TedxThessaloniki 2015, μια βδομάδα μετά.

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Φωτογραφίες από Kleomenis Spyroglou

Μια βδομάδα μετά το φετινό TedxThessaloniki, ξαναβλέπουμε φωτογραφίες και θυμόμαστε. Στον ίδιο χώρο με πέρυσι το φετινό tedx ξεκίνησε με μια μικρή καθυστέρηση η οποία δε νομίζω να πτόησε κανέναν.

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Η διαφορά σε σχέση με τις προηγούμενες χρονιές ήταν πως τα sessions ήταν 3 (ενισχυμένα) αντί για 4.

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Μετά από 4 ζωντανά tedx που έχω παρακολουθήσει και αμέτρητες ώρες παρακολούθησης στο internet αλλά και ακρόασης, έχω να παρατηρήσω τα εξής:

1. Οι ομιλίες ήταν πραγματικά καλές. Δεν είναι απαραίτητο να σε ενθουσιάσουν όλες. Κάθε ένας ξεχωρίζει και παίρνει μαζί του αυτές που πραγματικά του μιλάνε.

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2. Εγώ προσωπικά ξεχώρισα τον Harry Cliff από το CERN, για το βρετανικό του χιούμορ και τον τρόπο που παρουσίασε μάλλον δύσκολα θέματα, την Philippa Young, για μια διαφορετική οπτική γωνία ενημέρωσης, τον Isaac Holeman, για τη δουλειά του στις πιο απαιτητικές περιοχές του πλανήτη, τους Nikko Frango και Cassandra Stavrou για το επιχειρηματικό τους πνεύμα, τον Alexis Pantazis για την ιστορία του μετανάστη παππού του που μοιράστηκε, αλλά και τον Θεοδόση Σαπουνίδη για την επιμονή του και το όραμα του.

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3. Η πιο ευχάριστη αποκάλυψη της μέρας όμως, ήταν ο Jerome Kaluta, ένας καλλιτέχνης από την Αφρική γεννημένος στην Αθήνα που με τα άπταιστα Ελληνικά του μας μίλησε για τη μουσική τον αθλητισμό που ενώνει. Μια μουσική που ξεκινάει από τον Papa Wemba και φτάνει ως τον Γιώργο Ζαμπέτα. Το επιβεβαίωσε ξεσηκώνοντας το θέατρο με 3 τραγούδια.

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4. Αν μπορώ να επισημάνω κάτι που έκανε κακή εντύπωση αυτό θα ήταν το φτωχό catering, σε σχέση με πέρυσι τουλάχιστον. Με ένα σαντουϊτσάκι και μπανάνες δεν βγάζεις όλη τη μέρα. Ούτε δικαιολογείται να σερβίρεις πρακτικά μόνο μπύρες και νερά.

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5. Τέλος, ο κόσμος ήταν μάλλον λιγότερος και εισιτήρια υπήρχαν μέχρι και 3-4 μέρες πριν. (Τις προηγούμενες χρονιές εξαντλούνταν τουλάχιστον 2-3 εβδομάδες πριν). Έχω την αίσθηση πως η προετοιμασία και η ενημέρωση του κοινού από τα social media άργησε και δεν προετοίμασε κατάλληλα όσους δεν είναι εξοικοιωμένοι με την εκδήλωση.

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Παρόλα αυτά τα tedx είναι εκδηλώσεις που δίνουν πάντα την ευκαιρία να ακούσεις ενδιαφέροντες ανθρώπους, να εμπνευστείς, να δεις φίλους. Το Βασιλικό προσφέρει έναν εξαιρετικό χώρο για να τα κάνεις όλα αυτά. Από κάθε άποψη ήταν μια κερδισμένη μέρα.

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Time to study! Part 2: Beyond MOOCs

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In my previous post “Time to study! Part 1: MOOCs & Certificates“, I covered MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). I presented just 3 major providers: EdX, Coursera and Udacity although there are many more out there, simply because in my humble (totally subjective opinion) these 3 provide an excellent user experience and offer a really massive course catalog from some of the best universities worldwide.

