Lost in the Canals of Online Learning

Every time I take an online course I am reminded of Venice. There are maps, but they don’t really help you. The easiest way to get around is being content with being lost. The straightest route isn’t always the easiest. It’s really easy to miss something important or interesting along the way. Going in circles is a given. No one else knows where they are either. And no one really lives here anyway.


If we think of culture like water, then in the past it was primarily available only through rare and tightly controlled oases (channels). These wells ran deep and everyone drank from the same source but the distribution of water was tightly restricted and everything was purified to have the same taste, color and character. Then the flood of the internet came along which submerged the world in an infinite, shallow sheet of water. Everyone now has access to the same water but it’s easily muddied by the area it flows through. There is no more scarcity or purity but it also has far less value.

Branding in the Age of Social Media

What's the oldest thing?

I asked a question for #snelltalk and it was selected by @jsnell and @siracusa.

What’s the oldest thing that @jsnell owns or is in his home? Why is it there? #snelltalk

This is the oldest thing I own

It’s a tubeworm casing from a deep-sea Lamellibrachia sp. It was collected during a research expedition to the Gulf of Mexico in 2004 from a site called “Acesta Hill” in Green Canyon lease block 234 at about 1600 feet depth. They were generously provided by Dr. Charles Fisher and Kevin Zelnio of Pennsylvania State University to teachers participating in NOAA-sponsored marine biology workshop. This species is very slow growing, with experiments suggesting that specimens can live over 250 years or more.

Ten Days of Squidmas 🦑🎄

On the tenth day of Squidmas my true love gave to me Ten swordfish leaping, Nine maties shanting, Eight mussels milting, Seven prawns a-swimming, Six goosenecks clinging, Five sucker rings, Four crawling worms, Three limpets, Two fertile slugs, And a large squid with a sharp beak.

Remember, squeezing is the reason for the seizing.

The problem isn’t with my data being anonymized. The problem is my “anonymous” data being used by anonymous sources.

Star Wars: A Renewed Hope

It occurs to me that at some point in my son’s lifetime (and maybe mine) someone will probably try to remake the original Star Wars (A New Hope). How long until they try? Ten years? Twenty years? Probably after all the principals have past. Mark Hamill was born in 1951. He’s 67 this year. Harrison Ford was born in 1942. He’s 76 this year. Of course, we’ve already lost Carrie Fisher. If they go for the 50th anniversary, that’d be 2027, less than ten years away. But right now it sounds like Disney already has about eight years of Star Wars in the pipeline. So I’m guessing probably somewhere between 2027 and 2037.

I also wonder about how they will recast the roles when they remake Star Wars. But it also occurs to me that in ~20 years, the technology behind deepfakes and whatever Disney is using to de-age its actors (a la Samuel L. Jackson in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie) will be pretty far along. Maybe they won’t need to recast the roles. They can just recreate the whole thing in CG. Or if they do need actors for motion capture, it will be easy to replace their physiognomies with the visages of the original cast. And the verisimilitude will be so good, we won’t even be able to tell the difference.

This also means that in the future, actors will never need to age. Or if we are telling a time traveling tale like Looper, it will be possible to simple repaint a young Bruce Willis on the face of a Joseph Gordon-Levitt, no prostheses required.

What if you combined @breakoutedu with a haunted house? An Easter egg hunt? A birthday party? A wedding? On a cruise? A picnic?