S.

Socialnomics – Nice Video, crude Statistics

Erik Qualman says: “Statistics Show Social Media Is Bigger Than You Think”.

I would say: “Social Media Shows How Flexible Statistics Have Become!”

  1. Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30-years-old – That is right.
  2. 96% of Millennials have joined a social network – In this context, it is wrong! The truth is slightly different: Trendspotting found in a surveys on the US young generation that 96% of online teens/tweens report ever having used any type of social networking technology including IM/chat, text messaging and email.
  3. Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S. – That is right. https://www.hitwise.com/us/datacenter/main/dashboard-10133.html
  4. Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web – That is right since 2009. https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/01/social-media-po.html
  5. 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media – I could not find the cited McKinsey study. Everyone on the web cites McKinsey but no one links to the source.
  6. Years to Reach 50 millions Users: Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)… – I could not verify these numbers but the authors cite https://cyberschoolbus.un.org/
  7. Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year – That may be right, but only in the 6th year of facebook’s existence. If really compared to Radio, TV, Internet and iPod (point 6), it would be right to say: facebook (4 Years). Facebook reached 1 Million in 2004, 5.5 Million in 2005, 12 Million in 2006, 50 Million in 2007, 100 Million in 2008 and 350 Million in 2009. https://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?timeline
  8. iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months. – 1 Billion what? Apples? However, one billion Downloads from the Appstore, to be honest. What is social about downloading an app for iPhone and iPod touch? https://www.apple.com/itunes/billion-app-countdown/
  9. “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.” – Another question is how well we DO statistics.
  10. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest ahead of the United States and only behind China and India – That might be true, but obviously facebook isn’t a country. Would you compare your TV to a country? Or your Mobile Phone? Otherwise you could say: Mobile Phones are the world’s biggest country. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use Read more
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E.

Ellen and Eleanor try out iPad and iPhone

Maybe these two videos explain why the iPhone may not perfectly fit educational needs, but the iPad does! The touch screen and intuitive usability were already there from the very beginning. But for Kids, and not only for them, less is more! The iPod touch was a great step in this direction. I remember my son playing with an iPod touch from the age of 1. But now, the iPad’s bigger screen is the latest development that was still needed to be able to develop real educational Apps. What do you think?

Ellen’s iPhone parody

Eleanor, 2, tries out an iPad

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhdoHtnD4Ts

(thx Ellen and Gizmodo)

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F.

Flip Text – Mirror Writing 2.0

The notes on Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man image are in mirror writing.

Leonardo da Vinci is famous for having written most of his personal notes in mirror.

There are two popular theories on why he did this. Either da Vinci was left-handed, causing the ink to smudge easily if he wrote in standard writing. Or he wanted to protect his ideas from theft or hide them from the Roman Catholic Church with whom his research practices sometimes collided. However, the latter idea is highly unlikely. Even at da Vinci’s time, the text in question could be easily read “backwards” either directly or through its reflection in a mirror. The true purpose of this practice thus remains unknown.

Which tool would he use today? It would probably be fliptext. Although it is not exactly mirror writing, it transforms the text in a similar way, using symmetry and similarities of different letters. For example s, x, z and o are rotationally symmetrical, while pairs such as b/q, d/p and n/u are rotations of each other. The rest of the letters are encoded into the Unicode International Phonetic Alphabet, creating a full set of upside-down lowercase letters.

I am quite impressed each time I try it, that it’s possible to read the transformed text, even without a mirror, or even without turning your screen upside down.

You can use fliptext to write upside down on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or your Blog or even typing Emails, Presentations or Documents. It should work in all modern browsers and applications because it is Unicode.
Try it out!
Fliptext.org

?u?op ?p?sdn u????s ?no? bu?u?n? ?no???? u??? ?o ‘?o???? ? ?no???? u??? ‘?x?? p???o?su??? ??? p??? o? ??q?ssod s,?? ???? ‘?? ??? ? ???? ???? p?ss??d?? ???nb ?? ?

?s?????? ?s?????o? u?op-?p?sdn ?o ??s ??n? ? bu?????? ‘??q??d?? ????uo?d ??uo???u???u? ?po??un ??? o?u? p?po?u? ??? s?????? ??? ?o ?s?? ??? ?????o ???? ?o suo????o? ??? n/u pu? d/p ‘b/q s? ??ns s???d ????? ‘??????????s ????uo????o? ??? o pu? z ‘x ‘s ??d??x? ?o? ?s?????? ?u??????p ?o s??????????s pu? ???????s bu?sn ‘??? ??????s ? u? ?x?? ??? s??o?su??? ?? ‘bu????? ?o???? ?????x? ?ou s? ?? ?bno???? ??x??d??? ?q ??q?qo?d p?no? ?? ¿??po? ?sn ?? p?no? ?oo? ?????

?u?ou?un su????? sn?? ???????d s??? ?o ?sod?nd ?n?? ??? ??o???? ? u? uo???????? s?? ?bno??? ?o ???????p ?????? “sp??????q” p??? ???s?? ?q p?no? uo??s?nb u? ?x?? ??? ‘???? s,??u?? ?p ?? u??? ???????un ???b?? s? ??p? ?????? ??? ‘?????o? ?p?p???o? s??????os s???????d ?????s?? s?? ?o?? ???? ???n?? ???o???? u??o? ??? ?o?? ???? ?p?? ?o ????? ?o?? s??p? s?? ????o?d o? p??u?? ?? ?o ?bu????? p??pu??s u? ??o?? ?? ?? ???s?? ?bpn?s o? ?u? ??? bu?sn?? ‘p?pu??-???? s?? ??u?? ?p ?????? ?s??? p?p ?? ??? uo s???o??? ???ndod o?? ??? ?????

