Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Open Minds: Open Education and Open Culture by David Thornburg

These are my notes from David Thornburg’s NECC 2008 presentation “Open Minds: Open Education and Open Culture” on June 30, 2008. David has granted me permission to non-commercially record and share this presentation subsequently. MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

dthornburg [at] aol [dot] com

David has handouts not related to this session, related to a new project he’s started
– this session will include technology but it is a broader topic
– concerns the state of the WORLD right now
– I am an American expatriot, I am a resident of Brazil, I work both in the US and Brazil and commute back and forth

Have you noticed when you were outside the US you were able to think in a bigger way about some issues?
– we are in a point of new ages of discovery
– one of the questions I ask now, do PCs have the potential to be as transformative in our culture as the book
– what will it take to make this vision real?
– will this benefit the entire world?
– what about 1:1 computing

Indiana and Mr. Michael Huffman are pioneering the uses of open technologies for children
– open source software: see the Open Source pavilion that Steve Hargedon is running

challenge we face in education:
– pedagogical practices have not been standing still
– Gardner’s multiple intelligences, many other things
– the challenge isn’t that we aren’t taking advantage of new discoveries in pedagogies and taking advantage of them
– the challenge is that technology is changing faster than classroom practices

now our technologies let us do things that our pedagogical practices have not caught up with
– lots of sessions now are addressing issues:
— given current technology, how should classroom practices change?
— given current classroom practice, how should technology change

We marvel at current technologies, kids today just view it as normal
– kids are going to marvel some day that they didn’t have 3D holographic projectors when they were in school

problem with racing technology bandwagons is that sometimes we lose other things

Now, more than ever, we need access for every learner in the world
– before these tools, you couldn’t do these things AT ALL

David Thornburg's Technology and Pedagogy Graph

Bringing tools to all children
– 1:1 projects must be scalable
– sustainable
– low cost hardware and open source OS and critical applications are the ONLY way the goal can be achieved
– this does not mean there is no room for some proprietary titles, but costs must be scalable and sustainable
– single platform software is anti-child


It is quite different kids you have in class may have very different computers at home
– children need to be able to use THE SAME SOFTWARE on any platform they have
– if you look at the number of vendors who are actually rising to that challenge, t

Tech4Learning is one of the companies leading the industry in this regard: Windows. Macintosh, and Linux versions

vendors who just publish on 1 platform are serving the platform and not the child
– I happen to believe in the children
– so I promote and support software that runs on everything

On the hardware side of things
– lots of talk about OLPC
– OLPC is definitely still around, has lots of management changes, not clear where it is going, they are continuing to go in the future

the OLPC has had a major impact on the industry
– before the XO was announced, you couldn’t buy a laptop for less than $1200
– now you can go to Tiger Direct and buy a powerful laptop for $350, without rebates and no limits on how many you can buy
– so hats off to MIT and this project

The Intel Classmate
– this machine is here at NECC]
– not as cute as some other machines
– can get your choice of OS: either Windows or Linux

Another machine in the One2OneMate: a Linux computer
– it looks like an AlphaSmart
– is a full blown laptop

Another example: koolu
– 10 watt power consumption

large hydroelectric dam is on the border of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay
– that dam generates all the electricity for all of Paraguay and half of brazil
– if the number of computers in the world doubled, we’d have to build 20 more dams of this capacity!

Another Example: N Computing Box
– idea is most personal computers have far more power than any individual student is using at one time
– the processor actually runs on just 1 box and is shared

lots of talk about the iPhone, but it was/is a closed platform

Our friends in Brazil who love the iPhone bought them in the US and have them working in Brazil
– but why have to do that

There is a completely open source phone: NEO1973
– you want to add new features to your cell phone, go right ahead! It’s open source.

An argument was started a few years ago that students don’t need a computer, they just need personal storage devices
– I’m more willing to accept this idea now
– if you have enough computers in your community, this is viable
– that is a BIG “if”

The price of flash drives is coming

booth 5260: you can get a 1 gig pen drive for free after you play a game
– if I had said that a few years ago, this room

new version of linux called Puppy Linux
– can put that entire OS on a flash drive

Why open source?
– do the math
– (number of computers) x $100/ year to just run the Windows OS
– 2/3rds of Indiana students do not know they are using Linux! (and they didn’t care. they just cared about their applications and data.)
– applications are robust
– service calls are minimized
– new applications are being created every day
– applications can be shared legally

In Africa: Freedom Toaster
– take a CD, choose the software you want, and you can take the software home
– you know how the principal makes money selling pencils? Try this at your school!

some African countries are letting people also upload files, like music (I am sharing this as some factual information, not as a recommendation)

Linux and Education
– finally easy to install and maintain
– reliable
– low total cost of ownership
– graphical user inferface
– applicable and usable by all grade levels

Now lets go back down to Brazil
– photo of “the digital port”

The digital port in Brazil

instead of going northeast and risking capture, some Dutch Brazilians went NW and were looking for an island with rivers on both sides
– came ashore
– the same Dutch from Brazil founded New York

consider Brazilian kids in our neighborhoods, who 20 years ago would not have been in school
– curriculum in Brazil is inquiry driven and project-based

President Lula was asked by Microsoft to please use Windows
– He asked Microsoft to charge them just $3 just like China is
– Microsoft refused and said they would change $100 per copy

we have to export 60 bags of soybeans then for every license of Windows

we think of Linux as an emerging market here in the US
– 36 million children in Brazil will be using Linux by December 2008
– 52 million by the end of 2009

some people in our country are viewing children as wallets, not as human beings

Computers for All: Brazilian governmental program
– stores in Brazil sell both food and technology
– special logo on machine means the government will give you a 24 month interest free loan
– sold 800,000 of these machines without any marketing at all (grass roots word of mouth)

some countries get serious about education and technology, and that is really cool

MLK quotation: 3-31-1968: “Through our scientific and technological genious, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we haev not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood.”

