Interesting research reported in the San Francisco Weekly about emerging research on the use of iPads in the therapy of autistic children...
Since the iPad's unveiling in April, autism experts and parents have brought it into countless homes and classrooms around the world. Developers have begun pumping out applications specifically designed for users with special needs, and initial studies are already measuring the effectiveness of the iPod Touch and the iPad as learning tools for children with autism. Through the devices, some of these children have been able to communicate their thoughts to adults for the first time. Others have learned life skills that had eluded them for years.
Though there are other computers designed for children with autism, a growing number of experts say that the iPad is better. It's cheaper, faster, more versatile, more user-friendly, more portable, more engaging, and infinitely cooler for young people. "I just couldn't imagine not introducing this to a parent of a child who has autism," says Tammy Mastropietro, a speech pathologist based outside Boston who uses the technology with numerous clients. She sees it as a game changer for those with autism, particularly those most severely affected.
Interesting piece at PBS Need to Know, regarding Obama's use of abstraction in speech and how it presents problems in the public connecting with the points of his addresses. What do you think? Are most people in need of concrete examples in speeches and should they be able to handle abstraction? I seem to recall a Stephen Colbert piece on Obama's speeches and how they are written at a 10th grade level, with the implication by the press that this was too much to ask of most people.
We are not arguing that Obama always speaks in abstractions, or that he does so more than other politicians or leaders. But we think these recent statements illustrate an aspect of his public speech that can cause problems for him. The reason lies in how our minds and brains process information. Concrete and abstract words activate different parts of the cerebral cortex. Concrete words like hammer, hit and hard are processed more by areas at the back of the brain that handle visual and spatial information. Abstract words like justice, fairly and render activate the frontal lobes, which process information independent of any particular sense (vision, hearing, touch).The frontal lobes typically are involved when a cognitive process requires effort and attention, which implies that we have an easier time interpreting the meaning of concrete words than interpreting abstract ones. We also have an easier time remembering concrete words because they can be stored in memory using two separate codes: a verbal code (the sounds or characters of the word) and a pictorial code. Abstract words don’t call a specific, universal image to mind. And, concrete words evoke stronger emotional responses, further strengthening our memory for them.
Listeners balk at hearing BP and 9/11 in the same sentence both because they bear little concrete resemblance and because the oil spill seems, at least on the surface, so much more like Hurricane Katrina. When people must compare two concepts, events or problems, they consistently pay attention to the superficial similarities and don’t see through to the deeper, more abstract commonalities. In a famous study, subjects had trouble drawing an analogy between an army attacking a fortress from all sides at once and a doctor treating a tumor by bombarding it with radiation from several different directions — because a fortress doesn’t seem like a tumor, and an army doesn’t resemble radiation beams.
You who know me know that I am far from having the fortitude to pull off SocMe entirely but I try to take block out to just pick up a book and read or set down the blasted iPhone when visiting with friends (not a master, still a grasshopper). What William Powers says here is too true. While I don't want "bad internet days", I also don't want to disconnect from the deeper conversations that let us really see each other and know each other. In Twitter's defense, being a telecommuter a lot of the water cooler aspect of work out of my day and I've been very fortunate to have Twitter at night to meet people in NM and have developed some wonderful friendships here because of it. But those in person interactions, when they come along are so much better than conversations that are limited to 140 character responses.
Powers' book, Hamlet's Blackberry, is on the stack and I hope it will help me break free of some acquired bad habits I've developed living mostly online.
On one level, it makes perfect sense that we never go anywhere without our gadgets. They perform all kinds of useful tasks for us and enrich our lives in countless ways.
But they also keep us connected to everything we’re trying to escape. Having a screen along for the ride changes the nature of the ride. A quiet afternoon of fishing isn’t the same when your inbox is buzzing every five minutes. Getting lost in a wonderful book is impossible if you’re simultaneously fielding tweets and Facebook updates.
By staying connected all the time, we ensure that we never truly go “away.” And the resulting losses are massive. Our souls crave the release summer once offered. We needto cut loose now and then, sit quietly, take naps, dance in the moonlight. Those moments are exceedingly rare now, yet this is barely discussed, like a dirty secret nobody wants to mention.
In a self-consciously clap-happy exploration of one of the most delightful and satisfying forms of human action and expression, Nick Baker investigates the meanings and motivations, the sounds and symbolism, the elation and frustration of ritually striking one hand with another.
Shared by my friend, Brad Rourke, whose consulting firm helps large civic organizations work smarter in the public sphere.
I like this idea very much. It's always more productive to tell someone what they did to upset you, rather than call them names. It's also much easier to change a behaviour than to change who or what a person is.
LIMA, Feb 19, 2010 (IPS) - Although the technical investigations cleared two of the indigenous demonstrators accused in the murders of 12 policemen during a bloody June 2009 clash between native protesters and the security forces near the northern Amazon jungle town of Bagua, they are still behind bars.
Feliciano Cahuasa and Danny López have been in prison for over eight months, despite the fact that technical crime scene investigations showed that neither of them fired a single shot, and that they are thus innocent of the Jun. 5 killings of the police officers.
On the other hand, no police are in prison for the Jun. 5 shooting deaths of at least 10 indigenous protesters, which occurred when the police were ordered to clear their roadblock on the main highway near Bagua.
Having an advanced degree in Linguistics and being involved in a number of volunteer activities, including the upcoming Crisis Camp NM, this story resonates in me.
While human translators were at the ready in Haiti, translation of written documents required the work of automated software. Fortunately for the rescue effort, Google, on top of pledging to donate $1 million, added Haitian Creole to its Google Translate service. Microsoft has done the same, introducing Creole into its proprietary Bing Translator. Spotlighted by certain automated translation needs in the face of the Haitian earthquake, scientists at Carnegie Mellon’s Language Technologies Institute are working on their own Creole translation application, a project that was originally scrapped in 1990.