Dan Gillmor sent a notice of a media literacy course he's been working on. A MOOC designed to help people manage information overload. Free unless you want a certificate.
Week 1 – How media have changed; key principles for becoming an active user of media; and why media/news literacy is so important in a data-saturated environment. What it means to be a critical thinker.
Week 2 – Be skeptical of everything, but not equally skeptical of everything. Why judgement is so important. More on why we all need a personal credibility scale. We’ll look at the two-sides fallacy, understanding risk (statistical), social media and the velocity of information.
Week 3 – BS detection with Howard Rheingold. Slant vs. opinion; astroturfing and native advertising, where to find credible information.
Week 4 – Opening our minds: Escaping echo chambers and filter bubbles. Recognizing “confirmation bias” in ourselves, not just others. Seeking out opposing views and other cultural worldviews.
Week 5 – Literacy is also creation: Principles of creating media with integrity: Ownership of media, tools for creating media, legal and ethical issues in media creation, integrity in creating media.
Week 6 – Trust and reputation in a saturated media landscape. How media providers engender trust (or mistrust), fact-checking, transparency, community. How we in the audience can help our information providers be more trustworthy. Why we – audiences and information providers alike – need to adopt a “slow news” approach.
Week 7 - Next steps: How you can put all of this into long-term action; why you should be a media literacy advocate (and how to do it). Plus: resources for parents and teachers.
When sites and apps get acquired or go bankrupt, the consumer data they have amassed may be among the companies’ most valuable assets. And that has created an incentive for some online services to collect vast databases on people without giving them the power to decide which companies, or industries, may end up with their information.
“In effect, there’s a race to the bottom as companies make representations that are weak and provide little actual privacy protection to consumers,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit research center in Washington.
The potential ramifications of the fire sale provisions became clear two years ago when True.com, a dating site based in Plano, Tex., that was going through a bankruptcy proceeding, tried to sell its customer database on 43 million members to a dating site based in Canada. The profiles included consumers’ names, birth dates, sexual orientation, race, religion, criminal convictions, photos, videos, contact information and more.
While Kickstarter projects' delivery rate seems unreliable, it's significantly better than businesses that operate from venture funding. When investors take on new products or businesses, they are operating on the idea that maybe one in ten will be a big hit, a couple will be modest successes, and the rest will fail, Mollick tells Ars. In that light, the delivery rate of Kickstarter projects is significantly higher if any portion of the delayed projects end up delivering.
But unlike venture capitalists, backers on Kickstarter are not accustomed even to risk. They don’t (nor should they) see themselves as investors, betting on a spread of projects to soften their losses. For most backers, all that matters is whether the one project they believed in succeeds. This often leads to intense dissatisfaction. Disgruntled backers scrutinize any creator movements on social media that doesn’t have to do with advancing their promised product, and at worst come doxx or threaten project creators.
Not only is the rate of success for crowdfunding likely higher, but it may give realization opportunities to a much more diverse audience than traditional investment models. Statistics show again and again that most VC money goes overwhelmingly to men. Crowdfunding, by contrast, benefits female creators.
But many utilities see residential solar power as an existential threat. In 2013, an industry trade group called the Edison Electric Institute warned that utilities face what company executives were quick to call “a death spiral.” As customers began to generate more of their own electricity from the solar panels on their roofs, utility revenues would begin to decline, and the remaining customers would have to pay more for the poles and wires that keep the grid alive. That would increase the incentive for the remaining customers to leave.
Since the death-spiral session, utilities around the country have sought to slow the growth of solar: by supporting laws and regulations that would reduce targets for renewable energy; by ending “net metering” laws that force utilities to pay solar customers retail prices for the surplus energy they put back on the grid; by imposing “connection fees” to make up for lost revenues. Much of the campaigning has been spurred by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council and funded by various groups linked to the Koch brothers and their fossil-fuel fortune. In 2008, when Solar City first expanded into Arizona, the state had just announced a target for renewable energy, and the utilities were offering generous rebates to customers who installed solar panels. At first, few homeowners took advantage of the offer—the up-front cost, which ran to twenty thousand dollars or more, was too high. It took the efforts of Solar City, and other competitors using the same no-cost leasing plan, to ignite the market.
“The utilities were always convinced that they could throttle down solar just by tuning down the rebate they were offering,” Rive said. “What caught them off guard was when costs came down to the point where we didn’t need their rebate for solar to make sense. Suddenly, they couldn’t control the outcome anymore. And suddenly you didn’t see any more solar billboards, and suddenly they started taking a hostile approach.”
With the nation's Highway Trust Fund projected to go broke at the end of this summer and Congress unable to agree on a permanent fix, it is an opportune time to reexamine the so-called consensus on infrastructure funding -- that we need more of it and now. Focusing on how much we spend leaves out a more important question: how much infrastructure we get for our money.
Put bluntly: the costs of U.S. infrastructure are too damn high.
How high? It's not easy to find comprehensive data on infrastructure costs around the globe. But with help from various government and business websites as well as some very busy bloggers, we pulled together data on 144 planned and finished rail projects across 44 countries.
We can't know whether these data are truly representative of all rail projects recently built or currently underway. However, we do know whether projects feature tunnels, stations, or elevated tracks, so we can be fairly certain we are comparing apples with apples.
Most of us tend to think of tap water purification in terms of a large infrastructure that supports a town or city. Natasha Wright noticed small villages in India used filters that made water mostly safe to drink, but ground water is often salty and that was never addressed. She designed a small village scale filter that could be operated away from a power grid.
Almost 60 percent of India has groundwater that’s noticeably salty, so later, after returning to MIT, Wright began designing an electrodialysis desalination system, which uses a difference in electric potential to pull salt out of water. This type of desalination system has been around since the 1950s, but is typically only used municipally, to justify its costs. Wright’s project aims to build a system that’s scaled for a village of 5,000 people and still cost-effective.
“We’re at an inflection point, or transition, from lifestyle health stuff to medical metrics,” says cardiologist Eric Topol, a genomics professor at the Scripps Research Institute and a fan of digital health technology. To Topol, the objective is clear: devices that accurately measure vital body signs and even monitor serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease. “It’s the medical metrics where accuracy becomes fundamental,” he says.
Measurements of calories burned (something all three bands, including the Up3, track) were also somewhat inconsistent; on one morning commute, for instance, they ranged from 143 to 187. Altogether, the experience was a far cry from the vision of these devices as digital sages drawing deep, accurate insights from the data they collect, helping doctors diagnose ailments, and eventually, perhaps, even predicting health problems or detecting them before they become serious. These are hard goals to achieve, for several reasons. While the wrist seems like a great place to start with sensing on the body, and we’re used to adorning it with watches and jewelry, it’s tricky to make a comfortable, good-looking device that can stand up to all kinds of daily abuse.
And since everyone’s body is different, the wrist is not always a great spot to take accurate measurements. “You can make millions of smart watches that are identical, but you have millions of people who are not identical. It’s really hard to find something that’s robust across all these people,” says Chris Harrison, an assistant professor of human-computer interaction who leads the Future Interfaces Group at Carnegie Mellon University.