Mobiles and Education

WSJ writes about a Nokia service that teaches English to China’s mobile users:

Nokia Corp. launched a service that enables Chinese to download English language lessons using their mobile phones, an effort by the world’s biggest cellphone maker to tap into a growing fascination with English in the world’s top wireless market.

Nokia plans to charge users for the new, made-for-China service, called Mobiledu, which it launched yesterday. The service, which includes both audio- and text-based lessons, aims to capitalize on China’s enormous language-learning market, which has been growing quickly as Chinese embrace global business and prepare for an influx of foreign visitors during next year’s Olympic games in Beijing.

MySpace and Facebook

Josh Kopelman writes:

By providing a clear roadmap and business opportunity for the widget makers, Facebook has just increased its virtual R&D budget by over $250 million dollars. By welcoming third-party innovation, Facebook will reap the benefit of hundreds of millions of dollars of venture investment and the Facebook user will have a much richer experience. I’d wager that every widget maker who has previously relied on Myspace for traffic is hard at work this holiday weekend on migrating their application to support the Facebook API.

Facebook has recognized (and embraced) something that Myspace has not that there is more value in owning a web platform then a web property. This brings back memories from the early days of the Internet, when companies like Prodigy and AOL were the only online services in town. Despite the launch of the web browser (which unleashed the creation of millions of web sites), AOL and Prodigy initially focused on maintaining their proprietary online environment and controlling everything on their site. It took a few years, but ultimately they saw that it is impossible for one company — no matter how popular and well-funded — to compete with an unlimited army of motivated (and funded) developers. Even Microsoft recognizes that the true strength of it’s Windows platform comes from the volume of third-party developers building (and profiting from selling) Windows applications.

Steven Johnson Interview

PopMatters features an interview of Steven Johnson by Jason Jones:

This idea of the long zoom, a perspective that shifts back and forth from the macro- to the microcosm, organizes each of Steven Johnsons five books of cultural criticism and science journalism. As he explains below, Johnson deploys concepts borrowed from contemporary science and from literary theory, using these in particular to understand the way informationbiological, cultural, or otherself-organizes as it moves along networks. Its not that he has one idea and applies it indiscriminately; rather, the long zoom is a kind of method: He focuses attentively on what happens at the moments when one shifts between scalesthose moments, that is, when an explanatory vocabulary that makes sense from one point of view appears to break down. Johnson consistently shows how scientific and cultural progress happens when consilient thinkers are able to translate observations and data at one level of experience into another, making visible what had been hidden.