For years, colleges looking for course-management software considered a choice between Blackboard’s dominant commercial product or an open-source alternative such as Moodle or Sakai. Now Blackboard essentially owns the open-source alternatives as well.
On Monday, Blackboard officials announced that the company has purchased two leading supporters of Moodle, Moodlerooms and NetSpot. Both deals are complete, though officials would not disclose the sale prices. The company also hired one of the founders of the Sakai project to lead its efforts to support colleges using that open-source software. The moves are part of the company’s newly announced Blackboard Education Open Source Services group.
Because who needs competition? Blackboard ruined innovation in the LMS market the year they were effectively handed a patent for a generic LMS on a platter. Since then they’ve continued to monopolize the industry by purchasing all their competitors. This is ridiculous, and it shouldn’t be allowed.
“Archeological evidence dates these pre-historic hunters and gatherers to 14,500 to 11,500 years old, indicating that for a sliver of time in East Asia, the Red Deer Cave people may have shared the adjacent landscape with modern looking people who displayed the beginnings of farming.”
Oldie-ish-but-a-goodie, this piece by LA Times’s Alan Zarembo explains how adapting to climate change is a far cheaper proposition than fighting carbon zombies. Of course, this upset a lot of people, but the numbers do not lie.
“Pielke’s analysis, published last month in the journal Natural Hazards Review, is part of a controversial movement that argues global warming over the rest of this century will play a much smaller role in unleashing planetary havoc than most scientists think.
His research has led him to believe that it is cheaper and more effective to adapt to global warming than to fight it.
Instead of spending trillions of dollars to stabilize carbon dioxide levels across the planet — an enormously complex and expensive proposition — the world could work on reducing hunger, storm damage and disease now, thereby neutralizing some of the most feared future problems of global warming.
Hans von Storch, director of the Institute of Coastal Research in Germany, said that the world’s problems were already so big that the added burdens caused by rising temperatures would be relatively small. It would be like going 160 kilometers per hour on the autobahn when “going 150 … is already dangerous,” he said.
Consider a United Nations estimate that global warming would increase the number of people at risk of hunger from 777 million in 2020 to 885 million by 2080, a 14% rise, if current development patterns continue.
That increase could be counteracted by spending on better irrigation systems, drought-resistant crops and more-efficient food transport systems, said Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia in England.
“If you’re really concerned about drought, those are much more effective strategies than trying to bring down greenhouse gas concentrations,” he said.
Downplaying the importance of emissions reductions has raised hackles among scientists around the world, who say that the planet-wide effects of global warming will eventually go beyond humans’ ability to deal with it.”
Client: I think you need a business lesson. You have no idea how to establish prices. You already have a studio so you don’t need to add in this studio rate. It only takes a few seconds to snap a picture so you can do that on the same day you set up the lights and stuff, making your day rate and…
Ouch: “TODAY is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”
“Tribes and states, [ethnographers and historians of the Middle East] agree, are mutually constituting entities. There is no evolutionary sequence; tribes are not prior to states. Tribes are, rather, a social formation defined by its relation to the state. “If rulers of the Middle East have been preoccupied by a ‘tribal problem,’… tribes could be said to have had a perennial ‘state-problem.’””—
James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. And his quote is Ira Lapidus, “Tribes and State Formation in Islamic History” from Tribes and State Formation in the Middle East.
The viewpoint Scott is arguing for is to see tribal cultures as being constituted as such specifically to avoid forming or being incorporated into a state. The introduction of agriculture involved, in many ways, a decrease in the quality of life, and not everyone decided to go in that direction. Tribal forms of organization arose alongside state-based forms of organization as some people turned towards agriculture and others turned away.
