Sunday, February 11, 2007

My first eBusiness

I put together a little eBusiness with my wife back in 2002. was supposed to be a place to order themed gift packages for a loved one. If I remember right, the only person who ever ordered from the site was my mom. (Thanks, mom!) Anyway, it was a great excuse to buy a digital camera. In business terms it was a total loss, but I actually learned quite a bit about eCommerce, and I passed that on to my Computer Science students. If you count the advertising we bought through Google AdWords, I think the whole thing cost me about $250 ($200 of that was the digital camera). Even though the site is gone, it's great to be able to see it through at

Thanks for the memories, WayBack Machine!

Vision of an Open Library

“I don’t know what it will be like to have books from our libraries injected into our culture again, but I’d like to see it.” --Brewster Kahle

I realize this isn't new news, but it's new to me. Here are the parts of the 2005 Open Library/Open Content Alliance announcement from that really hit home:

3 to 4 billion of the 12 billion libraries spend every year goes to publishing.

Other projects: International Childres's Digital Library, Internet Archive Bookmobile (dollar a book!). BookShare will use this content for access for the blind. $100 laptop will include books from this project onto their laptops. Open Content Alliance will create protocols and formats.

Library of Alexandria 2.0

The Microlibraries Project at the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning is off to a great start. They are figuring out how to format, print, cut and bind Gutenberg books in an attractive and cost-effective way. It's kind of like Brewster's Bookmobile -- except without the minivan. It turns out that for less than $2500 you can buy everything you need to print and bind paperback books. This has implications beyond the current goal of giving away 5000 books to elementary school students in rural northern Utah schools. But that's not a bad place to begin.

The trick is learning to share. Brewster Kahle points out in this excellent podcast that at it's peak, the Library of Alexandria in Egypt was able to collect and store most of the books of the world. An amazing achievement, but not very useful to folks who couldn't go there. So how do we share all these books and all this knowledge with more people? Many people think that the answer involves putting books online. I'm all for that, and it's an exciting to see it starting to happen.

But what then? Do you really want to read those books on your laptop? Me neither. There is something about printed books. So while thousands of people work on digitizing books all over the world, some of us should think about sensible ways to get books back into their original format. If this is all about making knowledge more accessible to people everywhere, then let's not limit it to folks with a computer and an Internet connection. Let's share books.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Child Left Behind - The Basketball Version

I have had this in Word format for a while -- someone sent it to me via email a few years ago. So *poof* now it's online. If I have stolen your idea, email me and I will either attribute it to you or remove it. Your choice.

EDIT: The same thing is available here:

1. All teams must advance to the Sweet 16, and all will win
the championship. If a team does not win the championship,
they will be on probation until they are the champions, and
coaches will be held accountable.

2. All kids will be expected to have the same basketball
skills at the same time and in the same conditions. No
exceptions will be made for interest in basketball, a
desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or

3. Talented players will be asked to practice on their own,
without instruction. This is because the coaches will be
using all their instructional time with the athletes who
aren't interested in basketball, have limited athletic
ability or whose parents don't like basketball.

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will
only be kept in the 4th, 8th and 11th games.

5. This will create a New Age of sports where every school
is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams
will reach the same minimal goals. If no child gets ahead,
then no child will be left behind.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

How much emotional space do you really need?

Have you ever noticed that some people are much more emotionally needy than others? They need to share everything with you. All the stuff you really can't do anything about. But it's more than a need to share. The way I think of it is that these folks take up more emotional space.

The way I see it, there is only so much space out there. Eventually people start to bump into each other. That is when there are problems.

I want to teach at a university. So I have to go to school. Lots of school. I am around PhD people and wannabe PhD people. Some of these folks take up a lot of emotional space. Egos, stress, jealousy, and more egos. And it's not like personal space. Most folks will leave you with at least a few inches of that. But I've been in classrooms with zero emotional space. Zip. Nada. It's like the place is vacuum sealed.

If you are someone who takes up a lot of unnecessary emotional space, there is one cure for this problem. But I'll warn you, it's rather extreme. Have kids. It's like emotional space liposuction. I can guarantee that you will no longer feel like the center of the universe once you have children to occupy that space for you. But then you'll be where I am. Suffocating in everyone else's emotions.

So here's my plea: If you are taking up more emotional space than you really need, try to voluntarily cut back. There are those of us out there who don't need much of this type of space, and we try not to impose on others. But we still need to breathe.