Variety’s chief film critic, Scott Foundas gave “The Search for Gen­eral Tso” a great review, call­ing it “finger-lickin’good.”

The assess­ment:

A wel­come addi­tion to the sud­den sur­feit of qual­ity foodie docus, the pic boasts high-end pro­duc­tion val­ues and breezy pac­ing that should help it to win the hearts, minds and stom­achs of niche auds in lim­ited the­atri­cal and VOD release.

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· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

I got this email to my Gmail account, and at first was sus­pi­cious it was a phish­ing attack, or “one of those you’ve been added to ‘Who’s Who’ and now pay for our $100 book.” But look­ing down it seemed legit. News­D­iffs is now one of the thou­sand or so sites archived by the Library of Con­gress. It’s an archive of an archive. Very meta.

To Whom It May Concern:

The United States Library of Con­gress has selected your web­site for inclu­sion in the Library’s web archive focus­ing on pub­lic pol­icy top­ics. We con­sider your web­site to be an impor­tant part of this col­lec­tion and the his­tor­i­cal record.

The Library of Con­gress pre­serves the Nation’s cul­tural arti­facts and pro­vides endur­ing access to them. The Library’s tra­di­tional func­tions, acquir­ing, cat­a­loging, pre­serv­ing and serv­ing col­lec­tion mate­ri­als of his­tor­i­cal impor­tance to the Con­gress and the Amer­i­can peo­ple to fos­ter edu­ca­tion and schol­ar­ship, extend to dig­i­tal mate­ri­als, includ­ing websites.

The fol­low­ing URL has been selected for archiving:

newsdiffs.org

We request your per­mis­sion to col­lect your web­site and add it to the Library’s research col­lec­tions. In order to prop­erly archive this URL, and poten­tially other URLs of inter­est on your site, we would appre­ci­ate your per­mis­sion to archive both this URL and other por­tions of your site. With your per­mis­sion, the Library of Con­gress or its agent will engage in the col­lec­tion of con­tent from your web­site at reg­u­lar inter­vals over time and may include it in future collections.

The Library will make this col­lec­tion avail­able to researchers both at Library facil­i­ties and by spe­cial arrange­ment. The Library may also make the col­lec­tion avail­able more broadly by host­ing the col­lec­tion on the Library?s pub­lic access web­site no ear­lier than one year after our archiv­ing has been com­pleted. The Library hopes that you share its vision of pre­serv­ing Inter­net mate­ri­als and per­mit­ting researchers from across the world to access them. The fol­low­ing link also includes a sep­a­rate con­sent for per­mit­ting the Library to pro­vide off­site access to your mate­ri­als through the Library’s pub­lic web­site at http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/:

http://webarchive.loc.gov/digi/acceptance.php?id=438216932

If the above link does not work, please access http://webarchive.loc.gov/digi/acceptance.php and enter your unique code: 438216932

Our web archives are impor­tant because they con­tribute to the his­tor­i­cal record, cap­tur­ing infor­ma­tion that could oth­er­wise be lost. With the grow­ing role of the web as an influ­en­tial medium, records of his­toric events could be con­sid­ered incom­plete with­out mate­ri­als that were “born dig­i­tal” and never printed on paper. For more infor­ma­tion about these web archive col­lec­tions, please visit our web­site (http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/).

If you have ques­tions, com­ments or rec­om­men­da­tions con­cern­ing the web archiv­ing of your site please e-mail the Library’s Web Archiv­ing Team at XXX@loc.gov. You may also want to visit our fre­quently asked ques­tions page at: http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/faq.html.

Thank You.

Web Archiv­ing Team
XXX@loc.gov
http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/
Library of Con­gress
Wash­ing­ton, D.C. 20540
For admin­is­tra­tive pur­poses:
URL: newsdiffs.org
Record ID: 105709

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We’re announc­ing an awe­some cool project called Recov­er­ing the Clas­sics, which Dai­lyLit launched with our part­ners at Cre­ative Action Net­work and Har­vard Book­store (yes, the really do own Harvard.com). It invites design­ers around the world to reimag­ine cov­ers for the great books in the pub­lic domain.

Recovering the Classics 2x4

Why? One of the most frus­trat­ing prob­lems we’ve run into while design­ing the mobile read­ing app for Dai­lyLit has been the lack of cover art for our titles. Turns out, for books in the pub­lic domain (mostly those pub­lished before 1923 in the United States), the text is easy to get — thanks to things like Project Guten­berg — but cover art is not. This is why you see all those ter­ri­ble auto-generated cov­ers on Amazon.

At Plymp­ton and Dai­lyLit, we pas­sion­ately believe that pub­lish­ing is a craft, that it is an aes­thetic expe­ri­ence — from the prose to the dig­i­tal read­ing app to the covers.

After our CTO and I Google around and dis­cov­ered it out would be impos­si­ble to license ele­gant cov­ers for the pub­lic domain books, I sat back and thought: Gosh, what if we made this into a movement?

And we know just the folks to do it. Max Slavkin and Aaron Perry-Zucker (whom I worked with at Upwor­thy) who are a team behind Design For Obama and Occupy Design.

They came up with the awe­some name, Recov­er­ing the Clas­sics, and launched it with 50 titles.

So right now, you can order prints, ebooks or printed cop­ues through our part­ners at the Har­vard Book Store. All you have to do is click on your favorite cover and fol­low the links.

Update! Every­one loves book cov­ers. Check out the cov­er­age we have got­ten on Fast Com­pany Design (twice!), Giz­modo, The New York Observer’s Betabeat, Pub­lish­ers Weekly, The Huff­in­g­ton Post, Today.com, GOOD, Paid­Con­tent, Print Mag­a­zine, WBUR, Pub­lish­ing Per­spec­tives, Apart­ment Ther­apy, Design­Taxi, Read­ers Digest, and Buz­zfeed.

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· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

We launched our lit­er­ary stu­dio to pub­lish seri­al­ized fic­tion today, Plymp­ton, as a cumu­la­tion of more than a year’s worth of work. My cofounder is Yael Gold­stein Love.

