In order to write creatively, we need to exercise our free-spirited and impulsive right brain. It might take a while to “liberate” this side of the brain especially if we have worked in fields that are linear, concrete, and require rationale thought. This is what happened to me many years ago when I switched from a career in teaching and publishing to full-time writing. As I began my apprenticeship in the creative arts, I had to dispel several myths about the writing process and writers.
“Lost in My Life (Price Tags) ” by Rachel Perry Welty, DeCordova Museum.
1. Myth: Writers Are Strange.
There is an element of truth to this! Writers (and other creative people) must be willing to look below the surface of everyday life and explore the world and relationships like a curious outsider. This perspective sets us apart, but at the same time, it allows us…
You are looking at one of the reasons we moved to France. Bread, aka le pain. It’s a quality-of-life thing: we figured that even if we had to put our careers on hold, at least we’d be able to enjoy fresh bread every day. Lovely, crusty, light-as-a-feather baguette right out of the oven. Sans preservatives, as I memorably informed my late mother-in-law.
There is a boulangerie on every street corner in Paris and at least one in every village. In thousands of mom-and-pop shops from Nantes to Nice, the baker is at the ovens in the wee hours every morning, and you can buy a warm baguette from about 6:30 a.m. Such unfailing devotion is encrusted* in the very fiber* of le boulanger.
One of my first challenges in France was being able to go into the local bakery and buy what I wanted. There…
Never before or since my short trip to North Korea have I felt so perplexed about the realities of a country. It’s easy to know certain things: it’s a hermit nation, it’s citizens have little to no access to the outside world, it’s been run by a family of despots since the end of the Korean War, and it seemingly revels in its own bad behavior, taunting the world but stopping just short of biting the hands that feed it. But like all things worth exploring, what’s on the surface can be a very shallow reflection of the place as a whole.
During my few days in country, I met some of the nicest, most intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. North Koreans, born and raised. They would talk to me about the US’s foreign policies, about Vietnam’s peculiar brand of communism, and about many other…
Wilhelm Cauer was a German mathematician and engineer who worked in Gttingen and the US between the two world wars. He is associated with the term “black box,” although he apparently did not use it in his published papers, and others are said to have used it before. What Cauer did do was conceive a computing device based on electrical principles. According to this essay by Hartmut Petzold, Cauer’s device was markedly more advanced and mathematically general than other ‘analog devices’ of the same decades. He returned to Germany in the early 1930’s, stayed despite attention being drawn to some Jewish ancestry, and was killed in the last days of Berlin despite being on the Red Army’s list of scientists whose safety they’d wished to assure.
Today Ken and I wish to talk about black boxes and white boxes, no matter who invented them, and their relation to computing.
Okay, so it wasn’t really a tirade against anyone—the post was more of a defense of night owls. We’ve been taking a beating the last few years while the trend to praise the morning person as the model of success has gone into overdrive.
As a night owl, I got tired of hearing that I was a slacker, even though I bust my butt getting stuff done after 8 p.m. So I wrote that post.
Then, a few weeks ago, I saw this infographic—which beautifully illustrates everything I tried to articulate in that post.
Two of the hot topics in education in the last few years have been Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) and the flipped classroom. I’ve been experimenting with both of them.
What I’ve learned (besides being able to use the word “pedagogy” in a sentence) is
1) assigning students lectures as homework doesn’t guarantee the students will watch them and 2) in a flipped classroom you can become hostage to the pedagogy.
Here’s the story of what we tried and what we learned.
MOOC’s – Massive Open Online Courses A MOOC is a complicated name for a simple idea – an online course accessible to everyone over the web. I created my MOOC by serendipity. Learning how to optimize it in my classes has been a more deliberate and iterative process.
Even critics of massive open online courses, better known as MOOCs, shouldn’t deny the value of the student data those courses generate. Teachers can only gather insights into how engaged students really are with the material and how well they’re understanding it if they’re using a platform designed specifically to capture that data. MOOCs do this very well, and now University of Michigan meteorology professor Perry Samson (who also co-founded Weather Underground) has developed software to let his peers in lecture halls do the same.
The platform is called LectureTools, and it has some obvious benefits around helping ensure students engage with a course more than is naturally possible in a room full of 250 people. While class is in session, LectureTools lets professors quiz students using a variety of different formats, lets students submit questions and note when a slide confuses them, and even lets professors…
Gym rats and exercise fiends will soon have a wealth of connected equipment and tools that can track their movement, biological data and make exercise recommendations all based on algorithms running in the cloud. Instead of a personal trainer you might wear a wristband that tracks your workout against your goals and then suggests a few more reps.
Atlas Wearables, an Austin, Texas, company, has built a wristband that can track a variety of exercises and the wearer’s heart rate to offer up suggestions for exercises to work different muscles or just to help you meet goals. I covered the company at its launch during the TechStars demo day, because I was impressed that it had created algorithms that can track what movement a person is making. At the time, the company’s CEO and co-founder Peter Li wasn’t sure if he wanted to license the motion algorithm technology to…