20 November 2011

Why the Japanese are better at marketing than we are.

Nope, nope, that about says it all.

Just look at the link: http://www.sunokotan.com/index.html

Perhaps it is the benefit of an animist culture? Or one that never went through an extended phase of industrial form as aesthetic?

It is a much deeper question that an aluminum cooling stand might indicate.

20 July 2011

19 July 2011

BioCouture

Keep referring people to this and having to look it up again, so here is is. You too can wear organically grown faux leather that looks pretty much like dried skin.

BioCouture

If the product doesn't take off, at least they have a future making props for post-apocalyptic horror movies.

Okay, I will probably want this when the transparent vinyl jumpsuits of the 1970s make a come back, this time in organic fabric. With any luck it will happen when I am in my 80s and I can really shock the see-thru socks of people. We came so close to getting over our hangups, but then we fetishized the solutions and slipped backwards again.

16 July 2011

Biiru

Though it fail to explain why Japanese beer by and large is ... ermmm .... very mild.

Okay, except for Hitachino Nest and other microbrews.

Via One Inch Punch.

10 July 2011

The Poet of the United States

Cleaning out old AdBusters magazines and found (or perhaps refound) this little story, which someone was nice enough to post online for all to read.

The Poet of the United States

Enjoy.

09 July 2011

SLArt Museum

I mentioned in the last post I went for a walk in Second Life down a good old Linden road. An honest to goodness walk. The walk ended up here:

A collection of museums of mostly Second Life art that takes up a good chunk of the mainland sim it inhabits. Won't say all of the art was good, but much of it was, and some was really must see. Like the framed pictures in the above image. The ability to get things to look like that in SL is something to be in awe of.

Set aside at least two evenings to amble through it all.

Healy(123,21,110)

Careful with the link, trying to just click the spot on the map might land you under the road or something. That's what happened to me when I went back. And this particular museum is a bit of a maze because of the transparent floors. You have been warned.

05 July 2011

Waterfalls

I did something unusual yesterday, at least for SL. I went for a walk.

Now, I will often buzz out in a random direction flying over sims looking for interesting things, but this time, I hopped on the nice Linden road half a sim from my mainland holdings and just went for a walk. Or perhaps, since I was being something that walks on all fours, a canter.

Walking about on mainland SL can be a wonderful experience, at least in places where people haven't destroyed the Linden public works that allow you to walk around, or even take the train. It immerses you in the random creativity of people and forces you to experience what is there instead of taking you to some known or intended place. Sometimes it even makes you go ... I never realized this was right next to that, and I go to both of them all the time. And it is only something that can be experienced by getting out of the insulated private islands and wandering about the mainland.

On this day I found quite a few interesting things, the first two of which are here as a set. They are waterfalls. Both wonderfully done. Both probably looking much better at night, which it was. The locations are where I was standing when I took the pictures.

Hamlin (28, 8, 80)

Paw Paw (44, 42, 83)

It helps, maybe, that there was a small plot of land selling bunnies and playing ChouChou on the audio stream right at the top of the first waterfall.

13 June 2011

A day made of glass

Interesting, but is it really the future we want? On the other hand, now that the idea is there, will we even have a choice in the matter?

Via Next Nature.

11 June 2011

06 June 2011

God Complains

Some lyrics, worthy of contemplation. No images, just words

Via Randomness Thing.

05 June 2011

New Look for 2011

My new look, if anyone is interested. The horribly broken wrists courtesy of the pose ball. I'm not in pain, honest. (I should have taken a picture of what it did to my back. Ooof!) Can someone get me something to drink ... with a straw? And possibly a stretcher?

Same me, not counting some small bits of tweaking not visible in this picture, different skin.

My favorite Infinity skins, by Maximillion Grant and now under the LOGO brand name along with the works of Polly Pavlova, have some new series out that take not only look great but take advantage of viewer 2 tricks and tools.

LOGO is one of the two skin lines I have found that work on smaller frames in SL. The other is more popular, but I don't like the way it looks on me quite as much, and it requires wearing a cleavage reduction layer, rather than just having skins with less shading. Needing less breast shading instead of more is always a challenge in SL. As is avoiding inflatable doll crotch.

But what I like most about LOGO is that you can go online to their custom skin creator and design your own from a menu set. I think they still give discounts for multiple combinations purchased off the same base skin, but don't quote me on that until you've tested it yourself. Before the skin was what you purchased, but now you can buy mod layers to expand your options without having to buy every singly possible combination. This is especially useful for some of the older skins, which he is busy adding new features for, and which have a very large number of lipstick and other makeup options.