I lit­er­ally did not know we would offi­cially be part of the Santa Mon­ica Ama­zon event until I saw Jeff Bezos stand­ing in front of our titles on stage, announc­ing the Kin­dle Seri­als pro­gram. And since they didn’t allow stream­ing, I was watch­ing a live blog on my iPad. That was the moment I felt like I could exhale (Above is the image from Gizmodo).

We also launched a Kick­starter (cour­tesy of Emily Carmichael)

Hacker Mom” by Austen Rach­lis, “Love is Strong as Death” by Car­olyn Nash, and “The Many Lives of Lilith Lane” by E.V. Ander­son are all ours.

Here we go!

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· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·
Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 3.11.44 PM

Intro­duc­ing newsdiffs.org! A project born out of the Knight Mozilla MIT hackathon on June 17, 2012 in 38 hours (includ­ing sleep). Eric Price and Greg Price did the programming.

Greg and Eric, who are broth­ers, have both placed in the world ACM Inter­na­tional Col­le­giate Pro­gram­ming Con­test, as well as the Inter­na­tional Olympiad in Infor­mat­ics, the world com­pe­ti­tion for high school students.

Greg, who works at Tddium, has his mas­ters in the­o­ret­i­cal com­puter sci­ence from MIT and a bach­e­lors in math­e­mat­ics from Har­vard. (He also led the YouTomb project, which tracked videos removed from YouTube). Eric is cur­rently in his third year of a PhD in the­o­ret­i­cal com­puter sci­ence from MIT and spend­ing the sum­mer at Microsoft Research.

To the right is an exam­ple of a story that evolved about the health of for­mer Egypt­ian pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak, first when it was repor­teed that he was “clin­i­cally dead” and then later that he had suf­fered a stroke.

Update August 2013: We got a notice from the Library of Con­gress say­ing that News­D­iffs was now among the sites they are offi­cially archiv­ing! An archive of an archive. How meta.

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I was on a panel at SXSW 2012 called “Con­tent and Code != Com­modi­ties,” which tried to explain and bridge the cul­tural gap between tech­nol­o­gists and media-ist. Below is some of the think­ing that inspired the panel and a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the deck pre­sen­ta­tion on Slideshare. (There are some reports about our panel, includ­ing this entry at IBM’s web­site)

Here’s the prob­lem: coders see con­tent as “stuff” and code as “art” (“Go find some writ­ers off of Craiglist.” Or “We’ll do user-generated con­tent! Yay.” While cre­ators (writ­ers, artists) see code as “stuff” and con­tent as “art.” (“Oh, just hire some devel­op­ers to build a website.”)

This is a haz­ardous atti­tude, because you end up see­ing the other side as a com­mod­ity, and inter­change­able. When they really are not. You can’t attract tal­ented folks if you view what they do as a com­mod­ity. The Inter­net is lit­tered with the detri­tus of projects which failed in part because of that (some of which I have wit­nessed first-hand.)

Hang­ing out in Sil­i­con Val­ley, I began to develop a deeper under­stand­ing of technology’s view of con­tent. It’s about low-touch and scale, where scale comes from quan­tity. Tech com­pa­nies love mea­sur­ing con­tent. You’ll note that YouTube’s first press stat is about hours of video uploaded every minute and Twit­ter has this met­ric of Tweets per sec­ond. Peo­ple in tech­nol­ogy love mea­sur­ing con­tent because it’s some­thing they can grasp. It’s objec­tive. It’s quantifiable.

This sign below is from a tech­nol­ogy com­pany try­ing to become more media-centric, try­ing to edu­cate the programmer-types about the impor­tance of con­tent. They do it partly through empha­siz­ing the large numbers.


2700000

Then below, the sign has an expla­na­tion as to what con­tent is: “Con­tent includes things like pub­lished arti­cles, pro­fes­sional videos and pho­tos. It doesn’t include home movies or party pics.” It’s telling that they have to point out the dif­fer­ence between pro­fes­sion­ally pro­duced cre­ative con­tent and user-generated mate­r­ial, for fear that peo­ple see it as interchangeable.


What_is_content

In Sil­i­con Val­ley, when you talk about a project, they always ask, “How are you going to scale that?”

On the other hand, the cre­ators’ view of con­tent (the media indus­try) is that it’s high-touch, about craft, and scale comes from qual­ity—hav­ing a hit (Hunger Games, Harry Pot­ter, Mad Men). Get­ting that hit is idio­syn­cratic. It’s about that 1 per­cent (really the 1 per­cent of the 1 percent).

Essen­tially every mean­ing­ful media ver­ti­cal is about high-touch: tele­vi­sion, report­ing, art, mag­a­zines, movies, pub­lish­ing, music. The cre­ative process is very relationship-based, trust-based, and yes, often seem­ingly inef­fi­cient, as a result. My tech­nol­ogy friends are always incred­u­lous when I explain to them the process by which books are sold and come to mar­ket. Even with the explo­sion of self-publishing, much of the book indus­try is still dri­ven by lit­er­ary agents con­nect­ing writ­ers with edi­tors, often involv­ing a lot of lunches and know­ing to an inti­mate degree what edi­tors like which projects. And no, this doesn’t scale very well. That’s why media com­pa­nies have poor val­u­a­tions com­pared to tech companies.

So it’s been really fas­ci­nat­ing watch­ing tech com­pa­nies shift to a more media (high touch) mind­set. The best exam­ple is YouTube invest­ing $100 mil­lion (or so) in pre­mium con­tent via part­ner chan­nels. Talk­ing to my Hol­ly­wood and cre­ator friends who are inter­act­ing with them, the cul­ture gap is pal­pa­ble. Another exam­ple is Quora. It has a mind­set of a tech and prod­uct com­pany, when I think it should really see itself more with a media bent (the stuff that mat­ters is the top 1 per­cent — or the top 1 per­cent of the top 1 per­cent — and moti­vat­ing them).

