MOOC or not to mooc – New Year, Old Ideas, Same Comments

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In Praise of Imperfection – Commentary on MOOCs

For a broader platform, please read    http://bit.ly/Fiction_CACS

Dissemination of knowledge is held hostage by venture capitalists in the “business model” approach to MOOCs pioneered by Sebastian Thrun’s Udacity. It is expected. What was unexpected is its echo during recent talks at edx which revealed similar inclinations as expressed by Anant Agarwal of MIT. The Circuits course from MIT and the AI course by Messrs Thrun and Norvig is not education, there is nothing “massive” about it and it is a fallacy to use a “novelty” based experience to forecast the future or advance audacious claims of “changing” the world. Let us be cautious about over-using this phrase when we are cognizant of the fact that about a billion people are hungry, each day.

Availability of one or more technological tools are not an incentive for a disenfranchised youth to turn over a new leaf. One cannot churn out entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors from Draper University or Udacity. There is a need for a fundamental layer of the essentials: diligence, details, determination and drive. Education builds on intrinsic respect.

When mothers are educated, boys become outstanding members of society with utmost respect for others. The reason we have so much indifferences in the world is because the generations seem to grow like a weed from broken families and no one cares about respect. Hence, education is asphyxiated by disrespect and the perceived lack of value, in some nations. Therefore, educating girls and women must be an universal goal for one and all.

In the emerging economies, the incessant march of poverty scorches the social cohesion of the well knit family by the relentless pursuit of food and shelter. Hence, technology is merely an euphemism for excesses, luxury and riches. Those who have succeeded to escape above the poverty line or climb the ladder to reach the so-called “middle” class are in need of basic education for their children. Basic math is the bedrock and mobile phone usage is not an index of advancement in anything except the bottom lines of the telcos.

Circuits and AI related MOOC courses are akin to polishing the Kohinoor diamond, if it was on the Taj Mahal. The masses are in dire need of massive infusion of a combination of these elements: ambition, food, tools, guidance and basic education followed by opportunities. MOOCs are eager to polish the chrome at the cost of ignoring the pre-requisite, the need to tune the engine. The ephemeral glow from polished chrome appears to have been tarnished by the disturbing data which has revealed the infinitesimal percentage of students who may complete a MOOC course, any MOOC course.

One reason for the one-hit wonder of MOOC is embedded in the fact that MOOCs are not a part of the social equation for economic growth. In the US that equation, unfortunately, is the domain of the state-run quagmire referred to as the public school system and to a lesser extent the community colleges. It is terribly unfair to expect MOOCs to retrofit social injustices, however remediable they may be. Remediable injustices are beyond the domain of the MOOCs.

Peddling a veneer of prosperity through the facade of technology is an ineffective solution to ameliorate socio-economic inadequacies. Human dimensions revolve around timeframes which may be magnitudes apart from the semantics of time used in technology. MOOC drivers cannot be blamed for the imbalances in emerging economies which may make MOOC an impotent platform for education when immersed in the reality, today.

MOOCs have a place in the portfolio of global education. It is also a potential contributor to workforce development and on-the-job training or job re-training. Global education is far more crucial and complex. In the interest of economic growth, MOOC offerings for global education must focus on mathematics followed by a secondary focus on world languages and a tertiary smorgasbord of science, engineering and economics to enable the educated to gain a better sense of the future.

Carnegie-Mellon’s (CMU) efforts to standardize MOOC platforms are a step in the right direction. Organization of MOOCs following the infrastructure of the Khan Academy is the “guidance” that one seeks to structure the education of their children. There is always enough room to provide deep webs with advanced material, novel insights and amazing content but you cannot uphold a bejeweled platinum dome, weighing a megaton, on top of four rickety legs made of bits of straw and sand.

Building the structure to deliver the fundamentals in a manner accessible to the masses is the first step toward a vision of global knowledge dissemination using the medium of the internet. In the near future, through the industrial internet or the internet of things/people.

MOOCs today are similar to the Apple Newton, ahead of its time. MOOCs today are like TVs in the 1960’s, fuzzy, grainy and sandy. MOOCs today remind us of the august declaration from Scientific American to affirm that the aeroplane is going to ‘revolutionize’ naval warfare of the future is to be guilty of the wildest exaggeration” (16 July 1910). Later, a greater insult was added, “aviation is fine as a sport but as an instrument of war, it is worthless” (General Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superiure de Guere, 1911).

It is premature to draft the obituary of the MOOC as a platform or play with the possible versions of the epitaph on its headstone. MOOC and the concept is neither dead nor dying. It is only maladjusted, bit of a heartburn and constipated.

The current offerings of MOOC in some formats from a few organizations are appreciated only by a minority of brilliant students, but unsuitable for mass consumption due to the advanced content, when accessed by the students who lack the fundamental rigor. The latter can be acquired from learning the basic tenets and investing due diligence. There is no room for any short-cuts.

If MOOCs are differentiated and delivered through global socio-economic growth organizations or educational NGO’s, then, the scope of MOOCs may spread beyond the horizon. Innovative distribution channels for the diffusion of knowledge may lift many boats rather than a few yachts that Udacity and edx may reach.

MOOCs are here to stay but its goals and offerings must be re-thought, re-designed and re-configured to re-shape education and adapt as a catalyst for economic growth in the future.

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http://bit.ly/S-Datta           

New Year, Old Conundrum, Same Euphemism

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New Year, Old Conundrum, Same Euphemism

Is the educated consumer still our best customer? Are we pinning our hopes of economic recovery on this mantra? Has “education” anything to do with the rigor of teaching and learning mathematics, science and engineering as a catalyst for imagination, invention and entrepreneurial innovation?

DOWNLOAD
Future? http://tinyurl.com/future2future
Imagination? http://www.mediafire.com/view/?9k7xobgwkixgd4l

In 2009-2010, according to NCES, there were 182,000 and 39,300 Master’s degree conferred in education and engineering, respectively. Following the 80/20 rule but in reverse order, about 80% of the education degrees were earned by women while more than 80% of the engineering degrees were awarded to men. The number of M Ed qualified individuals are increasing by leaps and bounds (correlated to increase in highly paid administrators?) while the US continues to fall behind in 8th grade student performance in mathematics (behind Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, Russia) except for the State of Massachusetts which succeeded in keeping its head just above the sinking line (both for mathematics and science). How does M Ed fit in the context of 62% and 31% of high school mathematics and physics teachers who are certified to teach mathematics and physics, respectively? 

A comparison of edu facts with a review of the outstanding brilliance and brain power in President Obama’s PCAST membership, makes one shudder to realize how the process of change has been made effectively impotent by powerful special interest groups.

