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Steve Jobs Vs Maria Montessori – Who Won?

I envision a debate between the late founders of two institutions that have impacted hundreds of thousands of children.

Steve Jobs is at his podium with a sleek tablet (downloading material from the Cloud, so to speak).

Maria Montessori is holding up a handful of sand-paper letters.

The debate begins, and Dr. Montessori, who doesn’t care to introduce herself, begins handing out rectangles of sand-paper, and pink blocks to anyone who cares to listen. Jobs is tap-tapping away on an iPad with retina display and fingerprint recognition.

But seriously, I have been fascinated to see how often modern educators, and people from all areas of student involvement invoke Maria Montessori today. I just came across an article by Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire, among other things. He goes on to talk of her “education of the senses”

Montessori describes other exercises that encourage children to explore the sense of touch: setting out metal containers of water heated at six degree intervals; tablets made of three different woods that differ in weight by six grams; other tablets that have alternating strips of smooth paper and sandpaper.

Now you know why I was temped to compare the world’s best-known tablet promoter, and user of old-fashioned tablets!

 

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Education, Mobile, Technology

 

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Speaking like Jobs – Presentation tips from 10 years ago

Exactly 10 years ago this week, Steve Jobs took to the stage –a technique he would go on to perfect — to launch the iPod Shuffle.

That was Jan 11th, 2005.

I often do ‘anniversary’ events in my class, to get young people to think about where we are now, in relation to where we and the technologies we take for granted were once at. After all, this is a Computer and Technology Lab, and I don’t want to get into the trap of always featuring today’s shiny new object, or the hottest new parlor trick in digital media. We often need context, and it tends to fly by when we refresh our feeds, doesn’t it?

Back to Jobs. His presentation trick was to use insanely simple devices. Well rehearsed, and well timed but simple. Which made him very different from his tech contemporaries, who revel in Silicon Valley argot. (Yes, I listen to ‘This Week in Tech, to catch up with the other kind of tech-talk!)

Listen to how he works up the crowd, and keeps them hanging on for that characteristic”One more thing.”  Fast forward to 1:35, and see what I mean.

  • He uses words like ‘noodled’ (He “noodled on it” not “researched it”)
  • He uses unexpected pauses, and slows down and speeds up suddenly
  • He uses home-spun images – comparing the iPod Shuffle to a pack of gum, and contrasting it with four quarters

Notice how he also stays away from big words, using words like “easy”, “simple,” “thing,” etc. (And yet, peppering his presentation with keywords!)

Even if there was no YouTube, I bet we would still listen to it.

 

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How “Research” helped Jobs and Woz

Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been the serial entrepreneur we knew him to be, if not for his partner in crime, Steve Wozniac

I make this point to my students, when teaching them the power of collaboration, something lost in our education system that, until now favored the individual over the group; the bubble test over the team project. Common Core standards, adopted by my school (Arizona is one of some 45 states adopting them) urge us to break out of that mindset, and get kids to discuss more, debate, confront, and work as a hive mind.

So I use this example of Woz, where he describes how he stumbled over a piece of fiction about the ‘Blue Box’, and showed it to Jobs. They wondered if this device were possible, but didn’t stop at that. They snuck into a library one Sunday, and looked it up in a stack of journals.

In other words, Steve and Steve were doing their ‘research.’  Something that sounds anathema to today’s kids who like to imagine search = research. That supporting ideas will always be within a few keystrokes or clicks.

I particularly like how the Apple co-founders got started not in a garage, but a library.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Education, Search

 

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2011 dominated by people rather than technology

It’s impossible to overstate how tumultuous a year 2011 has been.

Every year we seem to think that we have been shaken, twisted around, rudely awakened. Usually it’s about technology. But usually it’s about some life-changing technology, or a new ways of doing things. Refreshingly, this year there was a large human dimension to it, some of which I covered here on this blog.

It was as if we were looking through a camera and switching between two filters:  Pro-democracy and Anti-terrorism. But we also saw a share of media events, some even about the media!

  • The people’s revolutions in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Russia, Libya…
  • In a surprising move, the US captured and killed of Osama Bin Laden — ten years after he declared war on the US.
  • Then there was Occupy Wall Street, a movement pooh-poohed by many but seemed to catch on, franchise-like, sprouting  arms, posters, and megaphones…
  • The shooting (and amazing recovery) of congresswoman Gabby Giffords dominated the early part of the year. At least here in Arizona.
  • The media scandal in the UK rocking Rupert Murdock’s empire.
  • The Kate and William extravaganza in the media -a.k.a. the royal wedding.
  • The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in April.
  • The passing away of Steve Jobs –perhaps slightly exaggerated as an ‘event’ (even on this blog!) But it made us consider how one man could have impacted so many.
  • Aung Su Kyi returned to the political arena, registering to run in upcoming elections
 

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What does Big Brother looks like in a post-Jobs world?

