Scribd

Scribd is a document sharing site. Sort of like a YouTube for documents. In other words, a book-lover’s paradise.

Myths about the developing world

An excellent talk about the myths we hold on the developing world, supported by the most amazing graphics I’ve seen in a while. Among other things, the speaker (Hans Rosling) proves that chimpanzees are much smarter than the top Swedish students, and are slightly better than Swedish professors when it comes to knowing the developing world.

The first one of the series that I heard was the TEDTalk by Sir Ken Robinson. May be worth hearing all the TEDTalks.

Wisdom and Intelligence

Paul Graham pens another brilliant essay on Is it worth being wise? It’s mostly about the difference between being wise (right most of the time) versus being smart (being right where few others are). If you’re picking between options, being wise is useful. There is a best option, and you’ll pick it most of the time. If you’re doing something creative, there’s no finite set of options. Then it’s worth being smart. Increasingly, tasks are asking for more creativity, so it may be better to be smart.

Managing the data deluge

Peter Norvig’s brilliant talk on Managing the Data Deluge. Among other things, he talks about how having lots of data is sometimes better than having a carefully designed algorithm.

Periodic table of visualization methods

Periodic table of visualization methods. 100 visualizations (graphs, diagrams, etc.) organised into 6 groups (data, information, concept, strategy, metaphor, compound), and arranged exactly like the periodic table. (This, in itself, is a lovely visualization.) It includes diverse visuals from the Metro Map (e.g. London Underground Map) and cartoons to scatterplots and treemaps. Just browse it. It’s wonderful.

The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher

The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher, by John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991. (The first part of it is sarcastic. This man is speaking passionately of things he despises in the education system.)

The first lesson I teach is: “Stay in the class where you belong.” I don’t know who decides that my kids belong there but that’s not my business.

The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor.

The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal.

The fourth lesson I teach is that only I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me).

In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer’s measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.

In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. I keep each student under constant surveillance and so do my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children; there is no private time.

It is the great triumph of schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best parents, there is only a small number who can imagine a different way to do things.

He concludes:

School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.

TEDTalk by Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk on education is brilliant and funny. Some quotes that struck me:

If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065. Nobody has a clue, despite all the expertise that has been on parade the last four days, what the world will look like in five years’ time. And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it. So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary.

If you were to visit education as an alien and say “What’s it for?”, I think you’d have to conclude, if you look at the output, that the whole purpose of public education throughout the world, is to produce university professors. Isn’t it? They’re the people who come out on top, and I used to be one. (So there!) And I like university professors, but you know, we shouldn’t hold them up as the high watermark of all human achievement — they’re just a form of life.

Learn faster deeper and better

Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better. Normally, I don’t like 77 tips (as opposed to just 7). But these are very good.

Running for beginners

Running for beginners.

Krugle

Krugle is a code search engine.