The approach of a new year is, traditionally, a time to look back, to glance auld lang syne, as much as it is to look forward.
The year just ending, 2009, has proved to me the truth of Raymond Williams’ statement, that:
.…the making of a community is always an exploration.…
I, along with so many others, will continue to explore the building and strengthening of the various and interwoven communities of educational thought, practice and endeavour that I have been privileged to be part of over the past three or four years. The signs of change are there, but the forces of conservatism have complacency and habit on their side.
We must use the wisdom of the ancients, and of the not-so-ancients, in our exploration of what is possible for the future. As Jerome Bruner has written, and so aptly:
.…education must concentrate more on the unknown and the speculative, using the known and established as a basis for extrapolation.…
I intend to use 2010 to continue to push the boundaries of the unknown and the speculative, but I will also, I hope, continue to work from the known and established, sometimes to keep what is good and useful and beautiful, sometimes to replace or restore what is spent.
I have a couple of new projects in mind for the year ahead, and I am looking forward to my continued explorations.…..
The American Museum of Natural History and the Rubin Museum of Art have produced an animated journey that takes us from the roof of the world in the Himalayas to the edge of the known universe and back again. The film manages to squash 13.7 billion years into just 6 minutes or so.
The blurb on YouTube says:
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History.
If you have no desire to acknowledge just how small and insignificant we are in space and time, and therefore just how feeble and pathetic our warring, rapacious, irrational little species really is, then perhaps you’d better not watch. You will, however, miss a stunning journey!
The Courseware Tablet: What the Kindle is to books, the courseware tablet will be to education. In much the same manner that book readers will soon make the ink-on-paper version of books a rare commodity, a new category of course-taking gadgets will soon hit the marketplace.
I use the word “tablet” because these will be highly flexible, portable devices capable of working with a wide range of inputs and outputs. They will enable users to simultaneously create hand drawn sketches; give voice commands; take tests; and engage in video capturing, editing, and viewing. They will even offer analytical tools for students to study the world around them. In addition, each will come with a direct feed to experts in the field who can answer virtually any question on any topic.
The device will help define the courseware, and the courseware will help define the device. Several products will enter the marketplace, but the advantage will go to the design group that truly understands the needs and working environments of the evolving next generation student.
DaVinci Institutefuturist, Thomas Frey, offers the above amongst an underwhelming set of predictions on the future of colleges and universities. This would seem to be a future predicated on the continued health of the college ‘course’ as we have known it for so long. That assumption is questionable, as is the notion that someone will finally work out what courseware actually is and that it really has a place in higher education. I have never been convinced that adding a few digital bells and whistles to what is essentially still programmed learning offers anything very much to education at any level.
But the description of this ‘futuristic’ device is itself highly problematic. Pretty much any networked, web-enabled device — laptop, desktop, smartphone, and yes, even a tablet — would fit the ‘revolutionary’ outline above. As for the:
.…direct feed to experts in the field who can answer virtually any question on any topic.…
And the DaVinci Institute?
We are a community of revolutionary thinkers and innovators intent on unlocking your future, one idea, one invention, one business at a time.
We have seen the future and it is truly a magical place.
.….is the first and only distributed system for identifying spammers and the spambots they use to scrape addresses from your website.
The project has thousands of members around the world working together to track and stop email harvesters. All you have to do is install the Honey Pot software somewhere on your website — I have it installed on my blog — and Honey Pot does the rest.
The project recently received its billionth spam message, harvested from tens of thousands of participants in 170 countries around the world. The message, pictured here, was a United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) phishing scam. The spam email was sent by a bot running on a compromised machine in India (220.127.116.11). The spamtrap address to which the message was sent was originally harvested on November 4, 2007 by a particularly nasty harvester (18.104.22.168) that is responsible for 53,022,293 other spam messages that have been received by Project Honey Pot.
On the basis of this vast collection of data, Honey Pot has come up with some stats and trends (which you can share, as it is published under a CC licence):
Monday is the busiest day of the week for email spam, Saturday is the quietest
12:00 (GMT) is the busiest hour of the day for spam, 23:00 (GMT) is the quietest
Malicious bots have increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 378% since Project Honey Pot started
Over the last five years, you’d have been 9 times more likely to get a phishing message for Chase Bank than Bank of America, however Facebook is rapidly becoming the most phished organization online
Finland has some of the best computer security in the world, China some of the worst
It takes the average spammer 2 and a half weeks from when they first harvest your email address to when they send you your first spam message, but that’s twice as fast as they were five years ago
Every time your email address is harvested from a website, you can expect to receive more than 850 spam messages
Spammers take holidays too: spam volumes drop nearly 21% on Christmas Day and 32% on New Year’s Day
Who cares about the common man’s freedom of speech being stifled by the world’s worst libel law when you have granted yourself immunity from it through parliamentary privilege? It was a similar story with draconian and disturbingly far-ranging anti-terrorist laws that were all very well up until an MP was arrested in his office (Damien Green MP) or bugged while visiting a prison inmate (Sadiq Khan MP). Then – suddenly – MPs had second thoughts about the totalitarian culture they had nurtured.
.…whereby MPs don’t give a fig about the invasion of our privacy, civil liberties or freedom of speech up until they find their own affected.
Heather was recently given the deserved accolade of Reformer of the Year from the think tank, Reform — for doing the really hard work on the MPs’ expenses scandal before the Telegraph chanced along and stole her limelight.
This is just one of a series of very funny (and more than a little disturbing) conversations between a second-hand bookseller and some of his ‘customers’. The BookMine, although now an online book store only, was once a ‘real’ shop with real shelves, doors and everything, in Sacramento, California. The owner evidently comes from that fine tradition of sardonic second-hand book sellers — a real Bernard Black!
Thinking that removing your content from Google will somehow keep it “exclusive” shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the web and how it works. As an experiment, Google the key terms from any interesting story currently kept behind a paywall, on the Wall Street Journal, for instance. And imagine no News Corp. source being included in the search results. You’d still get dozens and dozens of links to other sources — including many of the biggest news sites — writing about the story, riffing on it, quoting from it, and commenting on the key facts in it. So what are you going to do, try to make the case that no one should be able to talk about or write about or comment on or report on the stories you make them pay for? It’s a ridiculous notion.
Andrew Sullivan, in the Atlantic Monthly, on Cheney and Cheneyism, following “.…a breathtaking piece of dishonor from this bitter, angry man.…” in attacking Obama this week:
Accusing the president of giving aid and comfort to the enemy is such a disgusting charge, such a deeply divisive, unAmerican tactic, it would be excoriated if it came from some far right blogger. That it comes from a former vice-president, violating every conceivable protocol (as he did in office), reminds me of why Cheney and Cheneyism remain such a threat to core American and Western values.