Temporary Concluding Commentary -

Nations rely on consumer driven economies where individual spending is key. It appears, increasingly, in the US, the bureaucratic delivery of education is evolving as government welfare. Horatio Alger is now almost a myth. That vital life force has been reduced to packaged delivery of shoddy services and testing to promote the illusion of excellence within the convenience of regulations, pushed by regulators and bounded by red-tape manufactured by the education industry tailored to suit the edu-cronies. To further enhance the practice of pleonexia by the so-called schools of education, all personnel must be certified for a fee. In fear of retribution and afraid to delve deeper to seed the real substance of change, even the well-intentioned must operate with restraint if they wish to keep their job and eventually expect to collect their pension. The “appearance” of change is aggressively fabricated by the staging of words by highly paid PR specialists and spin-quackery services often provided by “consulting firms” which are founded by “senior management” in school districts. They create obfuscating ways to shape the “message” in less than 140 words, embrace the platitudes of the moment, postpone the difficult decisions until the next Facebook meeting or the next election, define the call for substance as disruptions that must be smoothed over, divert the questions that must be answered and develop mechanisms to shrug the responsibilities that one must shoulder. There are exceptions which prove the rule that public education has ceased to be the purveyor of civilization. In the US, it is driven as a social care bureaucracy steered by edu-cronies who wear a perpetual unctuous grin assimilating both the promises of a television evangelist and the sympathies of a funeral director (paraphrasing GBS).

Imagination

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Earlier today (08.04.2011) the First Lady sent out an e-card for the masses to sign for President Obama’s 50th birthday. I grasped the opportunity to add this comment: Mr President – The education of a boy changes the life of a man. The education of a girl changes the destiny of the nation.

Today, was also the biggest intra-day drop in the history of the Dow Jones (512 points). Unfortunately, not a great birthday gift for President Obama. Conspiracy theorists may suggest that Wall Street engineered the drop on the President’s birthday to express its disapproval of the President’s plight to improve the quality of life for the ordinary 98% of Jane Doe and John Smith. An imminent credit downgrade may top off the birthday week.

For a bright spot in a bleak week, one may turn to the 20th anniversary of the first web page published on 6 August 1991 (http://info.cern.ch/) and also the sound “bite” from Matt Damon’s comments (yesterday) in favor of school teachers. But the news that house prices dropped by a third in several major US cities, may take the wind out of the sail. To add insult to injury, it appears that the real fiscal gap in the US may be more than $211 trillion (http://t.co/d8aCjKv) or 15 times the number ($14 trillion) floating in the media. USDA reports that 46 million Americans are currently using food stamps, that is, 15% of US citizens are on some form of social welfare.

Each economic indicator appears to deliver a blow. Blow by blow every child is left behind and their future may drown in the US public education quagmire. Leaders endowed with ambition and aspiration are hard to find (http://wp.me/p1z8d1-3), inspiration and inclination are barely hanging by a thread, mathematics and science are reduced to the lowest common denominator by a politically self-preserving educational system gone awry. Rather than “where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio” the town crier may wish to croon “where have you gone, Horatio Alger” to succinctly capture the national angst of the 98% Americans earning under $250,000 per annum.

Business growth, share price and housing demand are supposed to be statistically related with other key economic indicators. Education is the foundation for civilization yet selectively neglected, highly polarized and grossly inefficient. There is neither a quick fix nor an “innovator’s solution” for this colossal mess.

What if education was pursued mostly as an online business development by a group of conglomerates? Will it crimp Sue and Sally’s social growth? Could it disseminate the skills and knowledge we need to improve our global quality of life? Can it be profitable enough for investors to invest in altruism for profit (http://wp.me/p1z8d1-r) and worthy of corporate experimentation for social enrichment as a marketing tool to generate future customers as well as brand loyalty?

On 08.11.2011, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Yunus took his appeal for “social business” to the US State Department (Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus). Promoting “social business” as a global poverty eradication measure may not materialize without forging alliances with corporate behemoths who can (ethically) deliver the fundamental instruments to alleviate ignorance, improve education and boost workforce skills development. If the iconography of social business is “poverty” then it may be uncomfortable for the concept to sit well in corporate boardrooms.

The risks of “social business” require deep pockets and solemn commitment to assume the grave risks that leadership demands. An altruistic fixed-profit-for-profit (F2P2) business model for global public goods, such as, health, energy and education (H2E) may be a “disruptive innovation” in revenue modeling to be based on micro-payments in a pay-per-use business services (SaaS) concept. The latter may not be a “one shoe fits all” solution or a panacea but one of a few key mechanisms which may help transform, albeit in part, the concept of “social business” from a grand vision to an embryonic pragmatism for the masses.

Dr Yunus may be aware of the economic incentives and drivers necessary for a handful of ethical corporate leaders to adopt measures along the lines of social business and make it appear palatable to the shareholders. The altruistic distinction may be the use of the fixed-profit-for-profit (F2P2) revenue model but for organizations to engage in F2P2 they will require marketing incentives as a carrot for shareholders. The potential for Dr Yunus to make a difference and achieve or induce “social business” practices may not be due to the direct exercise of power on his part (speech at US State Department on 08.11.2011). He may be uniquely situated to serve the poor by infecting a few CEO’s with his enthusiasm, persuading them to reflect on his views, equipping them with his vast experience, sharing his sheer knowledge of hurdles to reduce mis-steps and enlisting their personal loyalty to this noble cause. The thrust of “social business” is ultimately about improving the standard of living, business development and global economic growth.

The business of the poor must be aimed at lifting the poor on to a higher economic level which we refer to as middle-class for lack of a better word. You can feed the poor Dannon yogurt as nourishment but once their healthy bodies are on that rung of the middle-class ladder and they have acquired the purchasing power then they better buy Dannon yogurt and not the home-grown generic brand from the corner store. Dannon’s social business investment practitioners will demand brand loyalty as a return for their F2P2 social business investment. Creating new markets is an incentive necessary for corporate investment if social business is expected to serve as a principle of economic transformation. The social business of education may be a pre-requisite (explore http://www.mediafire.com/view/?9k7xobgwkixgd4l).

The principle of F2P2 underscores the need for profit in this altruistic approach, no matter how little. It is naïve to believe that philanthropists will drive social business, successfully. Building sustainable social infra-structure is far more effective in the long term compared to band-aid contributions to put out the fire. Having said that, one must hasten to add, that the latter is necessary and often urgent in humanitarian situations but is not a substitute for change which will grow roots (The Elusive Quest for Growth by William Easterly, MIT Press, 2001).

At least one global vaccination program driven by one of the world’s most powerful philanthropic foundations is an example of quid pro quo in the context of profit. The financial donation for the vaccination program is partly used to purchase the vaccine from the for-profit companies spawned from investments made by the philanthropic organization or its umbrella
groups.

Social activists will cry “greed” but rational thinkers, hopefully, will respect the quintessential need for such quid pro quo in order to help the poor out of poverty. To use the uncomfortable word “greed” when talking about social business may be heretic but anything less than “greed” merely masquerades as a transparent camouflage. Hence, greed must precede the practice of “social business” or expectation of altruism irrespective of the oxymoronic semantics.

Greed was recently denounced (http://t.co/v4J00op) even in the temple of profitability, aka, Harvard Business School (HBS). It was assumed that the appointment of a person of Indian origin as the Dean of Harvard Business School was a signal or may segue to soft edges or an initiation to transform the cultivation of “greed” which is a prized commodity at Harvard Business School and in the business world, in general. One may wonder if this iconography draws from another Indian, Mahatma Gandhi.

