Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, posts a personal essay called "Reading the dictionary," which describes the traditional school curriculum as equivalent to asking students to read the dictionary or an encyclopedia from cover to cover. He contrasts this with his own style of learning, "interest-driven learning" ("code for 'short attention span' or 'not a good long term planner'") and ruminates on what a curriculum designed for people like him would look like.
Personally, I find the dictionary, the encyclopedia and videos online as excellent resources when I need to learn something. I find the need to learn things every day in the course of pursuing interests, preparing for meetings and interacting with exciting people. I'm extremely motivated to learn and I learn a lot.
I love the videos of professors, amateurs and instructors putting their courseware online. They are a great resource for interest driven learners like me. However, I wonder whether we should be structuring the future of learning as online universities where you are asked to do the equivalent of reading the encyclopedia from cover to cover online. Shouldn't we be looking at the Internet as an amazing network enabling "The Power of Pull" and be empowering kids to learn through building things together rather than assessing their ability to complete courses and produce the right "answers"?
This is really similar to my own approach to learning, and Joi's description chimes with me and recalls the best learning experiences of my own life.
Reading the dictionary Read the rest
Philippe sez, "restorm.com launched rightclearing last week at the prominent Social Music Summit in NYC. The cloud-based music licensing platform provides artists and music professionals a simplified solution that enables them to monetize content through an automated licensing system. In the midst of all the SOPA, PIPA, ACTA rhetoric, and never-ending licensing chaos in the market, rightclearing is well-poised to provide a concise and compelling solution to the needlessly complex licensing labyrinth. Joi Ito, head of the MIT Digital Media Lab and Chairman of the Creative Commons commented, 'I decided to join the restorm.com advisory board because rightclearing has the potential to radically renew the market for art licensing: it's simple, innovative, transparent and fair.'"
One-stop music licensing • rightclearing.com
(Thanks, Philippe!) Read the rest
[Video Link: YouTube, PBS.org]
I traveled to Japan with PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien to help shoot and produce a series of NewsHour stories about the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters. One of these just aired, and is above. It's the story of how a group of hackers and internet folks are working with Japanese volunteers to harness DIY technology to record and share data about radiation hotspots.
We traveled with Safecast on a radiation-data-gathering drive from Tokyo to inside the voluntary evacuation zone, close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. We monitored readings on the ground and in the air with the Safecast team all along the way. You'll see what those contamination levels were, and what and whom we encountered, in this video.
Some of the voices in this piece are familiar names to regular Boing Boing readers: Joi Ito, Sean Bonner, and others. One DIY/Maker/hacker culture hero we interviewed whose work you see is Bunnie Huang (I was thrilled that this project allowed me to meet Bunnie in person for the first time).
In the NewsHour story, airing exactly eight months to the day after the March 11 disaster, you'll see the geiger counters the Safecast team have developed with Sebastopol, California-based Dan Sythe and International Medcom. The successor to the "B-Geigie" Safecast is using now will be a device Bunnie designed (which looks really elegant, by the way). Oh, and these geiger kits were assembled in the very cool Tokyo Hacker Space, a central site for the Safecast movement. Read the rest
I will be joining a group of speakers in Boston on Friday and Saturday for the Shorenstein Center's 25th Anniversary Weekend, at Harvard. Others on the bill whose names have appeared in Boing Boing before include Ken Auletta (The New Yorker), Vivek Kundra (Former U.S. CIO), Miles O'Brien (PBS NewsHour), Clay Shirky (New York University), Rebecca MacKinnon (New America Foundation), David Carr (The New York Times), danah boyd (Microsoft Research), and Joi Ito (MIT Medialab). Read the rest
Jane from Creative Commons sez,
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Since last fall, we've been talking at length to various creators about their CC stories--the impact Creative Commons has had on their lives and in their respective fields, whether that's in art, education, science, or industry. We are thrilled to announce that we have cultivated the most compelling of these stories and woven them together into a book called The Power of Open. The stories in The Power of Open demonstrate the breadth of CC uses across fields and the creativity of the individuals and organizations that have chosen to share their work via Creative Commons licenses and tools. The Power of Open is available for free downloadunder the CC Attribution license. It is available in several languages, with more translated versions to come. You can also order hard copies from Lulu. We hope that it inspires you to examine and embrace the practice of open licensing so that your contributions to the global intellectual commons can provide their greatest benefit to all people."
