Monday, December 12, 2011

Academic Workflow of an Education Researcher

As an academic researcher, I use a number of software and hardware tools in concert. To illustrate my academic workflow, I created the diagram below [Click on image to enlarge].

Academic Workflow Diagram

"Input" includes the tools I use to collect and organize documents. I distinguish between different document types and input sources. My two favorite tools to organize documents are DevonThink and PersonalBrain. DevonThink allows organizing documents into a hierarchical folder structure. The in-built AI supports storting out new documents into matching folders. PersonalBrain is a dynamic 3D mindmap that allows annotating and tagging weblinks and documents. I currently have over 8000 weblinks organized in PersonalBrain.

"Output" includes the tools I use to write and publish documents. To write academic publications, I use Scrivener to create an outline of the documents and work on drafts. I enter reference tags from Sente into Scrivener. Once I reach a final draft, I export the text from Scrivener to Word and use Sente to generate a bibliography.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What is learning?

There no single and simple answer to the question "what is learning". This blog post aims to give a short visual overview over major theories of learning: Behaviorism, Cognitivsm, Constructivism (classic and socio-cultural), and Networked learning/ Connectivism.

"Learning" is defined differently by different research fields and frameworks. The illustrations below are my attempt to visualize the progression of major theories of learning:





Figure: Theories of Learning (by Beat A. Schwendimann)

Learning is often closely connected to the nature of knowledge (Epistemology). Like learning, knowledge can be defined in many different ways. In relation to knowledge, Paavola (2005) distinguishes two types of learning. Based on Paavola's paper, I created the following table:

I created the dynamic mindmap below to provide an overview over some major theories of learning and education concepts. This mindmap is ongoing work in progress. Your feedback and suggestions are welcome.

To navigate the dynamic mindmap below, just click on a term and it will move to the center - showing related concepts. You can also search for terms in the textbox at the bottom.

See this mindmap on the website (where you can find other interesting mindmaps).

On Expertise

What are the characteristics of an "expert"? The Oxford dictionary defines an expert as "A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular are". However, there is a wide range of how knowledgeable or skilful an expert can be. Education research studies "expertise" for the past 40 years. This blogpost aims to provide a short introduction to some findings about expertise. Education research studied how experts differ from novices to better describe the goal of education: Guiding learners towards more expertise (for example, see "The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance (2006)").

Kozma (2003) described how experts differ from novices:
-Focus on underlying principles instead of surface features.
-See limitations of analogies.
-Use different representations for different purposes.
-See connections between representations and real-world objects.

Research suggests that expertise does not reflect innate abilities and capacities, but is acquired through supervised practice (Ericsson & Charness, 1994).

Research by Chase and Simon (1973) suggests that chess experts don't have a better memory but are better at recognising patterns.

Education research distinguished different types of experts. Cindy Hmelo-Silver et al. (2004) found differences between different types of experts, for example between ecologists (theorist) and aquarium hobbyists (pragmatist). Both are experts but with different focus and goals.

Inagaki (2008) observed that experts are better able to determine the relevance of certain concepts in a certain situation. Hatano (1986) distinguished between routine expertise ("Artisan") and adaptive expertise ("Virtuoso"). The routine expert is capable of skilful performance in a constant environment. The adaptive expert can also perform procedural skills efficiently, but additionally understands the meaning and the nature of his objects that allows him to adapt to novel situations.

Japanase culture has a long interest in the development of expertise (mastery). The video below is an example of one of the last remaining Japanese sword making masters. He notes that the goal of a master should be to train a disciple who is stronger than his master, otherwise the craft would run thin over time.

Handmade Portraits: The Sword Maker from Etsy on Vimeo.

The acquisition of expert knowledge is embedded in a community of practice (See Lave & Wenger 1991). Expertise is socially constructed: Tools for thinking and scripts for action are jointly constructed within social groups enabling that group jointly to define and acquire expertise in some domain. The learner enters a (cognitive) apprenticeship situation in which he/she learns the concepts (tools for thinking) and routines (scripts for action) of the group.

There is an (obvious) limitation to expertise: Expertise is acquired in a limited domain. Outside of this domain, experts are often as naive as laymen, for example Jones et al. (2008).


