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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Don't go here (more Web2.0)

Web2.0 awards from Seomoz with over 300 web2.0 sites in 38 categories! I don't dare go and look ...

You can start by just looking at the winners and pretending to yourself that it won't take long.


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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Second Carnival of Blog Translation

Following the First Carnival of Blog Translation, this is what happened in the second:

King Alfred of "The Bitter Scroll" translated A Linguistic Manifesto from Swedish into English. Johan Jönsson, talking from the Swedish context, talks about the degree to which linguistics is a science, what exactly a language is, and incorporating the inevitability of change into our own approach to language.

Johan's post Ett ideologiskt manifest is from his blog Månskensdans

In an interesting turn Susanne of Daipers and Music translates inner children and inner parents from her other blog written in German. She talks about waking up her inner parent to make some rules for herself. She refers to every journal entry she's made over the last week that begins "I'm so tired" and tells her inner child to go to bed on time.

The original post comes from innere Kinder und innere Eltern on her blog Windeln und Music.

João Vasconcelos Costa of Reformar a Educação Superior translated my post Limited by face-to-face where I quote a blog post of Leigh Blackall reflecting on how one-dimensional it seems to rely only on face-to-face connections between people. And I translated a post that João wrote about My mother who was also a teacher, which was in memory of his mother who recently passed away. A woman years ahead of her time.

The original post is Uma professora que também era minha mãe.

Although there weren't many of us at the party, we had a great time! I had intended to make a button for the carnival which we could put on our sidebars, but didn't have enough minutes in the day. The languages represented were Swedish, English, German and Portuguese. King Alfred will be hosting the next carnival - in his castle, I guess - on the 28th April. I'll be there for sure with JVC - we're hooked on this game!


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A teacher who was also my mother

I have translated João Vasconcelos Costa's post: Uma professora que também era minha mãe or "A teacher who was also my mother" for the second carnival of blog translations. JVC has translated my post "Limited by face-to-face" on his blog with the title "Limitados pelo face-a-face."

I always feel like translating is quite an intimate practice and that was certainly true in this post. I felt a lot of emotions as I inhabited the meaning of the words of this special lady, with whom I could identify, but who I’ve never met. So here is my translation from Portuguese to English of JVC's post:

A teacher who was also my mother
The day before yesterday, at the age of 89, my mother completed her life cycle and left peacefully, after a full life; overflowing with affection, rigour and sense of duty, an insatiable intellectual curiosity, a strong sense of ethics but with an understanding of her own and others’ weaknesses, and all with a great sense of humour and passion for life. I think you can see all of that in the photograph.

She was also a great teacher. If I have any pedagogic instinct, I certainly inherited it from her. Two years ago, I asked her for a text for the then Professorices. At 87 she wrote her “pedagogic memory” with great lucidity and freshness, which I’m now going to publish again. At this time when there is so much questioning of the “fashion” for an education of play, see how my mother was already doing it, just by intuition, without a text-book. N.B. and this was in 1940!

Memories of a teacher
In 1934 I finished the seventh year of school. It was always my dream to go to university to study classics, a course which still fascinates me today. However, my dreams never came about. All those long years ago, full of prejudices, a good girl, the only child, who wouldn’t go too far by herself without the protection of her family. I went to an island, to the house of almost family in S. Miguel and I attended the Magistrate’s School. But I always said that I would never be a teacher “with glasses on the end of her nose and a pointer in her hand”. And I wasn’t, ending up loving, and loving a lot, my professional life.

Remembering my early years at infant and first school I’m going to try and describe how I followed the methods and processes I worked out for myself. I didn’t care for the ones that I was taught. Lots of memory before intelligence, when the first should be an important support to the second. I start with discipline, which I always maintained, but without being strict. My students didn’t see school as if it were a prison, but rather as a cosy nest where my little birds – the classes had the names of birds – felt the affection of their parents’ house. A child would call me by my name, but with “come here, come there” they respectfully did as they were told and a feeling that there was an affective bond between us.

