Education

Ground Control to Major Kelly [Three Best Things 5/17/10 - 5/23/10]

THING 1: Help me help my friend in DC from MetaFilter. An internet forum takes on the Russian mob… no, that’s literally what happened. The dad in Taken could’ve saved a whole lot of trouble if he’d simply paid the $5 MeFi registration fee.
THING 2: New Social Networking Site Changing The Way Oh, Forget It by the Onion. This is exactly what you think it is, and you will not regret reading it.
THING 3: I knew it was coming, and it still got me. That means it’s like a dry heave, but in a good way:

Bonus Thing

The perfect soundtrack for old footage of NASA missions? Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” chopped & screwed. This video simultaneously makes no sense and is the most fitting depiction I’ve ever seen of everything about outer space. The glory and horror and striving and solitude — who would’ve ever guessed we’d need an American Idol to soundtrack space travel?

I’ve watched this thing every day this week. I could hammer out 10 pages on it by tomorrow night, but I’ll spare you that if you at least watch it through the 1:53 mark.

Of Course Your Kids Get More Out Of Facebook Than They Do From School [Three Best Things 4/12/10 - 4/18/10]

  • Thing: Social, Super-Sized by social-creature. “The same technology that allows us to be more connected than ever before imaginable, on its flip side, perhaps even simply through contrast, has increased our capacity for loneliness. We have built up a new tolerance level, and all we do is want more more more. Hence, the compulsion to feel a part of something, something massive, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other people, all experiencing the same trending topic stream together as it scrolls by.” We should feel both comfort and horror when we think of the ways technology is enhancing (taking advantage of?) our prehistoric/biological need for social connection. In other words, how would Genghis Khan have used Foursquare?
  • Thing: 10 Ways to Access Blocked Stuff on the Web by Lifehacker. Now, if a site wants you to pay money for content, and you choose to access that content without paying, you’re stealing — whether you like Rupert Murdoch or not doesn’t change that fact. However, there are plenty of times when we’re unable to get to something, and there’s a perfectly good reason to bypass whatever’s in the way. Whether that means getting around Gmail downage, avoiding an overeager office or university page-blocker so you can get work-related research done, dodging an oppressive government, or watching legally streamed TV from another country, the internet always wins.
  • Thing: Why Teenagers Are Growing Up Slowly Today from Newsweek and Kids Learn Math Easily When They Control Their Own Learning from Psychology Today. The construct that comes to mind when we use the word school has little in common with the ideal learning environment. And it’s not about tweakable elements like student-to-teacher ratio — it’s about the whole concept of school and what we’re really trying to accomplish. You know this. But it’s worth repeating from top to bottom until everyone knows this.

Double Bonus

I swear I’ll do three sets each of Radioheads and Ghostfaces at max weight, max reps for saying this out loud, but CONFESSION TIME: I like two Creed songs. So it’s with only 99% ironic passion that I’m able to join in the LOLETARIAT on mocking this song Scott Stapp recorded for the Florida Marlins.

But you’re telling me you’re serving up “One-strike-two-strikes, swing aweey-ahhh/ A Diving Catch-hh! A stohe-len beeaase-ahh/ A perrfec game-uh! A trih-pul play-ahh!/ Anoe-tha playhoff ra-ace, YES?/ WORL SEE RIES CHEIMPS WELL [CRACK!] BEE!”, all over Friday Night Lights guitars run through the NASCAR-mosh filter? Oh, it’s summertime, friends:

Ambitious dunk contest participant somehow, someway winds up with half his leg submerged in the basket. You want to talk about mainlining social media — note the immediate cameraphones-to-ladders ratio once everyone realizes what’s happened.

The citizen journalism impulses of today’s youth? Flourishing.

Three Best Things: Ivory Tower Edition [2/15/10 - 2/21/10]

It was a knockout week for articles about people who are smarter than normal people.