In any event, my older skins are all from their "Natural" series, while this newer one is from the "Divine" series. And my really, really old skins are all also by Max before he started his Infinity series. I confess to finally having deleted them. They look like cartoons now compared to the newer stuff.

Now if SL would let me make my eyes more Asian without making my eyebrows all bushy ...

Oh, and the awesome hat hair is Roxy in plum by EMO-tions. I have been spending lots of time coming up with outfits to go with the hair, and it definitely goes with the Divine skin set. Be forewarned though, it is a very laggy sim.

The LOGO blog.

The LOGO teleport map.

04 June 2011

Review: Mamaa Saiz

Haven't done one of this in a while, and am totally out of practice, but here goes ...

A wonderful hour just sitting here in SL listening to Mamaa Saiz siging what he sings. A mellow combination of music with R&B overtones, or maybe that is his voice.

The guitar work is masterful and you feel each little pluck and strum playing on the strings of your heart. A sort of warm, ever so slightly misty-eyed, wonderful. Accompanied by a voice with just enough gravel to give it body without losing that smooth melodiousness that makes a singer so perfectly listenable.

Each song comes with the story of why it is in his collection, and each is sung as if it is a personal piece of himself. Most of the music is a selection of Americana with a distinct feeling that these are songs he has lived, not jsut come upon at some point and liked. Close your eyes and you can see him sitting there with the original artists jamming away.

If he is performing in SL, make the time to catch him. It will be the most worthwhile hour you spent in SL all week.

I think there is something in my eye, making it hard to type. Honest. So back to listening to the music.

Just don't ask him for any Joan Baez.

01 June 2011

The Education Cycle

Let's look at a typical business proeject cycle. It looks something like this:

There are more complicated models, but this one is nice and simple and covers its bases.

Now let's look at a comparable education cycle. It might look something like this:

It is a problematic model. One might even argue that it is not a cycle at all:

Now it is easy enough to argue that these three images paint a very unrealistic picture of how education works. And the argument would be right. Much planning and work takes place outside the classroom. The instructor has to plan and develop courses, assess themselves and their courses as to what could be done better, and then bring the implementation part of the cycle to the classroom.

In this model, the classroom operates more like the shop floor, tackling one task at a time according to a plan handed down by management. But that is exactly the problem.

The classroom is not the shop floor of learning. It needs to be an active and collaborative process of managing the education of all participants. But, unless we turn the entire process of education over to the students (which, like an anarchist state, is a great idea on paper but not all that practical in actual implementation) we can't just grab a traditional business project cycle as our model for how to develop effective educational systems.

That is not to say business models can't help us think about education. It is just to say that like a good business, we need to be looking at 21st Century high-tech models, not early 20th Century industrial models.

The way we do that is by bringing both development and implementation into the classroom. Which is to say, we plan and develop courses and academic resources that can dynamically adapt to the needs of that particular classroom. Then we build on that. In other words, we need a much more agile approach to education.

26 May 2011

Corruption Garden

A PV for Vocaloid Luka ... actually made me cry ...

16 May 2011

We're Doomed!

Cats in Tanks from Whitehouse Post on Vimeo.

The Monoculture of American Education

An important read on why the United States educational system is a dangerous monoculture that has been abstracted from reality.

Mike Rowe's Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation via the Discovery Channel

See also Mike Rowe Works.

I will resist the urge to say Bloom's can suck my big rubber implem- ... oh, wait.

Spy On Your Camera!

Did you know that digital cameras include tracking information on exactly what camera took the picture? It is public information. You can call it up in Adobe Photoshop and look at it. (Which, by the way, also stores information on who editing the image, but in encrypted format so Adobe can spy on you and make sure you are using a licensed version).

Now, has your digital camera been lost or stolen?

Put the two together and you have a new Web service to offer people, the Stolen Camera Finder.

15 May 2011

Want!

Via Handmade Charlotte, whose entire blog really merits a look.

13 May 2011

Climate Change

Some bad rapping on climate change courtesy of some real climate change scientists.

Or so they claim.

Oh yah, NSFW!

via treehugger

Multiplayer Learning

Multiplayer High via boing boing.

A very good argument on why we should be looking at MMORPGs for inspiration on improving education.