Learning session. By Per Gosche @Flickr
Learning session. By Per Gosche @Flickr

You can find extensive lists of many more providers in aggregation web sites like mooc-list.com or a much more well designed Class Central. By their definition: “it is an aggregator of MOOC course listings and continually looks for and bring you high-quality MOOCs from reputable providers (and not just from the major providers)”.

But the Internet has a lot more to offer, if you really want to learn, that is. So we continue the journey to knowledge, this time with online courses much less formal but no less useful.

1. Udemy is an online learning marketplace offering classes for subjects ranging from Yoga to SAP ABAP Objects. You can find courses for business, IT, marketing, design but even lifestyle, photography, health and many more. Courses are offered in the form of video lectures which can also be viewed offline from the mobile app. Courses include perks like quizzes, notes, presentation slides and by completing the course you get a certificate. The drawback is that not all courses are free but very often Udemy makes really extreme offers and usually you’ll find the subject you are interested in,for under 50 €.

2. lynda.com recently acquired by Linkedin, for a considerable $1.5 billion, also offers courses ranging from SW development to photography, design and education. As in most of the platforms, video is the dominating means of knowledge delivery. Courses last from a few minutes to hours but are structured in small junks (lasting minutes) that you can watch quite easily without committing yourself to long hours of continuous watching. Lynda is not free though. It will cost you a little less than 20€/month to keep it running (for the basic option).

Study. Courtesy of Andrew Eason. Flickr
Study. Courtesy of Andrew Eason. Flickr

3. Skillshare is based on a similar subscription model as Lynda. It “breathes” a more informal and social air though with classes for culinary, crafts and DIY along with business and technology. If you want to learn how to make pickles like a pro and then build an online shop to sell them this is your pick.

Both Udemy and Skillshare offer a pretty concise roadmap to unravel your teaching skills and amaze the world. So if you believe that you are an excellent instructor but you lack the audience to appreciate it, this is your chance to stand out. Maybe your kids will be more willing to watch you explain something in video than in real life.

4. I have to admit that Khanacademy.com is my favourite. Not only because Salman Khan is both an amazing innovator and educator, but because of its simplicity. Blackboard and colour pencils that explain the basics in plain English (subtitled in more and more languages every day). It is free, it is fun and it is addictive. Moreover, you can create a parent account and add your children in the system to help them in the process (ok it needs some “persuasion”).

The Future of Education at TED2011. By Steve Jurvetson @Flickr
The Future of Education at TED2011. By Steve Jurvetson @Flickr

By now it should be clear to you that the more you dig into online education world, the more you discover. The available content is so abundant that it becomes quite difficult to identify quality material in an ocean of videos, web pages, transcripts, documents, blogs, structured and unstructured data with limited value on their own.

I attempted to cover MOOCs & Certificates in my previous post and less formal choices in this one. In following posts I’ll present vendor specific training ecosystems, like the ones Microsoft, CISCO or ORACLE have in place for many years and I’ll attempt to find some really innovative startups in the education/training sector.

Stay tuned!

Time to study! Part 1: MOOCs & Certificates

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Stockholm Public Library
Photo of Stockholm Public Library by Samantha Marx

You have no excuse. Start learning now!

There was a time (before the Internet) when learning new things was actually not easy. The dominating educational institutions, the universities, demanded your physical presence and your adherence to structured courses leading to recognised diplomas and professional degrees. This educational system definitely served a purpose and is still relevant. But it is not the only choice.

Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Today you have no excuses. You have the Internet and broadband and the web and an endless list of sites where you can learn virtually everything (from wedding planning to salsa dancing). Seriously.

 Do you feel you want to refresh your knowledge on a forgotten subject? Do you feel overwhelmed by the unstructured and usually cluttered and “noisy” information you find in the web? Do you want to learn new stuff or even change your career? Take your pick.

For the last six months I’ve tried most of the services below and I have to admit that I’m quite impressed by some of them. I’ve tried to organise them more based on their purpose and what should be expected. The list is by no means exhaustive but I hope it is a good start. Feel free to add your comments.

Technology at Work, Glasgow Caledonian University
(Technology at Work, Glasgow Caledonian University) Photo from Jisc Infonet at Flickr

Take your pick:

You basically have 3 major choices. edX, Coursera and Udacity:

1. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT and offers free courses (more than 400) and verified certificates (paid) from some of the best universities in the world including Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, Cornell, EPFL, KUL and many more. As it mentions at the site: “Topics include among others biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more.”