This gap in atti­tude between tech­nol­ogy and cre­ators really hit me when I was at a YCombi­na­tor demo day a while back. One startup told the audi­ence they aimed to be the “Demand Media of ebooks.” Sit­ting in the audi­ence as a writer, I was absolutely hor­ri­fied. The last thing in the world I would want to do, as a writer, is to work for a com­pany that saw my craft as a low-class assem­bly line process. But my VC friend, who was also in the audi­ence (inci­den­tally whom I knew from my col­lege paper), explained to me that that pitch was directed at investors. Demand Media had just gone pub­lic. So they under­stood it as an exit. It was a very direct appeal.

I remem­ber sit­ting there and think­ing, “Oh wow, these are not my people.”

To be sure, since then, the startup has changed its atti­tude towards the cre­ation of con­tent to value tal­ent more. Simul­ta­ne­ously, Google’s adjust­ment in its rank­ing algo­rithms has appro­pri­ately chas­tised Demand Media for its low-quality con­tent. Hah.)

Of course, jour­nal­ismy folks are guilty too of see­ing the pro­gram­ming pri­mar­ily as a technician’s job. One of the more inter­est­ing exam­ples was this post from Ezra Klein on Wonk Blog look­ing for politics-obsessed programmers.

Wonkblog

It sounds really excit­ing, but then you click through and you get a dry job descrip­tion. The respon­si­bil­i­ties include par­tic­i­pat­ing “in sys­tem test­ing efforts to ensure proper oper­a­tion of sys­tems and free­dom from defects” and col­lab­o­rat­ing “with IT staff and clients to estab­lish Ser­vice Level and Oper­at­ing Level Agree­ments that set mea­sur­able IT serve and sys­tem per­for­mance expec­ta­tions.” Not ter­ri­bly motivating.

But recently, with my work with Hacks/Hackers, a world­wide group that tries to bring tech­nol­o­gists and jour­nal­ists together, I came to real­ize cre­ators and devel­op­ers are more alike than they real­ize. In fact, they have the same over­ar­ch­ing motivation.

Both groups want to work with smart peo­ple on inter­est­ing prob­lems that have impact.

In other words, both sides are moti­vated by their craft and a desire to feel that an audi­ence is expe­ri­enc­ing their work, whether though prose or pro­gram­ming. This is my tiny con­tent ver­sion of uni­fied field the­ory. Of course, you have to wran­gle with what the def­i­n­i­tions of what an “inter­est­ing prob­lem” is (crowd-sourced inves­tiga­tive report­ing? real-time dis­tri­b­u­tion of mil­lions of units of con­tent? inno­v­a­tive user expe­ri­ences?) and what “hav­ing impact” is (Con­gres­sional hear­ings! Hun­dreds of mil­lions of users! Hav­ing a huge audi­ence). This obser­va­tion is a ver­sion of Paul Graham’s lovely essay about hack­ers have more in com­mon with painters than they do with com­puter sci­ence academics.

And both sides want to work with peo­ple they respect.

So that is the chal­lenge you have to pose to the other side to moti­vate them and get them to join you in what­ever project you want. So here are some thoughts we had on our panel on how to do that:

• Where you sit in the orga­ni­za­tion — geo­graph­i­cally and on the org chart — says a lot. If you respect con­tent or tech­nol­ogy, it should be reflected in the geog­ra­phy of the news­room (or what­ever) and who reports to whom.

• State things in terms of prob­lems that need to be solved, rather than solu­tions that you are order­ing the other side to do. (I was recently chas­tised for this when I wanted a Word­Press instal­la­tion and the tech folks forced me to dis­till down what prob­lem I was try­ing to solve).

Speak in a lan­guage that the other side understands.

• In talk­ing to developers/engineers/programmers/coders/hackers (what­ever you want to call them), appre­ci­ate the art in coding/programming Some­one once told me that San­jay Ghe­mawat, Google Fel­low behind many things that make Google great, wrote “code that was like poetry.” I thought that was a beau­ti­ful expres­sion. His code was ele­gant, min­i­mal­ist, but got the point across and really pushed boundaries.

• When speak­ing to cre­ative types, the part of scale to empha­size is about audi­ence, not about the process of cre­at­ing con­tent. We don’t go into media because our pri­mary moti­va­tion is to get rich. Seri­ously, there are much more reli­able ways to make money in this world. We go into writ­ing (or music or movie-making) because we have some­thing we want to say to the world. And as much as tech­nol­ogy can help us say what we want to say to the world, that’s awe­some. (YouTube, Twit­ter, Tum­blr). I am always sus­pi­cious of tech­nol­ogy types who sud­denly decide they want to go into con­tent (I get asked to have cof­fee all the time to talk about busi­ness mod­els, ideas). I always push to ask them what their moti­va­tion is, to see if they “get” us. If they don’t love con­tent, they are going to have trou­ble down the line — whether in recruit­ing or audience.

• “Con­tent” is a ter­ri­ble word. In addi­tion, one of the worst terms to emerge in the last decade or so is “con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem” (CMS). As the Wash­ing­ton Post ombuds­man wrote: “It reduces the heart and soul of jour­nal­ism — sto­ries, pho­tos, graph­ics, the news — into generic ‘con­tent,’ some­thing akin to the uniden­ti­fi­able fill­ing in a Twinkie. Ick.” Word­Press, you’ll notice, does not call itself a CMS. It calls itself a seman­tic per­sonal pub­lish­ing plat­form with a focus on aes­thet­ics, web stan­dards, and usabil­ity. At the startup I work with, Upwor­thy, the “con­tent folks” are called “Edi­to­r­ial,” which is much more dignified.

• Acknowl­edge con­tri­bu­tion through bylines and cred­its. Really, the only high qual­ity place that can get away with not giv­ing bylines these days is The Econ­o­mist.

And the last point, a gen­eral piece of advice for both sides, is to ask “What prob­lem am I solv­ing for the user?”

Any­way, here is a dis­tilled and mod­i­fied ver­sion of the slide deck (if it loads. I’ve had prob­lems get­ting it to load as an embed). If it doesn’t load, click through to here: Con­tent and Cod­ing are Not Com­modi­ties. SXSW 2012 Presentation

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Photo
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Imag2860

Junot Diaz and Min Jin Lee took to the stage for a con­ver­sa­tion at the Asian Amer­i­can Writ­ers Work­shop Page Turner Fes­ti­val, held at Pow­er­house Books in Dumbo. We were amazed at how many peo­ple showed up despite the apoc­a­lyp­tic weather of sleet, wind and freezingless.