The appointment of the HBS Dean by the HBS Committee must reflect an explicit recognition of the candidate’s zeal to uphold, amplify and strengthen the existing, roaring and immensely profitable Harvard culture. In addition, the candidate must have documented an abundance of promise to drive such qualities to the zenith in order to impress the select members of the Committee to gain such an august appointment. It is likely that the candidate may have even surpassed the Harvard Brahmins in the special ethos which is the focus of the recent article.

By comparing the appointment of the Dean of HBS to the election of President Obama, in my limited opinion, the author of the article (http://t.co/v4J00op) insulted, on so many levels, those of us who comprise the 98% of the Americans who earn under $250,000 per annum. The article could have served a better purpose or as an elevated beacon if it didn’t involve the President, albeit, by analogy.

Also, a distinction that is perhaps not mandatory or necessary but may offer a sense of balance, particularly when pointing fingers. The HBS Dean, Professor Nitin Nohria, is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of the masses, the “social business” of the poor and the responsibility of the chosen few to give voice to the voiceless. What Professor Nitin Nohria chooses to pursue in his professional capacity may be distinct from his personal views, his humanity and conscience. HBS is expected to shake off the ordinary and chaperone the extra-ordinary in order to enable them to arrive at the luminous summit. Outsiders incessantly pontificate about HBS, MIT Sloan, and Booth because it is well nigh impossible to ignore the products of these schools that continue to shape global economies through their boom and bust cycles. It may be nice to have all things equal but that is a fallacy, paradox and un-scientific. Nothing may flow unless there is a gradient.

It is the task of Harvard Business School to inculcate in the students the values which will eventually increase shareholder value, in their respective
organizations. It is precisely that “value” which has given us philanthropy on the scale of Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, the Late Margaret Cargill, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Lucille Packard Foundation, GE Foundation, HHMI, Marc Benioff and so many others. Greed is the reason why corporate behemoths and their leaders are able to lend an altruistic ear to Dr Yunus and his “social business” drumbeat (http://lnkd.in/rRKd5r) increasingly reiterated in all three of his related books.

Greed has its rightful place in the House of Profitable Extremists (HOPE). HBS’s greed may be the blessing we need to function as the catalyst for global benevolence. Not every type of “greed” manifests or morphs as “giving” in the same way that all saints are not sufficiently saintly. Without greed and the inequality it fosters, there may not be any “HOPE” for philanthropy or giving. One must hope that HBS and its culture of greed deserve protection, preservation and promotion by the appointment of Deans who are capable of such leadership because they will eventually create givers from takers.

Greed is an instrument of goodwill.

Paradoxes such as these may drive new paradigms, for example, altruistic fixed-profit-for-profit (F2P2) business model for global public goods, such as, health, energy and education (H2E) based on “micro” concepts in healthcare (http://wp.me/p1z8d1-r), non-fossil carbon-conscious renewable liquid energy (http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/62251) and education, as long as we have the IMAGINATION (http://www.mediafire.com/view/?9k7xobgwkixgd4l) to undertake for-profit experiments such as social business to reflect social corporate responsibility for the global community. But, the community must not choose to forget that all businesses must be for profit. (Updated 8/13).

About the author http://lnkd.in/Zb5SiT

Email to shoumendatta [at] gmail [dot] com

IMAGINATIONwww.mediafire.com/view/?9k7xobgwkixgd4l

Pay-Per-SaaS as an IPv6 App

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Profit from IPv6 enabled Pay-Per-SaaS to reduce Transaction Cost

Financial agility may be the key to profitability if [a] the market can only bear small costs and [b] dynamic systems are deployed to combine economies of scale with pay per transaction. This age-old idea may be the staple for billing and payment for mobile SaaS (software as a service). Business analytics may offer additional sources of revenue for software analytics and services (SAAS) as a part of SaaS. In combination, SaaS and its subset SAAS, may serve a vast array of verticals including traditional B2B edge services, energy efficiency, streaming entertainment, online education, retail networks, supply chain operations, logistics, transportation, security, equipment monitoring, insurance industry and remote healthcare monitoring (http://esd.mit.edu/wps/2008/esd-wp-2008-17.pdf).

From a historical perspective, the POTS (telephone) billing system (pay per call) and metered usage of utilities are familiar examples of user identification coupled billing. For metered usage of electricity, the first successful AC ampere-hour meter was developed in 1888 by Oliver B. Shallenberger, Westinghouse’s chief electrician (http://watthourmeters.com/westinghouse/shall-amp.html).

In the post-internet era, there is a growing anathema toward fixed payments and block charges, eg, basic “blanket” service charge or connection fee. The recent outburst due to changes made by Netflix is one of many examples (see link below). Netflix missed the opportunity to pioneer new methods of payment for its instant streaming-on-demand (iSOD) and gobsmacked the market by instituting a fixed cost for DVD-by-snail-mail (DBSM) only to better establish RedBox in the DVD market (however, all advantages are temporary). Netflix could have usurped the pay-as-you-go scheme (which epitomized the mobile phone industry) for its DVD business or could have taken a page from Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) success story (http://news.yahoo.com/amazons-next-billion-dollar-business-eyed-015605726.html).

In a related vein, the introduction of mini-packaging for toothpaste (in India) stands out as an example of marketing innovation which combined the concepts of economies of scale with pay per transaction, to a limited extent. According to the World Bank (2005), 75% of the population in India may still live on less than $2 a day (by purchasing power parity). The Government of India indicates about 40% of the population may be below the international poverty line ($1.25 per day). Therefore, purchasing toothpaste in a standard (US) 175 g pack (6.2 oz) at a cost of about $4.49 may be a rare luxury when the national per capita income (India, 2010-11) is $1200 per annum, approximately. The vendor considered the scale of the market as well as the cost it can bear on a “luxury” good, ie, toothpaste in a tube. The pack size was reduced to 17 g (0.6 oz) and priced at $ 0.50 or about 20 Rupees (INR). The exponential increase in the volume of toothpaste sales in the mass market of more than 1.1 billion is an indication of the potential for profit which may be extracted by combining a systems approach with scale and micro-payments to reduce barriers to market entry in any economy, emerging or not.

Hence, selling software licenses for fixed payment seems archaic yet it has predominated the industry only to exclude or limit the spectrum of customers (for example, SAP sales in the SME segment). Mobility and portability of services (SaaS and SAAS) has improved (for example, Microsoft Dynamics) but yesterday’s payment model still appears to be the norm. Mobility of applications in the hand of the end user as well as near real-time B2B analytics and SaaS requires granularity of documenting events and billing for instances of use. The micro-payment stream, based on instances of actual usage, may be far greater in volume and profit, compared to fixed cost structures (however segmented or tiered) for SaaS or SAAS.

Business and individual customers of the very near future will create market demand for SAAS•SaaS but neither may pay for fixed price contracts. One key to profitability may be rooted in the fundamental feature of the service. In other words, SaaS type of services are (a) acquiring and (b) analyzing data in the “cloud” followed by (c)delivering the output. This sequence may be segmented into telecommunications services and computing (storage included) services. The cost of data volume can be precisely billed using volume of packets delivered/exchanged. Associated IPv6 provides the unique id of the user. In this scenario, the user only pays for the precise data/information volume carried by the medium (telco). The data processing function consumes CPU (cloud-grid) which can be metered and billed as two components: user CPU time is the time to execute the instructions of the program and the system CPU time is the time used by the operating system to run the program. These elements in CPU time consumed (billed) are the products of instruction count x cycles per instruction (CPI) x clock cycle time. Hence, users pay for the actual computing power (CPU time and relevant storage capacity, referred to as CPUTS) they have used to process the data and extract the information for the type of output they desire from their SAAS•SaaS provider.

