ICT / Technology

ICT integrates more and more deeply in our societies

Innovation and Luxembourg, Suffering a Brain Drain!?

Ten years ago, when I started going to the Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg (BNL - the National Library of Luxembourg), the “poverty” of the library (e.g., infrastructure, resources, services, etc.) of the world's richest (if not mistaken) country shocked me. The BNL was so underdeveloped, when compared to many public and private libraries in the USA. More surprisingly, many libraries I had visited in Brussels, Paris, and other cities were not so nice, either.

(Just note that some BNL librarians appear to be cold and distant at first. But, when they get to know you, they can be friendly, very helpful, and even sweet.)

Over the last ten years, the BNL has improved dramatically, and has become one of the best/favorite libraries I know in the region so far. Although I still miss some aspects of American libraries – for example, specialized librarians (e.g., law librarians) and more conducive, competitive, extremely intense, and intellectually stimulating atmospheres for studying, I am OK with the BNL. Hope that it keeps improving in coming years.

However, talent management in Luxembourg concerns me/us greatly.

It is obvious that Luxembourg has an advantage in attracting people because of competitive salaries, benefits, etc. But, it may not be so good at retaining their top talents in some sectors (though, of course, there are really talented people in Luxembourg, but some of friends have been disenchanted. They have moved to other companies and countries with better opportunities).

There seems to be something dysfunctional: something does not ignite, but undermine the passion of people.

Modeling human well-being and societal progress

For those who already read our article "Towards International and Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration for the Measurements of Quality of Life" in Social Indicators Research and have become interested in modeling, you may want to watch Tony Buzan's video on Mind Mapping. It may give you an idea of modeling as I think that modeling and his mapping are closely connected.

And, the book Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist (Second Edition - link to Morgan-Kaufmann Publishers) by Allemang and Hendler is very nice, very progressive and pedagogic to learn about modeling.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlabrWv25qQ

Towards International and Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration for the Measurements of Quality of Life

Our paper (with the title above) has been published and is available as "Online First" on SpringerLink now: www.springerlink.com

When we started creating our eLab in 2006-2007, it was probably one of the earliest ones. Now there are many eLabs, especially nice ones in the UK and other universities. Though, I understand that many researchers focus on eScience, while we are more interested in eSocial Science and measuring societal progress.

We have written the earlier versions of this paper for the last three years. And, as the time has passed, we have learned new stuff, and tried to make the paper shorter and less technical. Therefore, quite frankly, the paper is getting outdated as technology advances so quickly. Though, our article provides a general introduction to eSocial Science.

A good news is that we've got a new idea. Although we cannot go into details at this time, what we wish is we make it accessible and useful for as many people as possible.

We hope to update you about progress on this site (by the end of this year, if possible). Also, we will see you at future conferences and meetings! At the moment, we are interested in the 9th IEEE International Conference on e-Science in Beijin, China in 2013: escience2013.csp.escience.cn

Updating you on eLaboratories

We have been working on two main subjects: (1) international and interdisciplinary collaboration for quality of life (QoL) research; and (2) computer-based technology and infrastructure assisting (1). This type of computer-supported cooperative work in the social sciences has been termed eHumanities or eSocial Science.

QoL or human well-being research has gained momentum after the representatives of the European Commission, the OECD, the UN, the UNDP, and the World Bank made the Istanbul Declaration in 2007 to undertake the measurement of societal progress in each country. In the context of QoL or human well-being research and measurement, one of the most influential concepts is the capability approach (CA). Yet, the operationalization of the CA has long been one of the serious challenges faced by social scientists. As regards to this issue, we argue that modern technology has the potential to provide ample tools for enhancing the measurement of human well-being, and facilitating large-scale collaborative research on the QoL.

We have developed a methodology, procedures, and tools based on the new technologies developed for both governmental and intergovernmental (OECD) sponsored assessments and that are ready to be used for QoL analysis. We propose a viable alternative for facilitating international and interdisciplinary research collaboration to develop a methodology and a dashboard of indicators to monitor the progress of human well-being over the years and to formalize its multidimensional measure for international comparisons.

Requiescat in pace Steve Jobs

An eerie stillness ... My husband muttered something in the next room this morning (around 5:45 AM or so). He came to my bedside, holding our MacBook with its screen showing a black-and-white photo of Steve Jobs 1955-2011.

I jumped out of bed and we read a short obituary: "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being." The full 56 years. Hero growing-up, true visionary, inspiration, innovator, power struggle, commercial failures and successes, stubbornness, tenacity, hard work, work-related ill health, and belief in new technology to change the world ... all seem to be quite familiar and I feel close to him as I live with an IT guy.

Two things I truly admire him for is putting vision into action (as many of us even do not have visions of the future or we cannot go beyond vision) and making things user-friendly.

