• 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):

  • 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.
  • You should visit Wikipedia Watch because they examine the consequences of its massive influence on what passes for reliable information: “While Wikipedia itself does not run ads, they are the most-scraped site on the web. Scrapers need any content in order to carry ads from Google and other advertisers. This entire effect is turning Wikipedia into a generator of spam. It is primarily Google’s fault, since Wikipedia might find it difficult to address the issue of scraping even if they wanted to.
  • In 2009 George Soros said that sometimes banks and insurance companies began to transgress the law, rather than just lobbying to have the law changed to serve their interests. Besides, he said, axioms of free-market economics do not apply to the financial markets as “markets feed on themselves, so that financial values have a permanent tendency to swing and are never rational”. Therefore, according to Soros, real recovery would require regulation that compels banks to carry more capital and lend more judiciously.