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Black Ships and Samurai

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Posted on 10th June 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler


The rich and handsome website here is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a principal global leader in placing content for learning on to the Internet. Nothing about this virtual exhibit was designed to teach text-reading, but everything about it makes you want to know what the words say. Once you read enough get the drift of the website, the pictures can carry you along many visual narratives. Black Ships and Samurai resonates with the enthusiam of this newsletter for connectivity. The pictures and their presentation are a marvelous account of two cultures connecting for the first time.

Chef Boyardee Filmworks

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Posted on 6th June 2004 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge


While the only movie this dandy little web unit will let you make is a commercial for its spaghetti, it will show you the total revolution that has already taken place in movie-making. In digital movie-making there is nothing left lying on the cutting room floor. Film doesn’t get spliced. Although the medium remains linear, editing is not. More magnificently complex than that is the mixing of media: images, sound and interaction. The day after tomorrow you will have a web unit like this one that is blank. You will be able to fill in the pieces from anywhere. You could pretty well do that now, but soon it will be as easy to do your own productions as getting results is now from the Boyardee Filmworks.

The Funerary Feast of King Midas

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Posted on 5th June 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

Was there really a King Midas? Well, yes: the arrow here points to the disintegrated remains the king once famed for the golden touch. He was king of Phryigia and his funeral feast was dug up in Turkey fifty years ago. Recently remains in the toasting vessels have been identified as a grape wine, barley beer and honey mead.

This website is an example of a nugget of entry into a cluster that interlinks the best and latest knowledge of a topic. It is the work and free gift of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. From this expert source you can think and click your way through the remains of the Midas farewell feast, and then opening the links chosen by the museum scholars you can connect and multiply facts and ideas from the finest Midas material in repositories worldwide. Even then, your adventure remains open- ended because many links will offer to connect you to further material. There is no way to do anything similar in a library or any other pre-Internet study venue.

Seeds of Trade

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Posted on 5th June 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

Calling itself a “virtual book,” the fertile website here traces the history of cultivation. Individual plants and their products are presented, from aloe to yam. Each product is virtual node that appears in each of several categories as an essay surrounded by buttons to access a related facts. What are dry lists and tables in print media here become timeline entries and drop down menus that stimulate and connect ideas.

Each plant has a transfer and spread map depicting the origin and wanderings of its subject. These historical depictions look like little webs and remind us of the recent discoveries that much of reality is platformed on networks. Books cannot display networked information in any depth. Doing just that is the essence of the Internet.

Transit of Venus

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Posted on 5th June 2004 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

On June 8, 2004 the planet Venus will pass between the Earth and Sun for the first time since 1882. DO NOT LOOK AT IT without protection for your eyes. (See safety instructions in this link.)

The Internet is as superior to older media for informing you about the Transit of Venus as the Hubble telescope is for celestial viewing compared to the telescopes on tripods used to watch the Transit in 1882. You can learn, see, watch and report the event in complete and intimate detail in the webpages linked below. The best live viewing is in the Middle East. The featured link promotes a project to supply protective eclipse shades to people in Middle East through new online channels of friendship unique and widening in the digital dawn.

Frank Newman was a champion, a friend of his said to me.

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Posted on 4th June 2004 by Judy Breck in Uncategorized

At age 77, Frank Newman whom we lost this week, had a better understanding of why education stumbles and what to do about it than the overwhelming majority of people responsible for teaching and learning. On the matter of stumbling, Dr. Newman said many perceptive things, including this crux observation: “education bureaucracies are dedicated to the status quo” [NYTimes obit 06.04.04]. In my book Connectivity I include a statement from John Seely Brown that Dr. Newman pointed to in 2003 as the crux of the future challenge now faced by colleges and universities: “The most important concern for educators today is the 12-year-old who, in about 6 years, is going to enter a college or university. If you spend any time with 12-year-olds, you will discover that they spend a lot of time with technology, but they use it in different ways than we do.” Those 12-year-olds are now thirteen; they and all who follow them in age are doing something with technology not of the education status quo nor shoehornable into that status quo. They use technology to connect individually to each other and to what they do and learn. Dr. Newman was a force for good sense and will be missed, but we are grateful for the great deal he did to elevate the vision and courage to wrest education from the past a let it emerge into the future.