-Chase, W. G., & Simon, H. A. (1973). Perception in chess. Cognitive Psychology, 4(1), 55-81.
-Ericsson, K. A., & Charness, N. (1994). Expert performance: Its structure and acquisition. American Psychologist. Vol, 49(8), 725-747.
-Inagaki, K., & Hatano, G. (2008). Conceptual change in naive biology. In S. Vosniadou (Ed.), International handbook of research on conceptual change. New York: Routledge.
-Hatano, G., & Inagaki, K. (1986). Two courses of expertise. In H. Stevenson, A. Hiroshi, & H. Kenji (Eds.), Child development and education in japan. (pp. 262-72). New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.
-Hmelo-Silver, C. (2004). Comparing expert and novice understanding of a complex system from the perspective of structures, behaviors, and functions. Cognitive Science, 28, 127-138.
-Jones, M. G., Tretter, T., Taylor, A., & Oppewal, T. (2008). Experienced and novice teachers' concepts of spatial scale. International Journal of Science Education, 30(3), 409-429.
-Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. In R. Pea & J. S. Brown (Eds.), Learning in doing: Social, cognitive, and computational perspectives. (pp. 29-129). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Reforming schools for the Knowledge Age

├śrestad College (Denmark)
Current public schools are based on an industrial model of schooling: Standardisation and conveyor-belt analogy.

For example:
-Students are grouped by birth-year; Bells and periods; Sitting in rows; Separate isolated subjects; Fixed time to finish a certain grade; Individual standardised testing.

We need to re-think the current schooling paradigm to create a post-industrial school model. We need schools for the Knowledge Age that focus on technology-enhanced project-based collaborative learning. We need schools that support students to learn how they learn best, monitor their own learning progress, and are driven to become life-long learners. 

For example, as an alternative to grouping students by age, they could be group by their performance level, early birds/night owls (morning school/ evening school), work individually/ in small or large groups (depends on context and personal preference).

Research found evidence that industrial-age schooling reduced creative (and divergent) thinking (as students are conditioned for "there-is-only-one-right-answer" thinking).

See this fascinating animation that illustrates the inspiring TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson:

A number of model schools world-wide lead the way towards a post-industrialist way of learning:
A few examples:
-High Tech High school in San Diego (USA)
-Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney (Australia)
-Reggio Emilio schools (Italy)

Companies like innovative offer support for reformers to model their schools after successful models.

Education research aims to gain a more complex picture of learning through the field of the "learning sciences". The learning sciences pursue an interdisciplinary approach to further scientific understanding of learning and to implement innovative learning environments. The bi-annual conference ICLS brings togethers researchers from across the world who study learning as a complex multi-layered system.

This video shows some interesting novel physical and virtual learning environments:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Words as vessels for thought

Words can be described as "vessels for thoughts". Our vocabulary affects the ways in which we are able to conceptualize the world around us. Or in other words, without a word for something we cannot think about something.

This linguistic relativity is expressed in the Sapir-Worf hypothesis that says that language influences (or determines) our thoughts.

An example can be found in the book of Genesis in the bible: In the beginning, the earth was without form and void. Only after God spoke the word, plants and animals took form.

Another example can be found in George Orwell's novel 1984: The government works on Newspeak, a language reform that removes all words related to freedom or rebellion from people's vocabulary - and therefore removing people's ability to think about concept such as freedom or rebellion.

Inventing new words allows us to think about new concepts. For example, medical researchers create new names for a set of symptoms. Giving these symptoms a name allows pharmaceutical companies to start research groups, and patients to form special interest groups.

The number of words in English has grown from 50,000 to 60,000 words in Old English to about a million today (source).

The RSAnimate video below illustrates a talk by psychologist Steven Pinker about language as a window into human nature.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Characteristics of a good teacher

Describing the characteristics of a good teacher is complex as teachers' work involves many different aspects. As many education reforms aim to link teacher payment to performance, it is urgent to get solid measurements of teacher quality. The Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley recently held a forum on how to assess teachers: Grading the teachers. The forum concluded that there is no reliable way to accurately measure teacher performance (not now and maybe never).

The Bill Gates foundation invests heavily in research on how to measure effective teaching (See: Measures of effective teaching factsheet).

Among other qualities, a teacher needs to have strong content knowledge ("what to teach") combined with pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) ("how to teach).

Stephen Harris (from Sydney Innovation in Education) adds another interesting point: Teachers should be authentic and do what they are in charge of "a physics teacher should research, an arts teacher should paint and an English teacher should write novels or poems."

Short video on the impact of video games

This video shows the history, importance, and art of video games.