But that's not all--The Power of Open is launching with events around the world! The official launch is June 29 at The New America Foundation in Washington D.C., featuring Global Voices Online and IntraHealth, with CC CEO Cathy Casserly representing for staff. Additionally, the first event already took place on June 16 in Tokyo, Japan, with Creative Commons Chairperson Joi Ito introducing the book to the Asia/Pacific region. For the full list of events taking place in Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, London, and Paris, head on over to the thepowerofopen.org.
The New York Public Library has purchased some 335 boxes of papers, videotapes, photographs and other items from the estate of Timothy Leary.
From the New York Times:
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The material documents the evolution of the tweedy middle-aged academic into a drug guru, international outlaw, gubernatorial candidate, computer software designer and progenitor of the Me Decade's self-absorbed interest in self-help.
The archive will not be available to the public or scholars for 18 to 24 months, as the library organizes the papers. A preview of the collection, however, reveals a rich record not only of Leary's tumultuous life but also of the lives of many significant cultural figures in the '60, '70s and '80s.
Congratulations to our pal Joi Ito who has just been named the new director of the MIT Media Lab! I can't wait to see how Joi's incredible vision, creativity, curiosity, and kindness impact the place. From John Markoff's article in the New York Times:
Mr. Ito... is neither a conventional Japanese technologist, nor your average college dropout.
Raised in both Tokyo and Silicon Valley, Mr. Ito was part of the first generation to grow up with the Internet. His career includes serving as a board member of Icann, the Internet’s governance organization; becoming a “guild master” in the World of Warcraft online fantasy game; and more than a dozen investments in start-ups like Flickr, Last.fm and Twitter. In 1994 he helped establish the first commercial Internet service provider in Japan.
He was also an early participant in the open-source software movement and is a board member of the Mozilla Foundation, which oversees the development of the Firefox Web browse, as well as being the co-founder and chairman of Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that has sought to create a middle ground to promote the sharing of digital information.
“The choice is radical, but brilliant,” said Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a University of California laboratory that pursues a similar research agenda to the Media Laboratory. “He can position the lab at the edge of change and propel it for a decade.”
"Joichi Ito to Be Named Head of M.I.T. Media Lab" Read the rest
Video Link. About the project:
RDTN.org is a website whose purpose is to provide an aggregate feed of nuclear radiation data from governmental, non-governmental and citizen-scientist sources. That data will be made available to everyone, including scientists and nuclear experts who can provide context for lay people. In the weeks following launch, it has become evident that there is a need for additional radiation reporting from the ground in Japan. This Kickstarter project will help us purchase up to 600 Geiger Counter devices that will be deployed to Japan. (The project minimum will fund 100 devices). The data captured from these devices will feed into the RDTN.org website and will also be made available for others to use via Pachube, an open-source platform for monitoring sensor data globally. RDTN.org field members will be trained by RDTN.org advisors to properly use these devices. The field members will be required to report to the website 8-10 times per day.
(via Joi Ito and Sean Bonner) Read the rest
[ UPDATE: Joi Ito has been blogging about lies, corruption, and safety breaches with TEPCO for nearly ten years. Links to a couple of his 2002-2003 TEPCO posts at the bottom of this Boing Boing item.--XJ ]
In the Wall Street Journal, news that critical early efforts to stave off crisis at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were delayed by the operator's concerns over damaging "valuable assets," and by "initial passivity" on the part of Japan's government. Snip from WSJ:
Tepco was reluctant to use seawater because it worried about hurting its long-term investment in the complex, say people involved with the efforts. Seawater, which can render a nuclear reactor permanently inoperable, now is at the center of efforts to keep the plant under control.
Tepco "hesitated because it tried to protect its assets," said Akira Omoto, a former Tepco executive and a member of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, an official advisory body involved in the effort to tame the plant. Both Tepco and government officials had good reason not to use saltwater, Mr. Omoto added. Early on, nuclear fuel rods were still under cooling water and undamaged, he said, adding, "it's understandable because injecting seawater into the fuel vessel renders it unusable."
