Video of the lecture Lessig gave at Harvard last Tuesday about Aaron Swartz.

In the wake of the tragic death of social activist Aaron Swartz, many, including some in Washington, are asking how the law should respond. In this lecture — radically personal, deeply non-disinterested — Professor Lessig reflects on the life and work of Aaron Swartz, and how that work might be honored.

Last fall Stanford Professor Sebastian Thrun offered his CS221 course ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence’ online, for free.

Thrun told the story of his Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class, which ran from October to December last year. It started as a way of putting his Stanford course online — he was going to teach the whole thing, for free, to anybody in the world who wanted it. With quizzes and grades and a final certificate, in parallel with the in-person course he was giving his Stanford undergrad students. He sent out one email to announce the class, and from that one email there was ultimately an enrollment of 160,000 students. Thrun scrambled to put together a website which could scale and support that enrollment, and succeeded spectacularly well.

Just a couple of datapoints from Thrun’s talk: there were more students in his course from Lithuania alone than there are students at Stanford altogether. There were students in Afghanistan, exfiltrating war zones to grab an hour of connectivity to finish the homework assignments. There were single mothers keeping the faith and staying with the course even as their families were being hit by tragedy. And when it finished, thousands of students around the world were educated and inspired. Some 248 of them, in total, got a perfect score: they never got a single question wrong, over the entire course of the class. All 248 took the course online; not one was enrolled at Stanford.

Yesterday at the  DLD (Digital Life,Design), Conference in Munich, Germany, Thrun made an announcement regarding online education.

he concluded that “I can’t teach at Stanford again.” He’s given up his tenure at Stanford, and he’s started a new online university called Udacity. He wants to enroll 500,000 students for his first course, on how to build a search engine — and of course it’s all going to be free.

Its not exactly an accredited university, but it is free. You can enroll now for his next course which starts February 20th:


Learn programming in seven weeks. We’ll teach you enough about computer science that you can build a web search engine like Google or Yahoo!

I’m not sure how the other occupy movements handle decision making, but in Occupy Oakland they have formed a set of guidelines how actions are voted upon at their daily General Assembly meeting which have had roughly 1,000 to 3,000 each night. So far I am surprised at how organized these assemblies have been. Its not an easy thing to get a group of thousands to gather and collectively speak and vote on certain topics. Below are the working guidelines the general assembly uses to vote and pass proposals.

Occupy Oakland General Assembly

Committees needed for the functioning of the GA:

  • ·Facilitators Working Group (FWG): Responsible for finding facilitators for our GA, responsible for refining our decision making process and structure, and organizing the structure of the agenda for the GA; it does not determine the content of the agenda. FWG will also help hold ongoing facilitation trainings twice a week through the Raheim Brown Free School.

(FWG will have an open meeting every day at noon, under the trees in the small plaza near the flower shop– the first half hour will be reserved for concerns and suggestions)

  • ·Coordinating Committee (CoCo)*: CoCo gathers the content of the agenda of the GA. It is responsible for taking proposals, concerns, and announcements from committees and other groups in Occupy Oakland to the FWG. (please see below under “decision making process” for further details on this.) CoCo is independent of the FWG.

*this committee needs to be formed and does not exist yet

Proposed agenda for GAs:

  • ·Welcome & Opener
  • ·Agenda Overview, overview of process and hand signals
  • ·Committee announcements
  • ·Action announcements
  • ·Proposals from committees
  • ·Proposals from other groups, caucuses, affinity groups, etc.
  • ·General announcements (open)
  • ·Forum

Decision Making Process (Proposals)

The below decision making process is a modified consensus process, which means it strives for full consensus (100% agreement) by allowing ample time to discuss everyone’s questions and concerns and make amendments, but will accept less than 100% consensus if after addressing questions and concerns, consensus cannot be reached. (see the step by step process below for details.)

Only Occupy Oakland committees or groups (which we define as 3 or more people who are a part of Occupy Oakland) may make proposals to the General Assembly. The proposal made to the assembly must have 100% consensuswithin that  group or committee and must have 3 members attending the GA to present the proposal (all three or more people must speak). The proposal must be written down or said aloud to the proposal note-taker at the GA(there is a proposal box at the info tent). If it becomes apparent that the group giving a proposal needs to gather more information or take more into consideration, the coordinating committee may have them bring their proposal back for later.

*Note: In order for the GA to make a decision on a proposal, at least 50 people should be present (this may be amended as the occupation goes on).

Step by step of decision making process:

1. proposal: written and presented as thoroughly as possible

2. stack: clarifying questions*, pros and cons, suggested amendments (with full explanation)

3. test for consensus; 90% passes proposal


  • ·if  90% approval is not reached, consider friendly amendments and repeat steps 1-3 and try for 80% approval to pass proposal

*clarifying questions can be immediately addressed by those giving the proposal

note:  facilitator may use tools such as a straw poll, group break out discussions, according to their discretion

GA Facilitation Roles (these will be rotating):

-Co-facilitators: core facilitation, announcing agenda items

-Coordinating Committee presenters: gives brief summaries of subcommittee      announcements

-Participant advocators: addresses points-of-process concerns and factual responses        from crowd, counts during tests for consensus, directs people to stage to speak, answers            questions about decision making process

-Note-taker: takes notes of announcements and decisions made during assembly, gets       notes to the web committee

-proposal note-taker: takes down new proposals for the current GA or a later agenda

-Time-keeper: holds up visual reminders of time available for speakers and            announcements

Most recently, they general Assembly passed a vote on Wednesday for a city-wide strike on November 2nd.

Hmmmm, this sounds familiar… (January 7, 2011)
The super-stylish GL20 Camera Glasses contain a camera and 1.5-inch OLED screens that can capture and display images and video to people around you.

The GL20 shades have a USB key in the earpiece so imagery can be transferred to a computer and uploaded to the Internet. The shades will be released later this year at an unspecified price.

A veiled, black-clad Lady Gaga, Polaroid’s creative director, demoed a prototype of the specs on a mannequin, calling the shades the first of their kind. (April 2010)

The iGlasses are a hands free camera located in a pair of sunglasses. They are designed for users who find themselves moving around too much to stop and take pictures.

The glasses can take up to 1,200 1.3 mega pixel photographs over the course of 8 hours. The photographs are automatically streamed online to Flickr when plugged in to a computer via USB.

Obviously they are a little different. Her glasses incorporated a portable printer, and are “super-stylish”

Lady Gaga Camera Glasses
The iGlasses

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