Those in marketing have this quaint memory of Apple and its overthrow of those who enforce “information purification directives” in a stifling “garden of pure ideology” (the words spoken by the image of Big Brother on a giant screen).

If it was revolution, it was the triumph of the little guy over big intimidating folks such as IBM, not government.

But what does Big Brother look like today? What would George Orwell have railed about if he wrote about it now?

Few have heard about a program dubbed Einstein –essentially a government surveillance program. Details are understandably sketchy. It was set up for network security of government properties, but aslso to conduct surveillance, to look for the bad guys. Einstein came to be in 2009 as an early warning system, and was described this way:

Developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Einstein software provides real-time monitoring and analysis of Internet traffic flowing in and out of federal agency networks. 

There is more here, and here. You would expect governments to get with the program and be vigilant on who’s accessing an intending to compromise their networks. I would be upset if they aren’t.

But then, with the ability to monitor social networking,  it gets more complicated. It is one close hop from monitoring who’s clicking on links and from where they are arriving on, say a Federal web site, to doing real-time surveillance of those people via their social networks. It’s also so easy to do. Easy to eavesdrop on a Skype call, or drop in on a Facebook user and check on the frequency of exchanges with a particular person, and do some data-mining based on that user’s friends, photos, interests…

Sounds like the cloak and dagger stuff in the movies? Think again. Two years ago, the Boston Globe reported on social media savvy undercover cops, and in another case, AT&T was sued for helping the government intercept phone calls. Today Facebook is being drawn into this debate about how much we should share, and what it “knows” about us, with one researcher alleging that it could track you even if you have logged out of Facebook.

Somehow I am not shocked, or worried about this. That’s the Faustian bargain we make when we use these services, many of which come at no cost to us. I’ve made the case before that the disease of over-sharing, and our need to communicate with our friends-of-friends-of-friends every moment and minutae of our lives invites this.

We could of course turn these off, or do something else: provide information that would confuse the heck out of anyone watching over our keystrokes. There’s a line in the 1984 commercial that shows us how, and how we could talk them “bury them with their own confusion.”

Go ahead, poke Big Brother in his eye!

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Social Media

 

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“The world has lost an amazing human being.”

Hard to forget, the first PC I ever owned was the Apple Color Classic*.

But apart from giving many of us in advertising and marketing a simple (as in non-geeky) on-ramp to computing, we remember him for his vision, and his humanity.

I found this statement from him, made in 2005.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share…

…Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.”

 

*I have not used a Mac for the past 15 years. 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Business Models, Disruptive, Technology

 

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Blogs allow CEOs permission to stop being ‘corporate’

There aren’t a lot of CEO’s who blog. Still. No one expects that of them. But there are many who -blog-like– speak their mind. So when people ask me for some examples, there are a few I usually refer to.

Kevin Roberts’ blogKR Connect, the blog of the the Australian CEO of Saatchi Worldwide.

Steve Jobs’ blog –actually this is not Steve. It’s the celebrated, outed ‘Fake Steve’ blog, but it’s worth reading…

Mark Cuban’s blog. Calling himself BlogMaverick, Mark has been setting the tone for CEO-speak for a long tome.

Jonathan Schwartz’s blog. I hold Jonathan’s Blog responsible for infecting CEO’s with the idea that it was time to bring social media in from the fringes into the mainstream communication

Schwartz, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems, was frequently called things like ‘blogger in chief‘ for good reason. His blog at Sun set the tone for everyone else blogging at Sun. He was not the kind of person who had one set of communication rules for the corporate office, and another set of rules for the rest.

I’ve interviewed many CEO’s and VPs for articles and podcasts, so know when someone is not comfortable presenting his/her human side just because there’s a microphone or camera in the room. Others don’t even have to switch into homo sapiens mode –they are exactly the same when facing external audiences as they are when communicating to internal groups.

How does your CEO, or client communicate? Are they instant ‘blog material?’ Do you sometimes wish you could capture the big guy’s thoughts in a podcast or blog, knowing that if you ask him to write it down or send it through his PR/legal funnel it would come out as something nonsensical?

I don’t recommend a blog for everyone, but I do know that its discipline and format has a way of giving a senior manager the permission to stop being all stuffed up and corporate, and to be more authentic.

 

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