Sunday, November 21, 2010

gruber on android apps

gruber on android apps: It brings up some interesting points given mobile Internet is a way from being adequate and apps are important to a class of smartphone users.

Gruber is so deep in the Cupertino reality distortion field that he doesn't notice that many (most?) of us don't care about "killer" apps, we care about apps that do the work we care about. Besides the built-in mail and browser apps on my Nexus One, the apps I use the most are Listen (a Google Labs app, free), CardioTrainer (Android only, paid premium version), TweetDeck (Android and iOS, free), and Astrid (Android only, paid premium version). I don't care whether they are Android "killer apps" or they are out there on every smartphone OS. I care that they do for me something I value. Listen and CardioTrainer together made my workouts a lot more fun and organized, TweetDeck makes it really easy to manage my Twitter and Buzz streams, and Astrid fights a valiant battle to keep me a bit more organized. Maybe some "killer app" would change my life even more than Listen or CardioTrainer, but there's a limit to how much time I can devote to app hunting and evaluation.

Gruber and many other tech pundits seem too easily seduced by technology as a way of being, rather than the humbler but maybe more long-lasting technology as a way of doing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Fourth Online-Learning Revolution

The Fourth Online-Learning Revolution: We can only provide quality online and distance-learning experiences today if we understand that what we are living through is not the first but rather the fourth online-learning revolution. [...] Let me back up fifteen hundred years [...] Then came the third online-learning revolution: the printing press of Johann Gutenberg, and the seventy-year explosion of print culture that followed. [...] Today we are in the middle of a fourth online-learning revolution. To properly understand and manage it, however, we need to understand something crucial about the third online-learning revolution. What is it about the institution of the university that allowed it to survive the third online-learning revolution? For the fourth will be a catastrophic bust and distance-learning will die—unless we figure out how to replicate online those features of the university which kept it alive in the post-Gutenberg years after the third online-learning revolution.

Read the whole thing.

First thought: the university stumbled upon a self-perpetuating mechanism by creating successive graduating classes whose interest is to preserve the distinction between them (and the university that taught them) and the rest of society. It's not what you learn, but what club you can claim membership in.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Light reading for a long flight

Alain de Botton's A Week at the Airport gently enlightened me on the always present but rarely noted absurdities and mysteries of air travel on a long journey from SFO to LIS via ZRH.