Posts Tagged ‘education’

Bloggers, mind control and the death of newspapers (the Internet imagined in 1965)

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Calder invites us to have a giggle, but really it’s not a bad list at all, and compared with the (cough) ‘futurists’ who have come and gone since, Calder and the participants did a good job. Alvin Toffler was repackaging these ideas, particularly mass amateurisation, many years later. As are thousands of Web 2.0 consultants today.

Read more at The Register

Best reader comment here.

'Thousands' sign up for legal P2P

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Tens of thousands of students have signed up to pay for a legal P2P music program in US universities, set to start later this year in experimental form. It’s Choruss, the incubator hatched by Jim Griffin – a long-time advocate of licensing P2P sharing on networks.

Choruss won’t ultimately be in the retail or service business, Griffin told us in Washington DC today – but it may provide an “umbrella” for managed service companies such as Playlouder MSP, the technology partner for the suspended Virgin Unlimited music service. “We’re not in the business of distribution,” he said. Griffin was also on a panel at the biennial World Copyright Summit, organised by CISAC, the global organisation for collective rights management societies.

Griffin says this year’s phase of Choruss is designed to experiment with pricing. Different colleges will get different pricing schemes.

“The plan is to use next school year to run tests and experiments,” he said. Only after the scheme has been running will an assessment be possible – but Griffin told Summit delegates that, “We’ve had students tell us it’s worth $20 a month – to share what they want to share.”

The fact that such large numbers have volunteered to pay for a P2P service defies the conventional music industry wisdom that the only way to compete with the pirates is with free offerings. It also shows how much Choruss has evolved since it first broke the surface last April, when talk was of opting students in automatically, in return for a “coventant not to sue”.

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Charlie Nesson's trip

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

L.S.and D.

Has Charlie Nesson been at the magic mushrooms again? The hippy head of the Berkman Center, the influential New Age techno-utopian think tank that’s attached to Harvard Law School, wants to enlist Radiohead in his fight against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Nesson, a long-time opponent of creator’s digital rights, is contesting the statutory damages in infringement cases. A Boston graduate student called Joel Tenenbaum was ordered to reach a settlement with the record companies after being sued for copyright infringement, having shared files using the Kazaa P2P network back in 2003. Nesson’s strategy in Sony BMG Music vs Tenenbaum is to put the music business on trial. That’s fine – suing freetards isn’t going to stop P2P file sharing and it isn’t going to save the music business. It only adds to the anoraks’ persecution complex. Even the RIAA has now concluded it’s the wrong strategy.

But is Nesson the man to fight The Man? Nesson’s novel argument is that unlicensed P2P file sharing is “fair use”. Even his Harvard students, who are doing the work for him, think that’s stretch. And maybe he doesn’t want to win, just preen about in front of a camera. He wants it televised, he Arse Technica, because:

“It’s like a reality show that we can all be participants in as we go along… It’s an incredibly powerful expansion of the idea of teaching.”
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Jim Griffin's Choruss

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

The plan to provide US students with compulsory flat-fee music finally has a name, it emerged this week. Choruss LLC will provide participating universities with a replacement for their current subscription services such as Rhapsody, and has the backing of the the EFF and the tacit support of the RIAA. That alone indicates the magnitude of the initiative. When have those two lobbying groups ever agreed on music policy?
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Junk science and booze tax – a study in spin

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Let's find out what everybody is doing, and stop them doing it - A P Herbert
“Let’s find out what everybody is doing, and stop them doing it” – A P Herbert

Putting the price of alcohol up to a minimum of 40p a unit would keep 41,000 people a year out of hospital, save the NHS £116m a year, and avoid 12,400 cases of unemployment, a report from Sheffield University claimed last week. These appear to be remarkably precise predictions. The government used the report – widely quoted in the press – to justify higher duties and greater regulation of the sale of alcohol. Yet on close examination, the report appears to be a prime example of “policy-based evidence making”.

The blockbuster report, from Sheffield University’s Section of Public Health, is in two major parts: a review of evidence, and a statistical model, totalling over 500 pages. Researchers examined the effects of alcohol pricing and alcohol promotion (and advertising) on three areas: consumption, public health and crime. I won’t cover the latter, because these proposals were dropped before the Queen’s Speech, but it is evident from the amount of time the Sheffield researchers devoted to this, that this was a legislative priority. Academia marches in lockstep with its financial benefactor – in this case, of course, the Department of Health.

Read more at The Register

The hitman, the Pirate Bay and the Freetard professor

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

REG: What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?!
FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression!
REG: It’s symbolic of his struggle against reality

- Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Everyone’s a prankster these days – it’s all in the name of art.

On Monday a former Irish loyalist hitman was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the attempted murder of senior Sinn Fein leaders. Michael Stone had burst into the Belfast Assembly with nail bombs, a garotte, an axe and knives, but was quickly wrestled to the ground. In court, Stone claimed the event had been a piece of “performance art”.