My methods and processes were based, from infant school to school admission exams, games and play, that, even though they seem like they don’t give a perfect schooling, had positive results, as I can confirm with my experience over the years. Students didn’t parrot lessons, on the contrary they got a good all-round education for their ages. The beginning of a lesson and of calculus was done with stories drawn on the blackboard with colourful chalk, starting with a story, a new one at every lesson and in which the students participated. Sometimes I got them talking with their mothers, drawing in their garden or on the window of the house. For example, in reading, the little boy T, with the letter on his child’s pinafore, would go and get little boy I and they would talk to know what and who to go and get, with the hand out, to say then, “TIA” (aunt). For them it was a game and also a way of quite easily learning, whether they were clever or not.

History, for example, was started with me drawing cartoons on the blackboard while I told the story in an appealing way and the students copied it in their books, drawn for better or for worse. Afterwards there was lots of lively conversation. It was many years later that I saw a history textbook with cartoons. I cried when I saw them, remembering how I introduced into my teaching something different to what was done at that time. All humans have gifts and teaching was one of mine, and without being vain, I think it is a special charisma.

Even dictation was completely against the rules then. Reading a well-chosen text, with lots of pauses and - essential! – guaranteeing the understanding of it, because writing a dictation is to write something that makes sense, not just words. Later, each student received the text and it was them who, with attention, compared it to the dictation and wrote down the wrong words in a little book. With this personal effort it was rare that they would come back and repeat those mistakes.

I thought these were good processes, not only did I create them but I also made them my personal pedagogy method. All my life I’ve been critical and always judged my work with its pros and cons, looking for ways to correct them. With this process you only get positive results. In a seemingly light way you create a true sense of civicism in the lesson, a deep feeling of sincerity connected to the truth and to the notion that learning is to fulfill a duty, with the basic principle that the child’s esteem, since a baby, should get for itself and for its perfection, how to improve what was meant for this purpose. As a principle I also had the idea that we shouldn’t only work with the intellectual part of children but also with their moral part and with the beginning of their character, which should be carefully molded.

Working this way is tiring for someone who teaches, but I felt fulfilled. I got tired early because this is extremely hard work, but giving all my made me very happy in my professional life. I could give many more examples of the good results that I saw, but as this text is already too long, for which I apologise, I’ll finish here.


All my own personal buzzwords in one event in Copenhagen in June. How can I not go to Reboot8.0? And what a cool wiki/way of organising the event.
So reboot8 is like reboot7 a journey into the interconnectedness of creation, participation, values, openness, decentralization, collaboration, complexity, technology, p2p, humanities, connectedness and many more areas. Applied towards us as individuals, citizens, teachers, culture workers, entrepreneurs, creators and change makers.

Reboot is the European meet-up for the practical visionaries who are building tomorrow one little step at a time, using new models for creation and organization in a world where the only entry barrier is passion. reboot is two days in June filled with inspiration, perspective, good conversations and interesting people.

I like the way you can see the list of participants. On the list I can see my neighbour in Setúbal, Pedro Custódio, who I've met online but not face-to-face. Perhaps this way I'll end up having a coffee with him in Denmark!


Sally ... are you there?

I know you will appreciate this, Sally Ann. Eight years ago we were hopping around at UAL (Universidade Autonoma de Lisboa) ... writing proposals and reports ... it didn't seem credible that no-one wouldn't get it. The whole ECTS challenge and the direction in which Higher Education was going. I still have the report that I wrote then. It looks like it could have been written in 2005. So convinced were we that people would be able to catch sight of the road ahead, if only we could put it in the right way!

Up until a few days before your 51st birthday (three years ago today and the day you died) we never wasted those days or nights when I was there to help with the practical things, like turning you over every couple of hours. Even while we went through those motions, adusting the tubes along the way, we didn't stop talking about how much there was to do in our lives, in the world, and in Higher Education in Portugal.

We - and you especially - were right. The discourse now - the Bolonha discourse - is all about new paradigms and new pedagogies. Who knows if those new paradigms are the new ones from 10, 5 or 2 years ago? Or the new ones today...or even tomorrow? These days I just get on with my own thing ... I've grown (almost) wiser and (almost) manage to keep my mouth closed. Especially as the last minute rush is on to change the curriculums.

