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World Brain, well yeah . . .

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Posted on 31st October 2005 by Judy Breck in Emerging Online Knowledge

If these words sound a bit dated it’s because the were written in 1938:

“In a universal organization and clarification of knowledge and ideas… in the evocation, that is, of what I have here called a World Brain… in that and in that alone, it is maintained, is there any clear hope of a really Competent Receiver for world affairs… We do not want dictators, we do not want oligarchic parties or class rule, we want a widespread world intelligence conscious of itself.”

These words are are quoted in today’s Edge from H.G. Well’s description of his idea of a World Brain. Wells could not have foreseen the mechanism that would actually support the “universal organization and clarification of knowledge and ideas” but it is here. The emergent and network principles at work within what is known by humankind as it becomes embedded as nodes within the open internet do a dandy job of organizing and clarifying knowledge and ideas.
Pedagogy and e-learning systems will enhance education in years to come, but the universal, organized, clarified network of knowledge and ideas online will be the core cause of emerging competence in human affairs. Yeah!

Cat Library

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Posted on 31st October 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

cat library
The collection of cat information here is part of PetPlace.com an example of reliable knowledge from a non-academic source. The motive for accuracy at PetPlace.com is quality that will gain the respect that will attract online visitors. Animal sciences

Optics for Kids

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Posted on 29th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler


The colorful and lively interactive site here is an an introduction by true experts to some basics of optics. It is an educational project of the Optical Society of America. Physics

Chemistry of Autumn Colors

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Posted on 28th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

autumn leaves
Find out here what is going on chemically inside those beautiful leaves providing a visual feast each fall. The web page is from Chemical of the Week hosted at the University of Wisconsin. Chemistry

Complex Education System

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Posted on 27th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Open Content

The New England Complex Systems Institute has a section focusing on how their science and insights might help education systems. The page here provides in-depth analysis. These scholars, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, say:

. . . we become increasingly cognizant of the various possibilities of using concepts and methods of the study of complex systems for providing direction and strategies to facilitate the introduction of viable and successful changes.

GoldenSwamp.com focuses on one aspect to that larger picture of educational complexities: the knowledge that students are supposed to learn is in itself a network that integrates virtually as complex system when it is open online. Within the Internet (which is also an open network) the grand and comprehensive cognitive network of human knowledge is free from the thoroughgoing chopping up that our education system does. The power and elegance of knowledge complexity are stripped away by the dissecting of subjects and ideas into pieces of standards, test questions and curricula, and the separation of students into grades and levels. Knowledge and ideas are pure and golden as they emerge to students’ minds from the complexity of the swamp that is the Internet.

Cornell Digital Imaging Tutorial

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Posted on 26th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

digital restoration
From the Cornell University suite of superior Digital Projects comes the tutorial here on preserving digital materials. This expert and beautiful course is part of Cornell University Library’s digital preservation training program supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Varied industries

Using the Internet at school

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Posted on 26th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

If you think I am overly critical of the inertia of education in providing Internet access to students, I refer you to the August 05 report here by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. I read it to say this: sure kids have sometime and token Internet access at school, but why is this true (quoting the report)?:

About one in five online teens (18%) who use the internet from multiple locations list school as the location where they go online most often. This figure is up from 11% in December 2000.

Overall the report certainly does not show students are provided with the Internet as a primary tool at school, which is what should happen.

How great this would be for students!

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Posted on 26th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Open Content

A few minutes ago I heard a commercial on the radio for gotomypc.com and I checked out the page. Marketed as a way to be able to “connect to your office pc from anywhere” the service is needed because a single computer becomes a person’s key tool. The stuff you need tends to be in one place where you can keep it organized.
But schools don’t do that for students. Many kids have to share computers and each has limited access to any one computer. Schools are preparing students for the methods of the workplace of the last century. That needs to change pronto!

Culture of Mobility (but not in schools)

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Posted on 26th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Schools We Have Now

mobile learning or classroom boredom
The main page here of Nokia.com is a far more authentic presentation of where our kids are in their thinking and doing than what you see in a classroom. The newest generations are already living in what Nokia is calling the culture of mobility. The wonderful news for learning is that what the kids need to learn (useful human knowledge like math, science, history and so forth) is also now imbedded in the mobile virtual new world.
So what are we going to do about schools, and the fact that we require by law that tbe mobile generations spend 12 years in pre-mobile institutions?
Why not use the kids’ mobile devices to access knowledge instead of making them use the sort of paper, pencils, books and chalkboards their grandparents used?

The Fed

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Posted on 24th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

Federal Reserve Board
The official website of the Federal Reserve Board here is a definitive official description of The Fed. When the leadership changes next year this source will be updated immediately and authoritatively. The almost real time online availability of official information saves researchers and students incalculable amounts of time – and is very friendly to trees. Government

Will the future be laptop or cellphone?

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Posted on 24th October 2005 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous

As the $100 laptop and the cellphone will soon both offer students rich Internet access, it’s interesting to ponder which will become dominate. Perhaps both will find a place, but I think a hybrid is more likely to emerge as the favorite for learning online.
On the cellphone side of innovation, a couple of models that will be available before long are featured here in today’s engadget.com. BTW, if you think there is not a lot of interest in this area, note that engadget is the 3rd most popular blog on the planet according to technorati and my estimate is that nearly half the postings on engadget are cellphones and/or laptops.

Materials Science and Engineering

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Posted on 23rd October 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

bicycle spokes
Designed for someone thinking of a career in materials sciences and engineering, the spotlight on the field here is an excellent first look at some interesting and useful knowledge. Common materials in kitchens, bicycles, automobiles and so forth are featured. Engineering.

Authors Guild’s True Devil’s Bargain

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Posted on 22nd October 2005 by Judy Breck in Open Content

I am a writer.
For 40 years I have been a copywriter; I am the author of 3 published books and a 4th one due from Rowman & Littlefield February 2006. I applaud Google Print and heartily disagree with Authors Guild president Nick Taylor’s analysis here.
It became clear to me in the 5 years I spent heading a collection of study subjects to interface freely online that the Internet removes the cost to individuals of connecting to what is known by humankind. Yes, that is a big change serendipitous and wonderful.
The twin ogres of the entrenched pre-digital education and publishing establishments menace the threshold to global enlightment created by the Internet. The education ogre says without him children won’t learn; the publishing ogre says without him authors will starve. They are both very wrong. What is actually on the table is ogres’ cash flow on one side of the bargain and the dawning global enlightenment on the other.
If you read Mr. Taylor and want a direct answer, I suggest Lawrence Lessig’s comments here.

Predicting Seasonal Weather

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Posted on 21st October 2005 by Judy Breck in Subject Sampler

El Nino Seasonal Weather
Created by the National Science Foundation, the weather website here is authoritative, packed with useful knowledge, and beautiful. It is reviewed in this week’s Scout Report. Geography

Interactive Cinderella Sheets

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Posted on 21st October 2005 by Judy Breck in Mobile & Ubiquitous

The final proof is here that our children are growing up in a digitized cocoon: interactive sheets they can use to control their lights, play games and hear a fairy godmother. Instead of resisting the idea, why not think about ways to get the sheets to interact with kids in teaching them the three R’s?
Yesterday I had to go through over 60 “best sites” on the Macromedia website Showcase to find the marvelous Eternal Egypt that I put in the Subject Sampler. Why is learning always thought of last in creative digitization? We are going to need to do something about that if we expect the new generations, sleeping between interactive sheets, to know very much.