Disrupting Education’s Status Quo

La Paz Group

Harvard Business Review offers this interview with the founder of Khan Academy, a non-profit educational initiative that has been succeeding the way many dot-com businesses succeed–the difference being that all the benefits accrue to students and their educational attainment around the world. Bravo, Mr. Khan:

…In the traditional academic model, you’re passive. You sit in a chair, and the teacher tries to project knowledge at you; some of it sticks, some of it doesn’t. That’s not an effective way to learn. Worse, it creates a mind-set of “you need to teach me,” so when you’re on your own, you think, “I can’t learn.” Anyone in any industry will tell you there’s new stuff to learn every week these days. So you have to say, “What information and people do I have at my disposal? What questions do I need to ask? How do I gauge whether I’ve really understood it?”…

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The Buzz of the City

Moniemuse

The buzz of the city filled the air with endless possibilities. From the moment we saw the bay bridge we knew we were in for an adventure. I imagined young people working in their studio offices making creative decisions that would influence our culture.

The first stop we made was a hidden coffee shop. When I walked in the doors, I saw tables full of people talking and visiting with one another. I was tempted to ask them what they did for a living so I too could be in a coffee shop on a Tuesday morning at 10am hanging out with friends.  We ordered our lattes and pretend we were one of them.


We later made our way to watch the sun set at the beach. The people of the city seemed to be searching for a connection with nature, the parks were full of runners and the beach…

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Yandex Adds Facebook Posts And Big Data To Its Search Results In Russia, Other Home Markets

TechCrunch

Yandex and Facebook had a notable run-in last year when a team of developers from the Russian search giant created a social search app called Wonder, which Facebook promptly blocked, leading to it shutting down. But in reality the two sides have been working together since 2010, and today comes the latest chapter in the collaboration. Yandex is launching a social search feature that will serve Yandex visitors related, real-time public posts from Facebook alongside other search results. Yandex, which accounts for around 60% of all searches in Russia, will also use Facebook firehose data to help provide more relevant results.

From what we understand, this is a non-commercial deal, with access to the firehose free. Yandex would not comment on whether it would eventually add commercial elements — say, around search ads.

The only other search engine that uses Facebook in its results is Bing in the…

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Sony Adds To Its Global Mobile Lineup With The Xperia T2 Ultra And Xperia E1 Android Phones

TechCrunch

Sony is adding two smartphones to its growing stable of devices. Meet the Xperia T2 Ultra and the Xperia E1 — both substantial updates to Sony’s 2013 models. Best yet, both are offered in dual-sim variants.

These latest phones join the Z1S and Z1 announced last week at CES. However, it seems Sony held these close to its chest, as they’re somewhat mundane and not destined for the U.S. market. And, as Sony found out from years of experience, to “win” CES requires focused and streamlined announcements and not a proverbial conveyor belt of press releases.

sony

Sony is up front about the T2 Ultra’s destination: This phone is for emerging markets like China, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific rim, touts the press release. But this phone isn’t lacking in any substantial way. It’s packed to the gills with the best Sony has to offer, including a near edgeless…

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Love in the Information Age: Her

Mr. Rhapsodist

Her is one of those films that doesn’t quite fit the usual genre molds. According to most trailers, it’s a romantic comedy with a dash of science fiction. In truth, it’s a science fiction romance with some great comedy.

Her is the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a writer who can express others’ emotions through handwritten letters but has trouble doing so himself. As his divorce to his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara) is finalized, Theodore begins a relationship with his new Operating System, a pleasant-sounding and ever-evolving AI named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). What follows is an awkward romance between Theodore and Samantha, as the two try to bridge the gap between the physical and mental. But issues emerge, stemming from Theodore’s emotional distance and Samantha’s excitement at being an AI that grows beyond her original programming. The conflict is internal, as Samantha’s lack of a body makes…

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Dungeons and Dragons

The Accidental Cootchie Mama

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This miniseries was inspired by Kate Shrewsday’s post here: http://kateshrewsday.com/2014/01/06/dragon-slayers-and-knuckerholes/

Historians argue about initial sightings of the New World. Few people really believe Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, especially given that people had already been living here for centuries.

But how did they get here? Who from the outside (or from ‘off’ as we would say in Charleston) saw them first?

Most historians agree that the Native Americans migrated over a land bridge from Siberia to modern day Alaska. The earth was cooler then; the seas lower. Maybe they didn’t even realize how far they wandered, until the ocean cut them off from their former home.

They were fruitful. They multiplied. They spread all over the crannies of two continents.

Yet, some of their rituals didn’t fit with where they came from. They built ziggurat-like structures that were somewhat Phoenician.One historian devoted a…

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