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  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

    Posted by Maria Urquidi on 5/3/2009 10:00:00 AM
    Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell 
    (Available on Audiobook from your library!)

    Given the publicity surrounding Gladwell's other books, The Tipping Point and Blink, I was surprised that I hadn't noticed when this book came out six months ago.  Outliers may not be the media success that the other books were but its message is particularly relevant to education: success in any field has less to do with individual ability and more to do with hard work and opportunity (particularly in terms of when you are born relative to what is going on in the world at that time).

    Using examples from Bill Gates and the Beatles to the KIPP Academy, Gladwell attempts to debunk the American myth of the self-made man and replace it with his formula: Opportunity+Culture+Hard Work = Success.   Now I understand why ISTE is having Gladwell give the keynote address at NECC this year.  A must read/listen

    Book

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  • The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil

    Posted by Maria Urquidi on 4/14/2009 9:00:00 AM
     
     
    Inventor, author, computer scientist and flat-out genius, Ray Kurzweil has been thinking about the future and, how we can influence it, for his entire life.  And, if his collection of successful companies (Kurzweil Reader, Scansoft, Nuance, Kurzweil Music Systems) and awards is any indication, he has been right more often than not.  Until now.  Hopefully.... because the premise of this book is that technology (and our relationship to it) evolves logarithmically which means that by the time we notice things are changing, the pace of change will be so rapid that it will be unstoppable.  Like the event horizon of that other "singularity", the black hole, once we cross over, there will be no turning back. 
     
    In a nutshell, by 2040 Ray Kurzweil believes that machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence and humans will merge with their machines.
    Singularity
     
    No time for the book?  Don't worry - the movie opens April 25th! (If YouTube is blocked, just go to the website for the movie.)
     
     
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  • Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

    Posted by Maria Urquidi on 4/13/2009 10:30:00 AM
    Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

    Computer scientist/science fiction writer, Vinge takes us to a not-too-distant future where a blank stare into the distance just means that you Googled something on your wearable computer and are reading the results that are being projected on your special contact lenses.
     
    Lots of mind expanding ideas as well as some poking of fun at our schools.  (The older teacher of the required course, Search and Analysis, says that students need to learn about the thing you do before analysis, "Pre-analysis - or as we used to call it, study".)
    Rainbows End

    This one isn't slated to be a movie yet... but it should!

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