Happy St George’s day

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A Happy St George’s day for England!

Image source: http://www.stgeorgesday.com

No one ever built a monument to a committee – Jack Daniels ad on London underground ..

I love this ad!

Not many references on the web at all .. wonder if anyone else thought it was impressive ..

No one ever built a monument to a committee – Jack Daniels ad on London underground ..

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Constructivism: Learning via blogging and why you should blog ..

This blog is inspired by a post from Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s blog called Blogging as an exercise for the brain where he shares his view on why blogging is a central part of his life.

He has(like me) also been blogging regularly since May 2005 and says that blogging is like exercise for his brain. It is an excellent post which I recommend you read.

I think blogging (and the Web in general) are the foundation of a new form of learning. I touched on this subject in another recent post Why I pay to support Wikipedia (but I don’t trust it) and so should you

The theory of learning and knowledge acquisition has been of interest to me as I observe my own son and his way of learning. (See Arrowes and why the educational system may need to be revamped. ). Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge. It addresses the questions: What is knowledge?, How is knowledge acquired?, What do people know?, How do we know what we know?. Specific theories of knowledge acquisition include empiricism which emphasises the role of experience, especially experience based on perceptual observations by the five senses; Rationalism which believes that knowledge is primarily acquired by a priori processes or is innate and Constructivism- which we discuss below.

I think that the Constructivist theory of knowledge acquisition will play an important role going forward and (in my view) is the intellectual foundation of ‘learning via blogging’

Constructivism is a view in philosophy according to which all knowledge is “constructed” in as much as it is contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. Hence, in constructivist theory, knowledge is dynamic, interactive and experience based. This happens through the processes of assimilation and of accommodation. (Adapted from wikipedia)

Assimilation: When faced with new ideas or knowledge, individuals may assimilate that knowledge into their existing framework without changing that framework. This can occur either because the individuals’ experience is aligned with the external representation or if the individual fails to change the internal representation because they mis-interpret the event.

Accommodation: In contrast, when individuals’ experiences contradict their internal representations, they may change their perceptions of the experiences to fit their internal representations. Thus, in the process of accommodation, failure leads to learning.

In constructivism, the learner is a unique, complex and multi-dimensional individual and the learner is encouraged to arrive at his or her own understanding of the truth. The responsibility for learning lies with the learner. The role of the instructor is that of a facilitator.

Learning is an active social process with collaboration among learners.

The constructivism learning process lends itself to blogging. So, this is the reason I blog i.e. I see it as a learning experience .. And it has been a rewarding and a fulfilling experience.

Another way to remind yourselves about the importance of blogging is from the words of Ignacy Paderewski

Practice, practice, practice…

If I don’t practice for one day, I know it;

if I don’t practice for two days,

the critics know it;

if I don’t practice for three days,

the audience knows it.

Source: songstuff

Finally, I was thinking of a picture for this blog and then I thought of the Brick in the wall video .. The anthem of the misfits and almost the exact opposite to the ideas presented here. Enjoy!

Time magazine lists discovering Ardi amongst the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2009


I blogged about the significance of Discovering Ardi and its nice to see that Time magazine lists the discovery of Ardi among the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2009. Have a look at the other items in that list as well (including decoding of the human epigenome).

Time magazine Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2009

1) Our Oldest Ancestor, “Ardi”

2) The Human Epigenome, Decoded

3) Gene Therapy Cures Color Blindness

4) A Robot Performs Science

5) Breeding Tuna on Land

6) Water on the Moon

7) The Fundamental Lemma, Solved

8) Teleportation!

9) The Large Hadron Collider, Revived

10) A New Planet (or Brown Dwarf?) Discovered

Image source: sciencenotes blog

Amateur YouTube video from Uruguay leads to Hollywood contract ..

I always said that YouTube was the most democratic media channel in the world .. and this just proves it – talent from anywhere in the world gets a voice on a global footing!

Love this :) Amateur YouTube video leads to Hollywood contract ..

Gedankenexperiment: The ethos behind the OpenGardens blog and the inspiration of Jacob Bronowski


One of the advantages of blogging is: I get to express the full potential of my thinking which often spans multiple domains. And I also get to meet some very intelligent people who often know me from reading my blog, which is great fun.

Recently, when I was nominated by the world economic forum for the future of the Internet and I attended their event at Dubai, I met someone who had read my blog…

She started off by saying how much she enjoyed reading the OpenGardens blog and then added that it was a ‘weird and interesting blog’.

The ‘interesting’ bit was nice .. but I asked her what she meant by ‘weird’.

Her response was: The blog spans many areas. On one hand, there is a deep coverage of Internet and Mobility but also some very unusual topics which one may not expect with technology. Ex: Human Rights, Comics and even Maori Love songs

So, that’s what she meant by ‘weird’…

Since the mind behind this strange concoction of a blog is mine :) , I thought I should explain the ethos behind the OpenGardens blog. Thus, this post is based on my discussions with her trying to explain the thinking behind this blog.

Some initial ideas:

• I believe in Open networks (especially the Internet). This often brings me in intellectual contradiction to the established Mobile industry.

• I am interested in areas which span domains (ex Mobile Web 2.0 spanning the Internet and Mobility, Smart Grids spanning Internet, Mobility and Power grids) etc.

• I am interested in Open Innovation i.e. clearly my business also benefits when I put out new ideas and interact with other readers globally and these ideas get refined. And I am not alone. Some of the most insightful bloggers like my good friend Martin Sauter also are believes in Open innovation as a motivation for blogging.

