I enjoyed reading (June)

reading mountainThe internet: Everything you ever need to know (John Naughton):

A funny thing happened to us on the way to the future. The internet went from being something exotic to being boring utility, like mains electricity or running water – and we never really noticed. So we wound up being totally dependent on a system about which we are terminally incurious. The internet has quietly infiltrated our lives, and yet we seem to be remarkably unreflective about it.

We really need to pay more attention to the internet and the impact it’s having on our lives. It’s not just another way to pay your bills, it’s a profoundly important . Related: Time to start taking the internet seriously (David Gelernter).


The coming war on general purpose computing (Cory Doctorow):

…it doesn’t take a science fiction writer to understand why regulators might be nervous about the user-modifiable firmware on self-driving cars, or limiting interoperability for aviation controllers, or the kind of thing you could do with bio-scale assemblers and sequencers…Regardless of whether you think these are real problems or merely hysterical fears, they are nevertheless the province of lobbies and interest groups that are far more influential than Hollywood and big content are on their best day, and every one of them will arrive at the same place — “can’t you just make us a general purpose computer that runs all the programs, except for the ones that scare and anger us? Can’t you just make us an Internet that transmits any message over any protocol between any two points, unless it upsets us?”

Here is a transcript of Cory’s presentation.

Bloom and bust (Steve Wheeler): Bloom’s taxonomy was my first introduction to the idea that teaching and learning could be better understood through the use of frameworks and theories. For that reason, it has a place in my heart but I’ve since come around to the fact that it is too simplistic and structured to really represent any form of meaningful learning.

And yet Bloom’s taxonomy raised some serious issues. How relevant is it in the digital age? Should we still be organising learning experiences as a gradient of ‘terminal learning objectives’ in an age where learning is changing, and where personal technologies and social media are increasingly significant? Learning is changing, because the boundaries between discrete learning activities are blurring.

Creating classrooms we need: 8 ways into Inquiry Learning

Teachers teach kids, not subjects.

I often fall into the trap of thinking about the subjects I teach, rather than the people I teach. This reminded me of the difference.


What is transhumanism, or, what does it mean to be human? (Sebastian Anthony):  I’m increasingly interested in how the integration of technology into our lives seems to be a first step towards integrating it into our bodies. What happens when I can jack directly into the internet? Or store all digital texts in my augmented brain? What does it mean for testing when our students are able to do exactly that?

The uneasiness that surround new, paradigm-shifting technologies isn’t new, and it has only been amplified by the exponential acceleration of technology that has occurred during our lifetime. If you were born 500 years ago, odds are that you wouldn’t experience a single societal-shifting technology in your lifetime — today, a 40 year old will have lived through the creation of the PC, the internet, the smartphone, and brain implants, to name just a few life-changing technologies. It is unsettling, to say the least, to have the rug repeatedly pulled out from under you, especially when it’s your livelihood at stake. Just think about how many industries and jobs have been obliterated or subsumed by the arrival of the digital computer, and it’s easy to see why we’re wary of transhumanist technologies that will change the very fabric of human civilization.

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