To Notice and to Learn

Observations on ideas, human mind, and the world around us

Go Extinct! educational game – on Kickstarter now


  One of the projects I am involved in is creating an educational card game for kids called Go Extinct! Yes, its physical cards. The idea is that the game is similar to Go Fish, but instead of using regular playing cards, the cards are based on animals from the evolutionary tree. How is this educational? Three ways: a) Players learn about different animal species, based on beautiful original artwork […]

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MOOC Discussions at SXSW edu 2014

I spent this week at SXSWedu, my first time. It was exciting and quite inspiring. The conference is huge, so much so that if you talked with someone, there’s no guarantee you will run into them again the rest of the 4-day conference. There is an interesting mix of academic researchers, policy folks, nonprofits, ed tech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and foundations. They all have different perspectives on education (which often, […]

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Where intuition falls short–example: The discipline of finance

One of the recent trends I’ve seen in business over the past decade is an increasing reliance on “data”. You hear people talking about basing decisions on data, ‘crunching the numbers’, doing A/B testing, etc. This doesn’t guarantee being free from bias (indeed, flimsy rationalizations often cite ‘data’), but this is better than thinking that relying on our gut instincts is the best way to go. We’ve learned enough from […]

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Group-ism: the larger problem behind racism, nationalism, and many other -isms


Most reasonable people nowadays acknowledge that prejudice is a bad thing. But it is such a strong, persistent force that we need to constantly guard ourselves against it. It is so natural, this desire to identify with a group and disparage non-group members. We’ve learned more about this aspect of human behavior (via findings from psychology and cognitive science that are finally reaching the mainstream), and so many of us […]

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Get Introduced to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Novels…

I recently completed my first Learnist board, collecting reviews of each of Ishiguro’s six novels.  He is primarily famous for ‘Remains of the Day‘, but his other works are also really well-written and compelling.  His writing is famous for his emotionally-repressed ‘unreliable narrators’, his poignant writing style highlighting the interior mental life, and his demonstration of the weakness of memory. Learnist, if you are not familiar with it, is sort […]

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Interview about new MOOC: Intro to Recommender Systems

Here is an excerpt from an interview I conducted with Professor Joseph Konstan on his upcoming MOOC about recommendation engines/systems, which has more than 20,000 people signed up.  It starts today, is free & open to anyone online, and is also the source of lectures for his semester-long on-campus class at the University of Minnesota.  He’s an early pioneer in this space, and the class should be highly informative.  People […]

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