Archive for January 2013

My teaching experience, by Michel Serres: digital native Thumbelina can do three things at the same time

January 28, 2013

“The digital revolution, which dates back thirty years, is the third revolution: there was the first, before Christ, when orality is spent writing. Everything changed from there, in politics as in economics (checks can be made, for example), and literature is born (poetry). Then there printing at the time of Montaigne (have a well-made head rather than a well-filled one). We are at the third revolution where everything changes. Historians, like Karl Marx, give great importance to “hard” technological revolutions (i.e. the industrial techniques). But this time, it is something else: it is about “soft” techniques. But they have reinvented many things.”

“at the time of Gutenberg, already, there was as much porn as bibles! … and as much bad texts. (…) In libraries and media, books are placed in alphabetical order, not in order of importance. It takes a teacher to explain the difference between (Marc) Lévy (a popular contemporary French writer) and Flaubert. And who are the impostors?  … The bad doers.”

“Petite poucette (“Thumbelina”, Serres’ essay digital native girl character) learned the real meaning of the word “maintenant” (now):  “main tenant” (Hand holding)  … Handholding the world. Her mobile phone in hand, with her thumb, she has a computer, so access to the media, places (via GPS), Internet, songs, pictures, Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. She has access to almost all the places and all the “human beeings” of the world. There is a calculation: “the small world Theorem”, which raises the following question to someone met at random in the street:  in how many calls can he join another chap in San Francisco, for example? it takes seven calls before big connectors like Facebook were available. Today it takes four calls … Thumbelina can reach anyone in the world in four attempts. This is extraordinary.”

“Thumbelina can do three things at the same time. This is a new performance but it can be done. She is a superior intelligence. Do not confuse “doing three things at the same time” and “loss of concentration”. When we watch TV, we are in position “passenger”, slumped on the couch. In front of the computer, we sit on the driver seat and are attentive. The first position is passive, the other active. Do not confuse the Dad’s old media (even grandpa’s one) and new technologies: Thumbelina was born “with” new technology.”


‘ambiverts’ stand halfway between the poles of extreme extroversion and extreme introversion

January 27, 2013

‘Salesmen who scored exactly halfway between the poles of extreme extroversion and extreme introversion— they are called “ambiverts”—earned 24 percent more than the introverts and, surprisingly, 32 percent more than the extroverts.

‘extroverts are actually less successful at making sales than people with more moderate social temperaments.’

Scientists (Wharton school university of Pennsylvania) ‘are not sure why such individuals perform better, but it may be that “they’re less likely to get distracted and to talk too much —they find the right balance between talking and listening.” In addition, extroverted salespeople may sometimes be too pushy and turn potential buyers off.’


the new SAW model explained Sony’s industrial failure in producing LCD

January 25, 2013

According to marketing scientists (USC Marshall School of Business) “Moore’s Law does not apply for most industries, including the PC industry.”

The scientists “offer a new model, Step and Wait (SAW) based on 26 technologies in six markets from lighting to automobile batteries”.

The scientists built a chart (see the source URL below) that averages performance improvements for industry in terms of “steps” and “wait” (i.e. SAW) times, and not by following an exponential curve (as in the “old” Moore’s law).

“The challenge for strategists is to invest in various technologies to beat these averages. The sweet spot is in knowing which technology to back based on predicting when a new technology is going to have a jump in performance by using the SAW model.”

“The new method of predicting the evolution of technology could save tech giants millions in research and development or developments of new products—and help analysts and venture capitalists determine which companies are on the right track”

“An example of how the SAW model could have saved a company from decline is Sony’s investment in TVs. Sony kept investing in cathode ray tube technology (CRT) even after liquid crystal display technology (LCD) first crossed CRT in performance in 1996”

“Instead of considering LCD, Sony introduced the FD Trinitron/WEGA series, a flat version of the CRT. CRT out-performed LCD for a few years, but ultimately lost decisively to LCD in 2001.”

“In contrast, by backing LCD, Samsung grew to be the world’s largest manufacturer of the better performing LCD. The former market leader, Sony, had to seek a joint venture with Samsung in 2006 to manufacture LCDs.”


unlike many forms of information storage, DNA is extremely long-lasting and does not require constant electrical power…

January 25, 2013

‘… Plus, DNA is tiny—a small cup of DNA can store one hundred million hours of high-quality video.’

‘DNA storage is still very expensive. But the scientists predict advancing technology will lower prices and make their method cost-effective within a decade.’


