Social media have democratized publishing. Now, anybody can spontaneously share their thoughts, opinions, photos, witticisms and criticisms, as well as what they ate for breakfast, with the world.

This accessibility has permitted new voices to emerge, quiet voices to be heard, and the previously unspoken to be said. More »

Royal BC Museum from Belleville Street, Victoria. Photo © Robin Zebrowski, via flickr and Creative Commons

This week, the Royal BC Museum opens its doors to the local community. For the price of a cash donation, residents and visitors can tour the museum’s galleries, travel back to the province’s early years, and view one of the world’s best collections of West Coast First Nations art and artifacts.

Some weeks ago, online travel-booking company announced that the museum ranked first in the company’s Top 10 Canadian museums for 2014. The museum was also confirmed as a Travellers’ Choice winner, a position the museum has enjoyed for several years. The awards are based on reviews and opinions posted on the online site by travellers.

TripAdvisor announced its news on November 18. That is also Canadian Museums Day. Marking the date with the announcement created synergies for TripAdvisor, the museums being celebrated, Canada’s museum industry, the travel and tourism industry, the online-booking industry, the power of people who share their opinions online….

But, in another sense, the timing was unfortunate….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

classroom laptop use. Photo © Parker Knight, on flickr

Here’s good news for those of us trying to pick up new skills and information. Experts on how learning happens within the human brain have identified the two most reliable methods for transferring new information into our little grey cells.

One method requires that students revisit and build upon their study of a particular topic or problem over time, preferably at monthly intervals.

The other most effective technique requires students take repeated practice tests on the information—again, over periods of time. Students can administer the quizzes themselves, solo or with others, by using flash cards, study charts, practice sessions, or other study tools.

Both methods force students to repeatedly draw on and build upon their memories of the information, tasks or skills they’ve learned. The recurring engagement of memory consolidates the learning, and builds multiple neural pathways within the brain, so students can more easily access and retrieve the information from memory.

The techniques benefit students of all ages and abilities, and enhance performance in most areas of learning….

Read the rest of this editorial in the Victoria Times Colonist….


Additional sources:

Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers

Will Listening to Mozart Really Make Me Smarter?

Female College Students’ Media Use and Academic Outcomes: Results From a Longitudinal Cohort Study + a synopsis that you don’t have to pay for

B.C. Legislature. Photo by Herb Neufeld (flickr's Oggie Dog)

On the second day our government sat in the B.C. Legislature, Speaker Linda Reid admonished then-unelected premier Christy Clark for passing notes to a cabinet minister during a debate. Clark had not yet won the Westside–Kelowna byelection, and so was relegated to the legislature’s public galleries.

The incident made me harken back to my years in middle school, which I doubt was Clark’s or Reid’s intent. In those olden times, many notes written on paper changed hands anytime a teacher turned his back on a class.

Of course, that was before there was a smartphone in every pocket and a computer on every desk. When a desktop was the flat, horizontal surface which supported the paper you wrote your notes on. When a notebook was a collection of bound and ruled paper.

Not that those low-tech methods of communication—note-passing included—were superior to today’s methods.

The Kremlin might disagree with me on that one. In an effort to prevent National Security Agency-style cyberspying, the Kremlin’s secret service recently decided to revert to using old-fashioned typewriters and paper to write and store official secrets.,,,

Continue reading at the Victoria Times Colonist

This week, the Weather Network’s Flu Report shows significant numbers of influenza cases in the Lower Mainland. Google Flu Trends provides less detail — it rates all of B.C. as having high flu activity.

Google Flu Trends tallies Google searches for information about influenza-like illness to estimate real-time flu activity around the world. When compared to results from traditional flu-surveillance systems, Google’s estimates match on-the-ground illness patterns. But unlike traditional reports, Google updates Flu Trends daily.

The launch of Flu Trends in 2008 launched an even greater trend in health research. Google may have led the way, but new methods for tracking health indicators and mining the Internet for health-related social information seem to come online each year.

Continue reading…


Additional sources include:



Health Tracking Network