Microsoft Vision of the Future Video (2011 edition)

This video shows Microsoft's technocratic vision of the future: Augmented reality and technology embedded in glasses, tables, and refrigerators.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Knowledge Web and Connections

How is Mozart connected to the invention of the helicopter? Or cornflakes to communism? Such and other questions will be answered by the "Knowledge Web".

The "Knowledge Web" is a project currently under development by the James Burke Institute. So far, visitors can go on "Mystery Tours". James Burke a historian, best known for his work as the author, host, and narrator of the acclaimed television series "Connections".

See all episodes of the outstanding series "Connections" online on youtube.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does the internet make schools obsolete?

The internet makes many kinds of information available in an instant. As as result, memorising facts and figures seems to become more and more obsolete. The internet became an integral part of our distributed cognition.

The instant availability of digital information poses fundamental questions for education: What do we still need to learn in schools?

Raymond Nickerson (1996) offers the following answer:
"One might ask at this point: if information does indeed become much more accessible in the future than it is now, will learning still be necessary? If answers to questions can be obtained much more readily through new information resources, will it be so important to have knowledge in one's head? I believe the answer is unequivocally yes. I believe this is the several reasons, but it will suffice to mention one. The asking of questions, except of the most superficial kind, is a knowledge-based activity. Only someone who knows quite a bit about biology is going to ask what is new in the sequencing of bases in the DNA molecule. And even if one were able to ask the question, say because one got it from someone else already formed, without some knowledge of the subject one would not understand the answer. In general, the more one knows, the more useful a powerful information-finding resource is likely to be." (p. 258)

Nickerson, R. (1996). On the distribution of cognition: some reflections. In G. Salomon (Ed.), Distributed Cognitions: Psychological and Educational Considerations (pp. 229-262). Cambridge University Press.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How do CSCL, Networked Learning, and Community of Practice differ from each other?

Researchers studying computer-based collaborative learning use several different (but related) research frameworks: "Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL)", "Networked learning (NL)", and "Community of Practice".

Jones and Esnault (2004) offered the following suggestion to distinguish the three different terms. Based on their paper, I created the comparison table below:


Jones, C., & Esnault, L. (2004). The metaphor of networks in learning: Communities, collaboration, and practice. Networked Learning Conference 2004.

What is the difference between a community and network?

Researchers who study how people learn and act in socio-cultural settings use the terms "community" and "network". While some researchers use the terms interchangeably, others aim to distinguish them.

Some definitions of "network":

  • Rogers (2003) suggested that networks are comprised of homophilous (strong) and heterophilous (weak) links. Homophilous links are where the exchange of ideas occurs most frequently while heterophilous links invigorate rapid diffusion of ideas.
  • Cardon and Granjon (2005) did a case study on young internet users in France. They identified three different types of networking, which they classified as specialisation, distribution, and polarisation.
  • Watts (2003) argued that networks were a type of contagion, which is driven by cascades and thresholds. A threshold can be described as the degree at which point an influence or action is triggered. A cascade occurs when others rapidly or concurrently adopt the said action. A cascade is usually the result of propagation, which the author refers to as the concept of percolation.

Some definitions of "community":

Wenger et al. define community (of practice) as “community” as "a learning partnership among people who find it useful to learn from and with each other about a particular domain". By "practice"  Brown  and  Duguid  mean “undertaking or engaging fully in a task, job, or profession” (Brown and Duguid 2001, p. 203) (also see Jones & Esnault, 2004).

Wenger et al. (2011) aim to distinguish communities and networks:
- "The network aspect refers to the set of relationships, personal interactions, and connections among participants who have personal reasons to connect. It is viewed as a set of nodes and links with affordances for learning, such as information flows, helpful linkages, joint problem solving, and knowledge creation.
-The community aspect refers to the development of a shared identity around a topic or set of challenges. It represents a collective intention - however tacit and distributed - to steward a domain of knowledge and to sustain learning about it." (p. 9).

Based on Wenger et al., I create the table below to compare networks and communities:
Communities (of practices) can be networks (and vice versa), but not necessarily.

>Brown, J.S., and Duguid, P. (2001) Knowledge and Organization: A Social-Practice Perspective. Organization Science. Vol 12 (2) pp198 - 213.
>Cardon, D., and Granjon, F. (2005) 'Social networks and cultural practices. A case study of young avid screen users in Frances' in Social Networks 27, 301- 315.