If I had ever run into him, I would have asked him, “Hey, Steve-san, Please give us your personal advice. How can we make our eLaboratories much more user-friendly?"

... sad.

Building a global one world classroom

This guy is cool! He shows how new technologies can effectively help teachers with teaching, and the children with learning... by doing things differently. He calls it "flipping the classroom." Students are free to take their lessons/lectures via video posted on the Internet from anywhere they want and the time spent with the teacher in the classroom is dedicated to do their homework. The videos are well conceived and it seems that they are appealing even to the kids who have learning difficulties (e.g., children with autism).

Even without major learning difficulties and disorders, some kids may not like schools. I recall the first day of an elementary school... A sense of agony, torture. I found it eternally hard to sit still on a hard chair all day long...

Old days are gone. It is amusing to imagine that a kid in Calcutta may tutor math for a Belgian kid via the Internet, and play WoW together after the tutoring session, etc...

The Wilderness Downtown

This is cool! You can enter your home address, your office address, or the name of your school, and click on the button “Play Film.” (Then, do not touch anything)

I do not run as fast as this guy does, but I see my neighborhood!

I saw where my friend lives in the Hague. I asked my Algerian "brother" to show me where he grew up. I will send this link to our Sister Geneviève (who is buying a new computer this week) to show her the Vatican city!

Enjoy!

www.thewildernessdowntown.com

p.s. According my IT husband, the creator of this cyber artwork is a living God and he is well known for many of his experiments (e.g. the 3D three.js framework): Mr.doob

NAO dancing robots at the Universal Expo 2010 in Shanghai

What cute entertainers … they are! A troupe of good-looking NAO robots (produced by the French company Aldebaran Robotics) performs a harmonious dance. They begin by warming up with light movements and gentle stretching. Then, as the music changes to Ravel's Boléro, the NAOs show their real dance skills with equilibrium, fluidity and precision of their moves, and a certain form of esthetics (with postures of aerobics, tai chi, Haka, Noh plays, etc).

At the end of their performance, they bowed down in salute to the audience, I clapped and cheered enthusiastically. You would get touched by their synchronized dancing!

Watching the video, you will understand that we can use robots in many new (positive) ways – for education, for those who have physical challenges, and for many changes.

http://www.aldebaran-robotics.com/en

p.s.: It is interesting that there are also many negative comments on this robot demonstration. Is this due to the general lack of understanding of technology, the use of robots, or robotics? Or, what? Or, these robots look like humans and they move like humans, so people fear that these robots may think, emote, or act like humans!?

コンピューター・最新テクノロジーの鬼才を育てる学校教育

どうも日本、出遅れた感がいなめない。聞くところによると、学校のコンピューター導入が遅れているらしい。コンピューター化したOECDの国際(学習到達度)調査の準備なんかも、大丈夫なんでしょうか。

ところで、

コンピューターは子供達に悪い影響を与えるんじゃないか。パソコンは子供の基礎学習を低下させる。パソコンばっかりいじっていると、頭と心が遊離したような情緒不安定な未熟な子供になる。感応力のない引きこもりのオタクになる ・・・ なんて妄信している大人は、多いのかもしれない。テクノロジーをどこか「二の次」として見ている学者も(エラい人ほど)、多いような気もする。コンピューターなんか触らせないで、子供は大自然の中で育てる・・・先日、そう話してる女性がいて、ぎょっとした。

Pranav Mistry's invention of SixthSense

Wow!! I do not know a better English word to show my excitement. This guy is a real “pearl” of our world. In his work, Pranav Mistry shows a great connection between the world of information and the real physical world.

I see some brilliant computer scientists as a kind of “social workers of technology” who strive for human development, human rights, and social justice. They want to make the world a better place by using the cutting-edge technologies that they create or integrate.

Watching this Youtube, our friend said that they applied for a funding grant from Luxembourg to do an-almost-same-project two years ago. No chance, it was rejected! If you do not do it, someone else will make it happen!

YouTube Edu and comment on French universities on strike

Professor Yoichiro Nambu at the University of Chicago commented on education last year when he was answering to a Japanese journalist. If I am not mistaken, he said something like this in Japanese: "These days wherever (university) you study, there must be no big difference in higher education thanks to the Internet."

I am not sure that I agree with the statement. If you study and work at Princeton and Chicago as Nambu sensei did, well maybe there is no big difference in an academic environment. But, if you study in Chicago and Paris, for example, you cannot dismiss differences between universities. Internet-based technologies have made people easier to receive education courses at a distance, though I think there are still limits.

But, when I discovered YouTube Edu, I was delighted and found it wonderful especially for those who are autodidactic. That’s why I wanted to talk about Youtube Edu, even though you may already know about it. When my eyes get tired, I close my eyes and listen to lectures.

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