Junot was hum­ble and inspir­ing as always. A long time friend of the Work­shop, Junot hasn’t changed, despite win­ning the Pulitzer Prize (among many other hon­ors) for The Brief and Won­drous Life of Oscar Wao. He and Min Jin met in Korea on a State Depart­ment cul­tural trip of sorts, where she was sup­posed to be the Korean Amer­i­can, and he was sup­posed to “the American”

Here are some tid­bits from the talk, par­tially from my own notes and par­tially from the lovely tweet­ing by Sepia Mutiny. Some of these may be slightly off in our haste to take notes.

Junot quit writ­ing his novel twice for over a year. Some­times you just enter a “free fall” where “you don’t believe your words are worth any­thing.” It took him ~13 years to write novel (Min Jin took 12, beat him by a year, she said.)

Junot said, “I live in the uni­verse of doubt. The hard part isn’t writ­ing the book — it’s fin­ish­ing it.” He added, “To fin­ish a book, you need com­pas­sion for your­self.” He added, “I looked into a mir­ror and said, “It’s okay. You suck.’”

Junot is not a big fan of work­shops, describ­ing “the work­shop­ping habit of writ­ing for writ­ing.” He added, “I taught two years of writ­ing work­shops with­out the ‘reader’ being men­tioned.” You should give read­ers more credit, as they are used to not under­stand­ing stuff.

Read­ers are mas­sively accus­tomed to unin­tel­li­gi­bil­ity. There’s tons of shit in a book they don’t under­stand,” he said. “If a reader can make sense of 60 per­cent of what they read, it’s a win to them.”

Junot took out the famous foot­notes in Oscar Wao when his first edi­tor didn’t like them. Then the edi­tor left the pub­lish­ing house and he put them back. Basi­cally, trust your­self on how out there you can be artistically.

Nov­els are espe­cially hard to write, because “you can write a per­fect short story,” but you can’t write a per­fect novel. And you can’t keep it all in your head. So there has to be a greater degree of trust.

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Imag2781

Steve came in third. Amy fifth. David Zax has a nice writeup of the evening on the Paris Review site. This was a fundraiser for Adven­tures of the Mind, like a TED for high school stu­dents, at Chi­na­town Brasserie.

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It really is lovely.

Media_httpimagesinsta_bmjyj

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Screen_shot_2011-07-24_at_9

How do the engi­neers get these approved?

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I’m exec­u­tive pro­duc­ing a short (with my friend Eric T. Lee) by Nathan Parker, who wrote “Moon” start­ing Sam Rock­well, which I saw at Sun­dance a few years back and was really impressed with. Nathan is both the screen­writer and the direc­tor. As they say in Hol­ly­wood. Film is a director’s medium. Tele­vi­sion is a writer’s medium.

Here are some pic­tures from a shoot we did at Bar Lubitch in LA. Actress KaDee Strick­land, who was just nom­i­nated for an Emmy.

Media_httpimagesinsta_seexm

Direc­tor Nathan Parker set­ting up a bath­room shot involv­ing drugs

Media_httpimagesinsta_tkbaf

The pro­duc­ers on set.

Media_httpimagesinsta_kebxr

The logis­tics for film­ing are insane with infor­ma­tion on weather, clos­est hos­pi­tal, included.

Media_httpimagesinsta_vnjje

Mod­ern day film can­is­ters are these 2-terabyte G-drives from Hitachi.

Media_httpimagesinsta_fpifw

The iPad is now being used as a remote con­trol for the sound record­ing equipment!

Media_httpimagesinsta_mydew

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· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

