Category
  • Business58
  • Communication52
  • Interactive experiences64
  • Learning & access70
  • Research26
  • Strategy47
  • Technology23

Gender role literacy: Girls in science?

Pink + Legos = GirlsThere are gender wars, and then there are casualties. It wasn’t until 2011 that the behemoth toymaker LEGO acknowledged girls’ desire to build with bricks, even though the company had long before made a seemingly effortless pivot to co-branding, video games, and major motion pictures. So it’s little wonder that girls face all-too-real obstacles when it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.


Continue reading

Challenges of crowdsourcing: Analysis of Historypin

Historypin globeCrowdsourcing can build virtual community, engage the public, and build large knowledge databases about science and culture. But what does it take, and how fast can you grow?

Historypin logoFor some insight, we look at a crowdsourced history site: Historypin is an appealing database of historical photos, with dates, locations, captions, and other metadata. It’s called History “pin” because the photos are pinned on a map. (See recent article about Changes over time, in photos and maps.) Some locations have photos from multiple dates, showing how a place has changed over time, or cross-referenced with Google Maps StreetView. Currently, Historypin has 308k items, from 51k users, and 1.4k institutions. This is a graph of pins over the last three years:


Continue reading

Dinovember: Creative literacy starts young

Welcome to Dinovember“Uh-oh,” Refe Tuma heard his girls whisper. “Mom and Dad are not going to like this.”

It’s Dinovember, and his family’s plastic dinosaurs have been getting into mischief all month. Every year, Tuma and his wife devote the month of November to “convincing our children that, while they sleep, their plastic dinosaur figures come to life. 


Continue reading

Drones put a face on nature and culture

A new generation of small video cameras and consumer robotic helicopters make amazing video shots possible. Stick your phone on a drone for enchanting views of the natural world, architecture, museums, and more. Here’s a cool new video flying a drone around the NY public library:


Continue reading

What are the most important articles in Wikipedia?

WikipediaWikipedia has 4,362,397 articles in English.  But how many of those are seriously encyclopedic, and what are the most important articles?

We’ve been looking closely at Wikipedia for an upcoming app. We wanted to know the most important articles. We calculated an importance score for every article, based on how richly linked a Wikipedia article is within Wikipedia (the number and quality of links to a page), how many languages an article has been translated into, the brevity of the title, how popular an articles is (web hits), and the number of citations/references of an article (scholarliness).

The following are our results. This is an arbitrary, but interesting ranking, so we wanted to share it:


Continue reading

I have a PowerPoint

PPTWords matter. And so does presentation. Fifty years ago, this week, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. But what if King eschewed wordiness, and instead delivered a slideshow? What could it look like?

A few years ago, William Easterly Professor of Economics, New York University, drafted a powerpoint, mocking presentation software and the “evocative jargon used by ‘social entrepreneurs’ trying to change things.” Let’s compare:


Continue reading

Changes over time, in photos and maps

Muir Glacier, AlaskaImages gain new meaning when given the context of location or change. Two sites, from NASA and HistoryPin do this to good effect — such as showing the the dramatic melting of the Muir glacier in Alaska, or how a city evolves.

Launched in autumn 2011 by a British nonprofit, HistoryPin pins historical items on a map. Their service demonstrates the potential for a global, crowdsourced database of historical media.


Continue reading

Online courses for developing the developing world

Bangladesh laptop userOnline education can have a real impact in the developing world. Last week, we needed to hire a programmer for a small freelance job. To my surprise, several candidates advertised they had completed programming MOOCs. These were young programmers in their 20′s, in countries like Pakistan and Thailand, who lacked college-level coursework, but are trying to launch freelancing careers based on online courses.

Online courses and MOOCs may be a poor substitute for in-person learning with a charismatic teacher, but they are light-years better than nothing, and are particularly relevant for higher education and specific skills, when students are self-motivated.


Continue reading

NASA boldly redesigns web site for 2005

NASA LogoNASA redesigned their web site, with a magnificent failure of design by committee. It is a failure of content (eliminated the most interesting details about the science and engineering), a failure of organization (poorly consolidated types of content, such as multimedia and interactive features), and failure of implementation (site does not resize for small-screen smart phones, and failed to make popup menus work correctly on tablets).


Continue reading

What is fan fiction?

Fan fictionWho owns art and culture? Does it belong to the artist? The legal property owner? Or the society that loves and appreciates it? Traditionally, old art is considered public, and new art is copyrighted. Anyone can write a new twist on Romeo and Juliet, or mashup the Mona Lisa with a mustache. But what if Harry Potter opened a lemonade stand? Or Luke Skywalker had a twin bother?


Continue reading