Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
. . . when computing entered the realm of images, a new dimension was added to cyperspace (taking it literally from 1D to 2D) and the term 'virtual reality' started to be more than a daydream. (Cadognety, 2002).
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
1. Mobile computing - This is not a surprise as the iPhone has entered our lives as seamlessly and ubiquitously over the past couple of years. Handheld tools such as smart phones to netbooks are portable tools for productivity, learning, and communication, offering an increasing range of activities fully supported by applications designed especially for mobiles.
2. Open content - Although the open content movement is a response to the rising costs of education, it has been around since the open source and freeware movements in the software and gaming industries back in the 1990's. In the open content (also known as open access in the publishing and academic world), the desire for access to learning in areas where such access is difficult and an expression of student choice about when and how to learn battle against the corporate for-profit universe which for years has seen growing textbook prices, hefty rising student fees, and the ivory tower image of the babel of academia. The digital world is attempting to fight back, be it free online courses or video webcasts open to the world.
3. Electronic books - Going hand in hand with open content, electronic books promise to reduce costs, save students from carrying pounds of textbooks, and contribute to the environmental efforts of paper-conscious campuses. As pblishers are raising the costs of printing to justify the costs of doing business, the digital world is paving the way to break down those barriers and allow for portable, compact, and inexpensive options for all.
4. Simple augmented reality – This is the technology that has subtly entered into our daily lives with little notice or fanfare, but will ultimately change the way we interact with the Web. AR is the concept of blending (augmenting) virtual data — information, rich media, and even live action — into our physical world – with the purpose of enhancing the information we can perceive with our senses is a powerful one. This is what some predicts as the next generation 3D web (or Web 3.0).
5. Gesture-based computing - Allows our natural movements of the finger, hand, arm, and body which can recognize and interpret body motions. As we work with devices that react to us instead of requiring us to learn to work with them, our understanding of what it means to interact with computers will have a paradigm shift.
6. Visual data analysis - An emerging field, a blend of statistics, data mining, and visualization, that promises to make it possible for anyone to sift through, display, and understand complex concepts and relationships. Visual data analysis may help expand our understanding of learning itself. Learning is one of the most complex of social processes, with a myriad of variables interacting in highly complex ways, making it an ideal focus for the search for patterns. Indeed, Chris Anderson has argued in Wired Magazine that the explosion of data spells the ‘end of theory.’
Sensors everywhere. Infinite storage. Clouds of processors. Our ability to capture, warehouse, and understand massive amounts of data is changing science, medicine, business, and technology. As our collection of facts and figures grows, so will the opportunity to find answers to fundamental questions. Because in the era of big data, more isn't just more. More is different.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
What began as a journal article eventually expanded to How the Mighty Fall, which confronts these questions with some answers to how even the best can succumb to decline and collapse. One thing is even more true about the recent financial collapse: all organizations are prone to vulnerabilities, regardless of how well crafted and seemingly operated they appear. Collins' research project--more than four years in duration-- reveals five stages of decline. It's an excellent guide to libraries and information centres, particularly those nestled in the guise of large budgeted institutions. All organizations run by humans face mortality one day or another - it's important that we recognize its symptoms and confront the brutal realities of decline. And perhaps step in if it's not too late. Here are Collins' five stages:
Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success - All success depends on hard work and luck; however, success does not guarantee perpetuity. Every decision needs to be continually re-examined.
Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More - Success often breeds greed, which often leads to straying from the original elements which produced success.
Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril - Greed leads to blindness that there are signs of hazard, until it's too late.
Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation - Signs of failure arises, but blindness to reality reinforces the need to look for miracles. Often, the organization looks for a messiah from outside the organization to lead it back to the promise land.
Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death - Nothing is done. Demoralized, the organization accepts its fate of a slow death.
Collins' research argues however, that these are just five stages. Indeed, they are reversible. Some companies do indeed recover--in some cases, coming back even stronger--even after Stage 4. In fact, this is because decline is (believe it or not) self-inflicted, and the path to recovery lies largely within the organization's own hands. As long a company is not entirely knocked out of the game, hope always remains. The mighty can fall, but they can often rise again.
Collins' book impressed me as a book that can be applied to all organizations, profit and not-for-profit - technology or customer-service. Regardless of what sector, when large numbers of people work together to achieve a common goal, they are bound to irrationality and group think, politics and human egotism. The five principles of decline are a good reminder that nothing is indestructible if pushed to its limits.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Here is a library that I is close to heart, literally and figuratively speaking. I heart Seattle, one of trendiest urban living spaces in the world. Its Central Seattle Library also ranks as one of the most beautiful architectural spaces in the world, with state of the art technology. A remarkably postmodern rendition perhaps, even the floors have a classically labeled Dewey Decimal system as markers of shelf sections.
Designed by Rem Koolhaas, the Library is award-winning in architectural style, modern on both the inside and the out. The library uses RFID that allows patrons to check out their own materials. Its former city librarian Nancy Pearl even had a few books under her name and a figurine, too. So grab a Starbucks and your MS Windows laptop, and take a plushy seat in one of the world's most interesting libraries.