November
2013
10

The results of online learning

Julius Yego

To continue talking about education, online learning and new technologies after the post about Isaac Asimov and education, I believe I could not find a better example than Julius Yego.

 

Julius Yego is a Kenyan javelin thrower. However this is not what makes him someone special. But what does makes him special is that he is a self taught javelin thrower from a poor country (HDI index of 0.519, position 145 out of 186) with absolutely no support for javelin throwing.

 

He started from nothing, no coach, no money to pay for his training, no special equipment and that did not stop him. He never gave up and recently was classified this august as 4th on the world championships in Moscow 2013. On 2012, he made history as the first African Javelin thrower to qualify for the Olympics finale in London. This is the result of his determination and online learning.

 

His method was simple: passion and technology. He is his own coach; well he and the videos available on Youtube. He circumvented the lack of proper coaches by spending hours at cyber cafes in Nairobi to improve his technique by watching and learning from his idols.

 

Here is a video of himself explaining his story. Short video (around 2 minutes).

 

 

I truly believe he earned his nickname as Mister YouTube Man.

 

This is a great example of the possibilities people can achieve by online learning nowadays. And this example is from a poor country with limited resources.… Read the rest of “The results of online learning”

October
2013
19

Isaac Asimov and Education

Isaac Asimov

I think one of the greatest minds of the last century was Isaac Asimov. He wrote more than 500 books in various genres and is considered one of the biggest science fiction writers in history. I am a big fan of his most famous work, the Foundation Series. Enough presentations for a man that needs no introductions. If you want to learn more about him, you can always start by reading his entry in Wikipedia.

 

This time I am sharing an interview of Isaac Asimov on Bill Moyers World of Ideas. One of the most interesting parts of the interview is when he speaks about education, or to be precise about his vision of the future of education. You should keep in mind that it was 1988, so no internet, no Wikipedia, no Khan Academy and no Coursera.

Here is a fragment of the interview (In English with Spanish subtitles for those who are more comfortable in that language).

 

 

If you want to see the whole interview, you can access it clicking by here on the link to Isaac Asimov on Bill Moyers World of Ideas.

 

He explains that before in old days people who wanted an education and were privileged enough needed to hire a personal tutor. We had a one-to-one relationship for the few people who were able to pay for a tutor. Then we reached a point where there was one teacher for a great number of students, organized through a curricula or syllabus to teach from.… Read the rest of “Isaac Asimov and Education”

October
2013
12

GDG Devfest Barcelona 2013 Roundup

GDG Devfest Barcelona 2013

First I need to say the GDG Defvest Barcelona 2013 was a great event, with really great speakers and amazing technologies.

I think it is best if I go one by one on the conferences I assisted.

Customer Development with Google Tools

It was a nice talk oriented to new startups. They showed a nice use of Google technologies to be able to achieve a product – market fit. There was a tool for every step along the lean methodology. Among the different free or relatively inexpensive tools available from Google, they showed us a good way to use trends or customer Survey for the discovery part to research the market and to use Google Analytics and Google AdWords for market validations. Essentially max out the power of the tools Google has made available for start ups.

All in all it was a good talk: it gave a hands-on point of view about one of the best ways to create and develop a product-market fit, how there was a specific tool to advance in each area and some of the traps you can find along the way. A good way to start the GDG Defvest Barcelona 2013.

 

Liquid Galaxy

I was really amazed by this technology. I didn’t know anything about this before coming so first I had no expectations and second it was a positive surprise. Liquid galaxy creates an immersive sensation by using Google maps and Google earth among multiple huge displays. We were able to see the technology that was behind such great product and also some of the multiple possible applications of this technology.… Read the rest of “GDG Devfest Barcelona 2013 Roundup”

October
2013
10

GDG Devfest Barcelona 2013

GDG Devfest Barcelona 2013

Tomorrow October 11th is the GDG ( Google Developers Group) Devfest Barcelona 2013, the biggest event for developers dedicated to Google technologies in Spain. It takes place at the UPC, the Polytechnic University Of Barcelona and also at the  the Mobile World Centre, the central building of the Mobile World Capital.

 

The event will bring together more than 600 expert developers interested in Google technologies. The ticket assistance count is actually around 900 people.

 

It will be a Full Day event with a lot of appealing conferences and seminars. Topics are very interesting and they cover a wide range of themes, from Startup and entrepreneurial oriented talks to a Google Glass hands on.

 

I am particularly interested in the conference about Customer Development with Google tools by a Google Developer program manager in Madrid, the Google Glass hands on and an entrepreneurial seminar about starting a company at San Francisco and Barcelona.

 

I was looking forward to get an entrance that included the evening event at the Mobile world center, where there will be a conference about App marketing and media communications, but unfortunately I was only able to get a day pass (not bad at all though ;-) )

 

If you want more information about the event, you can access the GDG Barcelona website. I hope I see some familiar faces tomorrow at the event.

