The Watchlist and News

An overview of what’s currently influencing me and updates on published articles, videos, and music.

Article regarding EEG Headsets and their use in the classroom published in Jumpstart Magazine.

I recently wrote an article about emerging educational technology that’s currently being piloted in China — EEG headsets that measure a student’s mindfulness and engagement levels in class. 

For anyone that’s been in my classroom, or even a classmate of mine back in university, you’ve probably heard me speak of this technology and/or saw a demonstration of my own EEG headset. Until recently the technology wasn’t being marketed to the field of education, but, as you can see from the below video, the company Brainco is engaged in such an endeavour. 

As this technology matures we’ll see a paradigm shift in education. I don’t believe that Brainco’s current modelling of this software hardware program will resemble its application within the next decade, which is what I explain in Jumpstart magazine, a tech magazine based in Hong Kong.  If you’d like a digital non-magazine copy of the article (which Jumpstart will eventually publish to their website) message me, and I’ll send over a document.

I truly believe teaching will (and should) look completely different by the end of my career. Here’s my take on what education will look like by the year 2040, which I recently published on Medium.

Sci-fi, a mid-life crisis, and the beginning of the Green revolution.

Westworld

I never thought I’d find a show that makes me feel the same way about storytelling as Lostdid. Westworld accomplished this by delving into the philosophical, attempting to understand the true nature of the mind, morality, and society. Jonathan Nolan, the writer of the show, is a true master considering his ability to churn out thought provoking content that’s highly intellectual in a blockbuster package, as he’s done with his brother Christopher in films such as Interstellar, Inception, and the Dark Knight trilogy. 

For those unfamiliar, Westworld  is set in a theme park filled with artificially intelligent humanoid robots that are virtually indistinguishable from humans. The visitors to the park can engage in whatever behaviour they choose, allowing themselves to get caught up in a wild west type of adventure, without the worry of real world consequences. 

I’m a couple of years behind the Westworld craze. With HBO now streaming in Canada, I was able to consume the first two seasons, however, I’m a little torn on the announcement of season 3 given that season 2 provided a satisfactory ending.

OA {viewing in progress}

The bizarre show based on individuals who travel through dimensions due to NDEs (near death experiences) comes back with a different setup — a detective story of sorts. You’re never quite sure what’s going on in OA, however, the sci-fi aspect of the show is truly fascinating. I liken it to a deeper exploration on the prospect of death than the Robert Redford Netflix film The Discovery (which also starred Kate Mara and Jason Segal).

For those interested in noetic science (check out Ions, or work from Dean Radin). The film essentially delves into the far end of this and legitimizes it in a way that’s more serious than the likes of  Stranger Things

I Am

This film is from 2011, and follows an essential mid-life crisis (though it’s not framed that way) of Tom Shadyac, the director famous for making Jim Carrey a star through films like Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, and Bruce Almighty.

The film is an inquiry project, with the essential question being, “What’s wrong with the world, and what can be done to fix it?” The film interviews intellectuals and leaders with religious, scientific, and sociological backgrounds.

The film never received critical acclaim, although, I feel as if it’s a timing thing as that time period is remembered as less divisive as the Trump led, Brexit focused, global trade war divisive planet we now find ourselves in.  The film also follows Shadyac’s character arc as an explanation for the inquiry, however, it centered on post-concussive syndrome as an impetus for him to leave behind a life of Hollywood glamour which is less convincing than what clearly appears to be an existential crisis that was likely coming despite Shadyac’s condition. 

Nonetheless, the content is superb. I use this film on a semester basis to help students understand their role in the world.

The Green Revolution?

In Canada, Green Party candidates are getting elected, with one province electing them as the official opposition in a minority government. Another Green Party member got elected federally in by-election. This is surprising given that Canada, a middle of the political spectrum country, has again nudged to the right over the past 18 months. Perhaps the tide is changing just in time for the fall federal election.

In the United States, Washington State Govrner Jay Inslee is running on a completely Green platform. 

And in Europe, parties with a focus on climate change made major gains

Last month’s thoughts…

Biden… clearly the front runner in the clouded U.S. Democratic race.

Pinterest… While it still overachieved since it’s IPO, the first earning report has dropped them quite far from their $35/share height. 

Nightflyers, This Will Make You Smarter, Joe Biden, Pinterest, and Orphan Black

Yes, I realize the world is consuming Game of Thrones right now, but I’m a season behind and my wife insists we finish Orphan Black before we move on to Game of Thrones. And to be honest, I’ve been pushing to binge season 2 of O.A., so that’s likely coming next.

This week in what I’m reading, Watching, and Thinking about.

Nightflyers

I mentioned Game of Thrones because Nightflyers is actually based on George R.R. Martin’s 1980 novella of the same name. I’m an episode in and already feeling the 2001 Space Odyssey vibe. Its first episode won’t blow you away, however, it will leave you somewhat curious. I’ve also read that it was cancelled by SyFy, however, I’m also under the impression that the first season can be taken in satisfactorily as a stand alone.

I’m a few episodes in, and I’m hooked at the show’s look into humanity, which I believe will ultimately lead the viewer to wonder why and if we’re worth saving. I’m hooked, in the geeky way. The production value is adequate — something that often lacks with some sci-fi — and the characters are interesting and diverse enough to care.

Orphan Black

This show is insane. It was recommended to me years ago, however, I rediscovered it while perusing CraveTV (an online streaming service in Canada).

The show follows clones learning about themselves, their “sisters”, and their creators. Tatiana Maslany, the show’s lead, is incredible playing multiple characters throughout the seasons. The acting feat is so impressive it’s difficult to believe she’s not a household name.

Every episode feels like a season finale. My only critique is that it can feel exhausting, however, it was created in Canada at a time where binge watching wasn’t the norm. 

Pinterest

Pinterest had an impressive first month after their IPO. Major apps and social media companies seem to rarely do well in their early days, or so that’s my impression. Twitter struggled until the Trump era, Lyft is currently struggling, and Snapchat just can’t grow. Will Pinterest be the different?

Joe Biden…

Announced his bid for President today. However, I’m often saddened to hear that Joe is a lot more conservative than progressive. However, perhaps that’s what the Democrats need in order to unseat Trump. I just worry that they’ll fall prey to the same mindset as they did during the Sanders and Clinton battle, opting for the experienced moderate candidate over the liberal. I should mention, I’m Canadian, however, the presidency affects the world — especially its closest neighbours.

This Will Make You Smarter

This comes from edge.org. If you’re not familiar with edge, their mission statement explains best.

“To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.”

The book features short essays from famous thinkers around the globe, from Steven Pinker to Jaron Lanier. It was published in 2011, yet I’m finding the topics are timeless. It’s actually quite interesting how relevant they still are given we’ve burned through are technology adolescence over the last decade.

The topics are too diverse to delve into this short post, however, expect science, data, philosophy, and consciousness to be subjects that consistently reveal themselves throughout the book. I actually downloaded the audiobook from Scribd and listen to it often in my 20 minute drive to and from work.

note: some of the above links are affiliate based