  • There are over 300 million people in the US — only 32 of them are annually selected to be Rhodes scholars. There are almost seven billion people on earth — only 32 of them are annually selected in the NFL Draft’s first round. What are the odds that one person could score both? Hey, I only graduated from relatively lowly Kennesaw State University, and even I can calculate that it’s SLIGHTLY RARE. Future NFL star/current Rhodes scholar Myron Rolle makes you and me and everyone we know all feel like big, big losers. Can you imagine the pressures of being Myron Rolle? Article’s most underrated moment: when we learn that Rolle, quite possibly the most smartest American pro athlete ever, enjoys the music of Plies, who looks like this.
  • Rolle’s fellow people-who-are-smarter-than-you, Ivy Leaguers Jessica Lin, Jessica Matthews, Julia Silverman, and Hemali Thakkar, have created a soccer ball that generates energy by being kicked. Fifteen minutes of play generates enough power to run a light for three hours, meaning a whole day of running/kicking can help patch the electricity gaps third-world villages have to deal with.*
  • The Atlantic’s food columnist compares Walmart’s produce with Whole Foods’, hosting a blind taste-test for 16 professional food critics. THIRD-BULLET TWIST: several critics end up “not entirely happy” to discover the produce they preferred was actually THE POPULIST PRODUCE. This changes everything! Update the class war scoreboard: Little Guy 1, Rhodes Cornerback & The Soccer Teslas… still somewhat more than 1. Ok, fine.

Ebert: common ground.

Speaking of famous intellectuals with fun jobs and a lot of money and important friends: Roger Ebert, relentless tweeter and the only movie critic known of by regular humble folk, profiled after cancer surgeries have left him unable to speak, eat, or convincingly show anger. Also, check the second-disc commentary… it’s Ebert on the article on Ebert.

*: Source site turns out to be a nonprofit’s Drupal site. For more nonprofits that use Drupal, see our list here.

Latest Project: Drupal Website for Syracuse's The Image Initiative, Inc.

The Image Initiative, Inc. is a Syracuse, New York nonprofit dedicated to helping young women of color. They asked us to build an expressive website that puts them in charge of all their content and gives them plenty of room to grow.

The site features a custom Drupal build, an original theme with multiple highly distinct templates, and lots of Views/CCK work to ensure all their newest content goes where it’s supposed to go. We’re very proud of the finished product!

Drupal vs Fatwire, Open Source CMS vs Proprietary CMS: A Case Study by Cornell University

Cornell University’s medical library needed a new content management system. Which one to choose? They narrowed their candidates down to two choices: Drupal and Fatwire, one open source and one proprietary. Then they kept researching. They visited Drupal forums, consulted developers from both sides of the aisle, and reached a conclusion.

The video below by the library’s Digital Services Librarian, Paul Albert, lays out what they discovered:

The Case for Drupal— Why the Open Source CMS is Well-Suited for a Medical Academic Library from Paul Albert on Vimeo.

The Cliff’s notes from this video:

  • @2:15 “Drupal is cheaper” than other CMS’. In Cornell’s case, a Drupal solution was $22,000 less expensive than using Fatwire would’ve been. Drupal “will always be cheaper.”
  • @3:31 “Drupal is robust, extensible, and enterprise-ready,” the benefits of open source. It’s “inarguably … more extensible than Fatwire.”
  • @7:19 “Cornell already uses Drupal..."
  • @9:28 “…as do many of the college’s peers,” plus Fortune 500 companies and governments around the world.
  • @12:40 “Drupal supports perpetual beta — the continuous improvement of a site:” “With Fatwire, or frankly any proprietary CMS, feature upgrades will demand a combination of foresight, money, and time.” Albert shows the development cycle that accompanies working with a proprietary CMS. Forget timely updates — it can take teams of people up to 24 months to turn the ship around. Compare that to the Drupal development cycle. Cornell found that Drupal allows “one developer” to employ a “60-second development cycle.”
  • @15:05 “Drupal has a much more active support and development community, and a culture of sharing solutions.” Cornell discovered Fatwire’s support forum is only available to users who’ve attended a “paid training session.” Drupal’s support forum? Available to you right now.
  • @19:37 “Drupal has been paired with other technology in proven ways.” Albert lists six specific solutions enabled by Drupal on other sites around the web.
  • @22:08 “Drupal has a gentle learning curve,” especially compared to other development environments. “If we go with Fatwire, some projects won’t get done.”
  • @24:15 As if to prove the previous point, Albert reveals that in only their first week of using Drupal, the library’s been able to install Drupal, create eight useful blocks, four functioning pages, and a theme, and add content. Do you know what you have to show for your money after one week of paying for a proprietary CMS? Besides a receipt?

There we have it.

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