Laptops a scandalous waste of money?
Sydney Grammar School has banned students from bringing laptops to school. Principal John Vallance stated “We find that having laptops or iPads in the classroom inhibit conversation — it’s distracting”. He believes in the benefits of a good teacher and a motivating group of classmates. Students will still have access to computers in labs and can use laptops for homework. Students must handwrite assignments until Year 10.
Minecraft: the video game that builds kids’ brain cells
With 100 million users, Minecraft helps kids learn in an open-ended, game-based environment – programming, science, maths, architecture, engineering, art, languages and history. It fosters skills of creativity, curiosity, exploration and teamwork. Common Sense Media gives Minecraft a top “learning” score. WesterosCraft, built by hundreds of contributors over 3 years, could be the most elaborate Minecraft mod so far, recreating the Game of Thrones realm. The future? Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset can overlay Minecraft blocks in real-world surroundings.
Good article with videos: http://www.cnet.com/special-reports/minecraft/mindcraft-helping-students-learn
Cognitive computing and IBM’s supercomputer Watson
Last year IBM made 19 of Watson’s cognitive services available to the public, including natural language processing. The first Australian Watson Client Experience Centre was opened in Melbourne in October 2015. Australian firm MediaConnect is now using Watson to analyse the writing interests of Australian journalists by entering up to 50 000 stories a day from online news sources into the supercomputer. Watson then analyses the data and presents a taxonomy of journalists and the topics that interest them. This will help automate the delivery of media releases to journalists – bots will select information to be sent to each journalist based on their interests.
Google and Facebook – should they pay old media for content?
Google and Facebook have made fortunes from advertising by not paying for content, accelerating the decline of old media, who cannot make enough money from advertising and sales to be profitable. Google and Facebook will make $4 to $5 billion from ads this year in Australia (35-40% of the total pool of ad revenue). Even popular digital publishers such as Buzzfeed and Daily Mail Online are concerned about how to raise enough revenue. The European Union is examining whether services such as Google News should pay to display article snippets. Why should newspaper publishers have to provide content for free?
Music streaming tops revenue charts in US
For the first time, streaming is the top money-maker for the recorded music business in the US. Paid subscriptions to streaming services (eg. Spotify) narrowly beat revenue from digital downloads (eg.iTunes). CD sales and digital download revenue decreased. Sales of vinyl increased by nearly a third, reaching 1988 levels before CDs emerged. Japan and Germany (world’s 2nd and 3rd largest music markets) are CD strongholds. Spotify has 30 million paying subscribers across 58 countries.
Google Android most popular
Google’s Android operating system was used by roughly 54 percent of mobile devices sold in Australia in December, placing it ahead of Apple iOS at 38 percent. Rumours also persist that Google will merge Chrome and Android operating systems in 2017.
The Book Depository now in Australia
Amazon’s The Book Depository is entering the Australian market. 25 000 Australian titles will be added and delivery time will reduce to a few hours, via a delivery partner in Melbourne. However, Tony Nash, CEO of Aust’s biggest online book retailer Booktopia, is not fazed and expects Booktopia sales to rise from $52 million a year ago to $80 million in 2016 after the acquisition of Bookworld in 2015. Australian online book sales have risen 15.5% a year. The number of print book sales is rising; ebooks have 20% of the market.
Thriving societies produce great books: can Australia keep up?
What is Australia doing to protect its publishing industry? Should we allow parallel imports? Will cheaper books increase the amount of reading?