Furthermore, I am not a journalist. A journalist is a generalist and normally does not bring his own views. Thus, the journalist often brings two differing views and allows the reader to make their judgement (as opposed to indicating their own view).

Although the blog leans more to an analyst, the blog is not strictly an analyst blog.

Rather, it is a specific type of analysis .. summarised by a word I use often i.e. the German word Gedankenexperiment. A Gedankenexperiment is a ‘thought experiment’ i.e. ‘what if’ scenario… the best example of this is from Einstein when he asked ‘What would the world look like if he travelled on a beam of light’

I think there are three styles of thinkers:

The first is the Believer i.e. people of faith .. who often at some point have to suspend reason.

The other extreme is the critic/sceptic. James Randi is an example of a critic i.e. someone who takes a totally fact based view and adds value by his criticism (but does not produce much independent work of his own).

Between these two extremes is what I call the ‘scientist’ i.e. someone who uses a rational foundation but also has the imagination to conduct a ‘thought experiment’ (which is what I am trying to do with the OpenGardens blog).

This means that the blog takes a stand/position based on an intellectual foundation. It may not always be correct but I hope that it extends the body of knowledge based on a rational foundation and provides insights.

And the thinking may span domains.

One example of this approach is from Jim Berkland who claims to accurately predict earthquakes based on ‘Lost pet ads’ in local newspapers which he has monitored over many years (the theory being that pets sense impending earthquakes and flee homes before an earthquake – which is reflected in the lost pets ads). Although, the results may not be accepted by the mainstream scientific community, I think that they are based on empirical observations and data and add value.

Apart from an intellectual curiosity which I gained from my father, the blog is also based on my readings / admiration for the thoughts of Jacob Bronowski. While Jacob Bronowski was popular well before I was born, I think his ideas are timeless and I have seen no one else who can seamlessly blend arts, science and maths and explain it all with such simplicity, humility and humanity through his books and documentaries.

If you are interested in this, you should read ‘The common sense of science‘ – interesting comments on Amazon! And also see The Ascent of Man and it is indeed a pity that Jacob Bronowski died within a year of producing the Ascent of man

I leave you with some quotes from Bronowski.

1) Man is unique not because he does science, and his is unique not because he does art, but because science and art equally are expressions of his marvellous plasticity of mind.

2) It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.

In any case, I hope that this post provided you with insights about the mind behind this blog!

I have a new hobby .. Buying comic books from eBay!


I have a new hobby .. Buying comic books from eBay!

I have long referenced comics in this blog .. Blogging: Of Tom and Jerry and craving the friction of a human being and recently I discovered that some of the relatively rare comics that I like are on eBay!

I spent a lot of my childhood reading comics from the Silver age and Bronze age of comics.

I am not THAT old! But those comics were in India when I grew up.

My pride and joy is a 1955 collectors item Tom and Jerry digest edition I bought last week and I paid a lot more than the 25c sticker price on it! Ha ha!

But in any case, I like the comics from that age .. a more kinder, gentler age especially Gold Key comics. One of these days, futuretext may even get into publishing comics … but meanwhile if you are selling any of the below, I am interested or even if you want to have a conversation!

i already have every Tintin and Asterix ever published and also a lot of Snoopy(Charles Schulz) but also interested in these!

* The Beagle Boys (Walt Disney’s)

* Beep Beep the Road Runner

* Beetle Bailey

* Bugs Bunny

* Bullwinkle and Rocky

* Daffy Duck

* Donald Duck (Walt Disney’s)

* Fireball XL5

* Flash Gordon

* The Flintstones

* The Funky Phantom

* Korak, Son of Tarzan

* Huey, Dewey and Louie, Junior Woodchucks

* Little Lulu

* The Lone Ranger

* The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

* Mickey Mouse (Walt Disney’s)

* Moby Duck (Walt Disney’s)

* The Phantom

* Porky Pig

* Super Goof (Walt Disney’s)

* Tarzan

* Tom and Jerry

* Tweety and Sylvester

* Uncle Scrooge

* Walt Disney Comics Digest

* Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories

* Walt Disney’s Showcase

* Woody Woodpecker

* Yosemite Sam (and Bugs Bunny)

The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal

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Every year, I support the The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal - so I thought I should blog about it this year. You can donate through this link

Awesome documentary from Discovery Channel – Discovering Ardi

Awesome documentary from Discovery Channel – Discovering Ardi :)

As the strapline says – Darwin could only dream of this .. 17 years of investigation based on a global collaboration of scientists. “Ardi” is now the oldest skeleton from our (hominid) branch of the primate family tree and a million years older than Lucy

Official press release for Discovering Ardi more at Discovering Ardi

A short intro clip as below ..

Two books that have inspired me ..

I was asked by a friend recently to name two books that have inspired me recently. After some thinking, here they are. Hope you like them. Comments welcome and my rationale below

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First book: A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life (Penguin Press Science) (Paperback)

- By Craig Venter

Nature magazine calls Craig Venter as: `maverick, publicity hound, risk-taker, brash, controversial, genius, manic, rebellious,visionary, audacious, arrogant, feisty, determined, provocative. His autobiography shows they are all justified’

His research and techniquies are very unorthodox and it makes a big impression on me as to how he managed to beat a govt funded project to decode the human genome by a full 3 years!

Amazon link for A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life

TED talk by Craud Venter for his latest work on creating synthetic life

Second ..

The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers (Paperback)

Very detailed. very scientific and applicable for entrepreneurs .. Think of it as Good to great for small companies ie. why some companies (startups) grow very big and what distinguishes them

There are a VERY few books covering this .. ie most are for big companies and hence not applicable to entrepreneurs.

Any comments – suggestions for books welcome