Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Future of Education

The Future of Education

While the McClintock "Modest Proposal" debate continues, the future of education is being shaped completely outside the educational system.

I believe that ultimately the forces involved with school reforms, on both right and left, will be swept away by new paradigms.

At the Games, Learning, and Society conference in Madison, Wisconsin, James Gee talked about how games and technology will supplant the current educational model:

"The solution to these problems is in our face -- popular culture and the games industry. "We have a lot to learn from these despised industries form how to solve these crises." Think about your high school biology textbook -- did you take it to the beach to read it. Unless kids, starting at home, get ready for the complex demands that schools will make on language, you will not be prepared. Yugioh cards -- these are much more complex than what you'll see in textbooks. [Ed: this is so true--understanding the rules of MTG is like grasping a complex statutory scheme.]
The game industry has already set a standard of how to educate people so that they can become innovators."

The current educational system is an outdated monopoly that is failing our kids. Alternatives are becoming available. And there's no way to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again once he's fallen off that wall.

If I were more creative, I'd be thinking about how to create truly enjoyable games and virtual worlds that serve and educational purpose. The potential market is staggering, especially if you consider the global market outside the United States.

The Future Is Virtual

The Future Is Virtual

BusinessWeek covers the Kart Rider phenomenon which has swept over South Korea. Kart Rider is an online game which allows players to race against each other. Nothing too innovative there. But what is innovative is how its developer, Nexon, makes its money.

You can play the game for free, but you have to pay real money to acquire virtual items, including your car, its paint job, and various weapons and defenses.

In 2004, Nexon had revenues of $110 million, 85% from the sale of virtual items.

It's gotten to the point where races are being broadcast on television, and some of the best drivers are being paid to add virtual logos to their virtual cars.

I can't help but feel that this is the model for the future. Rather than force people to commit to a subscription, simply sell the gear that allows them to compete. It's like being able to start a war to sell weapons to the combatants!

Some may say, "but why would people pay for useless and intangible items?" For enjoyment. There's no productive reason to spend money on going to the movies, or to pay for cable TV. At least virtual worlds are interactive and social.

If anything, cultural critics should look to the rise of virtual worlds as the solution to the "Bowling Alone" phenomenon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Best Business Book That Isn't For Sale

The Best Business Book That Isn't For Sale
This unpublished booklet by Bill Swanson (the CEO of Raytheon) is, according to Business 2.0, a classic. Warren Buffett is a fan.

Now, while I wait for Warren to send me a copy, does anyone else have a copy they can post, or a copy of the Business 2.0 excerpt?

The best I've been able to find are these lists of Swanson's 25 rules.

Enjoyment = Flow = Innovation

Enjoyment = Flow = Innovation
Diego Rodriguez at Metacool has a good post on a point that I should have thought of but didn't.

In a market where business success depends on innovation, the first necessary step is to make sure that your employees enjoy their work.

Miserable or bored employees don't create innovative products and services.

It will be a wonderful thing indeed if the need for innovation drives us to create more enjoyable work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Leonard Nimoy's Nude Photography

Leonard Nimoy's Nude Photography
The latest New Yorker has an article on Leonard Nimoy's latest photography show, "Maximum Beauty," which consists of nude photographs of ample women.

The article touches on Nimoy's varied artistic and intellectual interests, as well as his habit of jointly celebrating his birthday with his old friend William Shatner.

The man is one cool cat.

When He's Back In Power, Doritos Will Become The National Food Of Iraq

When He's Back In Power, Doritos Will Become The National Food Of Iraq

This is just amazing--a peek into the mind of a man who held absolute power in his country for decades. While his cruelty was inhuman, his love for Doritos and Cheetoes is not:

"Thrust unexpectedly into the role of prison guards for Saddam Hussein, several young American soldiers found the deposed Iraqi leader to be a friendly, talkative “clean freak” who loved Raisin Bran for breakfast, could down a large bag of Doritos in 10 minutes and insisted he was still president of Iraq, the men said in an interview published Monday and in comments on NBC's "Today" show."

Monday, June 20, 2005

All The Little Things

All The Little Things

Ankesh Kothari writes about how persistence and doing the little things helps one woman earn a 6-figure income online by promoting pornography.

While you and I might not want to pursue that particular line of work, we can learn from her success.

Marketer, Market Thyself

Marketer, Market Thyself

Seth Godin points out that marketers need to spend some of their energy on marketing their profession.

"It all comes down to spreading ideas. If you can get your art or your political cause or your restaurant's ideas to spread, you win.

Somewhere along the way, people were sold that marketing [equals] advertising. Somewhere along the way, people were trained that marketers are liars (oops). And now we wonder why people are so clueless about what marketing really is. Maybe it's because marketing has a marketing problem.

Marketing is not about trickery or even insincerity. It's about spreading ideas that you believe in, sharing ideas you're passionate about... and doing it with authenticity. Marketing is about treating prospects and customers with respect, and realizing that it's easier to grow the amount of business you do with happy people than it is to find new strangers to accost."

The Virtual is the New Real

The Virtual is the New Real

In yet another sign of the incredible growth and value in what was once called virtual reality, virtual pets site NeoPets was just sold for $160 million. If anything, I'm surprised the price was so low!