My experience is that it has a great User Interface at its web edition with clear information and top notch quality. Unfortunately not all courses are available in mobile.

2. Coursera is a similar service with an equally impressive list of university (Yale, Stanford, Brown among others) and non-university partners (like the World Bank and National Geographic Society) from all over the world. Apart from the Verified Certificates (paid) you can take a “Specialization Certificate” which brings together related courses and a “capstone project”. You can find some really interesting Specializations like “Data Science” from John Hopkins,  “Business Foundations” from The Warton School of the University of Pennsylvania and many more.

I have already completed a few courses and I have to say that it was a fantastic experience. Pay attention to the way the course is structured and of course who is offering it. Some are more interactive than others. Their mobile app is adequately good and you can download and watch the lectures offline.

3. Udacity is not free, but it is powered by some of the tech giants like Google, AT&T, Facebook, Salesforce, Cloudera, etc. They offer paid certification programs called “Nanodegrees” focused on technology. Web Developers, Data Analysts, Mobile Developers, etc. Our students acquire real skills through a series of online courses and hands-on projects. I found it quite expensive (approx. $200/month) but you can access the instructors videos for free and you can always try it for 14 days to see if it fits you.

These are some of the most complete and well known online courses portals. Whether you want to learn a new skill to enhance your CV or you just want to widen your horizons in a more structured and curated way, this is the place to start.

In future posts I’ll cover less formal learning offered. Stay tuned!

My 2014 Blogging in review!

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Well this is probably my easiest and most beautiful designed post. It’s an auto created report from The WordPress.com with stats on 2014 blogging. Very elegant.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A European in China

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IMG_0332It was my first time in China. Many years ago, I had gone as far as Singapore for a business opportunity that never took off. Back then, I was impressed by the tall, shiny skyscrapers, the smells and the colour of a modern far east. I tasted food I had no idea what it was, I walked in exotic places and I saw things completely new to me. I also experienced the exhausting humidity of the tropicals and the extreme difference between indoor and outdoor climate. No wonder they call it the air-conditioned nation.

Last month, more than 15 years after that first encounter I found myself wandering in Beijing. The journey to arrive there involved 3 different planes, one delay, a missed flight, 4 airports, a car, a train and 2 taxis. Cut the long story short I arrived at my hotel exhausted after a journey that lasted more than 24 endless hours. Read the rest of this entry »

Ένα μεγάλο ευχαριστώ για έναν Αυθεντικό Μαραθώνιο. Αθήνα 2014

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10807472_10152801592623908_2040632966_oΔεν έχουν περάσει περισσότερα από 2 χρόνια από τότε που άρχισα να τρέχω συστηματικά και να στέκομαι στην εκκίνηση διαφόρων αγώνων δρόμου. Θυμάμαι πολύ καλά τα έντονα συναισθήματα στον πρώτο μου τερματισμό μαραθωνίου, μετά από 5 ολόκληρες ώρες από Πέλλα, Θεσσαλονίκη. Τον πρώτο μου κλασσικό μαραθώνιο στην Αθήνα και την είσοδο στο Καλλιμάρμαρο. Τα τελευταία οδυνηρά χιλιόμετρα στον ορεινό μαραθώνιο στο Ζαγόρι, φέτος το καλοκαίρι. Κάθε αγώνας νέες εμπειρίες, νέες συγκινήσεις. Read the rest of this entry »

Safari in Limnos!

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10417593_10152604488623908_7409466096371765040_nΕλληνική έκδοση εδώ.

I first set foot in Limnos 4 year ago. It was August. For those of you who don’t know, Limnos is a moderately big island in the NE Aegean Sea. Konstantinos, a good friend and longtime surfer, had invited us in the island for an extended weekend. They had put together a windsurf and kite club. “They”, is he and 2 friends of his, with peculiar nicknames and close to mythical stories surrounding them. Three windsurfers that after traveling to the hottest surfing spots on the planet, decided to wait for the next big wave in a small bay, SE of Limnos. Read the rest of this entry »

Safari στη Λήμνο!

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IMG_0401English version of the Post here.