The president of Encyclopedia Britannica is living in a parallel dimension. After announcing that the company would cease printing of the EB, he still has to suggest that Wikipedia is an inferior product:
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”—Ellen Goodman (via weknowsolittle)
“What emerges is a picture of social networks where stories go viral when lots of people engage with their normal-sized circles to share content. The evidence suggests that the best way to “go viral” is to engage millions of users with great shareable content with the repeatable knowledge that they will share at reasonable interpersonal levels. This methodology doesn’t rely on the risky or perhaps impossible task of finding theoretical influentials. It also supports work done by Duncan Watts, Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! and Buzzfeed Science Advisor, and others on the limits of targeting “influentials.””—How Content Is Shared: Close Friends, Not ‘Influencers’ | DigitalNext: A Blog on Emerging Media and Technology - Advertising Age (via steph)
“Even today, some opt for the comforts of mystification, preferring to believe that the wonders of the ancient world were built by Atlanteans, gods, or space travelers, instead of by thousands toiling in the sun. Such thinking robs our forerunners of their due, and us of their experience. Because then one can believe whatever one likes about the past - without having to confront the bones, potsherds, and inscriptions which tell us that people all over the world, time and again, have made similar advances and mistakes.”—Ronald Wright, Canadian writer, historian, archeologist, A Short History of Progress, House of Anansi Press, 2004. (via amiquote)
“One customer looked to buy a pair of pearl earrings and mistook the $25 price tag for $75. The designer explains, “When I corrected her, I assumed she’d be ecstatic; after all she was getting the earrings for $50 less. What I saw instead was a glimmer of disappointment. Here they were, the exact same earrings. But at $25, they suddenly seemed less desirable.””—Are You Falling Into the Pricing Trap? (via steph)
Communications consultant Stowe Boyd says new studies may be showing us that multitasking is actually quite possible. “There is recent evidence (published by researchers Jayson Watson and David Strayer) that suggests that some people are natural ‘supertaskers’ capable of performing two difficult tasks at once, without loss of ability on the individual tasks,” he wrote. “This explodes the conventional wisdom that ‘no one can really multitask,’ and by extension the premise that we shouldn’t even try. The human mind is plastic. The area of the brain that is associated with controlling the left hand, for example, is much larger in professional violinists. Likewise, trained musicians listen to music differently, using more centers of the brain, than found in non-musicians. To some extent this is obvious: we expect that mastery in physical and mental domains will change those master’s perceptions and skills. But cultural criticism seems to want to sequester certain questionable activities—like video gaming, social networking, multitasking, and others—into a no-man’s-land where the plasticity of the human mind is negative. None of these critics wring their hands about the dangerous impacts of learning to read, or the intellectual damage of learning a foreign language. But once kids get on a skateboard, or start instant messaging, it’s the fall of Western civilization.”
Boyd said it seems as if the social aspects of Web use frighten many detractors, adding, “But we have learned a great deal about social cognition in recent years, thanks to advances in cognitive science, and we have learned that people are innately more social than was ever realized. The reason that kids are adapting so quickly to social tools online is because they align directly with human social connection, much of which takes place below our awareness. Social tools are being adopted because they match the shape of our minds, but yes, they also stretch our minds based on use and mastery, just like martial arts, playing the piano, and badminton.”
“Mobile phones are the most widely used technology in the world. At the end of this year, there will be 5.8 billion people with mobile devices, meaning there are twice as many mobile users as Internet users.”—The next 10 years in mobile (via courtenaybird)
“Just as nightfall doesn’t come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of the change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (via theamericanbear)
Despite the fact that the American Diabetes Association tells us that most overweight people will never get diabetes, the concepts of obesity and diabetes have been so conflated that the term “diabesity” has come into vogue. Except it’s not by crazy random happenstance – the term “diabesity” was trademarked by a group called Shape Up America. According to their website, they are supposed to be “high profile national initiative to promote healthy weight and increased physical activity in America”. So why do you think for-profit diet companies like Weight Watchers International, Jenny Craig and Slim*Fast, not to mention pharmaceutical companies including Wyeth Ayerst, Ortho-McNeil, and Novartis, have donated millions of dollars to this initiative? An initiative which, if they thought it would actually work, would put them out of business? Do you think it’s possible that they know that the fat panic created by Shape Up will drive them customers who will have a 95% chance of failing and then becoming their customers again?
Speaking of diet companies, it wasn’t their idea to put disclaimers up every time they say that their product works. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and other weight loss companies have been successfully sued for deceptive trade practices by the Federal Trade Commission, and their disingenuous practices have lead the FTC to create regulations specifically for their advertising. So they didn’t change their very profitable behavior of selling a product that they know has limited success, they just disclaimed it.
Weight Watchers in particular has been caught doing some really shady research. Counting people as successes twice when they lost weight, gained it back, then lost it again, making it seem like people who succeed on their first diet to lose the 10 pounds they gained after a break-up prove that people on their 20th diet can lose over 100 pounds, counting people as “successes” for statistical purposes as soon as they lose 5% of their body weight, even if that leaves those people in the same BMI category in which they started (and therefore, based on their own literature, at the same health risks as when they started.)
On November 3, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 2930, a crowdfunding bill that will allow startups to offer and sell securities online. The Senate will likely vote on the bill in early 2012.
After eight decades of arguably the most restrictive rules for raising capital in the world, we are standing on the precipice of a new era for funding: crowdfunding. Here are 23 unusual ways in which the crowdfunding revolution could redefine the business to investor relationship.
