Compliments of Wired
The kids of Generation Z will be the most naturally tech-literate generation yet, but that won’t happen through osmosis. They’ll still need tools to get them there. Kids older than 10 or so are covered: In the past few years, smart companies like littleBits and Kano have helped pave the way toward make learning about circuitry and motherboards as fun as playing with Legos.
But those products are still a bit sophisticated. Think of them like the grammar and syntax of computer science: great educational tools, so long as you can already grasp a few basic building blocks. To get those building blocks—let’s call it the alphabet—younger kids can now turn to Hackaball, a ball that’s also a computer, that gets programmed via an iPad app.
Creative consultancy MAP designed Hackaball (MAP actually did the industrial and packaging design for Kano, too) with Made by Many, a digital agency that conceived the original idea for Hackaball. It’s a fairly simple toy, but it can do a lot and withstand a lot. Inside the silicone ball, which comes with a specially designed inner ring for shock-proofing, are a small computer, lights, an accelerometer, a sound chip, a microphone, and a vibrator for haptic cues. The programming lesson starts as soon as kids open the box and find a disassembled Hackaball, waiting to be snapped into place. “We really wanted the design to not feel closed, because so many of the things we use, like smartphones—you can’t hack them,” says MAP design director Jon Marshall.
Compliments of Wired
The issue has roiled the Wikimedia Foundation for years. It’s studied the problem and set goals for bridging the gap, goals even Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says the Foundation has “completely failed” to meet. The lack of diversity is so deeply rooted that the National Science Foundation commissioned two studies of why this bias exists.
The problem is, because Wikipedia is run—in theory at least—by and for the people, only the people can correct the imbalance. A growing group of socially minded Wikipedia editors are taking up the cause with a slew of “edit-a-thons” that aim to enhance the coverage of women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and other underrepresented groups on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia for All
Case in point: on Saturday, to coincide with International Women’s Day, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will host the second annual Art+Feminism edit-a-thon promoting the representation of women in the arts on Wikipedia. Last month, to commemorate Black History Month, the White House held an edit-a-thon to crowd source entries on African Americans in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Last summer, the Wiki Loves Pride edit-a-thon convened editors to cover prominent members of the LGBTQ communities. And those are just a few examples.
Compliments of Wall Street Journal
McDonald’s Corp. plans to curtail antibiotics use in its U.S. chicken, a move that could help kick-start a broader food-industry response to growing public-health alarm around drug-resistant bacteria.
The world’s largest restaurant chain said that over the next two years it would stop selling McNuggets and other chicken products in the U.S. made from birds raised with antibiotics that are important to human health. McDonald’s said it would continue to permit suppliers to use antibiotics that aren’t deemed important for human medicine.
While the shift doesn’t apply to its burgers, McDonald’s is now the biggest company to make such a commitment on drug use in livestock. The change will apply to its more than 14,350 U.S. outlets. McDonald’s is adopting less sweeping changes for its roughly 22,000 overseas restaurants.
McDonald’s said it would work with chicken suppliers includingTyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meatpacker—which said it has already taken steps to curb antibiotics in its birds.
“It really is welcome news for public health,” said Gail Hansen, a senior officer at Pew Charitable Trusts, which has long criticized the meat industry’s widespread use of antibiotics. She said McDonald’s heft will require processors to change how chickens are raised, and likely make it easier for other restaurants and food makers to follow suit. “It will have a ripple effect probably throughout the entire food industry,”
Compliments of Variety
Younger audiences watch more hours of video on YouTube and other digital outlets than TV — simply because they find it more enjoyable and relevant to their lives, according to a new study.
Consumers aged 13-24 spend 11.3 hours weekly watching free online video compared with 8.3 hours for regularly scheduled TV, according to a study conducted in the fall of 2014 by Hunter Qualitative Research commissioned by digital-media firmDefy Media.
A major factor driving Internet-video consumption among millennials, per the study: 62% of survey respondents said digital content makes them “feel good” about themselves vs. 40% reported for TV. According to the survey, 67% of millennials said digital delivers content they can relate to vs. 41% for TV, and 66% said they turn to digital content to relax vs. 47% for TV.