Πάτησα για πρώτη φορά το πόδι μου εκεί πριν από 4 χρόνια. Μήνα Αύγουστο και πάλι. Ο Κωνσταντίνος, φίλος καλός και surfer δεινός, μας είχε προσκαλέσει στο νησί. Είχαν στήσει μια σχολή surf λέει, με κάτι φίλους του με περίεργα παρατσούκλια και ονόματα. Τρεις surfers που περίμεναν τα κύματα σε διάφορες γωνιές του κόσμου, είχαν αποφασίσει να σταθούν σε έναν μικρό όρμο ΝΑ της Λήμνου, ονόματι Κέρος.

10417593_10152604488623908_7409466096371765040_nΣτην αρχή στήσανε ένα εστιατόριο και κάτι αντίσκοινα για τους ορκισμένους surfers που ξεκαλοκαιριάζανε εκεί. Φτάσαμε νύχτα. Το πρώτο πράγμα που μου έκανε εντύπωση ήταν ο ουρανός. Έναστρος και καθαρός. Και πολυσύχναστος. Απίστευτο το πόσα αεροπλάνα μπορείς να διακρίνεις να κινούνται. Στο μικρό εστιατόριο του  Surf Club Keros φάγαμε σπιτικό φαγητό και βολευτήκαμε σε κάτι μάλλον άθλια δωμάτια σε ένα κοντινό χωριό (δε μας πτόησε). Μείναμε 4-5 βράδια τότε και υποσχεθήκαμε στον εαυτό μας να ξαναπάμε. Read the rest of this entry »

Τρέχοντας στο Ζαγόρι

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10585244_10152547319283908_1710137448_oΤο Σαββατοκύριακο δεν ξεκίνησε καλά. Κάτι άσχημα νέα, κάτι αδιαθεσίες, κάτι η τετράωρη οδήγηση μέσα στη ζέστη, φτάσαμε στα Ζαγόρια πάνω που έπεφτε το βράδυ. Η Ελεάνα με πυρετό, εγώ να σιχτιρίζω την τύχη μας, έβγαλα τη νύχτα δύσκολα.

Σηκώθηκα στις 4.30, μισή ώρα πριν χτυπήσει το ξυπνητήρι και άρχισα να αρματώνομαι. Η καλή κυρία του ξενώνα είχε φροντίσει να ετοιμάσει το πρωϊνό μας από το βράδυ.

Ξεκινήσαμε για τους Κήπους όπου θα δινόταν η εκκίνηση, μια ευχάριστη και χαρωπή παρέα 3 δρομέων. Οι δυο από μας αρκούντως ανυποψίαστοι, ορεξάτοι μέσα στην άγνοια μας. Συμπέρασμα: 10564045_10152547319208908_1557977884_oΤο πρωί στο βουνό κάνει κρύο, όχι απλά δροσιά. Ευτυχώς που ήταν ανοιχτό το καφενείο και λουφάξαμε μέσα. Σε λίγο πήραμε θέση στην εκκίνηση και αρχίσαμε το καλαμπούρι με τους υπόλοιπους και τις απαραίτητες selfies για να ικανοποιήσουμε τη ματαιοδοξία μας.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy

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Harvard Business Review:

There was a time I was so proud of working endless hours and being on a constant run. I thought it was a prerequisite to success. Well, after a few fails (some epic ones) I realised that being always busy doesn’t necessarily make you more productive. It doesn’t make you better and it definitely doesn’t make you more successful. It makes you more tired.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that success comes without hard work and dedication. But before overloading your schedule think what really matters in this life.

Originally posted on HBR Blog Network - Harvard Business Review:

We have a problem—and the odd thing is we not only know about it, we’re celebrating it. Just today, someone boasted to me that she was so busy she’s averaged four hours of sleep a night for the last two weeks. She wasn’t complaining; she was proud of the fact. She is not alone.

Why are typically rational people so irrational in their behavior? The answer, I believe, is that we’re in the midst of a bubble; one so vast that to be alive today in the developed world is to be affected, or infected, by it. It’s the bubble of bubbles: it not only mirrors the previous bubbles (whether of the Tulip, Silicon Valley or Real Estate variety), it undergirds them all. I call it “The More Bubble.”

The nature of bubbles is that some asset is absurdly overvalued until — eventually — the bubble bursts, and we’re left…

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