra não aleatória de 1.011 portugueses com formação superior que estivessem a trabalhar ou a residir noutro país europeu ou que o tivessem feito nos seis anos anteriores.

A registar-se uma “emigração definitiva”, esta tem um custo não apenas na perda do investimento na formação das pessoas que emigraram, mas também “no efeito de inovação e desenvolvimento” das empresas portuguesas e no agravamento da crise demográfica, constatou Rui Machado Gomes.

Segundo os resultados do projeto, 36% dos inquiridos estavam desempregados e 10% em situação de subemprego em Portugal, sendo que no país de destino a situação profissional da maioria altera-se, com 92% empregados.

Ainda relativamente à sua situação profissional, a migração levou a uma maior estabilidade, com 48,9% com contrato por tempo indeterminado (em oposição aos 20,7% registados no país de origem), e também a um aumento do rendimento mensal líquido, com 62% a ganhar entre 1.000 e 3.000 euros, quando em Portugal a maioria estava sem rendimento (30%) ou a ganhar até 1.000 euros (42,5%).

A procura de emprego e melhores salários (80,7%) e a necessidade de realização e progressão na carreira (95,3%) foram as razões mais apontadas pelos inquiridos para emigrarem, sendo que mais de metade considera importante a estabilidade dos sistemas de proteção social nos países de destino.

De acordo com Rui Machado Gomes, o fenómeno de fuga de cérebros está “a aprofundar as assimetrias entre o sul e o norte” da Europa e “fere de morte o projeto europeu”.

“O projeto europeu não é transformar os países do sul em países que formam recursos humanos para os outros utilizarem”, frisou o coordenador do estudo.

Os resultados do projeto BRADRAMO estão também presentes no livro “Fuga de cérebros: retratos da emigração portuguesa qualificada”, editado pela Bertrand, que compila 20 retratos de pessoas entrevistadas para o estudo.

O livro é lançado hoje, em Coimbra, às 18:30, na livraria Bertrand, no centro comercial Dolce Vita, e conta com a apresentação por parte do físico e docente universitário Carlos Fiolhais.

A 06 de outubro, o livro é apresentado em Lisboa, com a participação do professor universitário Viriato Soromenho Marques, e a 13 de outubro no Porto, com o investigador Manuel Sobrinho Simões. Para além do livro em formato físico, será lançado em novembro um ebook (livro digital) com mais 27 retratos.

Fonte original – TVI 24

What Can Programmers and Writers Learn From One Another?


Simona/Flickr
Proponents of stronger computer science and programming courses in schools generally focus on the usefulness of those skills in today’s world. Some argue that computer programming should be offered instead of a foreign language requirement, while others say it’s crucial to engineering and robotics. Rarely is coding considered a complement to the English curriculum. But what if learning to code could also make students better writers?

There are more similarities between coding and prose than meet the eye. “The interesting thing about writing code is you don’t really write code for the machine,” said Vikram Chandra, a professor of creative writing at UC Berkeley and author of “Geek Sublime,” on KQED’s Forum. “That’s almost an incidental byproduct. Who you really write code for is all the programmers in the future who will try to fix it, extend it and debug it.

A famous programmer, Donald Knuth, championed the idea of “literate programming,” the idea that code should be written for humans, not just machines. Knuth compared the programmer with an essayist, Chandra said, paraphrasing his argument. “Somebody who sits down with a thesaurus and tries to construct a script that is best for human understanding, not for computer understanding.”

And code, like powerful literature, can have a long shelf life. If it is well written, it can be built upon many times over. And poorly written code could still be the cornerstone of an important software program that no one understands. To Chandra, truly elegant code solves a problem simply and within the aesthetics of functionality. And therein lies the difference between code and an art form like writing.

“Making something beautiful is not the same thing as being an artist,” Chandra said. “There is a substantial difference in what you are trying to do with the beauty.”

The difference lies in the intention behind each form of writing. Fiction tries to evoke emotion or illuminate a human truth, whereas good code strives to be as denotative as possible. If a line of code leaves something up to interpretation it is not doing its job. “Code has to be designed for change in the future,” Chandra said. Coding, unlike most fiction writing, is essentially collaborative in nature. If computer scientists can’t follow the effects of the code through the machine, it becomes incomprehensible — a “big ball of mud,” in programmer lingo.

Chandra is clear that while code can be elegantly written and even beautiful in form, it does not reach the level of art. “I think you become an artist by making an object that rewards contemplation outside of functionality,” Chandra said. A poem is powerful both in what it says and what is left out; it requires the participation of the reader. “If you introduce ambiguity into code, you’re setting up a potential disaster,” Chandra said.