>Jones, C., & Esnault, L. (2004). The metaphor of networks in learning: Communities, collaboration, and practice. Networked Learning Conference 2004.
>Rogers, E. (2003) 'Diffusion networks' in Cross, Rob, Andrew Parker and Lisa Sasson (2003) Networks in the knowledge economy, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 130- 179.
>Watts, D. (2003) 'Thresholds, cascades and predictability' in Six degrees:the science of a connected age, New Yok and London: W. W. Norton, pp. 220- 252.

>Wenger, E., Trayner, B., & de Laat, M. (2011). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks: A conceptual framework. Ruud de Moor Centrum: Open Universiteit.

The world's most relaxing song

Researchers found in a series of experiment that the song "Weightless" by Marconi Union is the most relaxing song (see more here).

▶ MARCONI UNION - WEIGHTLESS by Just Music label:

'via Blog this'

Friday, October 7, 2011

Studio schools - A model to improve U.S. education?

Studio schools are an innovative approach to education in the UK. Studio schools focus on team-based project-based learning to prepare students for future work. First results indicate that the Studio School model is successful to motivate students, especially those at risk to drop out.

The U.S. has a high drop out rate and a weak vocational school system. Studio schools could be a promising opportunity to improve U.S. education.

The video below is a short TED talk introducing Studio Schools:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Science and Enlightenment

[This blog post is based on a talk given by Sir Harold Koto at the University of Sydney on the 4th of October 2011]. Harold Kroto received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for his work on the Buckminster Fullerene)

Before science was called "science" it was known as "natural philosophy" - referring to gaining wisdom/knowledge from observing nature. This is the defining characteristic of science: Scientific ideas are based on evidence - observations of nature.

Scientific theories are models that try to approximate nature. Science is the only method that creates knowledge with any degree of reliability. Modern science is only possible through its foundation in symbolic algebra, calculus, and statistics. The mathematical basis of science allows describing the reliability of scientific theories (how far a scientific theory is from the "truth"). [Some philosophers point out that there might not be just one "Truth" but only socially constructed "thruths".]

Many people today do not understand the nature of science - in part because science education focuses on the products of science and not the process; and because there is no mandatory course for "nature of science". Koto suggest to make "nature of science" part of every undergraduate program.

Great quote by J.F. Kennedy: "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth - persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myth allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

Koto highly recommends the essay "Scientists as Citizens" by Sir John Cornforth.

Koto advertised his two own projects: Vega (a collection of video presentations of scientists) and Geoset (a series of instructional science and engineering videos produced by college students). The main goal is to promote science and establish scientists as role models (to replace singers, sports stars, actors, and models).

Koto's efforts for science education go along the line of other prominent scientists, for example:
-Sally Ride (first female US astronaut): Sally Ride Science 
-Leon Lederman (Nobel Prize in Physics): Lederman Science Center
-Richard Dawkins (Evolutionary biologist): The Magic of Reality (a science book for children).

The only shortcoming of these commendable efforts is that they are driven by scientists with limited involvement of the education community. Ideally, science education researchers could provide the framework to guide these projects to make them more effective.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Strategies for how to live forever

Every human is mortal. Our time on earth is limited. This ultimate truth motivates us to find ways to overcome our mortality.

For example, 
A) by extending your lifespan [body immortality], 
B) by preserving your unique self [mind and soul immortality], or 
C) by creating a legacy that reminds people of you [social immortality].

[Click to enlarge]
There are different strategies to delay or beat the inevitable [See concept map above].

Social immortality: You can try leaving a legacy that reminds people of your unique self, for example by creating artwork (writing books, composing songs, paint a picture, etc.) or donating money (aka to have something named after you).

Mind immortality: You can try preserving your unique mind, either actively by uploading your mind (see technological singularity), or passively by passing on your ideas (for example through educating your children or through your artwork).

Body immortality: You can try preserving your body as long as possible through a healthy diet, sports, and medicine. Beyond that, you can enhance your body through robotic replacement parts, freeze your body (cryogenics), or use cloning (to get new body parts). The most common way to achieve body immortality is passing on your genes to your children. This comes with the additional benefit that you can also pass on some of your values and ideas to your children [See mind immortality].

Soul immortality: The concept of an immortal part of ourselves - the soul - is promoted by numerous religions. 