I wrote an essay for a book that coin­cided with the release of the doc­u­men­tary, “Page One: Inside The New York Times,” edited by NPR’s David Folken­flik. It was also put up on Poynter.org.

~~~

For years, the third-floor wait­ing area of the old New York Times build­ing at 229 West 43rd fea­tured a mas­sive replica of the first page of the first edi­tion of the news­pa­per. Dated Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 18, 1851, the news­pa­per back then was known as The New-York Daily Times. (I love the hyphen.) It was priced at one cent.

I must have walked by that replica thou­sands of times before I finally paused for a closer look. It was made up mostly of blurbs, many of them just a few sen­tences long. None was more than five para­graphs. The inter­na­tional news con­sisted of dis­patches from Turkey, Bre­men, Bavaria and Prus­sia, in most cases sum­ma­riz­ing local pub­li­ca­tions rather than offer­ing orig­i­nal report­ing. The local New York City report­ing was quite chatty, with head­lines like “Disturbance by Rival Blacksmiths,” “Run over by an Ice Cart,” and “Women Poisoned.”

Even non-news was news back then. A short dis­patch titled “False Alarm” read: “Item gath­erer failed to dis­cover the first spark of the fire.” And I was taken with a brief from another edi­tion: “Not Dead.-Mr. John Overho, of Prince street, who was reported to be beyond all med­ical skill on Sat­ur­day, from the effect of coup de soleil, we are glad to learn is likely to recover.”

But what struck me most that day, as I stud­ied that front page, was a sin­gle thought.

This looks like a blog.

Keep read­ing…

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I went to Glac­ier National Park to do cre­ative hik­ing and research. Hurry, the glac­i­ers are melt­ing quickly and are expected to be gone by 2020, if not sooner.

Avalanche Lake
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Apcar Lake near West Glacier

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St. Mary’s Lake.

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O.C. Marsh Brontosaurus illustration

I want to start a cam­paign to restore the Wikipedia page for “bron­tosaurus,” which right now is a hard redi­rect to “apatosaurus” Check for your­self. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brontosaurus.

That page is even the top search for “bron­tosaurus” on Google!

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Depend­ing on how you inter­pret the facts, the bron­tosaurus (“thun­der lizard”) never really existed or it was a dupli­cated name cre­ated for the already known apatosaurus (“decep­tive lizard”). A lot of the con­fu­sion has to do with “miss­ing” skull from an apatosaurus fos­sil dis­cov­ery, and the sub­se­quent attempts to give the fos­sil skele­ton a head (var­i­ously skulls from Bra­chiosaurus, Cama­rasaurus and Diplodocus). Miss­ing skulls for sauropods (the long­necked dinos) were com­mon because while the large thick body bones were pre­seved in the fos­sil record, the more del­i­cate skull bones were not.

As Stephen J. Gould explains in his 1991 book Bully for Bron­tosaurus, the split was the result of a great pale­on­t­ogy rivalry between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh, which resulted in rushed and sloppy sci­en­tific work in the rush to pub­lish. By 1903, pale­on­tol­o­gist Elmer Riggs rec­og­nized that Bron­tosaurus and Apatosaurus were the same, with the smaller apatosaurus being the juve­nile equiv­a­lent of the bron­tosaurus. But even so, bron­tosaurus was accepted enough that it even resulted in early twen­ti­eth Sci­ence mag­a­zine pub­lished papers about the “bron­tosaurus,” includ­ing its weight, its ver­te­brae.In 1979, the apatosaurus head was offi­cially dis­cov­ered. The bron­tosaurus nomen­cla­ture was offi­cially discarded.

The Wikipedia page for bron­tosaurus was merged into apatosaurus in 2008, accord­ing to the merger pro­posal (where there was no oppo­si­tion). How­ever, there is now sig­nif­i­cant oppo­si­tion now reg­is­tered on the apatosaurus dis­cus­sion page.

I would argue that you can’t sweep the bron­tosaurus Wikipedia entry into the apatosaurus Wikipedia entry, even if now they are some­what con­sid­ered syn­onyms for the same bio­log­i­cal entity. There are a few reasons:

The old skull of the bron­tosaurus at Yale’s Peabody Museum.

Apatosaurus skull below, much snoutier, different.

  • The back­story of the brontosaurus’s myth and pub­lic con­fu­sion is actu­ally his­tor­i­cally rel­e­vant and inter­est­ing part of the bron­tosaurus exis­tence, an in and of itself would deserve a Wikipedia page. Below is an xkcd comic about the myth.

Btw, there are other bronto/apatosaurus myths, as pale­on­tol­o­gists have posited that sauropods may be ground feed­ers, with their necks out along the ground rather than upright in the air.

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I got invited to try Google+, which has been writ­ten about a lot. Short sum­mary: Face­book should be scared.

The Stream (sim­i­lar to Face­book) is pretty nice UI/UX. Intu­itive icons, clean design. Sparks, the newsy thing (explained by Poyn­ter with a screen­shoot above), not so, though it’s where I think the more inter­est­ing jour­nal­ism poten­tial lies. The Sparks design cur­rently is pretty yucky. Inef­fi­cient use of real estate. Too much white space between posts and to the right (is that for advertisements?).

I only get three posts before the “jump,” whereas the gen­eral use case is some­one who is look­ing to scan really quickly, and wants to see more rather than less, prob­a­bly at least 5–7 posts prob­a­bly). I think they should have an expanded view and a col­lapsed view, where the visual ele­ments can be smaller.

That being said, I think there is a lot of poten­tial there. I’ve often felt there is a sweet spot in the “newsy” space between the furi­ous text-only pace of Twit­ter and the jum­ble that is the Face­book Newsfeed.

With regard to Face­book, the idea of a sep­a­rate “news” (or what­ever) tab has often been floated, where you can get seri­ous stuff sep­a­rate from the per­sonal posts of baby/vacation/cat pic­tures. It’s often dis­con­cert­ing to have it all tossed in together on Face­book. But that kind of prod­uct change now would be her­culean to guide though a bureau­cracy now.

Also, like Groups, a news tab would a retro­fit to Facebook’s evo­lu­tion, so wouldn’t  feel nat­ural. Remem­ber, Face­book started out being about all peo­ple, and not entities/institutions. Thus folks cre­ated all kinds of workarounds to fake their orga­ni­za­tions as peo­ple pro­files, which Face­book would then quash. It was only in the last few years, due to a clear demand, that  Face­book allowed Pages to essen­tially pub­lish a feed rather than being sta­tic pro­files. And it was really only in the last few months where orga­ni­za­tions can adopt the per­sona of the Page like it was a profile.

What could Sparks do? Well, right now it’s search term-driven — which seems like some­thing between Google News Alerts and #hash­tags. But I feel that Sparks could poten­tially set up chan­nels for insti­tu­tion­sid­ual pub­li­ca­tions that we could sub­scribe to, per­haps based on pub­li­ca­tion profiles?

