Thoughts on future knowledge

So I’ve been thinking the last couple of days, you would too if you were in the same creative and inspirational environment as me, I’m in a cabin with my family in the southern parts of northern Sweden called Hälsingland with almost 1½ meters of snow surrounding us and no distractions in sight.

I got into a discussion with me oldest boy (I’ve been having a lot of those lately) about which region (landskap in Swedish) we had travelled through to get to the cabin and his immediate answer was to use his favorite Internet enabled map browsing technology to answer my question. My first reaction was WTF? But then I got to deeper thoughts as the day went by, it seemed like I just couldn’t leave this thoughts unprocessed and I found myself returning to these questions?

How would I go about learning stuff in school and life if I was a child today? And how would I define knowledge then?

In my school days (and mind you this was not centuries ago ;-)) it was forbidden to use calculators on some math tests because you had to show that you had knowledge in understanding the concepts of math. Today I could use Wolfram Alpha and get the right answers immediately, but I still need the ability to filter out the right answer.

But what if your mind was connected to a massive collective information cluster like the Internet? How would you as a educational institute test the knowledge of your students then? I personally don’t think the idea of having an Internet enabled mind is science fiction, instead the idea fascinates me and I can see that we’re almost there now as we share both thoughts and images daily through social medias like Twitter and Facebook. The one thing missing is the physical connection between your mind and the Internet.

So what will define knowledge in this scenario? Isn’t knowledge the ability to search for, filter out and identify the best (collectively) known answer to the question at hand? If you think about knowledge this way you start to realize the power of search and even more the importance of privacy. This would certainly demand new learning methods and knowledge testing that I haven’t seen at all in the Swedish public school but somewhat in the private schools.

The first step should be to give every school kid a laptop or mobile device with an Internet connection. The second step would be to let them go information discovering.

I must say these thoughts have truly dazed me the last couple of days in such way that I hesitated to write this post. But then I realized it would be more fun returning to this post in a couple of years to see how things evolved and it will be even more interesting following my boys school years, I bet I’ll question the educational methods a lot during the years to come…

Have a great holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Hugo

My blog just got Mobilized

As you might remember from this post I run this blog using the WordPress framework. There’s a lot of nice stuff  in the WordPress framework and one of those things is the plugin extensibility. So yesterday I installed a plugin called WPTouch that makes my WordPress blog look nicer in mobile devices.

You should try it surfing to my blog using a mobile device and tell me what you think.

Cheers!

Hugo

Seeing through the religious fog

Warning this post can be interpreted as somewhat disturbing and/or offensive but this is not at all my intention, I’m just trying to be honest. So answer these simple questions before you continue reading:

Do you hate prejudice? Are you mature enough to look beyond others prejudice? If not you should stop reading now!

This year has been a fantastic travel year for me and my family, in February we visited Rome in April we visited Athens and as usual we went to Cyprus in August. These we’re all great vacations and they we’re all inside our family’s comfort zone.

SO to step outside of our safe and cozy comfort zone me and my wife Katrin booked a vacation to Egypt. For some of you readers out there Egypt will certainly not sound especially strange or outside of any comfort zone but for us this was the very first time in a Muslim country.

Instantly I made the connection as Egypt = Muslim country instead of Egypt = fantastic country with many cultural treasures. Why is that? I believe that as a westerner (and especially after 9/11) we’re constantly bombarded with a fog of information in the form of religion that makes us focus on the religious fog and not on the content. So when our family packed our bags we didn’t realize that we had also packed some prejudices like “You will most certainly get sick from the food served”.

Boy, I’m ashamed to say that my prejudices were all very wrong! And I must say that without any doubt our week in Egypt was by far one of the most memorable and best holidays ever, and nobody got sick from the great Egyptian food. Egyptian people are very friendly, open, loving, great business people and warm if you open up to them that is.

Unfortunately we saw some tourists that weren’t friendly or open for the cultural differences and they lost a great experience.

So why write this post you might say? Well I’m seeing a lot of the same religious fog in the software industry. Microsoft, Google, Apple all stand for cultural differences and religious fogs that make people in the industry claim that some solution is better then the other because of the company behind the software. I really beg to differ, there is good software, open software, friendly software and there is very bad software, hostile software exactly like people. There are good, open and friendly people in Egypt as in Sweden and there most certainly are bad people as well.

Don’t make things about religion or culture, look at content instead, I’m sure I will. As a former Microsoftee I’m carrying a lot of cultural luggage so from now on I will start to look into other continuous integration solutions like CruiseControl and Hudson, source control solutions like Subversion, Mercurial and Git and so on…what will you do to step outside your software comfort zone?

Finally I would really like to thank some people that really turned our vacation to pure magic (I will protect your names but I think you know who you are):

  • The best waiter in the world that served us the most romantic dinner right by the sea! Words can´t explain how much we appreciate your work, dedication and honesty!
  • The all-inclusive guy that served our children free drinks during the last days, Tjingeling!
  • The owner of the Tattoo/Jewelry shop with the very serious face. What a necklace and you remind me of a really dear friend from Canada.
  • The tattooist that made our Henna tattoos. The tattoos are awesome and please don’t offer the tattooist 10 LE for their work that embarrassing as a fellow country man to hear.
  • The guy who’s about to get married and couldn’t sleep. Many good luck whishes from me and my whole family.
  • The guy who made us vases with colorful sand.
  • “Sponge Bob”- our snorkeling guide that pushed me to all sorts of crazy things and fetched a 3m long moray from the bottom of the sea, RESPECT!moray

And I would like to thank this great software for enabling me to create this post:

  • Windows 7 that I’m running on my PC.
  • Windows Live Writer, the awesome tool I use to create blog posts.
  • WordPress, the blog platform that my blog runs on.
  • MySQL, the database that my blog platform runs on.
  • PHP, the language my blog platform uses.

Hugo