Innovation

So much to read, so little time!

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The abundance of information and news is a fact. The difficulty we now face is how to pick up the ones that matter (for each one of us). Every day I get about 10 news bulletins from various sources including: The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, TIME, DW, BBC (mainly through their excellent tech shows: Click & Tech Tent), TechCrunch and Crunchable and of course many Linkedin groups or twits from people or organisations I respect and follow.

Usually all this stuff is piled up in my inbox and I go through it early in the morning or late at night, trying to identify those reads that actually mean something to me. I’m fascinated from technology and science, entrepreneurship, innovation and of course International relations.

Thomas Hassel: reading, Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart
Thomas Hassel | reading, Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart | Flickr

 

So these are my picks for this week:

Intriguing Science

Deep Learning for Robots: Learning from Large-Scale Interaction; Posted on Tuesday, March 08, 2016; by Sergey Levine, Research Scientist on Google’s Reseach Blog. It is a great piece on how interconnected robots can learn and improve their performance through repetition. Neural networks and AI is here.

Now, speaking of AI, I cannot but jump to another company promising amazing change in human computer interaction. Check out Magic Leap and put them on your radar. I think we’ll soon hear more about them.

New kids on the block

Another start up to follow is LightSail. They are developing an adaptive literacy software, and managed to raise $11 million in a Series B round. Among the investor was Scott Cook, the co-founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Intuit (leading the round) and the Bezos Family Foundation.

Open Access

This week the US government, announced a new initiative that gives access to local & federal datasets. The Opportunity Project, will allow developers to access under-utilised data to build new solutions. After Open Data maybe the next evolutionary step is the market of personal data. Although this is not new, Nesta (UK) has conducted some very interesting reports and they share their valuable insights. Read this post by John Davies to find out more.

Another report worth reading (only 26 well designed pages) would be Research Software Sustainability“, Report on a Knowledge Exchange Workshop, by Simon Hettrick, of The Software Sustainability Institute.

Never Stop Learning

If you are looking for an intriguing listening, you can listen to “Blitzscaling” podcasts. This was an entrepreneurship class at Stanford presenting  a strategy in which a company “pursues unusually high rates of growth in a way that’s tactically inefficient in terms of capital and other resources, but strategically essential to capitalizing on a large and attractive market opportunity.” You can find everything you may need here.

With so many examples of disruption in established sectors, we still haven’t seen any real revolution in education. Despite e-learning, MOOCs and so much tools, mainstream education (from K-12 to higher) still follows the same structure (lectures, assignments, exams). A new paper by Nesta discuss “The challenge-driven university: how real-life problems can fuel learning“. Inspiring food for thought.

In memoriam

It’s always good to remember people whose contribution to this world was far beyond their existence. One of them was Ray Tomlinson, who died on Sat March 5th, at the age of 74. He was the inventor of the email and of the @ symbol. He will not be forgotten. Read about how he died, but more importantly how he lived here.

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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!

Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy

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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.
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#Launch me up

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San Francisco - 106
Well you know what this is.

It’s been a couple of days since we were in San Francisco, participating in an event that was both inspiring and awakening. How else can you describe the speed and abundance of information you are called to absorb in just a few days ? The people that you want to meet in person (any single one of them)? The teams that want to share their passion with you, and most of them manage to do so quite successfully? Read the rest of this entry »