But, hey girl! If you were here, we would appreciate one big irony together: everyone is waiting to be taught the new paradigms so they can go away and apply them!!

Thinking of you ...

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Playing in Web2.0

I have a million things to do. More in fact. So I've been wasting time in All Things Web2- THE List. It's not even 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning and I've send audio e-mails to all my family. And I've put a recording on my blog. I feel a bit self-conscious with my voice so I don't know how long it will last.

I've also found a Gizmo plug-in for Adium (on Macs) which works great. I haven't used Gizmo VOIP much but I will do as you can easily record calls, which you can't do with Skype. And I've started uploading my files to Openonomy, an online filing system. The idea of being able to share my papers there, all tagged and easy to find seems too good to be true.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Clicking on home

Kevin Lim of theory.isthereason ponders on the location of "home". He was responding to Peishan's question:
Is it that important to have a home? To feel like we belong to somewhere, to someone, to something?

Straydog (there are more of us rafeiros!) comments:
I believe we must remove ourselves from the old notion that home is something physical. That is just an address of your current abode. By going with that old definition, many people would be homeless.

Kevin doesn't mind living anywhere in the world, "so long as there's an Internet connection" and wouldn't mind having a static IP address! And Alex Halavais accepts that he doesn't have a good answer for that question "Where are you from?"

Well, for the record my home is Setúbal, Portugal, and my universe the Serra de Arrábida - as long as I've got a computer and a good internet connection. And my world is made up of the communities I belong to through the internet - regardless of where people are physically located. The ring on my doorbell is more likely to be a FOAF or someone I've worked with online than it is to be someone from my bairro. Whether or not we've ever met physically, we share a trust and a language that isn't just English or Portuguese. And so far none of them has ever invited me to their house in the guise of being a normal person with a barrote!

Ask me where my terra is without the internet connection and perhaps I wouldn't know what to say. I'm a White Kenyan by origin feeling at home there only through reading blogs written by Kenyans I've never met - in whatever part of the world they are located. I lived some years in England and feel as connected to the people who fade in and out of my screen through Growl (on Skype) or Adium as I do to those in Portugal, the States or the rest of the world.

In my day to day life I live out contradictory feelings of defensiveness when I think anything Portuguese is under attack - and impatience and irritation when I think something looks blindingly backwards (especially in education). But, being an estrangeira it pays to keep those thoughts to myself. The times I feel totally at home are eating grilled fish on Avenida Luisa Todi, cycling up the Arrábida, and on my sofa with the rest of the world. Anywhere north of Lisbon is another country, regardless of its Internet connection. Apart from wanting Kenyans to win lots of Olympic gold medals and feeling responsible for the lixo (rubbish) in the Arrábida left by idiots, I can't scrape together a tiny piece of nationalistic pride about any place. I do know my terra couldn't be somewhere that's cold or where you can't see the sea.

I'm coming to see that it's a bit of a bonding thing for global nomads and third culture people: stories about where you get to when you click on home.


(Blog admin. note to myself: I MUST change to Wordpress, it's driving me bananas not having categories.)

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Limited by face-to-face

Yesterday I found myself thinking how one-dimensional life is if you only do things and relate to people in face-to-face situations. All my relationships, including those with my kids are so much richer because the online enriches the face-to-face which enriches the online which enriches the face-to-face ... etc.

It feels quite alien to me to be part of a meeting/project where the face-to-face time is where the "real stuff" happens and where "online" means sending out the agenda by email. These experiences seems so poor, not only because you waste time following the agenda of the most dominant or higher status people in the face-to-face time rather than the most productive or interesting, but also because your experience of the people at a face-to-face event is only limited to the external things you see of them (clothes, gender, power relations ...)

Leigh Blackall writes about this on his blog "Teach and Learn Online" and I'm putting the entire post here because there's not one word that I don't identify with:

"...That's what sux about working for an organisation. Your colleagues don't take the time to look you up out find out more about who you are, what you've done, and as a result can all too easily dis what you say. To them, your just some face you has just introduced themselves in one of those almost pointless round table introductions before the meeting, and that's it. When I said things like "social networking software" you could literally see minds shutting down around you. when I talked about using available services on the Internet, and not rebuilding the Internet the way we want it - people fold their arms, sit back, and ask who is this punk?

