Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay “As We May Think” on information overload, curation, and open-access science.

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.

— Read on www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/11/vannevar_bush_s_1945_essay_as_we_may_think_on_information_overload_curation.html




Facebook and the Humanities

I strongly think this aspect of Facebook’s leadership, and leadership in Silicon Valley in general, is an important piece of the current trend in tech and politics. There’s a reason the “Titans of Industry” in the 20th century placed such an emphasis on the liberal arts and libraries…

“That’s because it was based in the idea that Facebook was essentially benign. Worse: Mr. Zuckerberg stuck with this mix of extreme earnestness and willful naïveté for far too long.

Because what he never managed to grok then was that the company he created was destined to become a template for all of humanity, the digital reflection of masses of people across the globe. Including — and especially — the bad ones.

Was it because he was a computer major who left college early and did not attend enough humanities courses that might have alerted him to the uglier aspects of human nature? Maybe.”

via Kara Swisher in the New York Times




Defending the Liberal Arts

Long overdue…

The new statement offers a counterargument to the notion that the liberal arts are impractical, and perhaps unnecessary. The disciplines, it argues, increase students’ curiosity, prepare them to be lifelong learners, and offer a foundation for academic freedom. As a result, the associations argue, the benefits of the liberal arts should be available to “all college students and not solely a privileged few.”

— Read on www.chronicle.com/article/2-Associations-Forcefully/243544




Microsoft and Apple helped build new braille display standard

It’s really nice to see traditional rivals like Apple and Microsoft working together on something as important as accessibility. Hopefully this partnership is fruitful and the two companies (along with other tech industry leaders) continue to work to make computers and technology more accessible for those with different kinds of impairments.

— Read on www.engadget.com/2018/05/31/microsoft-apple-usb-if-accessibility-braille-display-standard/




Less School

This is going to put me at odds with many of my more liberal friends, but I do see the justification for the argument here as well as “The Case Against Education.” Education is big business and we’re not educating our children (or adults) in the US in a way that best suits their future or the future of our republican democracy.

So what is really going on? Caplan offers plausible evidence that school functions to let students show employers that they are smart, conscientious, and conformist. And surely this is in fact a big part of what is going on. I’ve blogged before one, and in our book we discuss, some other functions that schools may have served in history, including daycare, networking, consumption, state propaganda, domesticating students into modern workplace habits.

Source: Overcoming Bias : Read The Case Against Education




To Post or Not to Post About Your Kid’s Success?

Helicopter-Parenting

On the topic of whether parents should post about their kids’ college acceptance on Facebook, but a good reminder for all of us parents who grew up in a time before social media and are still figuring out its long term impacts on ourselves and our children:

“This isn’t your moment, as much as it may feel that way. Let your kids bask in their own glory. By letting your children tell people about an exciting achievement on their own, you let them practice humility. They can take time to be empathetic and consider what their peers are going through. You’re teaching them to value accomplishment for its own sake, and not for the attention it brings. You’re raising an adult who can connect to other people and make lifelong friends. A wise parent once said, “My main job is to make sure my kid doesn’t become a douche.” We can’t always succeed, but letting them spread the news selectively is a great start.”

Source: To Post or Not to Post? – Free-Times.com




Dogfooding

After two happy years as a WordPress self-hosted install, I’m moving our 8th grade science class site/home/hub, GriffinScience, to Blogger:

GriffinScience: “Because we’ll be using Blogger as a main platform of interaction with the 8th graders next year due to our school Google accounts making that a no-brainer, I’ve gone ahead and moved GriffinScience from a self-hosted WordPress install to Blogger.”

I don’t think the students will mind or notice much, and it does make a good deal of sense to eat my own dog food if I’m going to encourage students to make use of our school’s Google Apps accounts and use Blogger (or Google Sites) as their digital portfolio’s home (of course I don’t mind if they want to venture out into WordPress or Tumblr or Posterous land as well).

For some reason, this makes me sad in a “but I’m a real geek!” way. It’s not that Blogger isn’t a proper blogging engine or geeky enough site… but I’ve always encouraged folks to dive into code and make their own templates or sidebars. Those are possible in Blogger, but it’s a little too graphical and “easy” in my mind. I need to get over myself, clearly.

Nevertheless, here’s to another few good years of GriffinScience.




Front Page Article on SpaceCam Launch

So incredibly proud of my students…

Science project takes off for Spartanburg Day School students | GoUpstate.com: “Nearly a month of calculated planning and scientific research flew up, up and away Friday afternoon over the Spartanburg Day School athletic fields and into a cloudy sky.”

Go read the whole thing.




Engineering Creativity

So how do we as teachers cultivate and encourage creativity in a human existence that doesn’t require as many gigs of organic memory?

LRB · Jim Holt · Smarter, Happier, More Productive: “It’s not that the web is making us less intelligent; if anything, the evidence suggests it sharpens more cognitive skills than it dulls. It’s not that the web is making us less happy, although there are certainly those who, like Carr, feel enslaved by its rhythms and cheated by the quality of its pleasures. It’s that the web may be an enemy of creativity. Which is why Woody Allen might be wise in avoiding it altogether.”

Fascinating read.




School Books in the Present and Future

I’m laying on the bed with my 3.5 month old daughter who is interacting with the Princess and the Frog app on my iPad while I check my RSS feeds via Reeder on my iPhone.

She is reading along with the book portion, watching the embedded videos and recording her voice as the narrator. It’s really something to observe. Then she dips into the coloring book part of the app where she colors on the iPad while describing the scene from the book she just read.

I’m hopeful that books she reads and interacts with in school will capture her imagination in the same way.

If not, our “one size fits all” edu system is doomed.