People are often heavily invested in a particular belief system that promises eternal life. Many wars have been fought over different immortality systems [For example, see the interesting and humorous book on death and afterlife "Heidegger and a Hippo walk through those Pearly Gates"].

No matter what immortality strategy you pursue, ultimately we are all on the same level - we are all mortal and should try to make the best out of the limited time we have.

Some more ideas for how to extend your life [see infograph below]:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Home library of the future

With ebooks on the rise, paper-based books might largely disappear in the future, especially in people's private libraries. Personal libraries show visitors what kind of books the home owner likes to read and are a status symbol of an educated person. How will the personal home library of the future look like?

Some of my ideas:

  • Book covers (or virtual bookshelves) could be projected on white walls. Touching a virtual book would then automatically load it to an ebook reading device. [Alternatively, augmented reality devices could be used to display a library, but this would have the disadvantage that visitors could not browse through books.]
  • Book dummies made from lightweight material could fill the bookshelves. Book dummies are hollow, foldable boxes in the shape of the original book. They have the book cover, spine, and back of the original book printed on them. Each book dummy contains a chip that stores the ebook (or a QR code that links to the ebook). In case the library owner needs to move, the book dummies could easily be folded and stacked.
On the other hand, public libraries will offer both printed and electronic books. Print-on-demand services can allow printing paper copies of books when needed.

Let me know about your ideas of the library of the future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Evolution vs Gravity

The contestants in the 2011 beauty pageant "Miss USA" were asked if they support evolution education in U.S. public schools.

The process of evolution is better understood than the theory of gravity, but nobody questions if gravity should be taught in science classes. As an entertaining experiment, the word "evolution" has been replaced by the word "gravity" in the Miss USA 2011 interview.

Evolution vs Gravity poll

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Changing the Epistemology of Wikipedia

Wikipedia aims to collaboratively collect the “sum of all human knowledge" (in the words of Jimmy Wales). However, some critics of Wikipedia believe that the whole Western tradition of footnotes and sourced articles needs to be rethought if Wikipedia is going to continue to gather converts beyond its current borders.  

Achal Prabhala, an adviser to the Wikimedia Foundation, expressed his criticism in a video project, “People are Knowledge”:

People are Knowledge (subtitled) from Achal R. Prabhala on Vimeo.

Prabhala suggests that Wikipedia should allow video and audio statements of people as sources to support articles. This would allow capturing non-written forms of knowledge.

My two cents: If we see knowledge as a social construct, then could Wikipedia add a social voting system for articles (similar to or Youtube). Readers could vote for the reliability of an article and indicate the level of their expertise. This could give readers another indicator of the trustworthiness of a Wikipedia article. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

What are websites made of? (Infograph)

Found here: what_websites_madeof_infographic_full-e1313087947326.jpg (600×4002)

Students' use of technology (Infograph)

Found here: students-love-tech1.jpg (800×2797)

Selfish Gene: The Musical at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Dawkin's book "The Selfish Gene" will become the world's first "biomusical" at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Book tickets here: Selfish Gene: The Musical | Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Star Trek theme park planned in Jordan

King Abdullah of Jordan, who is a big Star Trek fan and had a brief cameo on an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in 1995, invests 1.5 billion US dollars to build a 74-hectare Star Trek amusement theme park. Construction start is scheduled for 2012.

Read more here: Jordan theme park treks ahead - The National

How people in academia see each other

Found here:

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ancestry of Polar Bears

According to a study in the journal Current Biology, every polar bear alive today can trace its ancestry back to a single female bear that lived in Ireland during the last Ice Age. Interestingly, this single female bear was a brown bear. These findings are based on the analysis from mitochondrial DNA extracted from bones.

Read more here: Today's Polar Bears Trace Ancestry To ... Ireland? : NPR

Friday, July 22, 2011

IBM aims to develop real-life Harry Potter memory storage "Pensieve"

IBM research labs are working developing a real-life "Pensieve" using GPS-enabled smartphones. They hope that you will never forget anything ever again. See video below.

IBM Press room - 2008-07-29 Made in IBM Labs: IBM Research Develops Technology to Aid Human Memory - United States

Science Made Simple Animations

Science made simple are a series of short videos explaining complex scientific ideas. This video discusses quantum physics, genetic modification, and superconductors.

Science Made Simple from Jacob Slack on Vimeo.

