10 minutes well spent

If you ever find yourself a spare ten minutes or so, you should do yourself a favour and check out the TED: Ideas worth spreading site. I do so on a regular basis, most often when I’m in bed browsing on my iPad before I head off to sleep. Last night I watched two very different stories being told, both of which led me to think, to contemplate, to reassess.

Watch both of them. They’re worth the investment. The first is the story of two very remarkable women, both marred by the tragedy of 9/11. They come from what some would see as opposing backgrounds, but they share the common thread of motherhood. Both have suffered, and both find comfort from the other. Their story is a lesson in tolerance, forgiveness and empathy for us all, and is one we should be sharing with the students we teach.

The other is a world apart, but it deals with something not apparent to all, but something that will definitely affect us all. Eli Pariser is the author of “The Filter Bubble,” and in this talk he explains how personalized search might be narrowing our worldview. Eli explains how web services that know what we like and direct results to us that meet our likes, are allowing us to get trapped in a “filter bubble.” The filter bubble prevents us from exposure to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Here’s another lesson for not just the adults in the room, our students need this kind of understanding if they are to become architects of their digital lives. After watching this, it’s apparent that personalised search, where organisations are making decisions about what we view, is dangerous territory indeed. Dangerous territory that can lead to lack of tolerance, an inability to forgive, and a decided lack of empathy. There’s the link you need to make these two talks some of the best learning that could take place in a classroom this week.

TED: Ideas worth spreading. Never a truer phrase was uttered. Spread away.

Mahalo Answers – new feature with a twist.

Jason Calacanis has been active on Twitter promoting Mahalo Answers, the newest string to the Mahalo bow.  It’s a question and answer service with an added twist. You can earn some virtual dollars that can be converted into real dollars with Mahalo taking a 25% cut. Techcrunch have written about this:

Mahalo Answers throws in a twist. If someone really wants to encourage the best answers, they can offer a tip in “Mahalo Dollars,” which can be funded through PayPal and are convertible into real dollars once a member has earned at least 40 of them. For those of you who remember Google Answers, it paired questioners with vetted researchers who found answers for a fee. This is slightly different in that questions are not assigned to a specific researcher. As many people can answer it as they want and all compete for the tip. Furthermore, the tip can be rescinded by the questioner if he or she is not satisfied with any of the answers.   

Their thinking is if questioners rescind on too many tips no-one will answer their questions in future. They also offer points to people who ask and answer questions. If you provide the best answers,  add links or find friends who can better the service you get more points and can earn yourself a coloured belt, much like the system used in Karate. The higher you go the more of an ‘expert’ you are considered. The thinking is that people who accrue points and attain ‘expert’ status will be able to charge higher fees for their services. Techcrunch quotes Calacanis as saying;

If you can make knowledge into a game and help people make living, it is very powerful.

I’m sure appealing to people’s egos won’t hurt all that much either.

The clever thing about all this for Mahalo will be that they will be watching this closely and using the information accrued here to bolster the information they provide on their search pages. (Mahalo is a human powered search engine- people construct the pages you get when you search for a topic.) This can only help them to grow stronger in the search engine market. I know that I am always happy when a topic I’m searching has a page on Mahalo. I can guarantee the results are going to be worth my while.

It’s just gone live and some of the questions are a bit feeble, but others are interesting. Take a look. Maybe you can provide some answers and start earning yourself some Mahalo dollars. If I was a stay at home Mum instead of a full time employee, I know what I’d be doing. I’d give daytime TV the flick (not that that would be hard!) and I’d be extending my mind and income by contributing to this idea.  

 

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