For example, Spar, a small retail chain trying to optimize its inventory and delivery window may choose to use a traditional algorithm (low instruction count) based on CLRM (classical linear regression model). It may draw data buckets from only 50 retail stores and 3 distribution centers. On the other hand, Whole Food Markets (http://gawker.com/5824287/read-a-disgruntled-whole-foods-employees-epic-resignation-letter) with its vast operation in North America may demand greater accuracy about the ETA (estimated time of arrival) of its delivery trucks in distribution nodes and transparency of its perishable goods in transit to optimize its dynamic cross-docking operation to meet store level demand vs inventory. WFM’s precision may require data from telematics systems such as GE VeriWise. In addition, it may require in-network processing powered by cloud-grid based analytics. WFM may opt to process its data stream using multiple algorithms based on different combinations of analytical engines which may include CLRM as well as other high instruction count algorithm based on the econometric technique of generalized autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity (GARCH) coupled with VAR or vector autoregression (http://esd.mit.edu/wps/esd-wp-2006-11.pdf).

Therefore, the SAAS•SaaS provider running multiple levels of analytical framework in its cloud will process the output for Spar and WFM in a manner which consumes different CPUTS. It is prudent, then, to charge the customer for levels of services they have used, rather than a flat fee or fixed contracted rate or overhead. It may be appropriate at this juncture to offer a name (in this context) for the traditional practice of service differentiation. I propose the cloud-grid based iDDE (intelligent differential decisioning engine). Cloud and grid hosted differential decision support engines are expected to auto-deploy based on service levels or options chosen by customer or the data granularity from connected nodes or objects (for example, customer specific internet-of-things [IoT] for visibility of objects in the transportation industry or third party logistics related IoT). The analytical repertoire (engines or logic layers) may range from static hard-coded workflow sets (low instruction set, hence, less CPUTS charge) to artificial neural net (ANN) driven learning algorithms with dynamic back propagation to optimize the output preferred by the customer or ANN optimized sets in fuzzy logic applications. Differentiation of the service is driven by customer’s desired level of SAAS•SaaS decision support or AI-agent based actions. The customer pays for as little or as much she chooses to invest and can dial-up or dial-down (DUDD) from the menu of services without having to change service providers if advanced analytical services are desired, occasionally.

Pay-per-CPUTS strategy  may use idle computing resources of the business in question using grid infrastructure to farm out the processing within the business using IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service). It may include cloud and grid computing(www.ibm.com/developerworks/web/library/wa-cloudgrid/). By combining internal and external resources via the grid and the cloud, SaaS providers may maintain a greater elasticity of their cloud (for example, Amazon’s EC2) and better accommodate peak computation demands while allowing customers to use unsed computing assets. It may be fashionable to introduce a new name for the evolving cloud and grid combinatorial IaaS. Let me use this blog to introduce CLOG (and volunteer a pun for our critics).

CLOG providers, such as Amazon, may use open architectures (for example, OGSA and Globus Tool Kit) to harvest-on-demand (HOD) idle computing resources from corporations. For example, the idle processing power in mostly unused but powerful Pentium chips inside the thousands of check-out computers in thousands of Wal*Mart stores. The mechanism may be analogous to EnerNOC’s energy demand response operation. EnerNOC’s energy efficiency services help utility providers manage peak demand by “procuring” power through temporary reduction of consumption by its corporate members (rather than asking individual users to conserve during peak demand due to heat-wave or super-freeze).

Taken together, flex pay strategies enable small businesses (for example, Stirling Sports of New Zealand) and behemoths like Wal*Mart to subscribe to the same SAAS•SaaS provider capable of dynamic differentiation of service and the cost of service delivered. This granularity of billing (CPUTS) and unique identification (IPv6) allows accuracy of billing by instances of usage. Hence, users may dial-up or dial-down their SAAS•SaaS needs. For example, in certain cases, WFM may choose to be satisfied with using CLRM and pay less for that specific instance (for example, when reducing inventory carrying cost for non-perishable dry goods, such as, pasta). Because of this granularity and the dynamic menu of services, there aren’t any financial “barriers” to market entry in the pay-per-SaaS business model. Hence, instantly, the world is the global market for SAAS•SaaS.

Prior to the development and adoption of the IPv6 standard, we did not have robust tools to capture granular usage instances or cycles of operation and link their unique id to the id of the specific user. Now we do. It changes the game, eliminates the need for fixed service costs and presents global markets of unprecedented scale. In other words, the world market is open for business, unique id is at hand and the billing tool is ready. Bring on the services, unleash SAAS (B2B) and deliver the SaaS (B2C).

A mechanism to use the IPv6 format in this context was proposed about 5 years ago (http://esd.mit.edu/wps/2007/esd-wp-2007-17.pdf). It also provided a framework for unique identification for IoT (Internet of Things) and their interaction with humans. The proposal advocates utilization of IPv6 to uniquely identify not only things (objects in IoT) but also processes, relationships (syntax, semantics) and interfaces (sensors). This suggestion draws on a confluence of ideas which may augment systems interoperability, transparency and build intelligence in forecasting for operations attempting to anticipate uncertainties or navigate in a volatile global economy.

Convergence of identification with information using the 128-bit IPv6 structure offers 3.4×1038 unique instances. It is not necessary that all instances must be connected to the internet or routed or transmitted simply because an IP addressing scheme is suggested. This is a potential alphanumeric framework or structure of infrastructure which may be necessary for identification to (a) improve revenue potential from data routing (for example, P2P packet tracking), (b) use in remote healthcare monitoring, (c) explore the scope of its use in the semantic web by transitioning URIs used in RDF, (d) manage applications involving thousands of mobile ad hoc sensors (MANET) that transmit data and may demand dynamic adaptive auto-reconfiguration (pervasive mesh networks, location-aware ubiquitous in-network processing/computing, security).

Data (bits) from unique identification of objects or things (atoms) are often helpful to the decision making process. Decisions, however, are often based on information that takes into account multiple factors. Physical objects and their unique identification may be one of many factors, as is the internet of things (IoT), from the perspective of a systems approach. Real-world decisions are often based on collective information gathered from multiple sources (or systems) that includes data (bits) about “things” (atoms) and processes associated with “things” which may be used in combination with a higher level domain that may eventually trigger a decision or execute an action, aided or unaided by a human. Currently, we do not have a globally unique mechanism to identify information derived from data originating from things (objects) and processes.

Unique identification of information, hence, is still an open question. Software driven intelligent solutions from the latter are likely to be in demand in B2B, B2C, P2P, D2D and O2O embedded decision support systems. It is not difficult to predict that software and analytics based business services (in the context of existing business verticals) are an attractive source of new revenue from entrepreneurial innovation (SaaS/SAAS) which may cover a broad spectrum of services (see BUSINESS FUTURES under items uploaded here http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/62251).

Vendors (SaaS provider) cannot profit from the dynamic consumption of its services (SaaS/SAAS) unless the information (data, voice, video) arbitrage is documented at every instance while streaming or exchanged between nodes (broadcaster, user) through the medium of delivery (cable, 4G, 802.16m). It is in this context the application of the proposed IPv6 format as an unique id for every instance is of immense financial value, if the tools (CPUTS) are implemented to capture and log the events. IPv6 can assign unique id to packets and since packet switching is increasingly the predominant mode of data transmission, it reasons, therefore, that IPv6 may be the Holy Grail to profitability for SaaS providers and the vendor controlling the medium of delivery (cable, 4G, 802.16m) essential for access to the user (please see related article Paradigms Driven By Paradoxes http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/62251).

For information, to be of value, it must be relative to the context of the process. In general, contextual information is of greater relevance in the B2B decision making process or in any decision support system. Since information is key, one who holds information can use data, for profit, as a pay-per-use or pay-per-access service. Transmission of data is essentially the domain of routers. Routing data is an ubiquitous and essential function (real-time data, supply chain, logistics, emergency, medical results, networked entertainment, video-on-demand, energy-use optimization) performed by products in boxes (for example, routers). Corporations are likely to explore new revenue streams simply from use of raw data, for example, data-as-a-service (DaaS) or how to profit from data routing by providing access to data (pay-per-use hosted services). The next level and higher revenue originates from processed data or in-network processing of information-as-a-service (iaaS).

Transformation of data into information is difficult due to the inability of systems and software to comprehend or understand. Advances in systems interoperability, adoption of sophisticated analytical techniques for forecasting and risk analysis as well as the anticipated growth of the semantic web infrastructure may stimulate in-network processing of data to boost iaaS (information-as-a-service) business model as a sub-layer within SaaS and SAAS by making sense of data and information relative to each other.

These are new sources of revenue emerging from functions massive in scale but still poorly metered due to inadequate ability to document and charge for individual events and instances. The identification and identity infrastructure necessary for a scale so massive calls for a system that is able to uniquely identify and assign identity to objects, process and decision layers. My proposal, albeit imperfect and hypothetical, explores the potential use of IPv6 or an IPv6 type format for this task. You may find it here http://esd.mit.edu/wps/2007/esd-wp-2007-17.pdf or email your questions to shoumendatta at gmail dot com. Thankyou.

Netflix link www.funnyordie.com/videos/15be7bfd8f/netflix-relief-fund-with-jason-alexander?rel=player

Paradigms Driven By Paradoxes

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In Aims of Education (delivered as an address to the Mathematical Association of England, 1916) the English mathematician turned philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) observed, “the University of Cambridge which had done best at teaching mathematics is the one from amongst whose graduates have come more of the English poets, while Oxford which has specialized in humanities, has tended to turn out writers who have attained, on the whole, a high level of mediocrity. I suppose that by the time one has discussed literature with a witty and learned professor, you know what has been achieved and how good it is. You become respectful and begin to wonder who am I to do better?’’

Fast forward to the 21st century and observe that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both pioneered technological advances but originated, albeit in part, from Harvard rather than MIT. One can punch several holes in the parallel between Whitehead’s astute observation and my tongue-in-cheek reference to the modern dropouts from Harvard who helped to make “the earth will be but one great neighborhood.” (Arthur Compton, New York Times, September 13, 1931).

I mention this comparison as a preface to the discussion of lifestyle technologies. Trials and tribulations of technological growth in the post-internet era, that is, in the past couple decades, are well documented by the bubbles and the troubles associated with the bursting of such bubbles. The next bubble waiting to burst may be anybody’s guess but the bets are accumulating on social networking in the post-IPO phase of the market leader.

The burst of the hypothetical bubble may not be about social networking per sebut about the monetizing prospect of social networking as a medium for advertisers and advertisement. In other words, a saturation point may be reached with respect to advertisers and advertising as the key revenue source of social networking companies. Simply because a billion youngsters (limited purchasing power and an even shorter attention span) may use its “wall” to share with the world when they snog, sneeze or snigger, may not offer a sustainable value proposition. The fall in Facebook access in the US (155 million to 149 million) may not be so slight or subtle. There is no “glue” that holds the user to the unstructured open platform void of utility except for the few years in our lives when (often misguided) we crave for self-expression to solicit recognition from peers, find creativity in faux fashions and substitute camaraderie with cyber-copain. Social networks enables us to masquerade and it may serve us to ‘escape’ but for most well-meaning youth these digressions will have non-asymptotic limits. Selectivity and services are value-additions in social media, eg, connections via LinkedIn. Hence, the race for Skype-esque phone service from Facebook.


According to the 2010 US Bureau of Census, there are about 80 million individuals in the US between the ages of 15-35 and about 40 million over 65 years (more time on their hands for companionship). In the upwardly mobile 15-35 age group, less than 12 million earn above $50,000 per annum while more than 22 million are married and about 7 million claim 3 or more as their household size (occupancy size reflect dependents in household and reduce purchasing power).

Therefore, Moms and Dads, the bread winners who make sure that bread and butter (with jam) are on the table, are not lounging in the virtual social café. They may not have time for a Second Life in between after-school pick up, swim meets or baseball practice. They are neither “app” store customers for Big Ben Tea Timer or Plastic Surgery Simulator or YummySoup nor targets for advertisement unless it is directly relevant to their life and lifestyle. But, they must make time for healthcare, education and transactions required for daily living.

Hence, market growth for most businesses must focus on lifestyle items and transactions of the demographic who can afford the bills. In addition, there is the business of delivering the online lifestyle business services, in other words, the medium. Control of the latter (4G, 802.16m) in emerging economies enables the “gatekeeper” to charge “entry fees” to “allow” the services to reach the customer.

Bill Gates recently urged a select group of about 500 young minds from 77 countries assembled in Lindau (Germany) to imagine, invent and innovate for the poorest people in the world. From the world’s richest man the appeal for services, solutions and social recognition for problems that face the worlds poorest is not only extraordinary philanthropy but a call to leaders who may not have grasped the potential for profit from micro-revenue, nano-payments and economies of scale based entrepreneurial innovation. It is counter-intuitive. It goes against the grain of conventional finance and the P&L ethos relentlessly pounded by venture capitalists and analysts in quest of rapid return on investments or assets (ROI, ROA).

It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that the emergence of new lines of business and economic growth may not start with $1 billion in annual sales or services revenue. In this context, the significant lesson is one provided by Apple’s Newton PDA, a disruptive innovation which failed to succeed (Case Study in Notes – see link to main article – below) because revenue from Newton was less than 1% of Apple’s revenue in 1994. There are no $1 billion ready markets. Only those companies who may have the imagination, vision and foresight to take big risks may reap the harvest. The future may hold rich rewards for micro-payment based services for the poor.

The global staple sources of new business growth may be similar, at least for the middle-class and lower income households. The verticals are healthcare, education and retail or financial transactions for humdrum living which may include services for energy, personal automobiles and home security. The range and offering of products and services in these verticals will vary depending on the socio-economic sub-categories of the consumer pool. In addition, regional adaptability will influence local market share. A plethora of combinations and panoply of service levels will be necessary which, in turn, requires multiple consumer driven supply networks (CDSN) to work in high jitter scenarios in asynchronous or non-linear modes. It will call for medium of access, pervasive networks, convergence of platforms, location aware ubiquitous computing, in-network processing, near real-time rapid response, agility and continuous intelligent re-optimization which may use a variety of tools including artificial neural network based learning algorithms to adapt rules/sets driving fuzzy logic applications.

In other words, a theory of services may be based on a systems analysis and systems synthesis approach which will integrate the trinity of sense, intelligence and response (SIR).

Profitability may mandate that execution of the SIR paradigm also draws on the classical confluence of risk pooling strategies, delayed differentiation, centralized supply chain collaboration, interoperability standards, QoS metrics and take advantage of the economies of scale. It is not inconceivable that select verticals may explore the virtues of loosely coupled systems or vertical integration to reduce total cost (COGS). Vertical integration to control the medium of delivery for mobile devices (4G, 802.16m) may increase revenue from micro-pay-per-access necessary to deliver near real-time software and analytics as a service (SAAS) or high security personal information exchange (healthcare, finance). In other words, there is an old adage, if you wish to sell cars, help to build the roads (equivalent to information gateways).

In the US alone, healthcare expenditure exceeded $2 trillion per annum in 2007 and rapidly approaching about 20% of GDP. OECD nations with nationalized healthcare spend about half the US (see graphic in main article which you may download from the MIT Library – see link below).

The burden of healthcare is undermining economic growth in industrial nations and cost of healthcare in emerging economies (India, China, Brazil, Indonesia, SE Asia) may disrupt their development plans. It is well nigh impossible to offer any simple solution to curtail costs within the fractured infrastructure which provides healthcare in the US or even the “relatively better” situation of National Health Service in UK.

Overhaul of healthcare systems may [a] limit cost of services, [b] introduce a cap on salaries, [c] restrict use of drugs based on cost versus value, [d] penalize for obesity/smoking/alcoholism and [e] mandate preventative health services including vaccinations. Any logical approach may be unpalatable to special interest groups with deep pockets (health insurance industry). Consequently, politics and media will work at the behest of the insurance industry to peddle the status quo and preserve the march of unreason.

Hopefully a breaking point will arrive to precipitate a catastrophic event. It may acutely polarize public perception, expose the deception of insurance cartels and catalyze political re-organization which may then entertain the virtues of a vertically integrated health service as a national health service for all individuals. An insurance-free national health service may seem like a near-utopian proposition for the US unless it constructively dismantles the hemorrhaging bureaucracy in its health plan (see illustration in main article). It may interest readers to note that some noted experts are also proposing vertical integration of healthcare (http://bit.ly/nZMmnS and www.vimeo.com/26077239).

Agnostic of geography, the rational delivery of healthcare systems may be optimized if outsourced and regulated as a fixed-profit business (most governments may be unable to acquire sufficient discipline in order to manage the healthcare delivery process). Very few businesses in the
world are even capable of contemplating the delivery of a vertically integrated healthcare service (VIHS), albeit partial. A couple names rise to the surface, for example, GE (US) and Tata (India) may have the spectrum of parts and services which may lend itself for implementation if VIHS were to take effect. Whether these or other similar conglomerates are able to execute on an altruistic-fixed-profit-over-cost (AFPOC) system remains to be explored. The latter may depend on volume of service delivered and total health services cost.

If a contractor operated the US health system at 1% AFPOC the profit for the vendor may be $30 billion. Attitude is one barrier to conceiving this modus operandi due to the prevalent perception that altruism and profitability are oxymoronic. $30 billion pa is 20% of the revenue for large conglomerates even if 1% profit may seem low when compared to grocery chains. Kroger and Albertson’s reported net margins of 7.6% and 5.1% (2001-2002) while supermarkets target 6% profitability to claim success.

The principle of VIHS may include the conventional wisdom of supply chain. VIHS must orchestrate:

[a] service supply chain – local GP, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, teaching hospitals, medical students

[b] physical supply chain – beds, BP monitors, IV pumps, pharmaceuticals

[c] financial supply chain – equipment and salaries, payment of services

Vertical integration in health services (VIHS) can be partial, at best. VIHS must be loosely coupled in a manner reflecting the Japanese automobile manufacturing practices about 50 years ago. The key problem with the VIHS concept is the pharmaceutical supply chain. The invention and innovation of new drugs, treatment or surgical equipment cannot be “contained” within any VIHS.

Discontent with VIHS over use of drugs and the “human” face of such displeasure will be PR nightmares. VIHS will best serve those who cannot afford expensive drug treatments or designer therapies. If grocery store shelf-stocking employee John Doe provided by national health service demands post-operative treatment of colon cancer with a drug that costs
$100,000 which may extend his life by a few weeks then VIHS may have to deny such care. The drug may be in a category beyond cost vs value threshold. If the John Doe is Mr Jeff Bezos then the treatment will be paid by the user.

Thus, VIHS may be viewed as a schism between the haves and have-nots. Will it serve as another “third rail” of politics? Is the current alternative any better? Those who can afford buy insurance and those who can afford more buy better insurance. Individuals with pre-conditions are left out in the cold and then we have those who cannot afford to buy insurance, at all. VIHS will serve all individuals based on a gradient contribution of earned income paid as a tax. For the wealthy, treatment beyond VIHS in private clinics may be paid by other insurance schemes.

Haves and have-nots are a fact of life but to minimize the number of have-nots is good business, prudent marketing strategy and an index of ethical corporate responsibility. Therefore, VIHS, albeit in part, is a tangible solution. For the greater good, individuals and families may have to choose, make sacrifices and endure events which they cannot control. It will be devastating for the few who may encounter restrictions and agonize over the lives of their loved ones. The system must search for alternatives and exceptions to alleviate such heartbreak but not at the cost of destabilizing the infrastructural constraints that must be imposed on the design of VIHS if it is expected to serve the masses, especially for the populous nations.

VIHS will be paralyzed without a cap on the cost of drugs and a system to allow or deny FDA approved drugs for treatment. The thorny question of stifling innovation will surely raise its head, justifiably. The task is to ascertain if a drug (for example, Provenge costs $93,000 for a treatment) manufacturer is within reasonable ethical norms to charge astronomical prices. Even if it is logical, can VIHS justify the cost vs the life expectancy of the patient? These are difficult questions with no clear answers or proven template to adjudicate. Also crucial for VIHS is its need to be released from indemnity. The cost of malpractice insurance and the threat of frivolous litigation must be eliminated. The latter will require introspection, vigilance and a deep sense of service (Hippocratic Oath). Elements within each society and the insurance industry will resist and destabilize (USA) such sweeping paradigm shifts. The latter may introduce even more paradoxes in our attempt to understand and respond to the social cry for socialized medicine if society proves its impotence to secure the role of public goods for social welfare.

VIHS must reduce the number of patients who may need resource consuming attentive services and hospital beds (except for emergencies). The domain of preventative medicine must be embedded in the practice of VIHS. It will demand a confluence of technology, remote monitoring of the young and healthy, local GP and nurse practitioners. All in a concerted effort to reduce preventable emergencies and predict courses of action to mitigate health risks, in advance. None of these services exist adequately either in the US or in any other parts of the world, yet. The recent trend to digitize medical information (HIT) is a stepping stone but still far from the ubiquitous sensing systems and intelligent analytics we will need to determine the state of our health before we need healthcare. There may be a myriad of reasons why VIHS may not work. But without VIHS or a similar system, the cost of healthcare will cripple economic growth and development. To provide examples of what may work in the short term we may focus on a few parameters in remote health monitoring to aid preventative medicine. Height and weight, blood glucose and blood pressure data may create a health profile for most individuals including young people. Changes to normal metabolism (baseline) may be easily identified and appropriate action may be prescribed to reduce the possibility of hospitalization or an ambulance ride to the emergency room. For patients with defined problems, remote monitoring and real-time analytics may reduce re-hospitalization.

Acquisition and transmission of the health data from remote monitors requires embedded software as a service and the ubiquitous medium or pervasive network for secure bidirectional exchange of data. Hence, SAAS and the need for the medium of delivery (4G, 802.16m) for businesses who may wish to profit from the emergence of pay-per-use healthcare device based services and subscriptions, as a prelude to VIHS.

Business growth through control of the medium, especially in emerging economies, allows a multitude of SAAS (SaaS) options in other fields, such as, logistics, supply chain, retail, education, energy efficiency, home security, auto insurance, financial transactions, lifestyle interactions and streaming entertainment. Some of these services may be spawned by the internet of things if embedded with ambient intelligence to harvest data from the physical world and transmit via location-aware pervasive networks.

Profitability from IoT in business and security may depend on the scale of operation. Tools similar to GE VeriWise are often used for logistics (US, EU) but growth and ‘scale’ appears to be elsewhere. Cushman & Wakefield reports that the Indian logistics industry is expected to grow at the rate of 15% to 20% pa ($385 billion by 2015). Indian rail network is spread over 70,000 km covering 7,000 stations and moves more than 1 million tons of freight per day. Logistics operation using the Trans-Siberian Railroad may be soon used by China to bridge Beijing to Cape Agulhas via the Strait of Gibraltar. Growth will demand object intelligence to develop the supply-demand network of the future on the African continent.



This is an excerpt from Paradigms Driven By Paradoxes. The full article may be downloaded from  http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/62251


NOTE

Paradigms Driven By Paradoxes – the title (of this blog and my article) is an alliteration of the title of Frank Wilczek’s Nobel Lecture. http://web.mit.edu/physics/people/faculty/docs/wilczek_nobel_lecture.pdf

A Reason To Aspire

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BOOK REVIEW <> A REASON TO BELIEVE by Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick has inspired us to aspire through the example of his life. His quality of inspiration in A REASON TO BELIEVE offers the moral fiber which may catalyze systemic idealism to percolate in any society. Governor Deval Patrick exemplifies aspiration as the purveyor of civilization when the mind can visualize the future even if one is “broke” in material life but not devoid of imagination or the spirit to “climb the next mountain” no matter what the odds may be. Governor Deval Patrick IS a reason to believe that there is a reason to aspire.

The lessons from his “improbable” life are not only for Americans or citizens of this country (USA) but applicable to all who may have the wisdom to listen, the knowledge to heed and the incisive foresight to recognize the Nostradamus for the soul in between the lines. The message holds the same value whether you are from the mountains of Jebel Mara or the Tibetan Plateau, the Atacama Desert or the over-crowded metropolis of Calcutta.

The strength of Governor Deval Patrick’s memoir is rooted in his courage to share the humble truths and the choice of his life partner, First Lady of Massachusetts, Diane Patrick. Behind every good man there is a great woman and Governor Deval Patrick is not an exception. The First Lady’s steely determination to stand tall with dignity is portrayed in her ability to express her humanity, insecurity and vulnerability while at McLean Hospital. Her statements will serve this nation as an enduring shrine, testament of faith and as an inspiration to overcome odds.

A REASON TO BELIEVE is a call to the nation to transform A NATION AT RISK to a nation which is a super power yet gentle, kind and generous, idealistic yet forgiving, nurturing and dignified, visionary as well as erudite, innovative and magnanimous. Above all, a nation which can lead the world and a leader who can transform this vision into reality: what America thinks today, the world will think tomorrow. We must assimilate the lessons from A REASON TO BELIEVE and must learn what has been done in order to do what has not been done in a manner that shall stand the test of time, serve humanity and may not be undone by the forces who may continue the MARCH OF UNREASON.

Governor Deval Patrick and his book is a reminder that we have a tryst with destiny on that day in 2016 and again in 2020 with the man who will
be the President.

http://twitter.com/Shoumen_Datta

www.linkedin.com/pub/shoumen-datta/3/789/984

www.amazon.com/Reason-Believe-Lessons-Improbable-Life/dp/0767931122

Mobile eVote as an IPv6 App

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Sampling public opinion is an important component in politics. Predicting potential for success or forecasting failures could influence the content, criteria and clarity of the policy in question. Product marketing, taste testing and social acceptance are integral elements in the business world which may also benefit from reliable and relevant public opinion data. The ability to obtain real-time opinion polls from individual contributors in a manner that is identity-protected, verifiable and reliable, may change the nature of the public participation in governance, legislation and decision metrics.

The value of an e-polling mechanism increases exponentially if the system is refractive to electronic vandalism and can be reasonably trusted to deliver authentic user experience or opinion with minimal scope for data manipulation, such as, deliberate duplication, phantom voting and identity falsification or misrepresentation. Security [1] is a key measure of success of public e-voting systems [2] while user friendly technology [3] may determine the business use and adoption of opinion polling data acquisition tools.

Confirming mobile identity was not possible (for data packets) using IPv4 addressing schema. IPv6 and its vast scope to assign unique individual numbers [4] lends itself as a potential mechanism to deliver an innovative system, meVote. Mobile eVote operates as an IPv6 app to deliver real-time opinion polls which is uniquely identifiable (meVote)

How do you know that it is really I who voted  using meVote?

Certain assumptions and adoptions are necessary to uniquely identify the origin of meVote. IPv6 is a global standard which is in operation or will commence operation from June 1, 2011 wherever networks operate. All mobile devices, such as a cell phones, may have an unique IPv6 number. In combination with other alphanumeric identifiers (for example, social security number, date of birth or zip code) the IPv6 device identifier can be linked to the user and registered on meVote website. This database allows the unique id of an individual anywhere in the world to use her/his registered mobile device to cast a meVote for an authenticated purpose (for example, US citizens cannot activate meVote to vote in the French Presidential election).

Date and time stamp in combination with “open” duration of poll will allow only one submission with unique id linked to one individual. If using a browser, the answers may be accepted using a simple code entry system which links the registered unique id of the mobile device to the user (used commonly by banks for transactions). Data entry in the meVote system may be dependent on the system activating the transmission of an entry code to the mobile device which must be entered in the meVote browser for the data to be accepted as a valid vote by the user.

