I have to admit that the beginning of Sebastian Seung‘s talk on connectomes was a bit confusing. He speaks slowly and with purpose, but being unfamiliar with neuro science or connectomics, I was a bit lost. However, my confusion was abated after the first two minutes.
In his TED talk, Dr. Seung outlines a map that he sees as more accurate than DNA for understanding what a person really “is.” This is a connectome – a map of the connections that exist between all of your neurons. While such a map is a huge undertaking, Seung is ambitious and hopeful, and he explains why in his talk below:
Foreword: While I am definitely not attempting to argue any sort of complete and total immersion in media, or the recoding of your entire life into 0s and 1s, I want to make the case for how schools imposing “social media blackouts” is problematic not just for the student, but for their family and network as well. I definitely believe in turning off media, as I wrote “Ode to ‘Death to Distraction‘” in response to MCDM Director Hanson Hosein’s post under the same name.
In watching videos for this week’s TED Tuesday, a common theme arose between my selections – education as a self-organized and self-sustaining process. Both Professor Sugatra Mitra and TED Curator Chris Anderson touch on these ideas in the videos I’ve posted.
Professor Mitra explains various experiments that he has done around the world as part of his “Hole in the Wall” project, placing computers in public locations and monitoring their use by children as self-teaching tools. He states that “when you have interest, you have education,” and outlines what has become of his project – the development of S.O.L.E.s, or self-organized learning environments. He sees this type of group learning as the key to pushing education in the future, similar to how Anderson credits web videos with the large “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” movement that is taking place in arenas from breakdancing to unicycling.
While I agree with the three parts of Anderson’s formula – a crowd, “light,” and desire – I don’t know that I necessarily see web videos alone taking over the education arena the way that he does. I think that for now, and for at least the next five years, web-based group learning will supplement a lot of traditional education in many developed regions, until we have better ways to learn and interact online. For more of those thoughts, check out PART ONE of “With interest comes education.” See the full post for videos from Professor Mitra and Anderson.
In his 2010 annual letter, Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates dedicated an entire page to online education. He does this, rightfully so in my opinion, because education online holds much promise for the future of learning, but needs significant growth and innovation before it can reach its full potential. While his letter does not make the full case for such progress, foundations like his willing to engage in conversations around the topic yield much potential for the future.
Recently, TED received praise from Fast Company for how it has become “the new Harvard” – connecting “the human network” better than ever before. FC also brought light to how TED, along with many other websites, allows people to teach themselves anything, via the internet. This makes sense, given that the Internet is the world’s best archive, with more resources available than… well anything else. Why not use the greatest library ever as a teaching tool? Well, the main problem is one that Gates identifies: with the Internet, 1+1=3 or more. When I say this, I mean that the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts, because not only is the Internet the largest library around, it is also the world’s most annotated object.
Being a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I sometimes forget that not everyone has access to organic food. Although I have it all around, apparently less than .7 of 1% of all the food in the world is organic, at least according to Dr. Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund.
Clay is a problem solver, working with large corporations to reshape how we produce and consume so that we can use less to create more, and then use less again. The video is a bit long, but it touches on some fantastic changes that are taking place around the world to redefine business practices to help design a more sustainable future for mankind. Watch the video in the full post.