Image found on Laughing Squid: The Power of Books, Photo Series Takes the Power of Reading Literally. From the photo series, “The Power of Books,” by designer Mladen Penev.
I listened to Sugata Mitra’s TED talk on self-organized learning, and it was extremely inspiring for anyone interested in learning or the education of children. Sugata Mitra won the TED Prize for 2013 to help seed his ambitious project to create a “school in the cloud.” Here was the a-ha point for me in his talk:
But first, a bit of history: to keep the world’s military-industrial machine running at the zenith of the British Empire, Victorians assembled an education system to mass-produce workers with identical skills. Plucked from the classroom and plugged instantly into the system, citizens were churned through an educational factory engineered for maximum productivity.
In other words, the Victorians assembled a global human computer to run the world, and they created the school system to produce more human parts for the computer. But we don’t live in that age anymore. We have real computers now. So why hasn’t our educational system changed?
Here’s another great point:
Schools still operate as if all knowledge is contained in books, and as if the salient points in books must be stored in each human brain — to be used when needed. The political and financial powers controlling schools decide what these salient points are. Schools ensure their storage and retrieval. Students are rewarded for memorization, not imagination or resourcefulness.
I constantly hear a refrain of “innovation” and “creativity” as what we need for the 21st-century world. Yet our school system is designed to stifle innovation and creativity. Today, we need schools not structured like factories, but like clouds.
Read more and watch the TED Talk: Sugata Mitra: We Need Schools… Not Factories.
I read two interesting articles by Harold Jarche this morning on the future of work. The first posits that knowledge workers are the new artisans of the network era:
The second describes the four types of jobs and speculates that two of those job types will increasingly become automated, so if you want to work, you either need to be a thinker or a builder:
As we move into a post-job economy, the difference between labour and talent will become more distinct. Producers and Improvers will continue to get automated, at the speed of Moore’s law. Those lacking enough ‘Talent’ competencies may get marginalized. I think there will be increasing pressure to become ‘Thinkers + Builders’, similar to what Cory Doctorow describes as Makers in his fictional book about the near future.
Just look what people are doing. Flying a solar-powered plane across America. Planning a permanent colony on Mars. Planting guerrilla gardens. The ability of people to imagine, invent and just make things happen never fails to amaze me. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged or cynical about my species, I must remind myself of how incredible we can be.
Gain some perspective with these gorgeous photos of nebulas: Hubble and Hershel show the Horsehead Nebula in a spectacular new light.
“Non-reading is not just the absence of reading. It is a genuine activity, one that consists of adopting a stance in relation to the immense tide of books that protects you from drowning. On that basis, it deserves to be defended and even taught.”
How To Talk About Books You Havent Read on Brain Pickings is a great piece that helped crystallize some ideas that had been swirling around in my brain. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I will read, what I will read next and whether I should continue reading what I am reading now. My reading time is limited, and I want to spend it in the best way possible for me. Since I’ve become so conscious of what I read, I have consistently read books that I have enjoyed more and that have made me think more.
There is that tinge of guilt that comes with not reading something, especially if it is a deliberate choice. I really ought to read ______ (fill in the blank with important literary work here). Well, this post banished all those guilty feelings. I can read, not read, skim, give up, just read the review in the NYT, as I choose, because it all becomes part of my collective library. Even the books that I don’t read have meaning to me.
The post even provides a system of categorization of unread books: unknown, skimmed, heard about, forgotten. Those books too may be weighted on a scale from an extremely positive opinion to extremely negative. I immediately put this rating scale into practice when going through my library and trying to decide what to read or reread next. A forgotten book associated with an extremely positive feeling got put on my “to read” shelf, while one with a negative or even neutral opinion was placed in the donate pile, as I knew I wouldn’t want to reread it.
I realize that not everyone delves so deeply into their reading life as to categorize books they haven’t even read yet, but it is a comfort to know that I am not the only one to do so. Indeed, there is a whole book dedicated to the subject. To be truthful, I probably won’t read that book, since this summary on Brain Pickings gave me all the food for thought I needed.
Following right on the announcement of the demise of our beloved Google Reader, Google announces Google Keep, a note-taking app. I haven’t tried it because I already use Springpad, and I’m reluctant to move everything over to a new app. Springpad also organizes my notes nicely into virtual notebooks; I’m not sure if Keep does this or if it’s more like sticky notes, which, quite frankly, fails to wow me.
A bigger question for me is what if I do start using Google Keep and grow to depend on it, and then Google kills it off? Many others have had similar thoughts, and an article at the Guardian predicts, based on an analysis of the average lifespan of Google products that are eventually killed off, that Google Keep will last about 4 years. “And then either your data will die, or it will have to be collected and then toted around like an old sofa, which will then have to be pushed up the stairs into a new service.”
Many of us can remember Google Notebook, which wasn’t the greatest note-taking application, but which I used because it integrated with all my other Google things. Where is it now? In the Google Graveyard, where Reader will soon be laid to rest.