Monthly Archives: May 2008

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education

Read of Mark Twain said this from this wikipedia entry of Autodiadic, which has an entry to John Taylor Gatto.

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Filed under unschooling, What is Learning

Future organizations’ education responsibilities

Note: I was talking with a friend about the future of education tonight. During the conversation, I mentioned a little what I think of future organization’s education responsibilities.  I thought it would be helpful to post these thoughts here.

In my view, we are in the transformation into an open society that is largely based on open organizations. The organizations in the future will be more open and transparent. Furthermore, it will be part of the core competitiveness of the organization to make itself easy to learn for the public, which means making its profession more accessible and easy to understand for the public.

Such education responsibility also include providing internship opportunities, opening up the resource and facilities to provide training programs.

So various organizations will serve as education agents in society. We can imagine how this will fundamentally transform the landscape of learning when this happen in a large scale.

This is essentially a programming issue. If we regard an organization as a playing agent in the society who provide service or tools for people to use, it has to make itself easy to learn so people can play with it. I feel this is well manifested in the python principle. And with various open source projects (especially python ones), one essential part of it is to make itself open and easy to learn.

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Filed under Python, Social Software, unschooling

Mike Gravel dropped out of race

This is a very sad day. As I said before, if Gravel cannot win, I don’t have any hope for the change through political process anymore. To me, Mike Gravel is to test the boundary/limits of American politics. There is no one who can give a better shot than Gravel. If Gravel cannot win over American people, no one else can. We will have to push the change through other ways.

The real change then has to come from directly empowering people. NI4D is one of them.

American people finally had a political candidate that belong to them. But they squandered the chance. 😦

Don’t want to listen to the argument of there is no real candidate, no real choice anymore. You had a choice before. Mike Gravel was the choice. Why American people don’t see the choice?

The usual problems I came across when promoting Mike Gravel with other people: one is that people cannot really comprehend that Mike Gravel is the real solution. People cannot comprehend the real problem of America. The seriousness of America’s problem is way beyond most people’s understanding. This is really an education issue. People are dumbed down by our education. Another argument people gave is that Mike Gravel cannot win. That is ridiculous. If you don’t vote for your own guy, who will vote for your guy?

I thought Gravel at least should get a lot of support from grassroots people. But through my contacts, most grassroots people (including peace organizations) went for Obama. This is one thing that I really cannot comprehend. Does it really require a lot of knowledge (like the level of Noam Chomsky’s knowledge) to understand the problems of America? If mainstream media ignored Mike Gravel, how about alternative media?

Anyway, what a president can do is really not much, compared to the real change that can be brought out by people self-organizing with the aid of web and Internet. We are just at the beginning of a real revolution, which will start a totally new era in human history. The history of the minority of people oppressing the majority of people will be finally changed. Let the majority of people organize together and maginize those minorties (corporation, politicians…).

Note: as Obama clinched Democratic nomination, I would say that one damage that Bush has done to this country is that people get satisfied with Obama and this kind of politicians. The real problems that America is facing is way beyond Obama’s understanding. Will Obama be able to fix health care? Education? Military  industry complex?

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Open cooperation within an organization

Each employee can set up his profile, with information about expertises, past projects (possibly a portfolio),  what kinds of services he can provide, contact (email, messenger, phone, with one of them as preferred), available time slot (for online or off line assistance).

If the person has projects that need people to join, he can also post the new project, and specify ways people can participate (open bidding, for example).

This is the thought I have so far. I was experimenting with it recently. It can be within an organization. It can also open up for different kinds of professionals to cooperate online. I think eventually there should be some profile tools that people can use to create their profiles (probably can be different types of profiles geared towards targets). As they join a project or a service (such as providing tech support within an organization or for public), they can be pooled together (such as a pool of techies) (to provide the service). Of course, the process of pooling them together might consist of them filling out some info for that service. But people can always click on their personal profile to get to know more about them.

I guess technically there is nothing very new here, except now it is very easy to do all these things than before.  But the idea of practicing open cooperation within an organization is interesting, and is a challenge to the conventional ways of management.  When this happens beyond an organization to a larger scale, it would be more interesting.

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Filed under Cooperation, Open Project

China and environment

Nowadays, China is increasingly blamed for polluting environment, for which they should be blamed. When I was in the middle school, I had an article published in a local newspaper expressing my sadness seeing a local river polluted in a mere few years.