Having an online community and a voice within it always lures me into a false sense of security. I look at it as My preferred classroom. But its one in which I have chosen my classmates (more or less). When online, that security isn't false at all. We swap links, encourage each others work, nurture each others ideas. But in the day job, in an organisation that thinks face to face meetings are productive, where everyone has been schooled and socialised, there is no online - only you, what you look like, and what you sound like. And I've come to realise that what I look and sound like can really work against me in these situations.

Given the floor, I can do alright. I have some time to dispel the prejudgements on my age, gender, clothing choice, race. I have some time to establish what I'm on about, I have some time to make a point. In a meeting, where respect is back to zero, and where it is common to cut people off and interrupt them, where organisational politics plays a part - the luxury of having the floor, backed up with hyperlinks and like minded comments just isn't there.

This is in my mind, where the school and the classroom - where you can't choose your learning community, where bullying is an element as common as the weather, were politics prevails, and where power is the currency - is totally at odds with networked learning."


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How do you "listen" for intent online?

One of the things I find hardest about writing in Portuguese is getting the right register or tone. I am so finely tuned to the nuances and subtleties of person-to-person interaction in English, which I can't do in Portuguese. But when you are online, all the ways you have to show your posture or intent is done through written text. And not being able to do that is potentially quite debilitating.

So much of it comes back to negotiating a shared understanding of your intent with the person/people you're talking to. The listener (or reader) has to become a more active participant in your shared meaning-making. So, as a "listener" to someone "speaking" in another language online, how do you listen for cues beyond the written text?

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Third culture researchers

Lilia, of Mathemagenic, writes about the restlessness of being a Third culture kid and its influence on your research methodology.

Sometimes I find the restlessness and rootlenssness of being a Third culture person all quite overwhelming. Other times I find it empowering. Appropriation, pastiche and collaboration are our survival strategies. Multi-methods, multi-disciplinary... we are bricoleurs with hybrid methods. We are instinctive ethnographers.

I think that describes the meta-tribe we belong to Lilia. Dispersed, living the paradoxes of different Weltanschauungen. But we are here.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Languaging in beta

I've worked out that it takes me around three times longer to write something in Portuguese than in English. And I can't even begin to get close to representing myself as I would in English.

Lucky for me I have no shame. Pride, yes. But no shame.

I've often been told by well-meaning colleagues that it's better for me to stick to English. "You know how we are in Portugal" they say. If you write good English, then we'll look up to you. But if you are English making mistakes in Portuguese, then we'll look down on you."

Well, I don't have a very refined notion of what looking up or down at people means. And I've spent a lot of my life reading, listening and making sense of people writing in English as a second language. I reckon I've built up a lot of karma credits in linguistic tolerance and meaning-making. So I'll be cashing them in with this workshop.

I couldn't be luckier. It's the ideal place to make a fool of myself - and to learn - as people are exceptionally generous, tolerant and unpatronising.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wiki barn-raising party

Andy Roberts is having a WIKI barn-raising party that starts tomorrow. Barn raising is a metaphor for an online activity, at the end of which you have built something. Andy's party is for building a Wiki on Distributed Action Research with Communities of Practice. All are welcome.

For sure I won't miss it!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

In celebration of us

My two favorite pics for women's day. The first comes from my friend Filipa (who should start her own blog!) but I don't know the origin.

And the other from the hilariously serious Granny Gets A Vibrator.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Blogues: Feminino/Masculino

Friday was the second Ciclo Falar de Blogues: Feminino/Maculino at 19hoo at Almedina Atrium Saldanha

It was a continuation of the discussion that started in 2005:
Are there really differences between feminine and masculine blogs?
What diversity can you find in blogs written by women?
(Continuamos a discussão iniciada em 2005: haverá mesmo diferenças entre blogues femininos e masculinos? Que diversidade se pode encontra nos blogues assinados por mulheres?)

