In the third edition of our weekly : TheSunnyMag, we bring you the interesting, the insightful, the happening and the strange from across the world wild web. Please share your feedback with us (simply write to team@NextBigWhat.com) on what you’d like to see in this section.
The education factory: Machines Are Taking Over: Neil Heffernan was listening to his fiancée, Cristina Lindquist, tutor one of her students in mathematics when he had an idea. Heffernan was a graduate student in computer science, and by this point — the summer of 1997 — he had been working for two years with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University on developing computer software to help students improve their skills. But he had come to believe that the programs did little to assist their users. They were built on elaborate theories of the student mind — attempts to simulate the learning brain. Then it dawned on him: what was missing from the programs was the interventions teachers made to promote and accelerate learning. Why not model a computer program on a human tutor like Lindquist? Read the full story here.
How Social Media Is Helping Plant One Million Trees In Patagonia: Green technology journalist Nino Marchetti, a Facebook game hater, writes how he discovered Reforest Patagonia, a campaign helped plant 100,000 trees in Patagonia where a devastating man-made fire burned over 43,000 acres in the iconic Torres del Paine National Park last december. Since then, the Chile-based non-profit initiative, has been working to restore the ecosystem to its former glory. Among other things, they decided to leverage love for social media games into real world action. Through this creative campaign, Reforest Patagonia recently achieved their first 100,000 tree milestone, and is well on its way to the goal of one million planted trees by 2013. Read how they do it.
How Social media is used in Indian schools to spy on kids: School officials are assuming fake identities to befriend students on Social media and check if they are making uncharitable comments against their teachers, schools or even each other, in an ethically questionable and possibly illegal expedient to curb what they see as unacceptable behaviour in India. What message are we sending to the kids? Read about this grossly unethical behaviour here.
When Bohemians do a startup: Tracy DiNunzio isn’t your typical Silicon Valley startup founder. She’s a painter and a self-proclaimed Bohemian. She did her first tech startup after the age of 30. And she didn’t start her company in Northern California. Find out more about how this entrepreneur raised $ 28,000 using Airbnb to fund her startup out of necessity and drove the company to profitability before paying herself a modest salary. Read the full story here.
The Economics of Pussy Riot on YouTube: News flash: The jailed Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot “did not gain international fame through their musicality per se.”
That insight—none too surprising if you’ve ever clicked on a Pussy Riot video on YouTube—appears in an academic paper (pdf) by three electronic-commerce researchers from the University of Texas, Austin. The 45-page paper, filled with equations and Greek letters, explains how being deliberately offensive can help a video break through the clutter on YouTube, where 72 hours’ worth of video are uploaded every minute. Read the full story here.
Barber Shops don’t scale fast, startups do: A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Let’s start with a distinction that should be obvious but is often overlooked: not every newly founded company is a startup. Millions of companies are started every year in the US. Only a tiny fraction are startups. Most are service businesses—restaurants, barbershops, plumbers, and so on. These are not startups, except in a few unusual cases. A barbershop isn’t designed to grow fast. Whereas a search engine, for example, is. Read more by startup guru Paul Graham here.
Facebook Can ID Faces, but Using Them Grows Tricky: Facebook on Friday confronted a new obstacle over what to do with one of its most vital assets — pictures.The company promised European regulators that it would forgo using facial recognition software and delete the data used to identify Facebook users by their pictures.The decision could have wide repercussions on how facial recognition technology — a particularly sensitive technological advance — is used globally as surveillance cameras are increasingly installed in public spaces. Read the full story here.
It ain’t over yet: Apple requests additional $707 million in damages, permanent US sales ban on 29 Samsung devices. In a motion filed late Friday, Apple asked Judge Lucy Koh to add an additional $707 million to the $1.05 billion in damages awarded by a jury in last month’s ruling against Samsung. The company also requested a permanent ban on US sales of 26 Samsung smartphones and three of its tablets. Samsung, meanwhile, argued for a new trial and said that, “at a minimum,” the awarded damages should be reduced by $35 million. Read more here.
The Era of Retail 3D Printing Begins: A quirky kind of store has opened up at 298 Mulberry Street in downtown Manhattan. It’s the first retail location for MakerBot, one of the leading consumer 3D printer companies. People can come in, look at a variety of printed objects, and buy 3D printed knickknacks like watch bands and little plastic squirrels for their friends. They can also check out the just-released Replicator 2 printer from MakerBot that costs $2,199 and lets people build larger, more precise objects than its predecessors could. Read here.
Cardboard Bike from Israel Makes Cycling Even Greener: Engineers told Izhar Gafni that a cardboard bike was impossible. But he went ahead and made one anyway. An ardent cyclist and skilled mechanic, Gafni found a cardboard bicycle taking shape in his mind. American engineers he consulted solemnly nay-sayed, but he couldn’t let go of the idea, he told the Israeli tech blog NewsGeek (in Hebrew). The story behind the cardboard bicycle is here.
Scientists Turn Entrepreneurs: Academics are beginning to take their research and ideas forward by setting up their own ventures. Forbes India has an interesting series on them. Read more.
Lifehack: 30 ways you can save one minute a day: We’re all looking for ways to save time. No matter how small the amount, the more time we save today, the better off we’ll be in the future. Maybe not tomorrow, but definitely over time the minutes and hours will add up. But where do you start? Here.