Gene Wolfe Turned Science Fiction Into High Art
He worked as an engineer developing the technology to make Pringles potato chips before embarking on a prolific writing career. Known as the Melville of science fiction and celebrated for his inventive and challenging work, Wolfe died on April 14 at age 87.
Sun 09.15.13 – Various and sundry bits from around the internet that are worth your time:
1) She Makes War has a spot on layered vocals-only song & video (above) called “Delete” about one’s life online. After nearly 20 years online, I would like to delete bits of myself.
2) More Intelligent Life on Humaira Bachal’s fight for her own education and then schools for many others in her community of Moach Goth on the edge of Karachi, Pakistan. This is both a tear-jerker and absolutely inspiring story, go read it:
“Humaira was 13 when a crazy idea struck her. “My mother used to get us ready every day, tie two ponytails for us, put 2-kilo schoolbags on our backs and send us off. We would walk for 20 minutes–but on the way not one other child in this settlement would join us. One, they did not have money, and two, nobody considered girls to be anything. Those who didn’t mind sending girls to school couldn’t afford to, because of fees, and the cost of books and uniforms. By then I was in sixth standard [the equivalent of year eight in Britain]. I thought, I’m a big star, I know everything, so I will teach them myself!”
What would become the Dream Model Street School began in 2001, with one blackboard, at home. Humaira taught ten friends of her age, seven of them girls. She started with the alphabet, in Urdu and English, and proceeded to the names of things. She supplied blank pages from her own notebooks, until it got her into trouble with her teachers. Then the friends went round asking people to donate paper, or bought scrap.
Soon, Tahira, who was 11, and three other girls were teaching alongside Humaira. “We were militant about time. Time for study, time for play, time to eat–and time to go out and recruit. We didn’t have the sense to realise we didn’t have space, books, teachers, money. We went around to houses, telling people, ‘We’ve opened a school, send your children, you must send your children!'””
This is after I shut off my computer and was on my way to bed, when I realized that maybe those of us in the web & mobile industries need to give more than lipservice to the idea of web education but is it time for all of us to consider that HTML should be apart of the canon of literacy.
Should HTML, in a basic form, be taught in primary school along with reading, writing, and arithmetic?
Yes, I do think it should. The internet, in all of its permutations, is in every aspect of our lives regardless if one lives in the developed or developing world(s). If we don’t teach the basics of the markup language of how to develop | create for the internet, then we are leaving literacy half-baked at best for the 21st Century, because if one does not understand the basic underpinnings of the internet, then one is illiterate to a major facet of 21st Century life.
The drive to increase literacy over the last 200 years has been more than making sure the most folks possible can read and write but it has also been the drive to give everyone the skills to participate on a more level playing field in society, as well as to open the opportunity for all of society to rise to the level of the educated. In every country where literacy has risen above 80%, poverty has decreased, self-sufficiency has increased, and the economy grows in proportion to the increase in literacy.
If you can learn to count to ten in another language, you can learn the 10 most used tags in HTML. If you can string to together a sentence or two in your native language, you can learn the semantics and grammar of HTML. With HTML, you are more than partially capable of creating simple pages and apps for the internet, be it mobile or desktop.
When one can create a page or alter a page in their care, then they are no longer audience, but a participant. No longer just a consumer, but a creator.
Mirabilis.ca linked to an article at the BBC entitled, The ‘youngest headmaster in the world’ , in which they feature the heroic efforts of a 16 year old young man to educate the rural poor in his village in West Bengal.
A mainstay of any democratic country is education for all. The idea of a free public education is a recent one, started by reformers in the US and UK in the late 1700s and enacted on a large scale in the mid-1800s to early 1900s. Many would argue that the success of Western industrial democracies in the last 150 years is built on the availability of free public education that a large majority of folks receive up to the 12th grade (6th form in the UK) who are then empowered regardless of class to participate in the economy and growth of their societies.