I'm a bit uncertain about the questions. What does a masculine or a feminine blog look like? And why is the debate about diversity of blogs by women?

Pedro of var/log has some notes and pictures.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Community Informatics - a future?

Michael Gurstein of NJIT School of Management, a pioneer in the area of Community Informatics and leader if the Community Informatics Research Network made an observation in the CIRE discussion group that both sounded familar and suprised me:
"Its taken GM (General Motors) 20 years to realize that their design people should be talking to their marketing people who should also be talking to their engineering people and based on current performance it doesn't seem that they have learned those lessons even yet. The same I would say in universities where folks who want to talk about ICTs and how people use them don't really fit either in Computer Science or even most Information Science programs and certainly don't fit anywhere in the Social Sciences...

The huge and transformational democratization of Information technology (along with all its implications and opportunities) which took place as a consequence of first the Personal Computer and more recently the Internet doesn't seem to have really found an academic home.

It's familiar because it's a scenario I can see in Portugal. It's suprising because I thought in the States they were further ahead than that.

However, in my usual optimistic way I started dreaming about Portugal leapfrogging some of this development. Portugal has such a unique hybrid mix of experience and knowledge of ICT, communities and development in different phases, including an experience of being in a semi-periphery position in relation both to Lusofone countries and to Europe that this is a place where it could really find a niche. All it would require is a bit of imagination, foresight and people talking to each other!

OK, OK. I know some people put "idealistic" in my Johari window!


Spreading communities and Web2.0 em Português

I'm setting things up for the online workshop I'm presenting for Equal about communities of practice and Web2.0 technologies (Formaçãoo no âmbito de comunidades de prática em ambiente virtual). I want to log some of my challenges in finding resources and technologies in Portuguese (where "in Portuguese" includes both the language and the context).

General technology thoughts. One of my big headaches is people's love of the plataforma and I will jump for joy if, as a result of this, fewer people will ask me for "the platform solution" for their community. The idea of a plataforma is appealing to people because it looks like an instant community if you can just choose the right one with the right functions. It's also easy to get funding for - the size and functionality of your plataforma- it's a kind of symbol of success.

But of course no-one uses them unless they're made to! Not unless there is already a vibrant community with sufficient numbers of people dedicated to building the community and skilled facilitators. But try getting funding for dedicated community builders and skilled facilitators! In this workshop I'm going to use a mix of free tools and Wen2.0 stuff which participants will then be able to use for their own redes.

General language thoughts. I want to prioritise technologies that also have a Portuguese interface, although language that won't take precedence over easy-to-use interfaces. I absolutely refuse to work with anything that scrambles the text if you use accents. I'm happy that SAPO has updated their blogs and included RSS feeds. Doesn't some clever person from Sapo want to develop a non-techno-user-friendly Wiki like Wikispaces in Portuguese?

By the end of this workshop we should have a Wikispace with tools and resources for community building and a glossary of Web2.0 expressions in Portuguese. Let's see!

I'm going to start the discussion in Google groups (EN). Originally I had thought of using Yahoo Groups, especially as they have a PT interface, but really Yahoo Groups is so unwieldy compared to G-groups. Among other things G-groups is nimble, you can have different topics and it's so easy to join (or be joined to). Mind you, I can't seem to get the feed (you can choose a latest messages or latest topics feed) to work in Wikispaces. I'll keep trying.

The feed works in Wikispaces for 30 boxes (EN) which I'm using for the workshop calendar. I use the calendar for other things of mine but workshop participants will only see those things I've tagged for the workshop. For people who just want to receive the calendar information 30 boxes has a straightforward calendar look. But for people who explore it more, it's a truly amazing social tool. This is not just a normal shared calendar with RSS feeds. Like with lots of these tools they assume people live in US (e.g. US holidays integrated in the calendar, "toll freed phone advice" etc.) but I'm so impressed by inventiveness of these things that I'm not complaining.