But this article is intended to bring this environment issue to a deeper level. The environmental issue is really not just environmental issue. Its root cause is very deep in people’s mind, the way people perceive their relation with the outside world. For mediators, this is very easy to understand and I guess many have already realized so.

Traditional Chinese culture emphasizes the harmony between human being and the nature. We say human and the nature as one. If you study Chinese tea culture, you will have a very deep impression of this. So when western countries first opened China’s door with far more advanced weapons, Chinese hesitated whether to adopt fully the western way, which we deem very aggressive towards the nature. But we then got beaten badly for 100 years. It is a century of complete humiliation. Thus we say we learned a lesson: you will get beaten if you fall behind. So we learned that we need to develop ourselves, and development is the top priority. So we learn from the west, starting to conquer the nature.

It is only ironic that now many people in the west start to accuse China of polluting without the knowledge of the huge culture transition happening behind and without realizing that environment issue is actually an issue that is very deep inside.

As I welcome China to put more attention on the environmental impact of its development and go back to its traditional emphasis on harmony with the nature, I am also worried that China hasn’t fully learned from the west yet, and China hasn’t fully accumulated the experiences of development yet.  But the world cannot afford another big country living the same kind of life style that Americans take for granted. The world is a mistake and you have to work with imperfection.

Thought of providing a new perspective here.

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Filed under Cross Culture Communication

Open organizations

Consciousness flow will have no blockage anymore. Traditionally, it was blocked by military power, or by capital power. But in the web area, in the social domain, we will see that consciousness flow will be more and more natural.

In traditional industry, such as agriculture and manufacturing, there are a lot of physical barriers that can block the flow of consciousness. For example, to manufacture some product, a lot of things can be put in place to block competition.

But in the area of social domain, the physical barrier is very low, especially when web starts to connect people together. So for this kind of consciousness product (music, or a social solution), it is more about competing for people’s attention. That is why they have to be kept free. The same as open source, best solution wins. It is all about whether it is interesting or it really solves the problem. In my post Comments on whither the world, I wrote “Our time is about how to build better social products (such as learning, music, journalism and so on). It is about what really makes us happy.” The making of social products has very different characteristics from the traditional industry. For example, the coming of people together to cooperate is more ad hoc, more flexible and manifest more varieties of ways of organizing (as we can see in bar camp and unconference). The kinds of social products cover a very wide range of products or services. They address a wide range of need that was very insufficiently addressed in the past due to a lot of barriers. As agriculture and manufacturing industry satisfy our stomach and physical needs, the social products satisfy our spiritual (however problematic this term “spiritual” is) needs, and is the thing that really makes up happy. In the area of web, we are going to see more and more people coming together addressing those needs. The ways people cooperate in these areas will be very different from the traditional industries and the “core values” of human being will be more and more embodied in the process.

If we believe the “basic good” of human nature, we can believe this process will lead to a much brighter future. That is why we should be very optimistic.

It is along this line that I understand the meaning of (social) software. (Also this is why I understand computer science as a bridge between physical science and human science). Here the Python principle (the principle of play) applies, e.g. make things that are easy for people to play (interact) with. It is here the core values of human activities connect: play, learn, and create.

(To be revised)

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Filed under Cooperation, Open Project, Random Thoughts

In defense of Sudbury graduates: life is about simple things

A common criticism of  Sudbury Valley schools (SVS) is that if it is so good why it hasn’t produced many great people. To this criticism, SVS’ counter argument is that life is about simple things. Being a happy person who enjoys life is the most important thing. Recently I understand more of this. Life is really about enjoying doing activities together with friends, and about how you treat every person in your daily life. All these simple things.

For “great people”, they are a very small percentage of the population anyway. There are only over 40 SVS across US. It is unreasonable to expect some “great people” happen to go there. It is too small a chance. Actually for great people, they can survive any kind of environment. They can survive the compulsory schooling. It doesn’t matter too much for them. (The term “great people” is of course an oversimplification since there are lots of factors such as family environment and so on contributing to “the luck” of the person surviving compulsory schooling. )

It is however quite immoral for compulsory schooling to dumb the majority of people down so that they cannot be healthy human beings, and get troubled for their whole lives by anger, boringness,  violence, and so on.

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Filed under Random Thoughts, unschooling