The Cost of Information

I’m not sure what the story is here. I suspect that there are several, and that none of them could be irrefutably defended — Hoffman! –. But I feel that there is something important in these numbers in terms of an understanding that investing in today’s future requires investing in our intellectual capital, investing in people and their information skills and their ability and opportunity to engage in life-long-learning.

It’s a short piece in this month’s WIRED Magazine called The Cost of Staying Connected. The article features a map of the world, with lines pointing to various spots around the world and listing the local cost of Internet cafe time in US dollars and at the percent of daily purchasing power per capita (GDP). The article is not yet available online, but here is a list of locations and prices, starting a twelve o’clock and going around the world clockwise.

Cost Table

There are certainly a lot of holes in this map that would further enrich or define the story. I also understand that Internet usage in other countries is more of a social endeavor, that it is rare to have access to the Internet at home, and that people surf, answer questions, solve problems, together as a group endeavor at the local cybercafe.

I was also recently struck by the price of public web surfing when exploring the American Airlines web site. In a listing of all the airport Admirals Club revealed that all U.S. sites served Internet access through T-Mobile ($6.00/hour), and that all non-US sites offered WiFi for free.

Again, normal market influences may account for much of this data. At the same time, the cost in percent of daily purchasing power indicates a potential for digital divide.

You can view a sort by cost in US dollars and also a sort by cost in purchasing power.

Accord to these sortings, the six countries where an hour of public access to the Internet costs more than ten percent of the daily purchasing power are:

  • The Congo
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya
  • Brazil
  • U.S.A.
  • Guatemala

“The Cost of Staying Connected: Internet Cafe Prices are all over the Map.” Wired Magazine May 2006: 53.

Learning in Garner, NC

I’m at an elementary school in Garner, just south of Raleigh. My former boss at the State Department of Public Instruction, Margaret Bingham, who continues to impact on the use of technology in schools.

Ouita Myers, who is most identified by her work in web design for accessibility. Today, she is talking about PowerPoint, something that everyone already knows about 😉 —- The title of the presentation is to “Discover how your Presentations Measure Up.” She points out that students do best when they are given an open outline of the topic, and when they are asked to fill in the blanks with their presentations. this is based on research that was shared by Patrick Crispen.

Quote of the session:

Poor presentations are ubiquitous.

She recommends that we design out presentations in slide sorter view, so that it looks like a storyboard. You should be able to glance through the slides and “tell a story”.

Dedicated Server & More Editing

It seems that citation machine has settled for the time being. I have written an ad hoc load sharing program that sends everyother person to two citation machine sites. That said, we are now looking for a dedicated server. Going through this each semester, and putting you through this each semester is not fair to any of us. Plus, I have other web tools that need better performance. So we’re listening to sales pitches now, and will likely be selecting a service in the next couple of days.

Also, I have continued to add some multiple author templates, mostly in the APA format. I’ll catch up with the APA format later today and tomorrow.

Have a great summer!

It’s Not a Textbook World

laptop_student.jpgThere is a question that continues to haunt me as I continue my evangelizing for a mix-it yourself media world. Hands-down, one of the most impressive aspects of Web 2.0 is the aggregator concept, and our ability to mix and remix content into personal digital newspapers. The question remains, though, “Aren’t we going to exclusively attract news and content that agrees with our world view and ignore the contrary arguments and evidence?”

I believe that this is a huge problem, as my country seems to be increasingly polarized into the conservative/rural view and the liberal/urban view of the national dream. A glimmer of hope occurred to me, a few minutes ago, as I was reading an article in the Bay City Times about Michigan’s Freedom to Learn laptop program — recommended to my by TechLearning News (English).

The article described a laptop assignment where students used their word processors to write a two-page letter on drug-abuse and other software to produce slides for a class presentation.

They were instructed to visit a variety of anti-drug Web sites to get help for their letter and presentation.

The fundamental difference between this and a traditional version of the assignment, has less to do with the presence of technology, and more to do with the conspicuous absence of a textbook. Rather than getting their content exclusively from a packaged information product, designed to make learning slick and easy, students are asked to visit a variety of information sources, that, hopefully, do not agree on every aspect of the topic. It puts more responsibility of learning, on the shoulders of the learner, to make some decisions, recognize that there is more than one side, more than one answer, and more than one perspective.

In textbook learning, we are taught one way to interpret the poem, one way to solve the algebra problem, one way to punctuate a paragraph, and one way to think. Perhaps that’s the way that some people like it. I think that the best learning for our future will happen when students are learning in authentic ways, from authentic information sources, and empowered to do something with what they are learning, to impose their learning on other people, to become individuals with value.

2¢ Worth!

English, Eric. “Wired to Learn Laptop computers at area schools are educating kids at the speed of the Internet.” The Bay City Times 24 Apr 2006 3 May 2006 <>.

Shapeshift, “Stillness.” Shapeshift’s Flickr Photostream. 12 Jan 2006. 3 May 2006 <>.

Struggle Over Citation Machine Continues

Dreamhost deactivated Citation Machine yesterday while I was flying home from San Diego. They allow 60 CPU Minutes per day (what ever that means), and CM had already mounted up 490.

This morning, I added some code so that each time someone hits Citation Machine, a counter counts up on number, up to four. Then based on the number, it redirects the user to one of four sites that run the Citation Machine software. Two of the sites are on Dreamhost, one is on 1&1, and the last is on my old Landmarks for Schools web server.

We are now shopping for a dedicated server. Must be done. No need putting it off.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to do some more serious reading and writing in the next few days.

2¢ worth!