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“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”

Carl Sagan

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Henry David Thoreau

“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of the imagination.”

John Dewey

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”

Albert Einstein

“Think of it as a theater, from a lighting and engineering standpoint. But it’s not a performance space. It’s an engagement space.”

Jay Walker

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The following top five websites were selected for having the best short (20-120 minute), interesting, and accessible ideas. Each of these sites are easy to browse, have great functionality, and are generally non-technical. I am deeply indebted to these sites and others for continually providing high quality, fascinating, and free talks that spark the imagination and infuse my life with wonder and awe.

  1. TED Talks – “group of remarkable people that gather to exchange ideas of incalculable value”
  2. Pop!Casts – annual mass media, technology and society conference held in Camden, Maine
  3. Big Think – engaging discussions and debate on contemporary issues (beta version)
  4. FORA.tv – delivers discourse, discussion, and debates on the world’s most interesting political, social, and cultural issues, and enables viewers to join the conversation
  5. Google Talks – Google TechTalks, Authors@Google and Miscellaneous

This website has been expanded over time by the momentum originally obtained by several very influential (on me) videos and projects, many of which I have linked directly in past posts. I recognize that it is once again time to renew the spirit of Open Learning.

Open Learning is a compository website. It has been extended by an ethos of usability, relevance, and discovery. It is clear that Internet provides immense opportunity to reshape the organization and availability of information of all types. This is, of course, a double-edged sword, I do not endorse uncritical utopian optimism.

The expansion of knowledge (and not just information) through digital media implies at least one major difference with tradition [analog] forms: multiplicity. Although tacitly obvious, it is important to bear in mind that digital information requires nothing, or virtually nothing, to duplicate itself. And is, save a black hole maybe, indestructible.

This isn’t a trait that is unique to digital information. All information is essentially non-zero sum. This is to say, I can easily tell you how to get to the bank without any cost to myself (I don’t lose the knowledge of how to get to a bank by telling you). In terms of ownership, information is different than physical objects. Once I give you my guitar, I no longer have one (zero sum; your win is my loss). The difference between traditional forms of information and digital information is the media by which they are disseminated. So, in changing the form of media we can move from (more or less) zero sum interactions, to non-zero sum.

The role and opportunity of education in this scheme of affairs is fascinating. How will this unparallel access to information affect ourselves and future generations? Can our system of education address todays’ needs? I have posted some very interesting videos that discuss just this.

In bringing you concise and useful tools to take advantage of the new knowledge economies of the net, it is my great pleasure to present some other websites that share this goal and harnesses this extension of mind.

And of course there’s always iTunes U.

Matthieu Ricard: “Habits of happiness” <direct link – TED talks>

Dan Gilbert: “Why are we happy? Why aren’t we happy?

Yes, design can make you happy.

Charles Leadbeater: The rise of the professional amateur <direct link – TED>

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Additional Notes:

‘Software licensing costs set to fall’ – (ZDnet)
‘Sony slashes PS3 development kit cost’ – (Gamespot)

Michael Shermer: “Why people believe strange things.” (direct link – TED)

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Additional Notes:
The perceptual cognitive biases that Shermer refers to are know collectively as “pareidolia“, from the Greek para — beside, with or alongside — and eidolon — image (the diminutive of eidos — image, form, shape). And, as the very informative wiki entry points out, these phenomena are in turn part of a greater nature human tendency: apophenia*.

*Interestingly this is the name of a blog run by danah boyd, a communications researcher whose work I follow. Just thought I’d throw that in.

Also, Shermer briefly mentions the fact that our IQ (ie, the world’s) has been consistently on the rise- apparently we’re getting smarter. The latest issue of Scientific American MIND features an article which addresses this very hopeful trend.

I was initially confused when I came re-discovered this video that I had forgotten to post a long time ago. But after I watched it again (almost 4 years since the video was taped), I realized it might be more interesting to share it now given what’s happened since.

Interesting:

  • A new ABI Research study, “Consumer Hybrid Vehicles,” finds that consumer hybrids’ market share in the United States will rise from just 1.25% in 2005 to at least 6% in 2013 (October, 2005).
  • Conservative estimates forecast 1 million cars sold per year by the end of this decade, 2% of the 65 M global market
  • <more…>

Technology’s Long Tail

Interview: The New Media

“The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.

“We should preserve every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity.

“Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius.

 

E. O. Wilson

 

 

Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is the proposed name for a freely-accessible, online collaborative bio-encyclopedia, written by experts, which aims to build an encyclopedia of separate articles for all known species, including video, sound, images, graphics, and text. It will be initially backed by a $50m funding commitment from five major science institutions, led by the MacArthur Foundation. <wiki>

Welcome!

Welcome to OpenLearning! Here you will find the useful links to online learning material suxh as academic podcasts, video lectures, and audiobooks; in addition to posting must-see videos on topics of interest.