Augmented Education

I know that I am supposed to like this product because of its advertising—the simulacra of spontaneous discovery and multicultural cast—but I do anyway.

Here is a wonderful example of subordinating the machine to the use of actual “manipulatives” in a potentially one–to–many relationship with children. Here the machine facilitates action and interaction IRL, “in real life.” I love the simplicity of the hardware, a plastic stand, plastic–housed mirror for the front–facing camera, and plastic manipulatives; and the sophistication of the artificially intelligent classroom.

I can only hope that this would be adopted in classrooms that already have iPads in use. I give you Osmo, “play beyond the screen.”

Happy Birthday, BASIC

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Fifty years ago this month, in 1964, a computer programming language winked to life that changed the course of a generation. While many would point to the rise of Unix and other ubiquitous programming languages in the intervening years as formative points in the history of computing, on May 1, 1964, a computer at Darmouth College ran the first BASIC program, changing the world forever.

Created by Professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz and a team of student programmers, the Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code was supposed to be a simple system for teaching computer literacy and escaping the strange runes associated with early mainframe programming. Gone were commands like “EBCDIC ARRAY E [0:11],” replaced by a simple “HELLO” to begin programming and a delightful “READY” prompt that showed the computer was listening.


BASIC was perfect for beginners. The structure was inherent in the language – each line was numbered…

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The Transparency Report

Richard Hudak:

As I publish several blogs on WordPress, I am happy to see this transparency report from them.

Originally posted on News:

Automattic’s mission is to democratize publishing, and a fully informed citizenry is the foundation of any functioning democracy. Keeping our users and the public fully informed about our policies on responding to government requests has always been important to us — and now, more than ever, candor in this area is vitally important.

In keeping with these principles, we’re pleased to release our first transparency report. This initial report summarizes the number of government information requests, takedown demands, and national security requests that we received during the second half of 2013. In addition to giving our users full transparency about the volume of these requests, we also hope that publicly reporting our data will help hold all parties (including us) accountable.

A few highlights of our report:

Information Requests. For the second half of 2013, approximately 0.0001% of the 48 million sites that we host were subject to a…

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A Chinese Company 3D-Printed 10 Houses In A Day – Business Insider

3D-Printed House

Every day, I think we head closer to the world of cyberpunk, in this case to Neal Stephenson’s grand vision of The Diamond Age.

There’s a lot you can do with a 3D printer. Now add “building a house in a day” to the list.

Make that 10 houses.
The WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. has printed 10 homes in 24 hours out of recycled materials.

via A Chinese Company 3D-Printed 10 Houses In A Day – Business Insider.

big data: a definition

Originally posted on

People often complain, justifiably, that “big data” is a catchy phrase, not a real concept. And yes, it certainly is hot, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with a useful definition that can guide research. Here is my definition – big data is data that has the following properties:

  • Size: The data is “large” when compared to the data normally used in social science. Normally, surveys only have data from a few thousand people. The World Values Survey, probably the largest conventional data set used by social scientists, has about  two hundred thousand people in it. “Big data” starts in the millions of observations.
  • Source: The data is generated through the use of the Internet – email, social media, web sites, etc.
  • Natural: It generated through routine daily activity (e.g., email or Facebook likes) . It is not, primarily, created in the artificial environment of a survey…

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Mapping and driving is ok, appellate court says

Richard Hudak:

Augmented reality has legal implications. Hands off my GPS.

Originally posted on BGR:

A man who was given a ticket two years ago for using a map app on an iPhone 4 while driving had his conviction overturned by a Fresno appellate court on Thursday, which agreed that drivers should be able to use map apps on a smartphone while on the road, FresnoBee reports. “The Fifth District Court of Appeal unanimously concluded that the state Vehicle Code applies to listening and talking and texting on a cellphone while driving – not looking at a map application,” the publication writes.

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Fitbit stops selling Force activity tracker, issues voluntary recall

Richard Hudak:

The downside of augmented reality and personal data collection.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Fitbit has stopped selling the popular Force activity tracking band after learning that a small percentage of users have been experiencing skin irritation. The company has also issued a voluntary recall.

Fitbit (see disclosure) provided the following statement to Gigaom:

“From the beginning, we’ve taken this matter very seriously. We hired independent labs and medical experts to conduct a thorough investigation, and have now learned enough to take further action. The materials used in Force are commonly found in many consumer products, and affected users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to these materials.

While only a small percentage of Force users have reported any issue, we care about every one of our customers. We have stopped selling Force and are in the process of conducting a voluntary recall, out of an abundance of caution. We are also offering a refund directly to consumers for full retail price. We want…

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OpenStreetMap gets physical as Lokku invests in SplashMaps

Richard Hudak:

Augmented reality is what we call it when the digital and physical worlds are seen as a continuum here is another example.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Open data is cool and all that, but is it washable? It is with SplashMaps, a rather odd British startup that just received seed funding from OpenStreetMap firm Lokku.

Lokku runs a property search engine called Nestoria and a sideline business called OpenCage Data, which aims to help others also use OpenStreetMap geodata. When I covered that in mid-2013, Lokku told me it was also setting up a seed fund to boost the ecosystem. SplashMaps is the first open data investment from that pot.

SplashMaps, which was successfully crowdfunded at the end of 2012, does what its name suggests: it makes waterproof fabric maps. The concept is very similar to the old escape and evasion maps used in World War II, except this time it’s targeting hikers, mountain bikers, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiasts who are likely to get wet while trying to find their way.

SplashMaps scarf

The maps…

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Kid Cyborg

I loved seeing this report about the Dad who printed his kid a cybernetic prosthesis. The unthinkable is always just around the corner, and next door.

Two years ago, Paul McCarthy began searching for an inexpensive yet functional prosthetic hand for his son Leon, who was born without fingers on one of his hands. McCarthy came across a video online with detailed instruction on how to use a 3-D printer to make a prosthetic hand for his son. Michelle Miller reports.