Names of Everyday Things You Never Knew Had Names

The device to measure your foot size is called a Brannock Device.
Many everyday things have names you might have never heard before, for example:

What is the smell outside after rain called? - Petrichor
What is the grove below your nose called? - Philtrum
What is the coating at the end of shoelaces called? - Aglet

Click here to find more Everyday Things You Never Knew Had Names

Ten interesting facts about animals and plants

Did you know that goats have a 340 degree vision?
Did you know that a swan can break your arm? Did you know that a dropped tarantula spider will shatter into pieces?

See more interesting findings here: 10 Weird And Wonderful Oddities Of Nature

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Transparent Airbus Airplane of the Future

Airbus showed off their concept airplane that will be efficient and environmentally friendly. By 2050, air travelers can enjoy bio-morphing seats, automated luggage handling, high-tech holographic amenities at your fingertips, acupressure seats, and oh, yeah, a see-through airplane skin.

This goes along well with the airport check-in of the future:

Sources: Airbus 2050 Concept Cabin Has Transparent Skin | Geekosystem
Sources: IATA Checkpoint of the Future (Geekosystem)

What happens in 60 seconds on the Internet?

This infographic illustrates what happen every 60 seconds on the Internet. [Click to enlarge].

Source: 60 Seconds on the Internet [Infographic]

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why do so many people worldwide have no access to clean water?

About 70 percent of the planet is covered in water, but millions of people do not have access to clean drinking water. This infograph aims to explain the situation [Click on image to enlarge].

Source: | Not a Drop to Drink (Raw Image)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ants that change color according to the food they eat

Ghost ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum) are a widespread tropical species and have transparent abdomens, which allows us to see the the food they eat in full color (see picture above).

Found here: The Presurfer: Ghost Ants Change Color According To The Food They Eat

Blue Lobster

An estimated one 4 million lobsters is blue. A genetic defect causes a blue lobster to produce an excessive amount of a particular protein. The protein and a red carotenoid molecule known as astaxanthin combine to form a blue complex known as crustacyanin, giving the lobster its blue color.

Found here: The Presurfer: Blue Lobster

Monday, June 6, 2011

Proto-Knowledge celebrates 30000th view!

The Proto-Knowledge blog celebrates over 30,000 page views. Many thanks to all the readers!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

UN considers internet access a human right

Internet access is a human right, according to a United Nations report released on Friday.
"Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states," said the report from Frank La Rue.
This report by the UN is particularly important in view of the recent incidents when governments shut down internet access nationwide during political uprisings in the Middle East.

Read more here: United Nations report: Internet access is a human right -

The Immersive Cocoon: Get your own Holodeck

The Immersive Cocoon is your personal Holodeck. It surrounds the people inside with light and sound, can detect their position and movements, and offers an isolated workspace. Designer Tino Schaedler predicts that the Immersive Cocoon will be installed in airports and malls and available for rent for travelers and business conferencing types.

Read more here: The Immersive Cocoon: Your Very Own Holodeck

RIFD tags to track food intake

Designer Hannes Harms suggests to add disposable rfid tags to our food. This would allow to automatically track our food intake.

NutriSmart from HannesRemote on Vimeo.

NutriSmart on Vimeo

Panasonic wants to build eco-friendly city Fujisawa SST by 2018

Panasonic, along with eight partner companies, have announced plans to construct the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Fujisawa SST) by 2018 - an eco-friendly city for 1000 residents. Fujisawa SST will combine a number of energy-saving methods:  A smart power grid; solar cells and batteries in every home; roads designed for bikes, walkers, and electric vehicles; networked public lighting, and more.

Panasonic Plans Bottom-Up Green City Fujisawa SST in Japan | Geekosystem

Goodbye Food Pyramid, Hello Food Plate

The first food pyramid was introduced in 1992 by the USDA, which replaced it now with MyPlate (see below).
Below is the new MyPlate. It shows a plate with the recommended distribution of different nutrients. In my opinion, the plate is much easier to understand than the pyramid as it shows you what your plate should look like. One only wonders if the powerful US dairy industry shoehorned in "Dairy" as being separate from "Protein".

USDA Ditches Food Pyramid for a Food Plate | Geekosystem

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How toy advertisements reinforce gender stereotypes

Blogger Crystal from gathered key words from television toy advertisements targeted towards boys or girls. The gender stereotypes are striking when looking at the wordle pictures below.
Toy advertisements for boys
Toy advertisements for girls
Read more here: Word Cloud: How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes | The Achilles Effect