Tag Archives: ted

Why I Must Speak Out About Climate Change

I’ve been a committed believer of climate change for at least 10 years, but I have to admit that in the last few years I have started to have my doubts. The reading that fixed my mind in the first place (The Weather Makers, Boiling Point, etc) has diminished in my memory, the movement seemed beset by scientific scandal, and there seems to be a fog of FUD obscuring the issue. This video provided a timely reminder of the urgent need for action if we are to avoid destroying ourselves and huge parts of the world around us. It is important to focus on the message provided by the science, and in the strength of the scientific method, which is, after all, one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.

Margaret Gould Stewart: How YouTube Thinks About Copyright


Copyright is an area of immense interest for me: I cannot say exactly why, but I think it is to do with the interplay of creativity, reward and culture. I mostly think of copyright as being a battle between the content creators and content users, with each trying to find the best deal for themselves. Lawmakers, swayed by one side or the other, pass legislation to maintain a balance of some kind (currently far too much in favour of the creators). And technology provides a landscape which is constantly changing, requiring all players to exert effort to maintain equilibrium for themselves and the system as a whole. At the core of copyright is the issue of our culture, and specifically how we create, transmit and enjoy its artifacts (such as music, video and books).

Of late, we have seen many attempts by content creators (recording artists, move directors) and their representatives (MPAA, RIAA) to block technological developments that they see as harmful to their interests. This often leads to a strong perceived delineation between bad/evil/greedy creators and poor/choiceless consumers. In many instances this delineation seems to be fair and accurate, for example when Paramount attempted to claim copyright over someone’s footage of the public filming of movie.

However, every so often we catch a glimpse of developments that are distinctly more subtle in their effort to create benefit for all. My standard examples of these instances are Creative Commons and the Open Source movement. Having watched this fascinating video, I think I might now have a third example. The video deals with YouTube’s automated efforts to allow content creators to have control over their content in such a way that uses economic incentives to encourage them to permit remix and reuse. This softly-softly approach seems to be a great way to get big corporations interested in the power of participatory culture, whilst allowing them to maintain ownership over their content.

From an information technology perspective, the video provides great insights into the way that YouTube uses technology to process, analise and make decisions upon huge numbers of videos. It also illustrates many interesting points regarding information processes, and shows that systems are not just composed of technology, but also consist of people, policies and data. I think many students will definitely be interested to see what happens behind the scenes on the world’s most popular video sharing platform.

I am certainly interested to learn more about YouTube’s efforts in this area, and would love to see this system fulfill its potential to empower individuals to create culture rather than simply consume it. As to whether or not it will, who knows, but given Google’s long history of pushing the envelope when it comes to copyright, it just might.

Gever Tulley on 5 dangerous things for kids


As a parent and a teacher, I am keenly aware of the need to provide children with a safe environment in which to grow up and learn. However, at a certain point, too much safety begins to deny children the opportunities to assess and take risks, to push themselves,  and to learn what is and is not safe and acceptable. Children need these experiences to develop confidence, self esteem and common sense. Personally, I feel that by denying children the opportunity to take suitable risks (owning pen knives, hiking, making bike ramps, etc.), we are pushing children to take unacceptable risks (taking drugs, driving under the influence, unprotected sex, etc). In this video, Gever Tulley gives examples of dangerous things we should encourage children to do, for these very reasons. With proper guidance, these activities can really help children to develop a better understand of themselves and the world around them.

Right, I am off to play with fire…it is, after all, educational.

TEDx Events


TED provides a consistently rich and varied source of inspiration for teachers and students (explaining why it is so heavily featured on this site). I have often thought how amazing it would be to attend a TED convention, and even more so to be invited to speak at one. TEDx, in some ways, allows this dream to become a reality, providing a way for organisations to hold their own, independent TED-style events.  Imagine a gala evening at a school, where parents, teachers and students are invited to talk on inspiring and creative areas in which they are interested in. I believe such an event would be not only stimulating, but also highly motivation for students.

Michael Specter: The danger of science denial


In an age where we rely so heavily on technology, more and more people are starting to doubt and deny the science that underlies it. In this fascinating  talk, Michael Specter discusses the danger of such denial. Examples include the supposed link between autism and vaccinations, the growth of alternative medicine and, controversially, genetically modified foods.

This video is a great tool for engaging students to think critically about important issues, such as the nature of truth and information (e.g. why do some ideas become so well established despite a complete lack of empirical evidence?). From this, students can be asked to consider the misleading role the media often plays in this process, and how the scientific community can respond.

To fully understand the power of denial in the face of evidence, we need not look further than the current debate over climate change as a destructive and man-made phenomenon. This is a hypothesis backed by the vast majority of scientists worldwide, yet corporations, governments and the media are denying the need for immediate action.

Rives tells a story of mixed emoticons


This video is really interesting; and comes to the heart of how we use language as a social semiotic (i.e. a socially constructed set of common meanings and understandings). Language is changing. How can this be used in teaching? Get students to write a story using only emoticons; and then rewrite it in more formal language. See if students can guess the meaning of each other’s work. How is communication altered?