??o???? u? s??ou ??uos??d s?? ?o ?so? u?????? bu???? ?o? sno??? s? ??u?? ?p op??uo??

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W.

With new technology, literacy evolves

It was Louis Braille, a student at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, who modified the French Army’s “night writing”  in 1821 and came up with what is known as Braille today. For the first time in history, blind people had access to a reliable method of written communication, resulting in a signifant rise in social status. Louis Braille was embraced as a liberator.

Braille code where the word “premier” (French for “first”) can be read.

Nowadays, with more and more written words digitized, MP3 players, audio books and screen-reading software are a real alternative for blind people to access and communicate in the written language, without even knowing Braille. A report by the National Federation of the Blind found that less than 10 percent of legally blind Americans learn to read and write Braille today. Back in the 1950s it was roughly half of all blind children.

There has been a big debate whether this affects cognitive development. Moving from the written to the spoken language may have more cultural consequences rather than cognitive ones. It is about losing your own way of communication, and discussing that issue may be as passionate as the debate about cochlear implants and their imoact on the use of sign language, or the decreasing of language variety in general.

But I would rather like to link the developments of Braille and new technology to the learning of reading and writing in schools today. Although for sighted people the transition from written and printed texts to digital representations has been more subtle, it is still remarkable and has important impacts, too. It will probably affect our general view of literacy. With new technology, literacy has become harder to define.

That's how text messaging looked like in 1912. (c) Underwood & Underwood
That’s how text messaging looked like in 1912. (c) Underwood & Underwood

Take penmanship for example: While handwriting was still necessary in the last century for documents, reports, etc., this is no longer the case today. The majority of formal documents are expected to be typed and most people use handwriting, if at all, only for informal notes and reminders. One could question the relevance of learning penmanship at all. A few decades ago, experts even predicted that the electronic age would create a postliterate generation as new forms of media eclipsed the written word. Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and scholar best known for his expression “global village”, claimed in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) that Western culture would return to the “tribal and oral pattern.”

Do we really need to learn penmanship to be literate people today? The architecture of our brain is flexible. Blind people for instance consistently surpass sighted ones on tests of verbal memory, according to a 2003 study in Nature Neuroscience. Instead of teaching handwriting, it would be more appropriate to teach digital literacy, not least because even standardized tests are employing the new technologies. For example, in 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019.

Although one could argue that the question of teaching and testing is only another form of asking: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, I would argue, that even without testing future education will be much more about digital literacy rather than calligraphy. And new technology will not only affect the way we teach reading and writing, but also the way we teach art, music, mathematics, science, foreign languages and literature. I am curious about the new approaches and very happy to live in a global village.

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T.

The School of Facebook

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” This famous misquotation of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates became popular in the 1960s, when it was used by the Mayor of Amsterdam and reported by The New York Times, on April 3, 1966.

Rafael: The School of Athens

Nowadays, parents and teachers once again are concerned about the bad manners or the social well-being of their kids.

Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 spend on average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day using some sort of electronic device, from smartphones to MP3 players to computers, The Kayser Family Foundation reported earlier this year. You can go to any campus or school, and you will probably find an immediate flipping up of phones and texting when the lesson is over. Parents are concerned about the fact that kids no longer care about language as an art and gift. And they wonder: If some of these digital natives have more than 500 “friends” on social networks like Facebook, do we have to be concerned about the future?

We do, certainly. But we should look a little bit closer first. As The Economist reported in an article entitled “Primates on Facebook” last year, even people with very many Facebook friends, mutually communicate only with some happy few. 10 to 16 people, according to a study of the Facebook Data Team, taking into account gender differences. The average user on Facebook has “only” 120 confirmed friend connections and mutually communicates with 3 to 7 people. This looks quite similar to the good old concept of friendship.

(c) Facebook Data Team: Maintained Relationships on Facebook

And even if Facebook seems to devaluate the term “friend”, and although parents might be impressed or scared of the social multitasking skills of their children, digital natives seem to be able to build up and maintain friendships in their social networks. As the Economist put it: “The neocortex is the limit.”

It was Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist from Oxford, who extrapolated from the brain sizes and social networks of apes and suggested that the size of the human brain allows stable networks of about 148. Many institutions, from neolithic villages to the maniples of the Roman army, seem to be organized around this Dunbar number. And even digital natives in their new habitat of social networks do not exceed those limits.

Until recently concerns about the use of technology have been focused on the implications for kids’ intellectual development. Now, it is taken into account how technology is affecting social relationships and friendship. This brings the worry about the social repercussions of technology from the darker side of online interactions, like cyber-bullying or texting sexually explicit messages, to the light.

In my opinion, most of the concerns of the elder generation result from something Remo Largo, swiss MD and early childhood specialist would call “misfit” between Kids’ behavior and their environment. Then education would be about rearranging learning and living to better match the children’s individual needs. That means new approaches to digital literacy to address a second digital divide. But it is also about being interested in the kids’ needs and their new virtual habitat. Better education will help them to find the balance between broadcasting and privacy, networking and friendship, multitasking and concentration, lightweight conversation and personal reflection, online networks, and real life.

This southpark episode is a very good starting point:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SgkfghupFE&NR=1

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