"Bid to 'Protect Assets' Slowed Reactor Fight" (WSJ)
As an aside, this PDF "TEPCO 2020 Corporate Vision Statement" is a little surreal in hindsight, and references an earlier quake-triggered crisis: Read the rest
is an academy award-winning documentary filmmaker. His films include Gates of Heaven, The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time, Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control
, and Standard Operating Procedure
. Roger Ebert said, "After twenty years of reviewing films, I haven't found another filmmaker who intrigues me more...Errol Morris is like a magician, and as great a filmmaker as Hitchcock or Fellini." Recently, The Guardian
listed him as one of the ten most important film directors in the world.
Read The Ashtray, his five-part series on "meaning, truth, intolerance and flying ashtrays" in The New York Times.
Joi Ito: I change my bag depending on whether it's likely I'll be riding a bike, snowmobile, etc. I also sometimes carry an iPad. The amount and type of dive gear and camera(s) changes with where I'm traveling to as well. However, this is a pretty good sample of what is typically in my bag these days.
I've been unable to nail down precisely why I don't like how WikiLeaks is releasing hidden, secret, classified, and other categories of U.S. government information. I don't believe the United States deserves the shroud of secrecy that protects incompetent, illegal, and malicious acts; neither do I trust Julian Assange's motives, presentation, or redaction. Every time I try to talk about the issue, it's like a life-or-death game of "paper or plastic bags" at the supermarket.
Thankfully, Clay Shirky has laid bare the cognitive dissonance and teased apart distinctly different ideas that are being lumped into single categories:
As Tom Slee puts it, "Your answer to 'what data should the government make public?' depends not so much on what you think about data, but what you think about the government." My personal view is that there is too much secrecy in the current system, and that a corrective towards transparency is a good idea. I don't, however, believe in pure transparency, and even more importantly, I don't think that independent actors who are subject to no checks or balances is a good idea in the long haul.
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I am conflicted about the right balance between the visibility required for counter-democracy and the need for private speech among international actors. Here's what I'm not conflicted about: When a government can't get what it wants by working within the law, the right answer is not to work outside the law. The right answer is to accept that it can't get what it wants.
"I went on essentially a plant-based diet. I live on beans, legumes, vegetables, fruit." Former President Bill Clinton on the foodie details and health impact of his newfound whole-foods, low-starch, mostly vegan diet.
Sounds basically like what Joi Ito and our own Cory Doctorow have blogged about previously (both also noting positive personal impact). Full disclosure here: I made a similar switch earlier this year, as an experiment, and have had a similarly positive experience. I've also been working with a very skeptical MD to do blood tests and other measurements, to test the theory: so far everything checks out far better than either of us expected.
Read the whole transcript. I dig his empirical, pragmatic, "self-experimentation" approach.
(Photo by Xeni Jardin.) Read the rest
Peter Miller's The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done is half popular science book, half business book, covering one of my favorite subjects: emergent phenomena, such as the way that ants find optimal routes to food sources.
Emergence is a cool, weird, poorly understood and extremely relevant subject. The study of emergence and complexity has helped businesses solve problems from optimizing telecommunications links to loading and unloading airplanes to reducing traffic jams in major cities, and it's impossible to understand tragedies from stampedes in busy stadiums to economic collapse without it.
Miller does a good job of surveying the recent and classic literature on emergence and complexity, as well as the more interesting experiments and illuminating real-world applications in human society, from optimizing Boeing's supply chain to redesigning the fatal Saudi bridge where hundreds of pilgrims to Mecca died in a stampede.
The material is cast as news-you-can-use, as Miller tries to make the connection between the way that complexity explains real-world phenomena and the daily running of businesses and other complex enterprises. This is the weakest part of the book: having read it, I didn't feel ready to jump out and redesign a company around fostering emergence -- but I was convinced that most businesses and other complex institutions would benefit from bringing in someone to interpret complexity theory and put it into practice.
The Smart Swarm: How Understanding Flocks, Schools, and Colonies Can Make Us Better at Communicating, Decision Making, and Getting Things Done
New "everyday neuroscience" book from author of Emergence - Boing ... Read the rest