Stone’s paintings had exhibited at Belfast Engine Room Gallery. In court, Stone was defiant: “Make art, not war,” he told an unimpressed judge.

But Stone’s not alone. Last week two art school students in the Netherlands released a software prank. They developed a Firefox brower plug-in that redirected Amazon.com surfers to unlicensed versions of the same material on P2P site Pirate Bay. The Pirates of the Amazon (geddit?) plug-in was quickly withdrawn after Amazon.com lawyers got in touch with the students’ ISP.
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"What powers a solar-powered snail?"

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Boffins have slammed examiners in England for setting school children seriously dumb questions. The Royal Chemistry Society said that the science exams for 14 year olds includes questions such as, “What powers a solar-powered snail?”

The Society’s chief executive Dr Richard Pike told us that while the syllabus and text books covered a broad range of scientific subjects, the exams only touched on a small subset of these. As an example, the Society notes that one examination only asked questions about length, volume, mass and temperature, while the text book covered electrical current and resistance, pressure, rotational moment, and deriving.

The most taxing maths in the examination required students to find the mid point between 4 and 8 – by reading off a figure in an adjacent column.

The snail question was set for tiers 3-6 in Key Stage 3.

Other examples include these multiple choice questions:

Why is copper used for wires in a circuit?

  • Copper does not stick to a magnet
  • Copper is a brown metal
  • Copper is a good conductor of electricity
  • Copper if a good conductor of heat

In very cold weather a mixture of salt and sand is spread on roads. Why?

  • Salt makes the roads white
  • Salt makes water freeze
  • Salt makes ice melt
  • Sand dissolves in water
  • Sand increases friction between car tyres and the road
  • Sand makes water freeze

And this one, inspired by Father Ted, perhaps:

Some stars are bigger than the Sun but they look smaller. Why do they look smaller than the Sun?

  • They are brighter than the Sun
  • They are further away than the Sun
  • They are the same colour as the Sun
  • They are nearer than the Sun

That foxes me every time.

But seriously – who benefits most in the future from a population too dumb to distinguish between science and pseudoscience? Answers on a solar-powered snail, please.

TV tells CO2-emitting children to die early

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

ABC's Planet Slayer

Carbon Cult sickos are under fire for an interactive website that tells children they should die because they emit CO2.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Planet Slayer” site invites young children to take a “greenhouse gas quiz”, asking them “how big a pig are you?”. At the end of the quiz, the pig explodes, and ABC tells children at “what age you should die at so you don’t use more than your fair share of Earth’s resources!”

It’s one of a number of interactive features that “Get the dirt on greenhouse without the guilt trips. No lectures. No multinational-bashing (well, maybe a little…). Just fun and games and the answers to all your enviro-dilemas,” ABC claims.

The site is aimed at 9-year olds. However even a “virtuous” rating (e.g. not owning a car and recycling) is outweighed by eating meat, or spending an average Aussie income – with the result that many 9-year olds are being told they’ve already outstayed their environmentally-compliant stay on the planet.

“Do you think it’s appropriate that the ABC … depict people who are average Australians as massive overweight ugly pigs, oozing slime from their mouths, and then to have these pigs blow up in a mass of blood and guts?” asked Senator Mitch Fifield in the Herald-Sun.

The state-sponsored broadcaster (why is that not a surprise?) defended the morbid quiz, with ABC managing director Mark Scott insisting “the site was not designed to offend certain quarters of the community but to engage children in environmental issues.”

Which is eco-speak for frighten them witless. However, as the excellent science blog Watts Up With That points out, the site clearly breaches Australian broadcasting guidelines on “harmful or disturbing” content.

Meanwhile, the site’s designers are revelling in the controversy:

“Thank God for outraged senators – you can’t buy publicity like that,” PlanetSlayer’s “creative director” Bernie Hobbs crowed to the New York Post.

So how, according to ABC, does one appease the vengeful Death God, Gaia?
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Sadville is great for bubblewrap kids – BBC

Friday, October 26th, 2007

TV shrink Tanya Byron blamed over-protective parents for keeping “bubble wrap” kids away from real social interaction and tethered to technology such as the internet, we reported yesterday.

The government is hiring Byron to tout a “Live Consultation”, soliciting views on how the internet might affect children. That’s your taxes at work, Part One.

How odd then that the BBC, while making deep cuts in real current affairs coverage, is investing heavily in “virtual worlds”. That’s your taxes at work, Part Two.
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'Please read this important email: you are being shot'

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

These days, no major tragedy is complete without ambulance-chasing technology boosters muscling in on the aftermath. The Asian tsunami and the London 7/7 attacks both provided a tasteless excuse for evangelists to hype their favourite cause: instant real-time communications in general, and blogging in particular.

But with the Virginia Tech massacre, the reliance on technology itself is in the spotlight. Campus administrators took two hours to warn students there was a threat to their lives. Police were alerted that a gunman was on the loose at 7:15am. The second shooting spree began at 9:45am.

All students and staff received this warning by email (yes, email): “A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows.”
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