Younger viewers connect more strongly with YouTube and other digital-native content because it feels more real than what’s produced for TV, Defy Media president Keith Richman said. “Digital video is not as canned — it makes millennials feel better about who they are,”
Compliments of Michigan Live
MCBAIN, MI —McBain Rural Agricultural Schools’ search for a new superintendent who has “a strong Christian background and philosophy” is under scrutiny from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
State ACLU leaders wrote a letter to the district on Tuesday, March 3, urging the district remove any reference to religion, saying the requirement violates multiple federal and state laws against discrimination
“There is no principle more fundamental to American public education than the requirement that schools be welcoming of all students, employees and administrators regardless of religious or ethnic background,” Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan deputy legal director wrote. “Our Constitution wisely requires public schools to remain neutral in matters of religion. When a school favors one religion over another, or religion over non-religion, students and teachers who do not subscribe to the favored religion are made to feel like they do not belong.”
Compliments of The Hamilton Spectator
The U.S. has so much crude that it is running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months.
For the past seven weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the country’s main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, the Energy Department reported last week.
If this keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits, known in the industry as “tank tops,” by mid-April and send the price of crude — and probably gasoline, too — plummeting.
Compliments of Politico
Edward Snowden is ready to go home to the United States.
“Snowden is ready to return to the States, but on the condition that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial,” his Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said at a news conference Tuesday, as quoted by Russian state media outlet TASS.
The former National Security Agency contractor has been in Russia since 2013, having fled to the country from Hong Kong after leaking classified national security information to journalists.
“He is thinking about it. He has a desire to return and we are doing everything we can to make it happen,” Kucherena said.
Snowden’s temporary asylum in Russia expired last August, at which time the country granted him a three-year residence permit.
Despite a 2013 letter from Attorney General Eric Holder that promised Snowden would not face the death penalty upon his return, Kucherena said he wants assurances of a fair trial as well.
Compliments of BBC
The US Justice Department has found evidence of racial bias at Ferguson police in Missouri, US media report.
The agency is expected to accuse the department of conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and making arrests without probable cause.
It began a civil rights investigation following the August shooting of Michael Brown.
A white police officer killed the unarmed black 18-year-old, sparking protests in Ferguson and nationwide.
A separate report is expected to clear the officer, Darren Wilson, of any civil rights violations in the shooting of Mr Brown.
Officials announced the findings of the investigation into the police department by speaking anonymously to various US media.
An official announcement is expected on Wednesday.
Compliments of the Washington Post
Concentrated poverty is one of the biggest problems facing cities today, as more of the urban poor become isolated in neighborhoods where the people around them are poor, too. Growing economic segregation across cities, though, is also shaped by a parallel, even stronger force: concentrated wealth.
A new analysis from Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander at the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute, which identifies the most and least economically segregated metropolitan areas in the United States, makes clear that economic segregation today is heavily shaped by the choices of people at the top: “It is not so much the size of the gap between the rich and poor that drives segregation,” they write, “as the ability of the super-wealthy to isolate and wall themselves off from the less well-to-do.”
[A ‘nationwide gentrification effect’ is segregating us by education]
Florida and Mellander created an index of economic segregation that takes into account how we’re divided across metro areas by income, but also by occupation and education, two other pillars of what we often think of as socioeconomic status. Among the largest metros in the country, Austin ranks as the place where wealthy, college-educated professionals and less-educated, blue-collar workers are least likely to share the same neighborhoods:
Compliments of Mobil World Congress
Google has confirmed for the first time that it plans to offer connectivity directly to mobile users in the U.S., but a senior executive downplayed the competition it would be to major U.S. cellular carriers.
Several reports have said the company is preparing a service that would be offered across an existing cellular network under a Google brand — a so-called “mobile virtual network operator” or MVNO. But the reports hadn’t been confirmed until Sundar Pichai, the company’s senior vice president, spoke at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.
“You’ll see us announce it in the coming months,” said Pichai.
Pichai said it won’t be a full-service mobile network in competition with existing carriers.
Instead, he said, it will give Google a platform through which it can experiment with new services for Android smartphones.