October
2013
10

Secret history of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valey

When people think about Silicon Valley, they immediately think about innovation, startups and technology. I am sure that if you ask them what the origins of Silicon Valley are, 95% of them will answer with some hi-tech company, semiconductors or computer history, maybe someone will even say Apple computers are behind Silicon Valley.

 

However, the truth is a little bit different. Stanford professor Steve Blank explains it has more of a military background that what we may believe. He says before Silicon Valley it was Microwave Valley, specializing in electronic intelligence and radar detection systems for the World War II and Cold War. The seed capital for creating this Microwave Valley came from no other than the U.S. Government.

 

It was basically a research lab for the Department of Defense. Some traces of this military oriented Valley remains. For example, one of the biggest employers in the valley is Lockheed Martin, an American aerospace, defense, security and advanced technology company.

Nowadays it is much more than a military research lab, but this part of history is known by almost everybody. It is the most active technological area in the world and the place to be for technology companies.

 

 

If you want to hear an expert about this story you can watch the previous video  where professor Steve Blank explains the history of Silicon Valley and its ties to the military. I found it to be very interesting and not only for technology addicts.

October
2013
6

Coca Cola Sharing Can

Coca Cola Split Can

When you think about marketing there are just some companies you can’t ignore. One of them is Coca Cola.

One of their campaigns I consider a master piece is the Coca cola sharing can, where an apparently normal can of Coca Cola would split in half and contain two cans. You can better grasp the idea in this short ad about the coca cola sharing can (around 2 minutes).

 

 

This was part of a test campaign in Singapore. This campaign goes far beyond creating a different approach. It involves a lot of thinking, logistics, design,test and attention to detail. For example, this test was made in Asia because of studies regarding consumer behavior  of Asian people and their sharing habits. They found out that adults on-the-go did would either not want a full Coke or not want to necessarily spend all their money on a drink but where willing to enjoy a Coke, so they shared their drink. Thinking of a way to take advantage of this behavior, they created the “sharing” can.

 

It was not only a creative process but also had all the logistics side in it. The company needed to be able to design a can in small numbers in order to make a test with consumers and that it did not affect the main production. The twist mechanism to separate the cans had to be done right to provide the best experience to the customer and to encourage him into sharing.… Read the rest of “Coca Cola Sharing Can”

October
2013
4

Influence and Marketing (2)

birds and influence

We have seen before on Influence & marketing (1) that influence is more complex than it seems and deserves a much more detailed approach in order to distinguish influence from all of the other influence-like behaviors like for example homophily.

 

Now, let’s apply this to one of my huge passions: Marketing.  After all, marketing and psychology are much alike. Is influence really what is affecting a purchase decision?  We should differentiate between behavioral changes and behavioral tendencies.

 

How much influence is there in a purchase decision? That’s a tough question. For starters, we should know the effect of recommendation above the initial probability of purchasing. In other words, what is the added value of influence on my previous probability of purchase decision? will it have any effect?

 

This problematic can be solved by the use of a person’s social data, but where can we find all the social data about someone, where he indicates all his passions and interests? Would he be willing to share correct information? Well enough rhetoric questioning: You can use social media.

 

By analyzing the data obtained from social media, we can separate (or distinguish a little better) influence from other confounding factors such as homophily and measure what we really want to measure (it may sound obvious saying “measure what we really want to measure” but if you had a slight idea of the amount of statistical validity problems, you would recognize it is not a trivial matter).… Read the rest of “Influence and Marketing (2)”

September
2013
30

Moral behaviour and inequality

moral and unequal pay

We tend to think that the sense of morality and equality are only human traits. However, Psychology has proven that this trait is shared among many different animal species.

 

It is of particular interest the work of Frans de Wall a biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. We can see in his experiments that monkeys among other animals share a sense of morality. 

 

For instance, if two monkeys execute the same task and are rewarded unequally, then the monkey who was rewarded poorly will complain and even protest. It is something better seen than explained so I would like to share one of Frans de Wall‘s conferences in TED that illustrates what I’m talking about here.

 

Here is the short version (for people with less time or who just want a quick peek at the experiment)

 

 

The two monkeys are rewarded with pieces of cucumber (the poor reward) and grapes (the better reward).

 

I think that moral behavior is based upon a sense of fairness / reciprocity and empathy / compassion. What I like about this experiment is that it allows to focus only on the fairness and reciprocity component of moral behaviour because the way they reward the monkeys is not something that they can share.

 

Of course, humans may react differently in case of inequality because we have “deeper and more complex” reactions, or rationalized reactions.… Read the rest of “Moral behaviour and inequality”