Friday, October 26, 2012

Crowdsourcing book publishing

UK-based company Unbound is a crowdfunding company for book publishing. Similar to kickstarter, authors pitch their book ideas directly to you. If you back a project before it reaches its funding target, you get your name printed in the back of every copy and immediate behind-the-scenes access to the author’s shed. If any project fails to hit its funding target, you get refunded in full.

Open access academic publishing

The traditional academic publishing process is flawed. Tax-money funded research is published in journals that are only available through very expensive subscriptions. The public gets charged twice (for the research and access to the publications). Research should be made more accessible so  it can be used for decision-making and further research.

You can learn about open access academic publishing at Open Access Week:

You can get open access to scientific publications here:

The video below, illustrated by Jorge Cham from PhD Comics, discusses some of the main elements of the open access debate:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Scientific evidence for food supplements

David McCandless from created this "balloon race" diagram to indicate the strength (or lack thereof) of the effects of food supplements. The higher up the bubble, the stronger the evidence - but only for the condition listed inside the bubble.
Scientific evidence for food supplements [Click to enlarge]
Try out the interactive version of the graph here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Staying up-to-date with STEM research

[Image source:]

Here are some informative resources to help you stay up-to-date with what is going on in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education:

  • STEMConnector has a daily brief of really good stuff about STEM. It is also a great resource for connecting with other STEM initiatives throughout the US:
  • Take a look at the resources available at Northwestern University's Office of STEM Education Partnerships. (OSEP):
  • The US-based STEM education coalition works to support STEM programs for teachers and students at the U. S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM related programs:
  • The UK-based STEMNET project aims to create opportunities to inspire young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM):
  • LinkedIn Group: STEM Educators & Researchers

[Please let me know in the comments about other good STEM education research resources.]

Friday, October 5, 2012

The future of learning is mobile

Amit Garg and Abhijit Kadle from Upside Learning reflected on four key technology areas that will impact learning in the future:

  • Big data, huge quantities of user generated content and sophisticated curation.
  • Ubiquitous and pervasive computing.
  • Social (human) and Machine networks.
  • The Semantic Web and Intelligent Agents.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Deconstructing Disney Princesses

by Beat A Schwendimann

Even the Disney Coorporation realized that their pretty-damsel-in-distress-waiting-for-a-prince model of princesses became less and less appealing to current young girls. The latest Disney movie, Tangled, tries to update the image of the princess by making her a stronger self-confident character.
Image from Disney movie "Tangled"
Disney princesses used to be (and maybe still are) role models for many young girls. However, the classic Disney princess presents an outdated stereotypical role model from the past (compare the two pictures below).

This youtube video discusses the gender stereotypes in Disney movies.

Among current girls, princesses and the romanticized ideal they represent — revolving around finding the man of your dreams — have a limited shelf life. With the advent of "tween" TV, the tiara-wearing ideal of femininity has been supplanted by new adolescent role models such as the Disney Channel's Selena Gomez and Nickelodeon's Miranda Cosgrove. "By the time they're 5 or 6, they're not interested in being princesses," said Dafna Lemish, chairwoman of the radio and TV department at Southern Illinois University and an expert in the role of media in children's lives. "They're interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values." (Read full article in the L.A. Times on how Disney is closing the book on classic fairytale characters).

In Fallen Princesses, artist Dina Goldstein took a modern look at the life of a Disney princess by placing her in an environment that accentuates her conflict. The "Happily ever after" is replaced with a more realistic outcome and adresses current issues:

How about the life of a real princess? The life of a real princess does not seem to be much of a fairytale. This article by the Daily Beast: Kate's Royal Prison  describes the life that expects Kate Middleton as the wife of Prince William. Besides having no more private life or being able to say anything original, she is expected to be picture perfect for the rest of her life, every single minute will be monitored and discussed at large in the press. Each of her actions will constantly be compared to those of Queen Elisabeth and Princess Diana. I don't think many young girl would want to become a princess if they would know what it actually entails.

At least Disney princesses can have some fun (Prince Charming optional):

Or Disney princesses can be hipsters:
Click here to see the collection of hipster Disney princesses.

Honestly titled Disney movies might look like this:
Hamlet - With Animals
See more honest Disney movie titles here.

Disney animators found a cheap way to create new princess characters: They just clone existing ones: