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25 OCTOBER 2013

Working gun made with 3D printer

"The world's first gun made with 3D printer technology has been successfully fired in the US. The controversial group which created the firearm, Defense Distributed, plans to make the blueprints available online. The group has spent a year trying to create the firearm, which was successfully tested on Saturday at a firing range south of Austin, Texas. Anti–gun campaigners have criticised the project. Europe's law enforcement agency said it was monitoring developments. ...

The idea is that as the printers become cheaper, instead of buying goods from shops, consumers will instead be able to download designs and print out the items at home. But as with all new technologies, there are risks as well as benefits."

(Rebecca Morelle, 6 May 2013)



20133D printing • ABS plastic • anti-gun campaign • ATF • BBC World Serviceblueprint • Cody Wilson • complex solid objects • computer printer • controversial group • cost effectivecriminal acts • crypto-anarchist • cybercrime • Defense Distributed (organisation) • destructive potentialethical considerations • Europol • firearm • freely availablegun • gun control • gun laws • law enforcementlaw studentmanufacturing • National Firearms Act • New Yorkers Against Gun Violence • personal liberties • plasticpotential for harmproduct designtechnological determinismtechnological developmentstechnological instrumentalismtechnology as neutralTexas • Undetectable Firearms Act • University of Texas • US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF)


Simon Perkins
11 NOVEMBER 2012

Do online courses spell the end for the traditional university?

"The future that [Sebastian] Thrun believes in, that has excited him more than self–driving cars, or sci–fi–style gadgets, is education. Specifically, massive online education free to all. The music industry, publishing, transportation, retail – they've all experienced the great technological disruption. Now, says Thrun, it's education's turn.

'It's going to change. There is no doubt about it.' Specifically, Thrun believes, higher education is going to change. He has launched Udacity, an online university, and wants to provide mass high quality education for the world. For students in developing countries who can't get it any other way, or for students in the first world, who can but may choose not to. Pay thousands of pounds a year for your education? Or get it free online?"

(Carole Cadwalladr, Sunday 11 November 2012, The Guardian)



Simon Perkins

The mathematics of Hollywood blockbuster

HOLLYWOOD'S golden age may have ended in the 1950s, but it is only recently that Tinseltown appears to have hit upon a mathematical way to capitalise on our fickle attention spans.

"Film–makers have got better and better at constructing shots so that their lengths grab our attention," says James Cutting, a psychologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He analysed 150 Hollywood movies and found that the more recent they were, the more closely their shot lengths tended to follow a mathematical pattern that also describes human attention spans.

In the 1990s, a team at the University of Texas, Austin, measured the attention spans of volunteers as they performed hundreds of consecutive trials. When they turned these measurements into a series of waves using a mathematical trick called a Fourier transform, the waves increased in magnitude as their frequency decreased.

(Ewen Callaway, 18 February 2010, New Scientist)


1/f law1950s • a series of waves • algorithmalgorithmic filters • attention spans • consecutive trials • constructing shots • Cornell University • decreased frequency • filmmaker • Fourier transform • golden agegrab our attentionHollywoodHollywood movies • human attention spans • increased magnitude • James Cutting • mathematical algorithm • mathematical patternmeasurementneurocinematicsNew Scientist • our fickle attention spans • psychological analysispsychological perceptionpsychological sciencepsychology • shot lengths • Tinseltown • University of Texas


Tessa Szwarnowska
19 AUGUST 2009

The Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment

"DIWE, a suite of collaborative tools designed to run on a local area network, helps students develop their skills in writing and critical thinking. The software includes six primary features:

Prewriting is a key stage of the writing process, but writers often lack effective invention strategies. Invent leads writers through a step–by–step process to help them explore their writing topics. In addition to the built–in prewriting prompts, instructors can create new prompts that best fit their curriculum, pedagogy, and students' needs.

Writers want to write, not process words. Write, a streamlined word processor with simple formatting and spell checking, allows writers to compose and revise standard academic essays without the distractions of complicated menus and options. It also includes a unique Concordance feature that can help guide revision.

Peer review is critical to revision, but peer reviewers sometimes struggle to generate effective feedback. Respond displays a writer's draft and guides a reviewer through a series of feedback prompts. The prompts build on leading–edge composition theory and practice, and instructors can create their own prompts as well.

Computer–mediated communication helps students collaborate at any stage of the learning and writing processes. Mail, an electronic bulletin board, enables students to post and read both public messages (for all the class) and private messages (for a single recipient).

Real–time computer–mediated communication has emerged as one of the most effective ways to encourage all students to write and participate more. InterChange is used for prewriting, discussions of course content and readings, and peer review workshops.

Correctly documenting sources is essential to effective academic writing, but many students find it a tedious process. BiblioCite greatly simplifies the task by providing simple forms where the students enter their bibliographic information; the program then generates properly formatted MLA Works Cited and APA References pages."
(The Daedalus Group, Inc. 2009)



1988 • APA • BiblioCite • bibliographic informationcitationcollaborative toolscritical thinking • Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment • DIWE • InterChange • invent • mail • MLA Works Cited • paedagogypedagogypeer review • respond • revisionteachingUniversity of Texas • write • writing


Simon Perkins

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