This is a bit like RSS, and a lot of peo­ple are ask­ing about Google Reader inte­gra­tion on Google+. That being said, RSS read­ers seem to have a nat­ural audi­ence cap of around 15%. I don’t use one. Too wonky. Instead, Twit­ter kind of became my RSS.

It’s more intu­itive for me to fol­low or sub­scribe to a pub­li­ca­tion like The New York Times, TechCrunch, and Good­eReader — which are already pre­de­fined (some­times gran­u­lar) inter­ests, than for me to think about ran­dom terms I want to search for, which feels more like Google News alerts). I cre­ated one on “dinosaurs” just because I had recently been out look­ing for fos­sils, and it’s actu­ally a pretty good chan­nel. Appar­ently WTF makes for an amus­ing serendip­i­tous channel.

The his­toric prob­lem for news out­lets like The New York Times and NPR on Face­book is they have to judi­ciously parse out  the num­ber of posts they put up or read­ers’ feeds will be flooded, since those posts algo­rith­mi­cally float to the top given their huge fol­lower counts and com­ment­ing activity.

Media out­lets are not like other con­sumers brands, so the Face­book fan­page for­mat has been some­what awk­ward.
For example, Ann Tay­lor LOFT (which I am a fan of, I buy like 80% of my clothes there) main prod­uct is cloth­ing. So LOFT sends out two or three posts a day at most, some­times it’s a sale announce­ment. I see it, then I go some­where else in real life or the Web to buy/consume the stuff. But The New York Times and NPR’s prod­uct is infor­ma­tion, or sto­ries, or posts. So those posts essen­tially are their prod­uct.  So the one-size-fits-all approach of Pages has often been hard for media outlets.

Now the prob­lem on Twit­ter for media brands is that the man­power needed to curate and be clever means many pub­li­ca­tions just auto­mate it. Many use auto­mated RSS feeds as their Twit­ter feeds, espe­cially their sub­feeds. This usu­ally con­sist of just the link with the head­line, which is not suit­able for the 140-character commentary-driven for­mat Twit­ter. You can tell just with a scan because the head­line one are cap­i­tal­ized. And I espe­cially use to hate when Slate’s feed had the ellipses “…” in their feeds, because it was like not even good automa­tion. So, not sur­pris­ingly, the­se auto feeds do not do well in click­thru rates (except for maybe The Onion), because Twit­ter users can smell automation.

So, what Google could have in Sparks is the free­dom for the pub­li­ca­tion to post (auto­mat­i­cally or not) as much con­tent as they want (since they users are opt­ing in via sub­scrib­ing), but with a fuller con­tex­tual dis­play (videos, images, para­graphs) than the short-form bursty Twit­ter for­mat. And I can group them: food blogs, tech, MSM, gam­ing, etc.
This approach can also help answer the ques­tions that pub­li­ca­tions have, the “how do I get on Google+” as a media out­let. For exam­ple, do they cre­ate a Google pro­file? Mash­able did.

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There is some­thing com­pletely awe-inspiring about dinosaurs, even when you are an adult. Unlike Santa Claus and R-rated movies, it is some­thing from child­hood that con­tin­ues to be both mys­te­ri­ous and real — even though every­thing you learned when you were young were wrong. For exam­ple, I specif­i­cally mean the extinct non-avian dinosaurs, since birds are tech­ni­cally dinosaurs as well (avian dinosaurs)

Keep read­ing…

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I saw these and imme­di­ately wanted to Insta­gram it.

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This is the high school coun­ter­part to my ele­men­tary grad­u­a­tion speech, by sci­en­tist Adam Ezra Cohen, who was three years behind me in school, and the younger brother of my class­mate, Zoe. He is one of those magi­cians I speak about.

Grad­u­a­tion speech for Hunter Col­lege High School
June 23, 2011, New York City
Adam E. Cohen

Pres­i­dent Raab, Prin­ci­pal Fisher, teach­ers, fam­ily and friends, and mem­bers of the Hunter Col­lege High School class of 2011, thank you for the invi­ta­tion to join you today. This is a spe­cial occa­sion for me, because I missed my Hunter Grad­u­a­tion. It is a thrill finally to grad­u­ate from high school. I also missed Prom, because I was away at physics camp. Maybe next year I’ll be invited back to Prom, and I can finally gather the courage to invite a date.

****

In the begin­ning, there was the Big Bang. And the uni­verse was filled with quark-gluon plasma. And then baryo­ge­n­e­sis occurred, and the quarks and lep­tons out­num­bered the anti­quarks and antilep­tons. The par­ti­cles con­densed to atoms, the atoms to stars and galax­ies; some stars grew so dense they made super­novas, which formed the ele­ments heav­ier than hydro­gen and helium. These ele­ments aggre­gated, formed Earth. Life evolved, Pan­gaea split into the con­ti­nents, George Wash­ing­ton Carver invented peanut but­ter, Hunter High School was founded. The class of 2011 enrolled, and the class of 2011 grad­u­ated. And it was good.

Keep read­ing…

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I gave a grad­u­a­tion speech to my ele­men­tary school, which is actu­ally really ter­ri­fy­ing. What do you say to 12 year olds? Espe­cially because you also have to make it inter­est­ing for the adults in the audi­ence. I was totally pan­icked. So I stewed on it for a few weeks, I finally was inspired, and wrote this in 15 min­utes in a burst. You can also read the speech by Adam E. Cohen, one of the wiz­ards I talk about. Below is my speech, and you will see that my school really does look like a cas­tle. And these are just my notes. What I actu­ally said actu­ally varies from what is below.

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~~~~

Today I’m going to talk about magic. How many of you have read Harry Pot­ter, or at least seen the movies?

Well, you are going to enter Hunter Col­lege High School, which is one of the few schools in the coun­try that starts when you are 12 and 13, just like Hog­warts. So more so than most peo­ple, I think us Hunterites could relate to going to a school which is a mag­i­cal place just as we are ready to become teenagers. I mean, you have to be spe­cial to get in, and it even looks like a castle.

So Hunter Ele­men­tary School, or baby Hog­warts, if you will, was for my fam­ily, a mag­i­cal trans­for­ma­tive place. My par­ents sac­ri­ficed a lot for me to come here. I started in the cas­tle in 1980, which is more than 30 years ago, when Pluto was still a planet and the sub­way token was $.60. Believe it or not, I didn’t really speak Eng­lish when I started. That sounds crazy, but I was the chil­dren of Chi­nese immi­grants, and some­how I took the Hunter test with­out speak­ing Eng­lish, I could under­stand it, but not speak it. Luck­ily the Hunter test for three-year olds only involved a lot of point­ing and rear­rang­ing things. I learned my Eng­lish from Sesame Street, which is weird, because there are cer­tain words you don’t learn from Sesame Street, and I remem­ber learn­ing them at Hunter from my class­mates. One is “preg­nant,” the other is “naked.” Another one was “chess.”

