Saturday, May 31, 2008

Venezuelan Publisher Now Offers Its Library Online

Venezuelan publisher Ayacucho Library is now offering its library online for free, according to Global Voices. The library has works from Neruda, Bolivar, Dario, etc. It looks like an amazing resource for anyone interested in the Spanish language and Spanish literature.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Violence and Video Games

There's a new book out called Grand Theft Childhood that explores the controversies surrounding video games and violence. The two authors, both Harvard Medical School researchers (if my memory serves me), take a surprising tack in their book and argue that video games do not produce an increase in youth violence. Indeed, at one point in the book, they argue that kids who DO NOT play video games are more at risk to commit acts of violence. There's a good summary of the book's findings here.

I'm sure there are plenty who will disagree with their findings, but they are certainly interesting.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Writing A Novel, Wiki-Style

Over at Open Culture, there's a story about a collaboration between Penguin and De Montfort university in the U.K. wherein the two outfits attempted to create a collaborative novel, wiki-style. Take a look at the results here. I took a brief look and it's pretty awful.

I'm a big advocate of all this web 2.0 stuff, but I don't think creativity is under any immediate threat from the new tech. If you've got a fear of robot overlords or a digital mob taking our place, I wouldn't worry (at least in terms of literary creations).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The History of Computer Data Storage

Ian Jukes has a great posting on his blog that has a pictorial history of data storage devices from the absolutely huge early models to what we have out there today. I ain't gonna lie -- it's pretty nerdy -- but what can I say?

Ian Jukes blog, The Committed Sardine, by the way, is another great education blog that's definitely worth a look.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Lost Generation?

Continuing my theme of denouncing the "kids today" crowd, I ran across this video on the web site Classroom 2.0. It does a good job of outlining the complexities of the challenges and choices that kids face today rather than laying down a blanket condemnation of youth.

Classroom 2.0, by the way, is a great site for educators to come together and exchange ideas. However cliched the phrase is, it's true in this case.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The End of Romanticism?

Charles Murray has an interesting article in The New Criterion where he outlines how he believes that the end of what he calls "educational romanticism" is fast approaching. Murray defines this romanticism as a belief that all kids have a set of unique and special talents and it is the role of the educator to find them. Murray rejects this notion offhand and argues that this is all so much bunk. The reality for him is that some kids are just plain more intelligent than others and that the multiple intelligences touted by the likes of Howard Gardiner is just another form of liberal white guilt.

You may recall that Murray was the coauthor of The Bell Curve. In light of so many of the recent developments in education over the past few decades, I'd be curious to know what people's reactions are to this line of thinking.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kids Today

I've been reading an interesting book that chronicles the shortcomings of youth. The author chronicles kids who go off to college and get drunk; duped by intellectual frauds on campus; drop out of college; rebel against their parents; engage in dangerous incidents of violence; and the list goes on and on. The youth portrayed by the author are gullible and overly impressionistic, prone to lose their moral bearings. It's a troubling picture of the young.

This would seem to reinforce what so many critics point out are the fruits of our new digital culture. These would seem to be the bastard children of television, video games, iPods, and Britney Spears.

The problem with this analysis is that this book is discussing youth in 16th and 17th century Germany. The book is Three Behaim Boys: Growing Up in Early Modern Germany by Steven Ozment. The book looks at the lives of three members of the Behaim family and chronicles their struggles through their early adulthood. What strikes one when you read the book is how similar the troubles these kids went through are to the issues that kids today face. The book is a collection of their letters to the various adults in their lives and the adults' answers are stunningly similar to what we hear today about the decline of youth.

Is it possible that every generation thinks the younger generation is corrupt and represents a decline of the previous generation? Boomers complained about Gen-X slackers. "Greatest Generation" parents complained about the Boomers. You can trace this back through condemnation of greasers and communists in the 50s back to beats, flappers, etc. And yet each generation seemed to turn out just fine.