While we argue over whether we should be using proprietary technologies or FOSS technologies in our examination-driven, expediency based education system, President Obama calls on all American learners to learn to code. He is asking for his country to hold the technology lead that they have taken. Unless our Department of Basic Education come out of their administration-driven educational thinking, they are going to relegate our next generation to be mere consumers in the Knowledge Economy. Is it not time we stood up, and claimed the freedom for which Madiba sacrificed so much. There is no reason we can't take our place as builders of the Knowledge Economy. But not with our current mindset. No way. We have to up our game.
Why not? Any why not respect Madiba's legacy by making this happen in the spirit of software freedom?
The Department of Basic Education Circular requiring proprietary office & programming technologies: An excellent example of how not to do IT in education in South African schools. This presentation was given at the a stakeholder meeting at the Department of Basic Education, December 6th 2013
The following recommendations were made (with thanks to Mike Chiles for his contribution):
I got the distinct impression that:
I felt like I was in a meeting of people who had agreed that they wanted to live their lives in prison, I was arguing that living outside prison was better when all they wanted to know was whether to sleep on the left or right side of the prison cell. It looks as though software colonialism will be allowed, but I hope I am proven wrong on this. If I am I will eat humble pie in abundance.
As the summer holiday season is just about here, I have decided to make a few posts about one of my favourite topics: photography. The title of this post, "Photography is passion, energy, thought and knowledge combined with light, colour, shape, texture and movement to create emotion", tries to capture what photography means to me.
One of the things in life that I am passionate about is photography. I have a lot of photographs on Flickr, the social image sharing site owned by Yahoo. I also share many of my photos on Facebook, mainly for my friends and acquaintences who are interested in my phogotraphy. Mostly, I photograph nature. If I take pictures of people, I prefer to do it where people and nature or people and larger human creativity are juxtaposed. After all, juxtaposition is probably the single most important source of creativity.
I get asked a lot of questions about photographs and photography, and for a long time I have been meaning to have a blog section on it. So this is it, I am going to try to start talking about how I think of photography. I got into it when my mother bought me a Minolta range finder camera way back in high school. She must have gone without in order to do so, because to say that we were not very well off is an understatement. I fell in love with it immediately. And I have been doing photography in some form ever since, both on land and under water. So, on to the lentils of this vegetarian post.
Photography is all about light. Images are built from the interplay of light, shape, texture and movement and their capture into a static moment. The combination of ingredients that make an image are transient, unless you are in the completely controlled environment of a studio, and even then, only inanimate things are static. So photography is about capturing a static representation of an ever changing world, and doing so in a way that evokes emotion. If a photograph does not evoke emotion, it is as wall painting with a roller is to art, and you should drag it onto the trash icon.
I have often had people say, I wish I had your camera, in the belief that the camera makes a difference. Of course it does to some degree, especially the lens quality, but you can make really creative photographs using anything that can record a still image. The first part of capturing good, emotive images is to know the device, what you can do with it, and what its limitations are, and to know how to use the device to capture light. The second part of capturing good images is to know your subject. Someone who doesn't know anything about horses will struggle to take good horse pictures. They will be flat, like a paint by numbers painting is to art. The third part of taking good photos is to know light. There is an element of the physics of light that you need to understand, but more importantly is to understand the importance of the interplay of light, shadow, colour and texture, and how to use your camera to manipulate them. A fourth part of making a good photograph is composition, what of the scene in front of you is in and what is out, what parts do you want to emphasize, and what angle will create the best image. A tiny change in angle produces a very different result.
So in the next set of blog posts, I will explore some of these ideas and how I use them. You might not like all my photographs, or even any of them, but there is passion, energy, thought and knowlege and thought in all of them. This is what we will explore.
This morning we woke up to the not unexpected news that our great leader, Nelson Mandela, had died during the night. No South African could have failed to have tears in their eyes. I wrote the following on my Facebook profile:
Later today, I am going to be at the Department of Basic Education (DBE), for a discussion or debate on the DBE decision to only allow proprietary technologies to be used for examining two areas of the high school curriculum. There are lots of pragmatic reasons why that decision is wrong. However, fundamentally, it is wrong because it teaches young people to be slaves to those whose hegemony keeps the proprietary software business model alive. Madiba fought for freedom, he recognised that the only chance for us to stay free is if the young people understand freedom. DBE is teaching that slavery is OK in the digital world. And that is wrong.
The future is here, it is among the young people of our nation. Let us not rob them of freedom in the digital world simply because we do not understand it, or because we understand it but don't care.