I remem­ber in kinder­garten, kids would be taken away to “chess” and come back from “chess” and say it was so much fun. So I had grown up watch­ing The Magic Gar­den, so I pic­tured “chess” as some mys­te­ri­ous won­der­ful play­ground full of giant slides and col­or­ful flow­ers. So imag­ine my dis­ap­point­ment when I one day finally went to “chess” and ended up in the high school library with these lit­tle funny-shaped black and white plas­tic pieces. I think that soured me on chess forever.

So magic. I am a writer. I worked for many years at The New York Times, writ­ing about this world. But now I am cre­at­ing a mag­i­cal world in my mind, a new uni­verse if you will. And I had to think hard about what magic was. It struck me, that in Harry Pot­ter, that magic is largely a fixed body of knowl­edge that you absorb in school. You learn spells, and potions, and incan­ta­tions. But except for the Weasley twins and their prac­ti­cal jokes, you do not see the young wiz­ards and witches cre­at­ing their own spells.

Now in real life, what is magic in our world? It’s kinda the oppo­site. It’s about imag­in­ing some­thing which is not yet exist, and believ­ing in it so much that you will it into exis­tence with a lot, lot, lot of hard work. So much work that peo­ple often think you are crazy. A lot of today’s magic is com­ing from Sil­i­con Val­ley. One exam­ple is Face­book, which was invented by Mark Zucker­berg a few years after I grad­u­ated from Har­vard. I know you guys, all not being yet 13, aren’t on Face­book yet. I won’t tell if you are. But he just had a vision, and dropped out of col­lege to pur­sue it.

Or Google or the iPad. Those are really mag­i­cal isn’t it? It’s about dream­ing, hav­ing a vision, even when other peo­ple think you are crazy, and just going for it.

And magic doesn’t just have to be about com­put­ers, it can be about sci­ence and art. I remem­ber in fifth grade, I was in the audi­to­rium and I heard this sixth grader play­ing a song that I didn’t rec­og­nize. And you know, on the piano you either played clas­si­cal music or cho­rus music, so I asked what he was doing. And he told me, he was writ­ing a musi­cal. And I remem­ber think­ing, I didn’t know peo­ple who were alive could write musicals.

A few years after that I bumped into this same guy in the Times Square sub­way stop and asked what he was doing. He said he was writ­ing a musi­cal about mup­pets in New York. And I remem­ber think­ing, good luck with that. Of course, that guy is Bobby Lopez, who just shared his sec­ond set of Tonys for best musi­cal. It took years and years of hard work? And he’s not the only one, used to take the school bus with another kid, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who won a Tony for Best Musi­cal with a project he started in col­lege that became In the Heights. When I first met Lin, he was like half my size.

They dreamed. And what they dreamed was magical.

And you can do magic in high school, even Hunter. I remem­ber when one of my high school class­mate, Zoe Cohen, told me her brother Adam, who also went to the ele­men­tary school, had build a scan­ning tun­nel­ing micro­scope and hung it from the ceil­ing in his bed­room. He went on to win the biggest high school sci­ence com­pe­ti­tion, which is now known as Intel, which by the way is a com­pany that makes mag­i­cal lit­tle things. I just vis­ited Adam’s secret lab at Har­vard, and what they are build­ing there is totally mag­i­cal. He can stop a sin­gle cell from mov­ing and make mutant nerve cells pulse with light. He’s actu­ally giv­ing the grad­u­a­tion speech at the high school tomor­row. He really is a wiz­ard. I just write about them.

Talk­ing to my friends who are par­ents, I think many kids wait for the Hog­warts invi­ta­tion to arrive by owl, or since we are in New York City, prob­a­bly pigeon. Because they believe you have to be spe­cial, be of wiz­ard blood or a spe­cial mug­gle like Hermione.

But I am telling you that owl invi­ta­tion or not, you already have this abil­ity within you. That you have the abil­ity to cre­ate magic within your­self. That you just have to imag­ine — and believe in your imag­i­na­tion so much that you work hard enough to make it real.

Thank you.

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It asks “Did you mean ‘recursion’?”

Screen_shot_2011-06-12_at_7

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The French Riv­iera is a ridicu­lously beau­ti­ful place. It felt like crash­ing a movie set. Can’t believe just any­one can go there. Also great for cre­ative juices. I stayed in Nice, but vis­ited Antibes and Villede­franche sur Mer.

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Since we’re so close to Italy, Ital­ian food is sec­ond nature. This was in Antibes.

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Ran­dom pic­turesque garden.

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Antibes Cathe­dral

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View from inside the Picasso Museum in Antibes, an old cas­tle that Pablo Picasso used as a stu­dio once. They don’t let you take pic­tures inside, but at least you can take it outwards.

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The streets of Antibes.

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Ran­dom street scene in Nice?

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Villede­franche sur Mer.

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Taken on a seven-hour walk around Paris, brain­storm­ing about wiz­ards, kings and drag­ons. As much as I love New York City, we have noth­ing on Paris in terms of epic architecture.

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Pont_alexander_iii

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Alexis Ohan­ian — cofounder of Red­dit, defender of swine, vision­ary behind fly­ing chip­munks — dug up my Jenny8 Red­dit alien (secret tid­bit. The alien is named as “Snoo” for “What’s new”) from 2006? Proud fact, I had the first non-founder Red­dit Alien.

Redditavatarjenny8

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Pont_alexander_iii

Paris is a great place to go walking.

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Zuckerberg

I attended the e-G8 con­fer­ence, con­vened by French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy in Paris, which the Inter­na­tional Her­ald Tri­bune called “an elab­o­rate pub­lic rela­tions exer­cise as state­craft over­laid Inter­net cul­ture. While we were sup­posed to be invited for a con­ver­sa­tion, in real­ity, the com­mu­niqué was pre-written, as per state­craft tra­di­tions (noth­ing spon­ta­neous is sup­posed to hap­pen). In con­trast, in the Inter­net world, which is inher­ently more par­tic­i­pa­tory, peo­ple actu­ally expect to con­tribute when they are told to (and even when they are not).

