A collection of things I have read this week, and some tools for tech and/or learning new stuff, especially languages. Your first comment is checked, after that you are free to comment.

Over the semester hump, all materials set and ready to go, coasting into finals at the end of the month. Then 2 weeks of limbo (bike trip? conference? Writing?) and then on to Alaska, Seattle, Denver and Des Moines for the summer. I should try to live in the moment so will mention it has been gloriously rainy and cool here in Tokyo.

Very much excited about taking a self-publishing course from Dorothy Zemack at itdi. Still not too late if you are interested. Will keep you updated. Looks like we have a great group of very highly qualified people ready to create some ebooks for the ELT market. Big motivation.

Tech: Use a smart phone and link it to some neural network (machine learning) to see what the coaches are telling the players with their “secret” language of signs. (via flowingdata).

As and antidote, build yourself a robot to skip rocks, and learn about the scientific method in a fun way.

Tech: You’ve heard of facial recognition, and finger-print ID, and maybe even cameras that can tell who you are by how you walk. But what about your heartbeat? (via Technology Review)

Tech: Line, the social network, is big in Japan. Bigger than Facebook. I use it for coordinating with students. They are wokring on expanding into a lot of different areas. One is Social Credit Scores, where you get a personal rating on your actions online (and sometimes offline). Line takes pains to note that this is opt-in, unlike China, who is experimenting with a required system, and which reminds me of the episode of Black Mirror I show my Digital Literacy students most often, Nosedive, season 3 opener). (via The Verge)

Tech: Cory Doctorow on How to fight The Man. Not the government (well, yes, them too, they are colluding), but with online corporate power. Technical, but good for communications studies. Adversarial Interoperability. Use open standards, not proprietary ones. (EFF)

Tech: Quantum Computing figures large in my current sci-fi read, Neal Stephenson’s Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. A brain can only be uploaded to the cloud because of this superfast, super-efficient computing. IRL (In Real Life) it is looking very similar, and Elon Musk is turning his attention away from rockets and cars and tube-borers to fund QC, and use it to give him and some partners an edge in global trading.

History: Police really weren’t needed very much until the new tech of cars became prevalent. Now I understand Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger. (via Boston Review)

Japan: Interactive Fiction is a cross between a book and a game. You get to make choices which determine your outcome. This 240,000 word (huge) IF is probably written by a digruntled Eikaiwa (conversation school) teacher. You can have a free look if you are interested. Cheap if you want to carry it around on your device. A Sensei’s Story. (via Choice of Games)

Writing: Speaking of Interactive Fiction (IF) you can find the standard patterns in Choice-based games. Reminds me of a complicated version of Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories.

EdTech: Tony Bates writes a chapter for this book and gives it a surprisingly tenuous review. He is retired, so has nothing to lose. I believe him. Edited by a prof at International Christian University (ICU) here in Tokyo. Open and Distance Education Theory Revisited.

Tech: A peek into a very dark corner of the internet, and how it got that way. We really need a way to create a healthier environment, and that starts with the real world, as you will see. The internet is a reflection. Destroyer of Worlds. About 8chan.

Culture: Will Harris writes a new book about biracial people. Mixed-race Superman. Includes Keanu Reeves. On my reading list.

Learning: Read Dave Courmier’s book about Rhizomatic Learning. He carves out a space between Connected Learning and Constructionist Learning.

EdTech: Both China and India are really moving ahead in the EdTech market. Lots of development. Reminds me of 3rd world countries leapfrogging landlines for cellular networks. Watch out.

Tech: Proof that DRM does not work. Microsoft closes down its unsuccessful ebook store and everyone who bought a book there loses it. This month. Sorry, Charlie. Back up your ebooks (and everything) after you crack the DRM (digital rights management, a software lock on the file.)

Media: Watching the news on TV (not cable) may be good for your neutrality. (Mother Jones)

Consciousness: A new way to think about thinking. Geometry. Barbara Taversky.

Politics: As a boomer myself, I can agree with this. Don’t Blame Boomers, Blame their Parents. (Mother Jones)

Do your students (or you) watch YouTube videos on a Chrome browser? You can get an extension that helps you take notes.

Too difficult for my students (linguistically and culturally) this is a good critical thinking exercise that has been proven to work. Get Bad news.

The Best Books to Read at every Age, from 1 to 100. How many have you read?

Songs to use in class, already prepared. You just need Spotify or similar. From ELTBuzz

Excellent set of Jigsaw listening videos, with slides, to present in class. About smartphone use.