Free college?!?

So apparently a one-world order is beginning in the mashed-up form of social networking, higher ed, and pure craziness.  Enter the University of the People.  Lightly blanketed communist bootcamp?  No, just the brainchild of Shai Reshef, an entrepreneur who’s already done his share of online ventures in the business world.

While enrollment wouldn’t be completely free, costs would be kept low (estimated between $10-100 per course) and depend on the individual’s needs.  And, of course, everything would be conducted completely online — no physical buildings needed.

This kind of open courseware has been around for a few years already in the US.  Yale, along with dozens of other universities and colleges, have made certain courses freely available online (not for credit) to anyone with an internet connection and knowledge of the English language.

We’ll see how this venture pans out.  Watch out, University of Phoenix!

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Filed under education, internet, open access, web 2.0

So I haven’t dusted for a while…

It may shock some of you to see that I’m posting again after an eight month long hiatus. Hello, world of internet stalkers and friends alike! It’s nice to see you again.

My wish lies in directing this blog to something more … well … reasonable. Say, a topic that doesn’t range from gummy bears to open access issues. It’s tougher than I initially thought to really get down to brass tacks and write something of interest, value, and perhaps even a bit of humor. This often means chugging out actual original material rather than regurgitating whatever’s on Google Reader at the time.

So I begin with this line of thought: cynicism.

With all that’s been going on in the world the past few months, it’s easy to see why many people choose to plead ignorance and continue on as before, stuffing their faces with DiGiorno frozen pizzas (okay, guilty, I admit) and blindly flip the channel when depressing news gets stuck on repeat night after night. Wars, trials, massacres, famines, floods, and worse ravage the unsuspecting. No amount of charity even seems to come close to healing those wounds.

jon_stewart

While I skim the headlines and perhaps take a peek at the more sensational stories in my rss reader, little really sinks in because I’m nice and comfy, nibbling on the grisly scraps of injustice that dribble through the cracks of various media outlets. They leave a bad, greasy taste in my mouth. But what to do?

Add a little cynicism to the diet. Along with a bit of self-willed ignorance, disdain of the state of North American Christianity, and horror at the quality of GM vehicles, I often degress to watching episodes of Jon Stewart while pondering the meaning of pork.

In short, I’m pretty much working from the ground up on this one. I won’t tell if you won’t.

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Filed under cynicism, news, thinking out loud

Why YOU should become a librarian – circa 1956!

“Are they your friends? Do you have a real love for books and learning?”

“Do you like people? Do you like all types of people?”

I especially enjoy the part about “professional men” and how administrators are referred to as “he,” while the stereotypical frumpy spinster checks out books to happy-go-lucky Jack and Jane on their way home from the ice cream parlor.

Oh, and if you were wondering, librarians’ salaries are “comparable to those of similar professions.”  I wonder what those “similar professions” are?  And how much those mystery people make?

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Filed under film, fun, library

Nutty about Conshy

So I have this bad habit of eating entire bags of gummy worms in one sitting. It’s pretty gross, actually. But I just enjoy quality candy, especially that of the gummy variety – sweet, sour, sweet/sour, juicy, crunchy, I could go on… And I thought that the candy aisle in the new mega Giants was my own Southeastern PA Mecca to behold. But apparently an unholy candy store exists that boggles the minds of everyone who dares to enter its gates – and it’s located in the most unlikely place – Conshohocken. Anyone know what I’m talking about? I shall post the follow up once I return from its sacred palatial gardens. It’ll also make me come back to this blog and post something more often than once every six months.

Sheesh.

More to come, I promise…

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Copyright Schmopyright

©opyright. It’s a messy word. And yet we’re all susceptible to getting mixed up in its bogs of treachery and doom. I take an interest in it because 1.) I’ve been forced through school and work and 2.) I can’t get away from it because I like to read, listen to music, watch movies, and generally go about my life like most other people. The more I learn about it, the more I realize I don’t want to know and could care less. But ignorance isn’t an option, really. I’m sure many of us have heard the horror stories about the RIAA going after Grandma because her eight year old granddaughter downloaded mp3s on her computer without her knowledge.

I’m sure, on a smaller scale, we’ve had quandries about how to stay legal and still create presentations, make a mix, send a card, or get that song that hasn’t been available for decades. There aren’t any clear cut answers that I’m aware of, but there is a growing base of freely available material that is both good quality and not “infringing on anyone’s rights.” I say this sarcastically. “Rights,” as we say, are one of the most highly guarded treasures of America’s citizens. While I deeply appreciate the freedoms the public has to express their opinions without any topic without fear of imprisonment or worse, the very idea of “rights” has gotten convoluted. We worry about the “rights” to reproduce sections of text, tracks of music, or footage of film. Artists of all walks complain about their “rights” to residuals, profits, percentages, and the like. They want to “stick it to the man” and make a decent living. I agree. I also think it’s ridiculous to expect that huge corporations in a free market society are going to nicely fork over their profits to mere peons in the scheme of things. Take Radiohead, for example. While the numbers are a bit cloudy at this point with respect to their recently released album, In Rainbows, they’re making a whole heck of a lot more on it as they released it themselves than they would have through a major label. Even with the “pay as much or little as you want” philosophy, people are still willing to pay if they know their money is going to the artist rather than to the top 1%.

What am I even saying here? Actually, I’m not sure. I’m just curious and furious and trying to figure it all out. What really prompted me to post tonight was the discovery of some cool stock photo sites that let you download and post for free. As I find more of these sites, I’ll do my best to get them on here.  Oh, and if you’re interested in finding out more about how copyright works, check out Stanford’s site.  It’s about as good of an introduction to the madness as anything out there.

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Filed under copyright, creative commons, music, open access

Do you Yale?

I know, it’s a short order to fill. But now anyone can participate and get a taste of one of the Ivies in their own office, bedroom, kitchen, or … toilet even. I don’t care, and I don’t want to know. But if you have an Internet connection you can go to class. For free.

So Yale University is joining the online frenzy with the aid of a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Over an 18 month trial session, these partners will provide offerings from 8 core courses, completely free to the public. Poetry, philosophy, psychology, religion – the works.

While these courses won’t earn you any credits, it’s a relatively unprecedented move for such a prestigious school (or any school, for that matter) to provide audio, video, transcripts in multiple languages, syllabi, etc, to the world at large. I’d say this is a great step towards open education, whether it earns a spot on your CV or not.

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Filed under creative commons, education, news, open access, web 2.0

Do you AAA?

If you are one of the many people who belong to AAA and you think it’s just for free towing, I have some good news for you. I know this sounds like an ad (I’m really not being paid for this, REALLY…), but I promise it’s worth your while to take advantage of some of this stuff. I’ve come across most of these during my Christmas shopping rampage:

  • Flowers. If you’ve ever sent someone flowers through 1-800-Flowers, you’ll know that any discount is a welcome break from the harsh reality… 15% off.
  • Prescriptions. It sounds strange, but you can get anywhere from 15-35% off of generic or name-brand meds.
  • Barnes and Noble. Save from 5-40% online.
  • Circuit City. Save 10% online.
  • New York and Company. Shocking, but just by presenting your card at checkout, you get 15% off every time. This could be a dangerous find…
  • Payless Shoes. Present your card and save 10% in the store. Also a doozy.
  • Many other services and stores. Check out their website for more information.

Admittedly I didn’t find what I was looking for – a hope that Amazon would have some sort of agreement with AAA. But thanks to this company, we Americans can feed our desires for material goods even faster and cheaper than ever! Another fantastic revelation.

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Filed under consumerism, discounts, shopping