Archive for October, 2009

(Very Short) Essay Contest

NOTE: This contest is over. The deadline was Friday, November 13th, 2009. Thank you to the students who submitted essays. We’ll announce the winners soon.

Our Digital Literacy Contest tests how well people find and evaluate information online. These are only two parts of ‘digital literacy.’ What about synthesizing?

This fall we’re offering $250 in cash scholarships for a (very short) essay contest. Deadline Fri Nov 13, 2009. Open to all current students at these universities (not just those involved in the Digital Literacy Contest). Here’s the official prompt:

We’re the first generation to grow up immersed in cyberspace. How does this change intelligence – our memories, attention spans, as well as our abilities to focus, reflect and synthesize? Specifically, shape your argument as a response to Nicholas Carr’s Is Google Making Us Stupid? and Jamais Cascio’s Get Smarter. Argue persuasively and concisely in 300 – 500 words. Educators and policy makers need to know what our generation thinks about this issue. Tell them.

Email completed essays to Our team will select one winner from each of these five universities. Each winner will be mailed a check for $50. Formatting of text doesn’t matter. University staff are welcome to participate but are not eligible for prizes. All submitted essays will get a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike license, and the best will be put online:

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

You may also wish to use/reference this background material:

Good luck! =)

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Future of Humanity: A Map of the Conversation

This is a new project I’m hosting on my personal blog:

Where is humanity going? Our technology empowers the individual, but to what end? This is a (growing) list of people, institutions and concepts central in this discussion of technology and our future (from where I stand).

I’m very familiar with everything listed here. I’ve read the articles/books, watched the movies, and sometimes even met the people. Use this list to jump into the conversation. We need you.

More from Future of Humanity: A Map of the Conversation

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BarcampMilwaukee, an Unconference

By luck I was in town during the BarcampMilwaukee “unconference.” Participants created their own sessions. Topics included: Drupal, veganism, magic & technology, web security and the development of science fiction… Oh yeah, and there was a magnificent potluck.

I led a session called ‘Brainstorming Brainstorming’. 15 of us collaborated and created How to Brainstorm.

I also got to meet Gabe Wollenburg and James Carlson. Gabe MCed the event and kept an electric joy in the air. James was another organizer of the event, and he’s the inspirational force behind Bucketworks – “the world’s first health club for the brain:”

It’s a place and a methodology for directly connecting people to one another and to the wider world through their values and passions, so they transform their community. It’s a local place with a global strategy, because if we build healthy localities, our whole world will grow. We focus on the individual first, because until someone understands their values and their passions, they’re not likely to join in sharing interest in the wider world…

In the last five years our 700 members have created 28 new companies, 65 new jobs, a highschool, a student film festival, 7 theatre companies, 3 technology companies, and innumerable pieces of art, items for sale, performances, gatherings, shows, and events–there were over 863 events at Bucketworks in 2006.

I love meeting these people. =)

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Outline of Jamais Cascio’s Get Smarter

The Atlantic published Jamais Cascio’s Get Smarter in the July/August 2009 issue. It’s the first good response to Nicholas Carr’s Is Google Making Us Stupid? published a year before. I outlined it using Roland Paris’s C.L.E.A.R. model.

UPDATE: I asked Jamais for comments on the outline below on 10/3/09. I wanted it to reflect his intentions. He was kind enough to reply at length, and I’ve updated it accordingly.

» Continue reading “Outline of Jamais Cascio’s Get Smarter”

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Does the Internet Make Us Stupid?

Nicholas Carr made a splash last summer with his  Is Google Making Us Stupid? article in the Atlantic. Jamais Cascio wrote the first decent response a year later – Get Smarter.

What do you think? Is the web a mental prosthetic which expands the power of our minds or has it obliterated our ability to read long texts?

Which author makes the most compelling case? What if they’re both right? How could we reconcile their views? I’ve outlined  Cascio’s argument and will outline Carr’s soon. This should be helpful: Future of Humanity: A Map of the Conversation. You may also want to browse the discussion Cascio and Carr spurred in the blogosphere.

NOTE: this post will be updated soon.

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