I have already invited people to open a gmail account (EN) and to change browser (to Firefox (PT) of course). Some people have taken up the gmail offer, but I don't think anyone has yet understood the must of Firefox! And I'll be using Zoomerang (EN) to do surveys throughout the workshop. I confess to paying for the premium version so that participants can instantly see the survey results when they've done it.

It takes me SOO long to write in Portuguese. My three strategies so far have been (1) to really allow more time that I haven't got, (2) negotiations with my son to correct some of my language in return for not having to wash the dishes; (3) to ruthlessly hassle some of my Portuguese friends on Skype to check the odd word or phrase.

However, the advantage of being estrangeira is that I can be less formal than people are used to. I think my foreign-ness kind of gives people an excuse to take off their tie or put down their handbag. My estrangeirismos are opportunities for negotiating meaning and not acts of incorrectness. Estrangeirismos are language in beta. Discuss.

Most people have been so socialised in top-down instruction and while the discourse of social-constructivism and thinking-out-of-the-box is now on the table, really doing and being out of the box is challenging, even threatening. I know a lot of my job will be dancing in the tension between different assumptions of what learning is. Tension being, by the way, a potentially creative space for deep learning to happen. I have shared up-front my own learning assumptions which are based on a communities of practice (or social and situated learning) and invited people to reflect during the workshop on what their own assumptions are. You can see my assumptions(EN) here, courtesy of Zoho writer (EN) if anyone want to comment.

And all suggestions for Web 2.0 resources or tools em Português gratefully received!

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Call to the second carnival of blog translations

I'll be hosting the second carnival of blog translations to take place on March 28th. The first carnival was hosted by Liz Henry and the third one will be hosted by someone who volunteers (hint hint).

A blog carnival is a travelling signpost that puts together a series of links about a particular theme.

If you want to participate in the Carnival, you need to translate a post by another blogger and post it on your own blog with a link to the original.

Email me the information (btraynerATmacDOTcom) or post it in the comments of this email. I'll compile one big post on the day of the Carnival with links to all the participants.

So send me:
your name
name of your blog
your blog URL
post title in target language

name of blog you're translating
name of person you're translating
that URL
the post title in the source language


Portugal wins in blog translation carnival!

Reading the comments to the Blog translation carnival and I see this one by Tatyana who blogs in Russian. She says about the contributions to the translation carnival:
I find it amazing that Portugal, a magical country I love dearly, has come up so often in this small selection.

And then she goes on to say: "I caught the Portuguese bug from Leah who lives and writes in Setubal."

Setúbal? Such a small world! I wonder who is Leah in Setúbal who spread the Portuguese bug to a Russian living in New York who participated in the blog translation carnival?

Apart from the preponderance of Portuguese translations there were also Russian, Spanish, Swedish, French, English, Spanish and Bulgarian. I'm going to host the next round of translations which we'll set for March 28th. I'll put the info. in the next post. I'll also start a tagging it.


Linda Stone and my Continuous Partial Attention

I would love to hear Linda Stone's keynote at O'Reilly's Emerging Technologies conference that's about to start.
Where has our two-decade journey of building infinite, "always on" technological connections to each other taken us? How well do we manage technology -- or does it manage us?

Continuous Partial Attention describes the behavior of continuously monitoring as many inputs as possible, paying partial attention to each. We keep what we consider to be the highest priority contact or activity in greatest focus and constantly scan the periphery to see if something more important should be displacing our current top choice. Being busy, being connected, being a live node on the network, makes us feel alive. Or does it?! This talk explores a broader context for how we pay attention to each other now, how we have used our attention over the last few decades, and gives food for thought concerning implications that result as we consider new technologies and new interfaces.

Linda is "The Catalyst" in the Digirati. This is her profile:
Linda Stone is director of the Virtual Worlds Group in the Microsoft Advanced Technology and Research Division. She is a visionary both within Microsoft and to the industry at large. She is also extremely effective in making things happen. Her vision of the Internet is a place that embraces humanity and serendipity and supports rich social interaction, as well as recreation, information, and productivity. She's been promoting this view for years; it is only very recently that the rest of Microsoft has come to the Internet party and thus realized that Linda's work addresses some of the big societal(and business) issues we all face in the immediate future.