The Augmentationist Weekly: Broken Education, Social Media and Emotions

augmentationist_logoThe Augmentationist with links about education, social media and – yes! – augmentation. You can read The Augmentationist here and subscribe at the right-hand side of this site.

Peak Education

Futurist Bryan Alexander wonders whether the United States is experiencing peak education. After two generations of growth, American higher education has reached its upper bound. The student population seems to decline and families are not increasing higher education spending. The number of tenure-track faculty conducting research could very well top off. Of course, it’s not clear at all whether this is a temporary situation or a more durable trend. Be sure to have a look at the interesting discussion in the comments section.

Innovation and private investment in education

Education expert George Siemens attended an Education Innovation Summit and gives his impressions in a long post. It’s all about broken education, start-up entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporations wanting to innovate radically. Strangely enough, while wanting to revolutionize education, they seem rather conservative in accepting standardized tests. While Siemens is pro business and innovation, he’s clearly worried about the learners and society and uneasy about gatherings where everyone agrees on anything.

Social media making kids smarter?

Twitter and social media in general could very well make children better writers and thinkers. It seems students nowadays write longer, more intellectually complex papers. Is there a causal relationship, Freakonomics wonders.

Social media making people angrier?

Which emotion tends to go most viral? As most participants or readers of comment sections and social media realize, it’s anger, not sadness, joy or disgust. James Vincent at The Independent reports about research coming to the same conclusion.

Social Media Issues

At Stanford University the Social Media Issues course, facilitated by Howard Rheingold, started. One can comment on the blogs and participate in the Fishbowl forum. I read an excellent post aboutblogging and learning in public, in which a new article by Clive Thompson, Thinking Out Loud,  was quoted:

“But focusing on the individual writers and thinkers misses the point. The fact that so many of us are writing — sharing our ideas, good and bad, for the world to see — has changed the way we think. Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge.”

Google Glass and iOS7

Don’t worry: I won’t start product reviews here – but this week I not only installed iOS7, I also experienced Google Glass (for a full fifteen minutes). Glass is all about integrating the power of the internet and computers in the natural flow of your life – it almost integrates the internet in your body. While starting to use iOS7 and going back an forth between an Android device and an iPhone, I realized this is the big battlefield: which operating system and manufacturer will be the best to augment us? In the meantime, Google not only wants to augment us, but also to make us live longer and better. Behind all this I guess there must be some philosophy which is as worth studying as the thinking of the Renaissance intellectuals.

Weekend Reading: “news may be in decline, but insight is booming”

– On Fastcompany I read a story about Lara Setrakian and her site Syria Deeply. The site is ultra-focused and makes good use of infographics and video. It not only provides news but also context to make sense of it. They are working on new software to facilitate policy crowdsourcing. Technology could pay for the news, like a Bloomberg-terminal pays for the Bloomberg-journalism – such a terminal delivers not only well-structured news, but also services such as communication, secured mail, transaction, lots and lots of data – and is very expensive. As Setrakian says:

The news business may be down, but the insight industry is booming.

– On TechCrunch Gregory Ferenstein brings us Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams Lays Out His Plan For The Future Of Media. A remarkable quote:

News in general doesn’t matter most of the time, and most people would be far better off if they spent their time consuming less news and more ideas that have more lasting import.

The post also refers to the research paper, “Does the Media Matter”, in which a team of economists found that getting a randomized group of citizens to read the Washington Post did nothing for “political knowledge, stated opinions, or turnout in post-election survey and voter data.” Medium tries to make publishing stuff easy, also for those who maybe have something very insipring to tell but don’t find the time nor have the inclination to devote lots of time for running their own blog and building an audience. Medium runs an intelligent algorithm that suggests stories, primarily based on how long users spend reading certain articles.

– Another way of applying technology to journalism is Google Glass. In July Sarah Hill explained in some detail on MediaShift how Glass will change the future of broadcast journalism. There are new tricks to be learned (how do you warn people you’re conducting an interview and not just chatting with someone during a conference), microphone issues but as she explains in Mediatwits it can be a kind of real time social backchannel. For Robert Scoble, on that same Mediatwits, it’s a new device category which will change media – he has been using Glass for several months now. Jeff Jarvis expects new eye-witness stuff being generated through Glass and similar devices. Robert Scoble also interviewed Mark Johnson, CEO of Zite and now a VP at CNN. As an information discovery specialist he wonders whether Glass/Google will be smart enough to give us really relevant information via Glass. It’s the future, but when will it happen?


Eric Scherer talks about Google Glass (and drones, and encryption) as a new tool for journalists and interviewed Tim Pool about how he uses Glass. Interesting is that Pool also uses a mini keyboard and the touch pad of a smartphone in combination with Glass.