Naughty Big Data

So I powered up the Android phone after many days. It had many updates. After updating, I stumbled to the Play store. The Play store showed some recommendations for me. Here they are

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Now you may think, I was searching for something naughty on this phone. Honestly, the only thing I searched for on this phone was a Podcast called “New Books in Anthropology”.

Not sure how Google interpolated from innocuous podcast to these books. I wonder if everyone gets to see such naughty books – just so that we get into the habit of downloading ebooks.

Down the page, another recommended book was this one. Would we get tired of webs second guessing our intent?  Would we long for serendipity?

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Shape of Things

I met such a beverage holder. Note the depression on the surface. It is there by design to aid the grip. In fact it feels natural and enjoyable to hold it this way. I remembered some words from a book on a well known American technology man. He used to say that implements should be designed in such a way that they invite users to make use of it.

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Mate’ Tea

I have never been to South America, yet I like Mate’. It is a tea like drink. I think Japan is the only place in Asia where you can find a good supply. Some other places, they tried to import it as a medicinal drink, but it did not catch on.

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Should everyone learn to code in school?

I watch with amusement many hopping on board the “learn to code early” bandwagon. Nothing against coding, I myself spent hours writing code on a Commodore 64 and a Sinclair Spectrum. I still miss the exhilaration of overnight coding sessions where we pushed the 8-bit machine to its limits in late 1980s Bombay.

Then why am I against making coding workshops compulsory in schools?

I feel that once you mandate something, the joy of discovering something is gone. What is going to happen is that a large number of teachers (who may not be enthusiastic about programming) will be trained in a hurry and unleashed on kids. It will be just like any other school subject where a set syllabus will be developed and kids will go through it half -heartedly.

Some of most enthusiastic programmers I have met have come to computing trying to solve some other broader problem. They see programming as a tool and are not dogmatic when it comes to programming language or tools.

So what is my solution?

We should encourage hackerspaces where local tech folks, artists, writers and musicians donate some of their time. If a dedicated building is not possible then perhaps a local school can donate some rooms on the weekends. Kids and everyone else in the community who is keen on these things can drop in and learn and teach whatever they are interested in — writing, coding or hardware. Kids must first wander, get curious about the world and when they develop interest in something, they should be able to have access to a space and mentors. In many places in this world, the answers to some of the local problems is not just in code but also in things like designing a better dustbin or how to create a community cleanup group. Code is just a glue. When someone gets fired up to make something better, we should make sure that we have people they can turn to for guidance and suggestions.

Kingdom of spectacle

Last week, I complained about media hounding the supposed bitcoin man. This week I want to complain about the photos of saddened relatives of people who are missing in the aircraft incident. I don’t know why we want to take close up photos of people grieving. Can’t we leave people alone. As a consumer of media, can I tell the news agencies please don’t do go an poke the camera in the faces of people. I think one can take these pictures more respectfully from a distance. As a society, we should evolve, and collectively wean ourselves off spectacle

Longing and Belonging

Where are you from? Do you find it difficult to answer this?
There are some guesthouses that I frequent. I always end up meeting travellers from far away lands Sometimes, the travellers are from places that I have never been to — such as Iceland or Mongolia. When we talk, a strange kind of feeling takes over, a feeling that has no words to describe in English — can you think of a nice word to describe future nostalgia?

Sometimes the fellow travellers are from places where I have been to, fallen in love in, fallen out of love, fed for free, have seen the season change, shown others around — you can say that I have experienced all that a local would experience. It keeps getting harder for me to say where my home is.

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At one such guesthouse, there is a sign that reads “We will not be responsible for the loss of your belongings”. Wouldn’t this administrative sign become more fun if I were to replace the last word from “belongings” to “belonging”?

Chetra Chap, educator and blogger from Cambodia

This episode we introduce you to Chetra Chap, a young blogger and educator from Phnom Penh. I first come across Chetra via his blog post that he had written about BlogfestAsia 2012. Chetra writes to inspire fellow young Cambodian. In this podcast we talk about how he started blogging, how he learns new skills such a web development and his ventures in education. We also talk about how he is using Evernote to manage his blogging.

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Image from Digital Chetra. Chetra is the one in shades.

Chetra on education entreprenuership, peer learning and web publishing in Cambodia