How do I know what to vote for or when an issue or referendum is presented for a vote or poll?

http://www.meVote.com offers a menu (see example below) of categories, sub-categories and sub-units to which you shall subscribe either directly or through any social network (Facebook, LinkedIn) or email account (Gmail, Hotmail) or IM (Yahoo, Buzz) which you may frequently use, locally and globally. When a registered entity (for example, The White House) uploads a question or solicits opinions (which may be directed at specific individuals per profile or selected by zip code for national polls or queries aimed at Congressional districts) then a text message alerts you to the new posting (according to your registered categories). You can use the mobile device to respond or use any browser to log on to meVote to voice your opinion. Cell phone number pads may suffice to send responses which may be as simple as choosing numbers from 1 to 5 in order to transmit the opinion in a manner similar to online surveys, for example, (5) strongly agree; (4) agree; (3) not applicable; (2) disagree; (1) strongly disagree).

Politics

National

Republican Party

Democratic Party

White House

Congress

Senate

CDC

Tax

State

City

Education

School Board

meVote: Fictional Scenario

Angela Brooks visits www.meVote.com and registers to participate in education issues <> Politics > City > School Board. She lives at 40 Brattle Street (Cambridge, MA 02138) but registered for the cities of Cambridge, Newton and Milton (where she went to school). The City of Boston visits meVote to register as an authenticated polling entity in the category Politics > City. In pursuit of excellence, Governor Deval Patrick requests Mayor John Menino to find a way to encourage the local academic institutions in Cambridge (MA) to engage high school students from Boston Latin School in summer research. Both institutions cite under-age of BLS students as a barrier to acceptance for research programs. Governor Patrick persuades Presidents Hockfield and Faust to revisit the issue by enabling a poll of residents, faculty members and graduate students to share their perspective. The law firm of Ropes & Gray was retained as an uninvolved party. They designated Anna de Leo to formulate a couple simple questions and upload them through the City of Boston authenticated user id under the category Politics > City > School Board > Cambridge and select zip 02138 and 02139 for responses.

Angela Brooks is in Venice to attend her friend’s wedding. She went to school with Nancy Poon from Boston Latin School. Angela is walking down Campo San Maurizio when her HTC 4G phone throngs. She searches for her phone in her purse while walking through Calle del Piovan by the front of the church where Nancy will be marrying Michael Mastropasqua, few hours later. She finds the phone and finds a blinking “pen-in-hand” symbol she chose to personalize her meVote alert. Ironic, she reflects, as she looks up, a few steps away on the right is one of the unique and most original stores in Venice, Il Papiro, famed for superb stationery, unique marbled paper and leather-bound journals. It is a paradise for those who love to write by hand and she was finding her way to the store to buy a gift for Nancy and Michael’s wedding. She stops outside the store and goes to meVote. As a registered user residing in zip code 02138 (location criteria selected and specified by the user) and Harvard alum she is doubly qualified to cast her vote in this opinion poll (although she is not a faculty or current graduate student). She chooses 5 (strongly agree) to support BLS summer research.

Ropes & Gray delivered the results (72% affirmative, 20% abstention, 8% negative) of the poll the following day. Both institutions found that alums and residents in zip 02138 and 02139 where supportive of high school students engaging in academic labs to conduct summer research. Diplomacy and meVote technology converged to help the students find more than one reason to aspire.


Teachers Shape Global Economic Growth

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A plethora of pundits continue to pontificate about performance of students and too often are too quick to call for financial penalties aimed at classroom teachers. It is a hasty, callous and delusional attempt to cover up the administrative failures to inculcate an academic environment to help improve student performance in public schools.

The near-absolute lack of penchant for erudition, scholastic rigor and inspirational qualities of most public school administrators rarely surface in the discussion of public school student performance. Measurement and metrics are essential but the litany of testing that has erupted in the classroom through the glib, skillful and cryptic collusion between administration and educational consultants serve to pad their mutual wallets at the expense of the classroom teachers and the future of students. Some school districts invest public funds for personnel and services for marketing, messaging and branding while insisting that teachers accept pay freeze, increase contributions to healthcare and retirement fund or work far more than contracted hours without pay.   

The good intentions in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) appears to have been used as an excuse to peddle mediocrity or legally turn a blind eye to all that is shoddy and second grade as long as it can masquerade as good enough. The astute observer may note the language of A Nation At Risk spilling over. We remain a nation at risk by continuing to sacrifice, crucify and vilify the K-12 classroom teachers who are the architects of our future and the dominant force which shapes the future of global economic growth.

When the dead weight of bureaucracy outweighs the function it is supposed to support it leads to diminished returns and the outcome is inversely proportional to increasing investment. It is this unfortunate quagmire in which the public school districts are immersed. Superintendents and some managers should be the visionaries we need or at least pay heed to the vision outlined by luminaries.

One does not need a MBA to create a great business. Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Mark Zuckerberg are examples. University administrators do not need degrees from schools of education to lead institutions. It is necessary that they are academic scholars. Susan Hockfield, Drew Faust, Amy Gutmann and Carol Christ are examples. We do not need government degrees or administrative credential to lead large organizations. Glenn Seaborg, Steven Chu and Harold Varmus are Nobel Laureates and shining example of scientists in governance. Bruce Alberts, Subra Suresh and John Holdren did not apply for any licenses to qualify for the national offices related to education and science which they shaped, guided and improved.

You cannot view the future if your imagination is out of focus. These giants who have shaped business, institutions, organizations and government were chosen by natural selection for their vision to lead. Are we choosing to ignore these lessons which are equally applicable to public education? Superintendents and administrators as well as classroom teachers must be academics, scholars and content experts, not process peddlers, entertainers or jail wardens.

The poverty of purpose and dedication, ideals and idealism, vision and values in school leaders and administrators fuels the poverty of ambition and aspiration in our children which percolates down to society. The next generation suffers even more from this vicious cycle that breeds discontent, despair, and hopelessness.

The K-12 system cannot provide inspiration not only because its leadership lacks scholastic erudition but the strenuous attempts by those embedded in the system to keep scholarship out of its walls using purpose-built legal veneers. The rubble from the instructional morbidity based on vacant processes, content-deprived pedagogy and pernicious zeal to asphyxiate aspirational classroom teachers with paperwork creates an insurmountable barrier for an inspired idealist, scientist or mathematician eager to provide the K-12 leadership.

Changing the political tapestry of Superintendent search criteria, contract offer and re-appointment is certainly not a panacea which can eliminate all the ills of K-12 public education. It is a start, in the same manner that a faltering economy sends chills through any political incumbent. We need change, starting at the top, to provide academic vision and leadership in K-12 education, but change must be accompanied by and supplied with the instruments we can believe in. Suspending an inspired academician in a den of vipers without the ammunition to catalyze change or without resources to execute any plan may be akin to telling a hair-raising story to a bald headed man.

Having pointed a finger at the top, ie, Superintendent of Schools, I must also include the Latin principle of exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis, proposed by Cicero. There are exceptions and exceptionally visionary Superintendents even if the number is so few that it may suffice to be counted on one’s thumb rather than the finger.

Before we begin to contemplate seeding yet another social reform or use the hackneyed excuses from the existing dysfunctional social elements, we must hasten to improve K-12 student performance by finding leaders with sufficient moral fiber to earn respect and champion classroom teachers. In addition, the leader must inspire students to grasp beyond their reach, stimulate them to believe in pursuing ideals and lead by example as to why one must fight all odds in order to strive to find a reason to aspire.

www.linkedin.com/pub/shoumen-datta/3/789/984

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