We can talk of web 2.0 and these technologies
– the bottom line is that we CAN make of our world a brotherhood

Minister of Culture for Brazil: Gilberto Gil (also a singer and songwriter)
– founder of the movement Tropicalismo
– idea is that you understand someone else’ culture not so you can appreciate it from afar, but rather use it yourself in your own life and culture [APPROPRIATE AND REMIX IT]

Brazilian filmmakers are generally located on the coast
Quotations from Gil:
– a global movement has risen up in affirmation of digital culture…
– the creative impluses of teh Brazilian people need access to the digital world…

Gil is setting up schools on filmmaking in the interior, teaching final cut pro, seeing what types of creativity and innovation come out of this

Look at some of the AFrican cultures
– corn rows have a very rich cultural history
– there is a mathematical pattern there which is a fractal
– you can create a logo procedure which replicates that
– so now a kid who knows about corn rows (goes back at least to the 1700s) can now understand the mathetmatics of that
– and maybe that becomes a pathway to get students interested in mathematics who might

how can we build bridges to understanding and learning
a lot of schools now are like the United Nations
Many things like this can be used as pathways to learning, which are not in any textbooks

Breaking borders with software: CMap
– kind of like an ugly version of Inspiration, but it is a collaborative tool
– the map can stay open to other people and it doesn’t matter which continent you’re on

noticed when kids get stuck making a contact map?
– in CMap click on the suggestions map
– the program looks at what you have done so far, compares it to other Cmaps made by others on the web, and then gives you words it “thinks” (DAVID IS BEING APPROPRIATELY ANTHROPOMORPHIC HERE) might help you
– the idea may have come from Zimbabwe, it doesn’t matter
– you have to be online to use this feature

CMap runs equally well on whatever platform you have
– this is about the children, not the vendors

If your school server wants to be visible to the rest of the world, you can set this up with your firewall
– then your folders become available to the entire world, if you want
– you can also keep them restricted
– each child can then decide if their files can be viewed, commented on, or fully edited (sets permissions)
– this is about empowerment

Copyright has a very important role in our socity
– the default assumption in this country is that even if you don’t put a copyright sign on your work, you own it
– this is problematic when you want to share rights
– the clearinghouse for this is Creative Commons
– we have some papers on this on our website
– when you see the CC mark, that means you can freely use this without any legal restrictions

I think these are very powerful and good ideas

what happens when we go from liberty, equality and fraternity to rip, remix and burn?

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society: H20 Playlist

MIT has made the bulk of its courseware available online
– once you say it is NOT about the content, you have to be really clear WHAT it IS about?
– what is it that justififes your salary then? it’s not just this body of knowledge that you are trying to protect

Gilberto Gill quotation: “Together we might become the most powerful laboratory of culture mixture in the world. (If we are) isolated from one another we may no longer be able to achieve that, since there is an increasing international tendency toward a multi-cultural style that hinders mixture, trying to reinforce borders as a strategy for the preservation of differences.”

Tropicalia is about cultural mixing: building networks, not walls
– It is xenophilic, not xenophobic

I like salads: you can keep the different tastes!
– there are surprises in salads that you don’t find in a soup bowl
– elements of different cultures (in the metaphor) are preserved
– this is powerful
– how are we doing in that regard

There is a movement afoot to build a wall with Mexico
– this debate will continue for some time
– if McCain is elected he may not build it, he was born in Panama
– there is a constitutional issue with that, but who has cared about the US Constitution the past few years anyway?

There was a problem with illegal aliens being used to build walls on the border
– story of listing some of the famous, very successful immigrants who at one time were here in the U.S illegally and whether

What is your fear?
– is someone going to sneak onto your property at night and mow your lawn?
– do you fear them sneaking into your house during the day, making your bed and cleaning your toilet

Story of a PhD from Monterrey who worked on the GNOME desktop
– is on a waiting list for 16 years to get a visa
– that is an exclusion policy, not an immigration policy
– 150K envelopes for H1B visas last year

Picture of Norma, David’s wife, took a process of 7 years and $15,000 in legal fees for her normalization documents

Picture of David and Norma Thornburg

the longest part of the process in getting a Brazilian visa was fingerprinting

– who built the infrastructure of this country? Railroads?
– East: Irish
– West: Chinese

the infrastructure of this country was built by foreigners
– today it is being
– we have negative immigration now: we have more Irish leaving the US now than are coming
– we have a big challenge in terms of cultural issues, in the world we are living in

as we become more isolated, that diminishes the entire planet
– I want our children to see what others have, and others to see what we have

picture of the statue of liberty
– quoting poem from statue

I am so proud to be a citizen of a country people still fight to get INTO not to get OUT

book recommendation: “The Flight of the Creative Class” by Richard Florida
– we are seeing more people becoming bi-nationals
– not just about Brazil
– through modern telecommunications, the market is not just our neighborhood, it is the entire blue ball

familiar with the Phoenix probe
– the found salt and ice: they are THIS close to a good margarita! 🙂

we are really making huge progress

Toh Friedman: “The way to keep good jobs in this country is not by building big walls, but by attracting people with big ideas.”

“Your people, your people….” When will you realize that your people are our people too! (Graffiti david

We are all each others’ people on this planet.

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  1. […] permission to non-commercially record and share this presentation subsequently. MY THOUGHTS and RE…Statue of LibertyStatue of Liberty. words and music by Neil Enloe. Used with Permission … and the […]