Still, as both a writer and an amateur computer programmer, Chandra sees parallels that might help blossoming writers and coders learn from one another. “When I’m writing a novel and when I’m writing code, I can see certain analogies,” he said. “For example, the composition of complexity by building simple objects and putting them together.”

In a work of fiction, the narrative and thematic structures are built upon paragraphs, composed of sentences, made of words. Code isn’t so different, except it has to be easier to break apart. “Each little piece of code that you write has one function that you can then test,” Chandra said. “And then you compose all these small bits of functionality to make greater functionality. It’s like putting together a mosaic or a jigsaw puzzle, but the jigsaw puzzle has to come apart very easily and then allow the replacement of some of the parts with newer parts.”

EARLY STAGES

The digital world has come a long way in the last 40 years, but in many ways it still imitates analog equivalents, especially when it comes to education materials. E-books exist, but they are just that — electronic books — a digital form of a concept that has been around for centuries. The first books printed after the advent of the printing press looked a lot like manuscripts until people began to experiment more liberally with the new form.

Similarly, Chandra believes humans are still at the beginning of the code revolution. Programmers and users are still imitating what came before, and haven’t even imagined all that could be in the future. “There are certain possibilities in making narrative within e-books, but I still don’t have the tools to do it yet. It’s too difficult,” Chandra said as one example. In another, perhaps one day lines of code will literally take a three-dimensional form, becoming sculpture.

One thing Chandra is sure of is that code is a type of language, based on the same logic as Sanskrit, and for the first time in history language can change the physical world. That’s something literature has been trying to do for a long time. Think about it like this, Chandra said: “When I give you a piece of text to read, I’m handing you a script that you will run inside your own brain, that you will perform inside your own brain, and that will transform you.”

That might be just as good as transforming the physical world.

Valuable Skills of Multipotentialites & Steve Jobs


Did you ever think that you might have been better at something else? Do you have multiple interests? In Emilie Wapnick’s interesting TED Presentation about her many interests she makes a persuasive presentation about the value of having multiple interests. In this presentation, those with multiple interests are called Multipotentialites.

In a very convincing way she points out that being multipotentialite leads to the development of super powers. The specific super powers developed include:

  1. Idea Synthesis – the ability to synthesize multiple concepts and ideas from different areas
  2. Rapid Learning – as noted in previous posts, being able to learn fast is a sign of high intelligence (See here). Rapid learning becomes a super power because of how many times multipotentialites are beginners and endeavor to learn something new. These repeated learning experiences help multipotentialites become rapid learners as repeated exercises become habitual.
  3. Adaptability – ability to morph into what is needed because of the ability to take on different roles as needed for each endeavor. Of course new skills are needed for these roles and this enhances ones capacity and potential.

Interestingly, it is the 3 skills developed by multipotentialites that  can help us be successful in the 21st century thus validating pursuing and developing multiple interests and related skills. These skills are valuable because today we need innovators and creative thinkers to make tomorrow better. Being able to use idea synthesis, becoing a rapid learner and being adaptable means we can more quickly generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits (which is the practice of paneugenesis).

I encourage you to watch her TED Presentation:

As I listened to EmilieWapnick’s presentation it kept reminding me of Steve Jobs amazing Stanford Commencement speech. In this speech he shared 3 stories, one was about the ability to connect the dots. He related this to when he went to Reed College and took a calligraphy class because he found it interesting, beautiful and amazing. He then related it to how that then later led to the Mac having multiple fonts and beautiful typography (which Windows and the whole computing world copied) highlighting the value of following his interest and being a multipotentialite.

After all, it was the ability of pulling together multiple interests that made the modern computing world and most advanced living ideas possible. Below is his Stanford presentation. If you have never seen it or even if you have I encourage you to watch it and share the overlap you see or don’t see. I look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy.

Original Source

The Decline of ‘Big Soda’


The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade.

Over the last 20 years, sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent. Soda consumption, which rocketed from the 1960s through 1990s, is now experiencing a serious and sustained decline.

Sales are stagnating as a growing number of Americans say they are actively trying to avoid the drinks that have been a mainstay of American culture. Sales of bottled water have shot up, and bottled water is now on track to overtake soda as the largest beverage category in two years, according to at least one industry projection.

The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade and is responsible for a substantial reduction in the number of daily calories consumed by the average American child. From 2004 to 2012, children consumed 79 fewer sugar-sweetened beverage calories a day, according to a large government survey, representing a 4 percent cut in calories over all. As total calorie intake has declined, obesity rates among school-age children appear to have leveled off.

