Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘wired

One online magazine source that I have paid unlimited access for is Wired (offers start as low as USD5/year). Its articles are timely and informative. 

Its latest article was 11 Tips to Take Your ChatGPT Prompts to the Next Level. I list the tips below but link the article for elaborations:

  1. Get your answers in tabular form
  2. Output text in the style of your favourite author
  3. Set limits on the answers you get
  4. Keep your audience in mind
  5. Produce prompts for other AI engines
  6. Get your outputs in the form of ASCII art
  7. Copy and paste text from other sources
  8. Provide examples to work with
  9. Act out a role-play
  10. Get answers that are more than the sum of their parts
  11. Hear both sides of a debate

The prompts are interesting or useful, and they contribute to the overall message the article: Learn to use a new tool properly, productively, and purposefully. 

Photo by Mizuno K on

Video source

You recognise expertise when you see and hear it. This trauma surgeon picked apart surgical and other medical procedures as represented on TV or movies. 

Some might argue that TV shows or movies are for entertainment and should not be compared to reality. I argue that these sources of entertainment are often the reference points for laypeople (see tweet below and its thread for an example). This results in unrealistic expectations not just of medical procedures, but also natural disasters, space travel, dinosaur attacks, military strategy, etc.

Reality can be simultaneously more frightening and mundane, so we need experts to shift our focus. I also find such critiques to be entertaining in themselves. This is why YouTube channels of Wired, Insider, and GQ [examples] have them.

The bits of reality that the trauma surgeon shared should, at the minimum, create some appreciation for what she does. Optimally, it might also generate new perspectives and empathy from non-surgeons.

I wonder if there will ever be a Wired expert critique of teachers and classroom practices as shown on the small and big screen. Probably not. Teachers are normally not wired to be stars; they are tired from slogging in the background. 

This would be a shame because many parents experienced primers during lockdowns on what it is like to teach their children. They typically have their memories as students and Hollywood representations of classrooms. Neither are realistic perspectives of teaching.

Get some perspective. Listen to some teachers today.

I enjoy Wired’s series on expert critiques of movie “reality”. The most recent video was about a fighter pilot’s perspective on how movies depicted aerial dogfights and dodging missiles.

Video source

I know that the entertainment industry provides escape from reality, but it should not define it. That should seem obvious — emphasis on should –but that is the reality nowadays. Given how some folk cannot distinguish entertainment from education, the experts’ comments provide a healthy dose of reality.

What is the parallel with academia and education?

News reports of research do not always capture the rigours of study and the limitations of research processes. Vendors who claim to have one-stop shops ignore the context and complexity of learning and classrooms.

One group of people seem to only want easy answers to complex issues. They are not patient with nuance and details offered by a second group — people who have invested time and effort in honing their craft and developing their theorems. The first group of people would rather be entertained than educated.

Video source

One thought that crossed my mind as I watched this video was how much science undergirds and enables the art. The same could be said about pedagogy.

I define pedagogy as the science and art of teaching. The science refers to the theoretical principles, experimentation, and research of what might be quantified about teaching. The art is the practice getting better with critical and reflective practice. Do one without the other, or favour one over the other, and we are unlikely to teach effectively.

I love this Wired video series where an expert teaches five learners at very different levels. I highlighted a previous video last month in which a neuroscientist discussed connectomes.

Video source

In the video above, another biologist was challenged to discuss CRISPR at five individuals: Child, teenager, college student, graduate student, and expert.

The previous five-level video inspired me to link it to personalised teaching. This video might remind teachers how they might teach at any and all levels. They should seek to ask questions, not just answers.

At each level, the biologist asked at least one question:

  1. Child: Do you know what a genome is?
  2. Teenager: What do you think about being able to edit genomes?
  3. College student: Do you know how CRISPR works?
  4. Graduate student: (Are there) any unintended consequences?
  5. Expert: How are you using gene editing in your own work?

Despite the different types of questions, they shared the same property. The questions drove to where the learner was likely at and were designed to build knowledge from that point.

If you seek to indoctrinate, provide the answers. If you seek to educate, provide questions.

Too often teaching starts with answers without questions. This only teaches students how NOT to ask questions. This also reinforces in teachers not to ask good questions or to not get students to do the same.

I share below a few image quotes I created in 2015 and 2016 that highlight the importance of leading with questions. These image quotes and many others are available in one of my Google Photos galleries.

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see. — Alexandra K. Trenfor

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. -- Lord Alexander.

Good GRADES may help you LOOK smart. Good QUESTIONS help you GET smart.

Clive Thompson wrote about the future of reading in a Wired article. I agree fully with him that book publishers need to wake up, listen, adopt, adapt and offer something relevant to readers.


  • Book publishers are already getting left behind. They should look at what is currenty happening with the newspaper and magazine industries.
  • The future of reading is tightly linked to the future of learning. It is far more participative and collaborative!

The laptop celebrates 40 years, so says this Wired article. More accurately, the concept of the laptop is 40-years-old.

In the interview, Alan Kay, who first conceptualised the laptop, was reported to say:

my thoughts about an intimate personal computer were mostly of a service nature – that is, how could and should it act as an amplifier for human, especially child, endeavors?

So we have laptops, UMPCs and netbooks today. The cost of netbooks in particular are dropping and will continue to drop. Why are more of them not in the hands of learners? Why are educators needlessly clinging on to outdated mindsets and not using innovative ways of teaching and learning with netbooks?

And speaking of netbooks, let’s recall how Asus took the lead in producing what seemed ridiculous at the time. A small, underpowered but cheap and portable netbook for the consumer masses. Why? Because they could. Then netbooks from Asus and other companies became a roaring success and netbooks even topped Amazon notebook sales in September this year.

From a link in Dawson’s blog entry, I read that Asus may be phasing out the smaller ones to focus on larger, more powerful units. Why? Because they can. Dawson bemoaned the fact that Asus might lose the education market. Then again, what computer company thinks of the education market?

I think we will use whatever is available. After all, educators co-opted Microsoft Office, a product designed for business use. Look where that led us. Hmm, low level tasks, PowerPoint pedagogy, and form over substance.

Maybe Dawson has a point after all…

Based on a Wired writer’s analysis, individual, personal and non-professional blogging is going the way of the dinosaur. And it took just four years for the art of blogging to give way to “blogzines” and fresher, cooler ways of airing your views.

If the writer is to be believed, the new “blogs” are Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. This speaks volumes about the way Netizens prefer to create and read “text”: Short text, sound bites, and visuals in the form of pictures and videos.

I think that the writer might have identified a trend. But to tell bloggers to “pull the plug” is to miss the point. Bloggers blog because they want to write, be it for an audience of one, a few, or  many. Bloggers can write in bite-size pieces and embed relevant media in their blogs too. Blogs are not irrelevant just as books are not irrelevant in this day of DVDs and streaming video.

Long live blogs!


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: