• (this is important, please read carefully and share around this TRUE story I just heard from a friend of mine) Yesterday morning a (probably) north-american traveler made a complete, utterly ridiculous ass of himself in the Fiumicino airport, interrupting service and thus harassing everybody else around who (who would have imagined it) couldn’t risk to lose their plane for a kid’s tantrum. Why? Simply because he went to one of the bars in the airport, asked “a LATTE” and got just what he had asked for: one glass full of MILK straight out of the fridge and nothing else.
  • John Tolkien started to write the Silmarillion one hundred (one HUNDRED!) years ago and continued to work on it until he died, 41 years ago. Forty years later, an Illustration and Graphic Design student worked all by himself, for about one year, to produce a wonderful deluxe, hand-illuminated edition of the Silmarillion. But he can’t publish it. Because other people, who are NOT those who wrote those texts, haven’t given permission (synthesis from the interview):
  • You can think how much you want about effective ways of getting a discussion started, but sometimes reality just does all the work for you. I officially challenge EVERYBODY to find something better than this specific couple of stories, that came back to back in my RSS feed, as brain food for a wide-ranging discussion on the impact of mobile tech on society in general, not just transportation (links to the full stories below):

  • At Boston.com there is a series of wonderful photographs about pollution, environment and society in the USA of the seventies. And… The image above is just the central part of the (much larger) best photograph of the whole series, the twelfth one. Today, it says (indirectly, of course) so many things about how we got into the current environmental and economic mess that maybe it should become a poster. “We pay taxes, parks don’t” is impressive enough, but what really freaks me out are the “drive, don’t walk” signs in the background (and all the others aren’t light either…).
  • Robert Talbert writes that, even if he remains convinced that “online video is an idea whose time has really come in education”, and thinks that the current videos of Khan Academy are a great resource for the niche in which they were designed to work, they have some inherent limits that should not be forgotten, namely: the Khan Academy videos are (normally good) demos on how to finish mathematics exercises, with little modeling of the higher-level thinking skills this kinds of learning objectives (learning mechanical skills) that Khan Academy videos focus on are important
  • It is time to admit that when it comes to global development, mobile phones will not be able to achive it on their own, says Hibah Hussain of the New America Foundation. Promotion of social change and economic growth cannot dismiss established communications networks like radio, “the mass media that reaches the widest audience in the world”. Above all, says Hussain, it is radio, more than mobile phones, that reaches best the people you should think about when talking about development: poor people who, especially if they live in flood prone areas, always carry cheap radio sets along.
  • Are old methods of agriculture nearing the peak of their productive potential? They almost certainly are. Will this leave people without enough food? Yes, if we only look at the current agricultural methods, but not necessarily. Those methods are not conceived and practiced to maximize yield per acre, only yield per unit of labor. Their rule is not “do more”, or at least “do enough”, but “do with as little people as possible”.
  • Lynette Barr, a grade 6 teacher at Pentland Primary School in Bacchus Marsh, embeds games into every part of the curriculum, devoting 20% of class time to games-based learning. Since her students’ writing was not very descriptive, she turned to Super Scribblenauts on Nintendo DS. Some students work with online maths-based puzzles, others chart bowling scores in Wii Sports for a maths activity. Lately, the class has started exploring maths by running, jumping and throwing in Olympic sports on Xbox Connect.
  • Two experts say that: We don’t believe that most committed locavores sincerely promote the cultivation of pineapples or bananas in the American snowbelt; in our experience, they would rather have local residents get by without them. We don’t even disagree with their belief that eating locally means eating seasonally which, in turn, results in deprivation leading to greater appreciation. In our view, food masochism should be left to the realm of personal preferences.