The change is happening faster in Philadelphia than in the country as a whole. Daily soda consumption among teenagers, a group closely tracked by federal researchers, dropped sharply — by 24 percent — from 2007 to 2013, compared with about 20 percent for the country. Last month, the city Department of Public Health reported a sustained decline in childhood obesity over the last seven years.

Those reductions are not accidents. The soda tax didn’t pass. But the debate about it, along with a series of related city policies, helped discourage people from drinking soda.

 Original Source

How to Slay the School Grading Dragon


Today I wanted to reblog a original post from John ThayerAnarchist Math Teacher blogger, Edutopia writter and author of Confessions of an Anarchist Math Teacher – that is very interesting, by having a very good and personal experience point of view on the contemporaneous grading systems applied on schools.

We’ve been always told at school by teachers and advisers that grades don’t matter. But nevertheless teachers give grades, sort of as an afterthought because society and school boards and as transcripts demand them.

But their principal forbade teachers to have a gradebook and the only grades they really gave were A’s, B’s, and F’s. Actually the F’s were “incompletes” until the student could never be brought around to fixing them. Even then, it was easy enough for them to start over again.

Classes were projects with multiple credits attached, there were no subjects either, or grade levels, no “freshman” to stuff in the garbage can. We didn’t even have seating charts or teachers’ desks, or walls.

But that was then. Now I find myself back teaching in a pretty standard, 2000+ population high school in a different state, where content, subject tracking, and grades are king. I want the other thing back in my classroom though. I want kids to focus on what they are creating and learning instead of how many points they are getting. Learning should be natural and fun, not a gnarled and twisted byproduct of subjugation and compliance. So right now the grading dragon is breathing fire and being fed and terrorizing everyone. I hate the grading dragon, always have. But now that I’ve been to a place where I’ve seen him neutralized, I’m going to do it again. Here’s how.

Step 1: Set a Trap

The grading dragon assumes he’s in control and that there is plenty of food to eat, children to terrorize, and teachers to do his bidding. He assumes he is invincible in his lair and that no one is a real threat to him. Let him think it. I am reaching back to the last time I taught in a big public high school and I used standards based grading. Back then, it was a new idea to me. Dan Meyer was writing about it in his math blog and other math teacher bloggers were joining him. It felt like a revolution and I was excited to be a part of it. You give points to kids based on concepts on targeted assessments and you track their progress on those concepts instead of assignments or unit tests. The grading dragon still loves this stuff. He sniffs around it at first and notices that it is a bit different, but he is a glutton so he takes a bite, then another, and another, until he falls asleep.

Step 2: Design a Project

There is not one formula for this except that it should be a long-term inquiry-based learning block where kids solve a real problem. Not the kind of textbook junk where you are having a party and order pizza and then new friends come by and you need to cut the pizza differently using “math.” No, I mean something that could actually happen. They should be answering a question such as, “Which cities have the best policies toward the homeless and what would happen if those policies were enacted in our city?” or, “Why do some playgrounds look like worlds with infinite possibility and other playgrounds look like cages?” They should learn the content you were hired to teach through those projects, but in a meaningful and relevant way. But this is still not enough because kids, though they will be intrigued by your project if you have set it up well, will not be able to ignore the snorting, fuming, jabberwocky ready for his next meal. They will want to know how to game your system. This brings us to the next step.

Step 3: Tasks

You will need some deliverables along the way for students to see how to make progress. Maybe some scale models, or a board game they design, or a new piece of music they write using geometric transformations. These products should include some of the standards that you are assessing them on. Tell them that if they are having trouble with the quizzes, these are new ways for them to show you what they are learning. This turns the standards based grading into performance based grading. While they are working, walk around and take some notes so you can catch them in the act of applying the standards to the project or teaching other kids. You’ll be surprised at how many kids are doing this naturally even though they are struggling on your quizzes. Keep your notes in a binder as evidence or whatever you need to do and change their grades on those concepts in your gradebook to reflect what you are seeing. Tell them when you do it so they see their grade increase. Watch them smile.

Step 4: Flatten It Out, Open It Up

Once students have seen that there are alternatives to the quizzes, tell them to start thinking of ways they can prove to you that they are learning. Ask them to create their own homework assignments, or give you quick presentations on what they are working on related to concepts they are struggling with. Tell them they need to know which concepts they need to improve so that they can create those opportunities. They will start focusing on the learning and their grades will improve to the point where they aren’t worried about them anymore. When they do something and it seems weird, give them the benefit of the doubt, assume that they are learning, try to understand them and believe in them. Give them more and more of the control.

 

Original Source (Anarchist Math Teacher)