“My passw0rd is $uper str0ng!” is 100 times stronger as a passphrase than “Superman is $uper str0ng!,” which in turn is 10,000 times stronger than “Th3r3 can only b3 #1!”

January 24, 2013

“A team led by Ashwini Rao, a software engineering Ph.D. student in the Institute for Software Research, developed a password-cracking algorithm that took into account grammar and tested it against 1,434 passwords containing 16 or more characters.”

“We should not blindly rely on the number of words or characters in a password as a measure of its security,”

“Basing a password on a phrase or short sentence makes it easier for a user to remember, but the grammatical structure dramatically narrows the possible combinations and sequences of words”
“Likewise, grammar, whether good or bad, necessitates using different parts of speech—nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns—that also can undermine security. That’s because pronouns are far fewer in number than verbs, verbs fewer than adjectives and adjectives fewer than nouns. So a password composed of “pronoun-verb-adjective-noun,” such as “Shehave3cats” is inherently easier to decode than “Andyhave3cats,” which follows “noun-verb-adjective-noun.” A password that incorporated more nouns would be even more secure.”
” “My passw0rd is $uper str0ng!” is 100 times stronger as a passphrase than “Superman is $uper str0ng!,” which in turn is 10,000 times stronger than “Th3r3 can only b3 #1!” “

Teachers might incorporate shorter, more colloquial sentences on study guides and in textbooks to raise test scores.

January 24, 2013

“Recollecting trivial and sometimes dull Facebook posts is easier than recalling the same information in a book. It also takes less effort to remember posted patter than someone’s face, according to new research (conducted by U.C. San Diego).”

“Whereas books and newspapers typically are combed over by fact-checkers and carefully rewritten by editors, Facebook posts tend to be free flowing and more closely resemble speech.”

“It’s a new way of thinking about memory, Our minds are naturally prepared to encode what is naturally produced.”

“Teachers might incorporate shorter, more colloquial sentences on study guides and in textbooks to raise test scores.”


Virtual reality + neurofeedback to treat ADHD

January 23, 2013

“The neurofeedback, is a technique used in behavioral medicine as an adjunct to psychotherapy. Using electrodes placed on the scalp, an electronic device acquires the electroencephalographic (EEG) signal. It then extracts from the EEG the information on the electrical activity of the brain and converts it into a visual or auditory object that dynamically changes with the physiological signal. For example, varying the length of a sight gauge continuously according to the EEG power in a specific frequency band. The process must be done in real time, that is to say the object, such as the sight gauge must represent brain activity targeted with a low delay (less than 500 milliseconds).”

Treating ADHD (Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder):

“The most common signs of ADHD disorder become evident at prime school: difficulties to remain in place, to maintain attention and concentration for the time required to perform a task, or to await one’s turn. Frequently, this disorder causes considerable academic difficulties although intelligence is normal or even higher than normal.”

“During the neurofeedback training sessions, the patient suffering of ADHD acquires an ability to control his brain activity.”

“In a consortium of several academic and industrial partners constituting the OpenViBE project (2005-2009) funded by the French “Agence Nationale de la Recherche”, dedicated to the research on Brain-Computer Interfaces, INRIA (French national institute for computer science research), the project coordinator, has developed a software environment called OpenViBE. This environment is able to manage data acquisition and processing EEG data online in order to extract relevant features”

“In the context of the OpenVIBE project, a neurofeedback software platform was developped using a virtual reality device to immerse patients in virtual fully controllable and customizable environments. This device has been designed especially to facilitate the implementation of ADHD suffering patient’s learning of neurofeedback. The software platform is a real-time 3D application that converts the physiological signal supplied by OpenViBE in a set of signals of visual and auditory feedback. These feedback signals are the different scenarios neurofeedback that are available when the patient is immersed in the virtual environment and equipped with the EEG. The virtual environment emblematic of this platform is a classroom which realism is important, and within which a set of interactive virtual objects can support many neurofeedback scenarios.”

‘For example, the child patient must listen to the instructions of the virtual teacher while maintaining his physiological signal in the criteria set by the therapist. If this condition is not satisfied, agitation appears in the classroom by an increase in movements and sounds produced by other virtual students, as well as levitate objects on his desk and the room.”

“During these phases of training, the therapist is able to test the stability of the patient’s attention by starting, from a display, virtual disruptive events such as a dog barking, passing a truck in the street”

(pictures of the virtual training are available below)