“No problem is as consubstantial to literature and its modest mystery as the one posed by translation. The forgetfulness induced by vanity, the fear of confessing mental processes that may be divined as dangerously commonplace, the endeavor to maintain, central and intact, an incalculable reserve of obscurity: all watch over the various forms of direct writing. Translation, in contrast, seems destined to illustrate aesthetic debate. The model to be imitated is a visible text, not an immesurable labyrinth of former projects or a submission to the momentary temptation of fluency. Bertrand Russell defines an external object as a circular system radiating possible impressions; the same may be said of a text, given the incalculable repercussions of words. Translations are a partial and precious documentation of the changes the text suffers. Are not the many versions of the Iliad—from Chapman to Magnien—merely different perspectives on a mutable fact, a long experimental game of chance played with omissions and emphases? (There is no essential necessity to change languages; this intentional game of attention is possible within a single literature.) To assume that every recombination of elements is necessarily inferior to its original form is to assume that draft nine is necessarily inferior to draft H—for there can only be drafts. The concept of the “definitive text” corresponds only to religion or exhaustion.”—Jorge Luis Borges, The Homeric Versions (via speakmnemosyne)
For nearly a decade, it turns out, the most accurate forecasts have come from the fringe. So it’s upsetting to learn that many of those same Cassandras now believe, for different reasons, that we are on the brink of another catastrophe that may be far worse. Wolff, the Marxist, fears that China may be entering a significant slowdown, which, combined with Europe’s all-but-inevitable recession, could send the world into an economic tailspin.
Roubini, now one of the world’s most visible economic thinkers, has a similar view, though he sees the timing differently, with the worst coming in 2013 or 2014, when China will face a situation like the one the United States experienced in 2008. Its banks, he says, will reveal huge investments in nonsensical bubble projects. The world will question China’s solvency, and the subsequent chaos will destroy whatever fragile recovery is under way. Schiff also paints a dire picture, but for essentially the opposite reason, saying America’s indebtedness and currency policy will cause another crash.
It’s much less lonely being a doomsayer these days. Steve Hanke, an economist at Johns Hopkins, says there’s a 50 percent chance of a recession this year. Lakshman Achuthan, of the eerily accurate Economic Cycle Research Institute, predicts a return of double-digit unemployment. They are downright rosy compared to George Soros, who has warned of violent riots throughout the world and a possible total global financial collapse. I really hope these guys are wrong.
“That’s right. Its sole tangible purpose for the IPO proceeds is to meet a tax obligation that will be triggered by going public. Welcome to the Catch-22 world of the venture capital liquidity event.”—
TECHNOLOGY SPECTATOR: Why Facebook should ditch its IPO John Gapper
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.
”—Aaron Freeman “You Want A Physicist To Speak at your Funeral” (source: npr)
The crucial new idea is that there are two different neural and psychological systems that interact to turn children into adults. Over the past two centuries, and even more over the past generation, the developmental timing of these two systems has changed. That, in turn, has profoundly changed adolescence and produced new kinds of adolescent woe. The big question for anyone who deals with young people today is how we can go about bringing these cogs of the teenage mind into sync once again.
This might be a more important question for the future than we think. When children reach puberty earlier and adulthood later the number of people behaving in a way we used to ascribe to teenagers increase dramatically we are increasingly living in a world where those who shape it are behaving like teenagers… Can this effect have even more impact than e g an aging Western society will? Meaning more teenage logic??
A startling number of Japanese youths have turned their backs on sex and relationships, a new survey has found.
The survey, conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association, found that 36% of males aged 16 to 19 said that they had “no interest” in or even “despised” sex. That’s almost a 19% increase since the survey was last conducted in 2008.
If that’s not bad enough, The Wall Street Journal reports that a whopping 59% of female respondents aged 16 to 19 said they were uninterested in or averse to sex, a near 12% increase since 2008.
The survey paints a bleak picture for Japan’s aging population. The Associated Press reports that the national population of 128 million will have shrunk by one-third by 2060 and seniors will account for 40 percent of people, placing a greater burden on the work force population to support the country’s social security and tax systems.
Many commentators in the Japanese and international media have laid the problem squarely at the feet of soshoku danshi — “herbivore men” — a term coined by pop culture columnist Maki Fukasawa in 2006. It refers to Japanese young men who have rejected their culture’s traditional definition of masculinity, and seemingly eschew relationships with the opposite sex as part.
CNN spoke to a Midori Saida, a 24-year-old Japanese woman who described “herbivore men” as “flaky and weak.”
BBC News spoke to one such “herbivore” man (see video). The man, Yusaki Yakahashi said: “Building a relationship seems like too much effort. To get her to like me and for me to like her… I’d have to give up everything I do at the weekend for her. I don’t want to do that.”
Another theory that seeks to explain Japan’s shrinking population is that Japanese youth spend too much time engaged with technology, living in virtual worlds or settling for virtual girlfriends rather than real ones.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports that Japan’s government has undertaken a series of campaigns to encourage couples to have more children — including making companies insist that their staff leave work at 6 pm to increase child allowances — but according to Dr. Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, “none of that is gong to have an impact if people are not going to have sex.”