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As Larry Lessig said, the future of the Inter­net is not here, because it doesn’t know how to get invited. He also appealed to French sense of patri­o­tism by say­ing he expected more. “It’s sur­pris­ing to come to France and find some­thing so deeply Amer­i­can going on,” said Mr. Lessig in a spon­ta­neous press con­fer­ence. “I don’t remem­ber the French philoso­pher who said, ‘Let’s ask the busi­nesses that are to be reg­u­lated what the reg­u­la­tions ought to be.”’

Also, a num­ber of us, when we first got the invi­ta­tion e-mail, thought it was spam, à la the “I have inher­ited a sum of money but need your help” as there was a typo in the first line.

A the ini­tia­tive of Mon­sieur Nico­las Sarkozy, Pres­i­dent of the French Repub­lic and the cur­rent Pres­i­dent of the G8, the Heads of State and Gov­erne­ment of the Group of Eight – Canada, France, Ger­many, Italy, Japan, Rus­sia, the United King­dom and the United States – have decided to place the Inter­net and the dig­i­tal ecosys­tem on the agenda of next month’s G8 Summit.

Also because there was almost noth­ing about it on Google, though now there is a lovely Wikipedia page.

Guess who on the iPad?
Photo

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Jane_on_stage

I took part in the New York Pub­lic Library Find the Future all-night scav­enger hunt designed by Jane McGo­ni­gal! About 500 of us were locked up all night in the amaz­ing research library. It was all very From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which was pub­lished in 1967, but is still totally time­less (except for lack of cell phones). I loved the sound­track that played when we went in. It was sweep­ing and epic and made me feel like I was in a movie.

So we had these quests.

Quest

Here is our power-up badge.

Special_badge

Our goal was to write a book by morn­ing. Here is the book binder, putting together the book old style.. Crazy to vol­un­teer, but we love him for it.

Bookbinder

Here is Jane with Hubba Bubba.

Hubba_jane_mcdonigal

My friend Hugo, who came in from out of town to play the game.

Hugo_nypl

Jack Kerouac’s belong­ings, also part of the per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of the library.

Malcolm_x

Death mask of e.e. cum­mings (was this his idea?)

Plaster_head

The orig­i­nal Win­nie the Pooh, Tig­ger, Eey­ore and Kan­ga­roo dolls, in climate-controlled happiness.

Original_pooh_bear

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Today we announced my new book project: Can I Hear Me Now, to be pub­lished by Simon & Schus­ter, edited by Sarah Knight (yes, her Twit­ter han­dle is @MCSnugz) under my for­mer edi­tor at Twelve, Jonathan Karp, who now runs S&S.

The book is about my per­sonal strug­gle in try­ing to find con­nec­tion in a world of over­con­nec­tiv­ity — tex­ting, email, Twit­ter and Face­book. I’m watch­ing myself change, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. As Sherry Turkle puts it, if I never learn to be alone, will I always feel lonely?

Basi­cally I argue that the socio­mag­netic field draws us in.

The book has its own blog, Twit­ter feed, and Face­book Page. I want folks to join in the con­ver­sa­tion. Use the hash­tag #cani­hear­menow (or #cihmw or #hearme)

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I was passed this descrip­tion for Khan Acad­emy. Watch Salman Khan’s TED talk from 2011 above. It was con­sid­ered of the best talks this year.

Job Descrip­tion – Asso­ciate (Devel­op­ing world)

The Khan Acad­emy (www.khanacademy.org) is look­ing for an excep­tional asso­ciate to join our small, but élite team that is try­ing to change the face of education.

The Khan Acad­emy is a fast-paced edu­ca­tional non-profit startup that is backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion and Google. Â Our mis­sion is to pro­vide a world-class edu­ca­tion to any­one, any­where. Â We already pro­vide lessons to a mil­lion stu­dents every month, and we’re grow­ing quickly.

We recently received fund­ing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion and won Google’s Project 10 to the 100 con­test of ideas to change the world.

We are cre­at­ing the world’s free vir­tual school — with videos on all imag­in­able top­ics in all major lan­guages, indi­vid­u­al­ized learn­ing software/practice prob­lems, and a com­mu­nity where learn­ers can col­lab­o­rate.  Addi­tion­ally, we are run­ning pilots in a few class­rooms where Khan Acad­emy is the “oper­at­ing sys­tem” of a new par­a­digm of teach­ing.  We envi­sion a world where tech­nol­ogy rede­fines how teach­ers run their classes, with indi­vid­u­al­ized instruc­tion and real-time mon­i­tor­ing of stu­dent per­for­mance.  We are cur­rently pilot­ing this model, and plan on refining/adapting it to roll out to class­rooms across both the devel­oped and devel­op­ing world

We are a small team with big aspi­ra­tions. Â This is a per­fect role for an indi­vid­ual look­ing to make a dra­matic dif­fer­ence in the world, gain excep­tional work expe­ri­ence in a small high-caliber team, and play an influ­en­tial and excit­ing role in a start-up environment.

We offer:

  • Com­pet­i­tive salaries
  • The abil­ity to spend your time on high-impact work that’s already defin­ing the future of education
  • A fun, high-caliber team that trusts you, and gives you the free­dom to be brilliant

You need:

  • A desire to change the world
  • 1–5 years of work expe­ri­ence. Â Expe­ri­ence in a high cal­iber teach­ing or edu­ca­tion role (e.g., TFA) and devel­op­ing world expe­ri­ence (e.g., Peace Corps) is a plus
  • Abil­ity to deal in ambigu­ous and dynam­i­cally chang­ing environments
  • Entre­pre­neur­ial and “can-do” atti­tude.   You love tack­ling tough prob­lems, and know you can crack them
  • Strong quan­ti­ta­tive skills and tech­nol­ogy proficiency
  • Great intu­ition for how users like to learn, and an enthu­si­asm to try new methods
  • Dis­tinc­tive inter­per­sonal and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills

The ideal can­di­date has 1–5 years of work expe­ri­ence, and is pas­sion­ate about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in edu­ca­tion and learn­ing through Khan Academy’s offerings.

Roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties will include numer­ous dynamic tasks, typ­i­cal in an early startup envi­ron­ment. Â We are look­ing for peo­ple who can do any­thing, and are not afraid to dive in and just execute.

Respon­si­bil­i­ties may include:

  • Dri­ving inter­na­tional coördination of resources in a devel­op­ing region
  • Col­lab­o­rat­ing with rel­e­vant con­stituents in region to ensure suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion of Khan Acad­emy and under­stand­ing nuances spe­cific to the region
  • Facil­i­tat­ing pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment and trainings
  • Vis­it­ing and observ­ing class­rooms to improve prod­uct capabilities
  • Track­ing per­for­mance met­rics and syn­the­size findings
  • Facil­i­tat­ing trans­la­tion of Khan Acad­emy videos and exercises
  • Coördinating ad-hoc tasks and projects as needed

Apply by send­ing an email to jobs@khanacademy.org with your resume, the posi­tion (Asso­ciate – Devel­op­ing world), and an expla­na­tion of why you want to join.

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