Four Thought: The Coded World

19 December 2012

A few weeks ago I took part in a recording of Radio 4’s Four Thought. My episode of Four Thought will be broadcast on Radio 4 next Wednesday – the 26th December at 20:45pm. It’ll also be on iPlayer for the rest of the year, so if you don’t fancy interrupting Boxing Day for it, you can catch up later. I’ll probably link to it once it’s up on iPlayer.

What’s it about? It’s about technology education – from the “learning-to-code” meme that permeated 2012, through “computer science in schools”, and into what the real values of teaching technology are, and how you might go about that. Matt Jones’ post about a new age of STEAM was very timely, and suitably poetic; I’m only sad I didn’t talk a bit more about the value of the arts in my talk, though I hinted at it a bit.

So, if that sounds up your street, do tune in or catch up later.

Upcoming Speaking: Four Thought

15 November 2012

Quick note: I’ll be talking at a recording of Four Thought at the RSA in December. The talk will eventually be broadcast on Radio 4.

A provisional title for what I’m doing is The Coded World. I’ll be talking a bit about a lot of the recent buzz about “learning to code”, what the values of it are (and aren’t), and a bit about the modern condition: of living in a world where our actions are shaped, and enhanced, by working and living alongside software. What it’s like to share out lives with machines to think with, as it were.

And I’ll get it down to fifteen minutes at some point. It’s taking shape nicely, though, so fingers crossed.

  • "Using the daily 0048 Shipping Forecast from BBC Radio 4, we take the average of each gale force mentioned for an area to determine that area's score. Pick a dream team of five sea areas, and your team's score will be the average of the scores of those regions, both daily and weekly." Hah, lovely.
  • "John Carter is the kind of movie no studio bigwig in their right mind ought ever to have greenlit: a space fantasy based on a genre – "planetary romance" – that hasn't been popular for well over half a century, populated by bizarre creatures from the mind of a writer apparently endowed with the ungrounded imagination of a small child. This is exactly why you should be checking it out. The film is out next weekend and I've posted the final trailer above. What a glorious enterprise Disney have wasted all their money on. God bless Hollywood!" I too am annoyed they lopped the suffix from the title. Otherwise, this has actually managed to spur interest in a film I'd written off.
  • "There is no silver bullet that’s going to fix that. No, we are going to have to use a lot of lead bullets." On knuckling down when faced with threats. (via Matt W)
  • (tags: via:tmo )
  • "You can now browse your friends’ Liked items to find great articles to read." Instapaper now has social functionality, but it looks like just the right level of sociality for the product. I mainly use Instapaper on my Kindle, now, but will be sure to hit "like" on the stuff I'd recommend from the website. Now: to get Instapaper likes into Stellar?
  • "Built upon that sinking feeling of tuning into Radio 4 and hearing people acting at you, Radio 4b plays you a string of random programmes from Radio 4's factual archive. You might get the last thirty seconds of an episode of the Archers, but that's all. You will not hear middle-class actors tapping a teaspoon and talking about divorce."
  • "More important: the game, Sand-dancer, is a good game. It is not the sort of example that exists to have one of everything in the manual. It is the sort of game that exists to make IF better. Aaron puts it together on your workbench. You can see the parts going in, and I don't mean rules and action constructs now; I mean character, background, voice, theme, and narrative drive. He explains what he's doing, and what each game element is for. He talks about story structure and shape of interactivity. He discusses what you have to do to get the player involved and what you have to do to put the player in control." This sounds great. Add-to-cart.
  • "I want all the young present-tense storytellers (the old ones have won prizes and are incorrigible) to allow themselves to stand back and show me a wider temporal perspective. I want them to feel able to say what happened, what usually happened, what sometimes happened, what had happened before something else happened, what might happen later, what actually did happen later, and so on: to use the full range of English tenses." There's lots in here. I think it might be good; it is definitely interesting, and worth returning to.
  • "In this programme we hear from colleagues, friends and former students as well as the great man himself about the beauty of nature and the importance of science to our understanding of the world." A lovely Archive Hour on Radio 4, on Richard Feynman; only available for a few more days, so grab it whilst you can. Delightful, and nicely structured.