12 May 2011

The Comfort Zone

One compliant I hear, and have made myself, is how hard it is to get students out of their comfort zone. They will work right up to the edge of what they know and then stop. Our challenge then, as instructors is to pull them out of that comfort zone to spur them on to learn new things and to do better.

The problem is that we so often fail to teach by example.

Much teaching looks like this:

We work hard to pull students into our own comfort zone without ever stepping out of it ourselves.

This is in part down to the somewhat balkanized nature of education, where each topic is treated as a thing in isolation assigned to different departments with different instructors and different agendas. It is also in part because we are usually hired to teach what we know, we are expected to focus on our area of expertise.

But that doesn't, or at least shouldn't, prevent us from stepping out of our own comfort zones. The way to get students out of their zones is to meet them halfway, not to pull them toward us.

By doing so, both instructors and students grow and expand their comfort zones to include more skills and talents and knowledge.

To put it another way, education needs to be about a conversation between educators and students, where each course becomes a practice of finding common ground to move beyond our respective comfort zones so that we can learn and grow as a group and as a community. But it is the educators who half to take that first step out of the bubble of the familiar, not the students.

11 May 2011

Price Stability

Why it is important to let computer algorithms set your prices for you ...

Lana, The Lady, The Legend, The Truth

What? The prices only differ by a factor of 10 billion.

Hint: If they fixed it by the time you find this, the lowest price was $0.01. The factor between prices should tell you approximately what the highest was. Maybe one of the booksellers is trying to find the money to help balance the US Federal budget.

What the Instructor Sees

I am firmly of the opinion that no matter what they may say, most educators sort of look at education like this:

That is how it felt to me as a student, and as an educator too. The problem is that education should not work that way. The point of being an educator is not to use your greater wisdom and knowledge to get students to that goal. The point of being an educator is helping students to develop the means and resources to get students to get themselves to that goal. The tools are similar. It is how they are applied that makes all the difference in the world.

We should be facilitating learning, not teaching.

Part 1: The Vise of Education

10 May 2011

The Vise of Education

Yes, there is a intentional pun there (in fact, I even spelled it wrong the first time because of that), but what I really mean is this:

Which to the typical student probably feels more like this.

Which is where I would like to begin an extended discussion of the problems of education today and what we can do to work toward a solution. This is the first step in a first draft, expect it to be revised an awful lot. I mean, I've already figured out that I needed to rename the first slide.

The vice of education is important and problematic because it crushes students between two very strong unidirectional channels, while only giving them a single much smaller channel with which to add their own voices to the classroom. This is, of course, discussion, which usually takes the form of student asks a question (or professor elicits a response) which the professor than responds to at length.

In this model, the assignments handed in are not effective channels of communication for largely the same reason that forced confessions are often not admissible in court. From the student's perspective, the work done feels coerced, squeezed out of them for the purposes of the course they are taking.

Of course, not all education is like this, and not all educators teach this way. But this is the model they are saddled with as they try to develop their own innovative solutions and workarounds.

The problem, perhaps, is that for all our talk of addressing student's needs, we really spend far too much time addressing educator's needs (or at least their belief systems). Which is to say, we spend far too much time talking abut teaching, and not enough time talking about learning.

Most new educational resources and technologies still reflect this. They are built on the model of teaching, of imparting knowledge, rather than being built on the model of exploration and experience. For all the talk, those seeking to learn are not allowed to run wherever they want in the museum, they have to follow the path and the narration of the docent. This doesn't facilitate learning, it hinders it, by creating bored students who are not allowed to go in directions that interest them.

Which really sums up the point I want to consider. How do we develop conceptualize educational technologies that are learning technologies instead of teaching technologies? Monolithic data warehouses storing the wisdom of those who came before to be fed to students (aka, any course management software package out there) who will mystically become enlightened by this fodder is definitely not the answer.

09 May 2011

The OCD Kitchen

My other half truly needs one of these for those days when they want to help in the kitchen but get all stressed out about what the "right size" is for this recipe ... the one I stopped following about three ingredients ago.

Via [Perpetual Kid].

08 May 2011

Change of Pace

Well, another school year done. A crazy one, as my heavy posting schedule during its course might sort of, kind of hint at. I am finally ready to admit that teaching turns me into a zombie. Even desk jobs that I would hate would leave me full of creative energy in the evenings, but teaching so totally drains me all I can do is sit there and go "meh".

Time for some brain recovery and a definite change of pace.

So as I recover and scheme, I would like to share the current state of my brain: