Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maypop: Thoughts in an emergent conversation about World University and School

Hi G,
Thanks for the invitation to your SynBio Board Team in this class. I'll follow up similarly soon.
Here are some possibly related-to-your-foci, wiki subjects at WUaS, in English (WUaS is planning to be MIT OCW-centric in many languages):
Where are you located and are you from Norway originally?
Besides developing WUaS, I'm also writing an actual / virtual Harbin Hot Springs' ethnography. Please tell me about yourself, as well.
Fundraising, to hire initial student interns matriculated at great universities as graduate student instructors for WUaS's first bachelor degree class in 2014, is a main goal vis-a-vis developing a board in this class.
I'm curious whether Professor Clint Korver, even, might help with this, to hire matriculated Stanford students eventually.

Hi Scott!
Thanks for the links. I am this week in Norway, where I live for many years. I lived the last years in Berlin, Germany, but plan to move to the US - bi costal NYC and silicon valley.
My main interest is synthetic biology in general. My research is mainly in silico. Special interests of mine are: computer aided design, cellular computer, morphogenesis and science 2.0. Moreover, I am an Apple developer. You can find more info about me here: Nature, SoapBox Science, ToolTales Leukippos – Synthetic Biology Lab in the Cloud and
Looking forward to discuss with you. 
Have a great day!
Best G


Hello G!
Are you in the States now?
I added your Nature article to WUaS's Genomics' page:
Would you be willing to be on WUaS's Board for this class, if this works with Venture's software? And might I be on yours?

Hi Scott!
Right now I am in Berlin, but I am on the move back to the States. I am planning to have the headquarter of CytoComp in Silicon Vallay, although NYC is home for me. Thus I might end up as many as a bi costal.
I like your idea in general. I have actually following this field a while and had some awesome discussions with David Stavens President/COO, Udacity. Thus I am very interested in this subject and will be able to give advice for your project. However, I have to be honest that I am quite busy with my StartUp CytoComp. Thus I will have very limited time to follow up your project. I will in any case be not able to promise more than 8 h at this time. If this will be a conflict with CytoComp I have to make a priority in respect to CytoComp. Please consider this situation, if you make your decision. Let me know asap what it will be. If you decide yes, you can try to add me The CytoComp board is already relatively large. For sure, one has to consider, that not all people are always active in class and follow up in a timely manner, thus this situation might change a bit the next days. If I need to remove some people from the board, I will let you know and will be happy to add you. 
Looking forward to hear from you soon.
Best G

Great, G,
I added your CytoComp advertisement / explanation to WUaS's wiki Genomics' page -
It would be great somehow to get in touch David at some point. I'm in contact with Peter Norvig, who with Sebastian Thrun, did the Stanford / Udacity Intro to A.I. online class with 160000 registrants, and 7000 completers (more than all the graduates from Stanford Computer Science Department since it began).
What are the next big steps for CytoComp? ... I'll email you with the next main steps at WUaS, and how they could possibly articulate with your developing of CytoComp.

Hi Scott! 
Thanks so much! I exchanged some mail with Sebastian. He once studied in the small germs town, I was born; and his wife is from there. Sebastian is really a great inspiration. Peter I do not know. 
How do you think you can compete with Udacity, MITx, edX, course, ITunesU etc. They are building on great names? This is actually one of my major questions I have in respect to your plan. 
My plan: to take all the input form this class to build a strategic plan. I have several short term needs. I need to raise money. I wish to establish the company physically in silicon valley. I am working on to build a strong team of A players. I need outstanding people for RD. Moreover, I need a strong legal expert asap. I am very happy and open for strategic advice. 
Looking really forward to our discussion and the advice we can give each other. 

I answered:
Hi Scott!
Thanks for this info. I do not understand what your differentiator is. 
How would you make an application definition statement about your app 
in one sentence in the form: differentiator form competitors, solution 
you have to offer, target group?
What business model you wish to put behind your world university?
Looking forward to get your concept clarified.
Best G

Hi G,
You're up late! :) Thanks for your questions! Here's the sentence with semi-colons:
World University is like Wikipedia with MIT OCW, and planning free, Creative Commons' licensed, online, bachelor, Ph.D., I.B., law and M.D. degrees in many languages, accrediting on MIT OCW, as well as wiki schools in all 7, 413 languages and 205 countries for people to people teaching and learning, all of which differentiates WUaS from its competitors and is WUaS's purpose (solution); WUaS has an endowment business model, like great American Universities, and eventually seeks governmental, company, individual and Quaker/related grants; WUaS's target audience includes 2000 matriculated, undergraduate students, (a much greater number applying next autumn), in English, as well as students for the Ph.D. (matriculating in 2015), I.B. (perhaps also matriculating in 2015) law (matriculating in 2016), and M.D. (matriculating in 2015), as well as Wikipedia-like contributions and edits by volunteers in all languages.
For more about revenue streams and target audience, see the Venture-Lab business canvas for WUaS here:
This is also in an email.


Hi Scott!
Excuse my rough language. I will talk honest what I think. I hope you do not misunderstand and we can start an interesting discussion form this: 
I need to be honest, in order to help. I see this discussion as confidential ( critique only intern).
In general: you app definition statement is still unclear. To many works, to little focus on the main points.
Why many languages? (Are you american? BTW there are big cultural differences how people see language, many US companies are fully in the game of regionalization. This might because many american only master english. If you ask around in the group of my friends what is the feature they most hate (I mean emotionally hate) is the regionalization. Eg the most hated feature many places outside US is the app shop in the local language only). In conclusion, you might overestimate language as a differentiator. For sure, it is always good to have a language choosing option.... You will really need to make a customer survey in this area to figuer out the importance of language.
PhD - online - Sebastian Thrun and Udacity do not offer this. The reason is that you need close personal contact. The master level might be the right cut off.
I do not understand your comparison with wikipedia.
What is your real differentiator from eg Udacity. What problem do you solve for me the other not do? How do you deal with the fact that your competitors are world leaders in the high education business (MIT, Harvard, Stanford.....)
Please tell me direct and nit through links what business model you wish to put behind. Udacity eg is selling their students to recruiters. What are your plans?
We are facing the end of the employee model as we are leaving the industrial age and move into the digital one. We had business to reduce transaction costs. The internet reduces the transaction costs to 0. 
Ref: Solve for X: Adrien Treuille on collaborative science  and Michael Nielsen, Reinventing Discovery, The New Era of Networked Science, Princeton University Press 2012.  “Michael Nielsen argues that we are living at the dawn of the most dramatic change in science in more than 300 years. This is being driven by powerful new cognitive tools, enabled by the internet, which are greatly accelerating scientific discovery....this is the first book about something much more fundamental how the internet is transforming the nature of our collective intelligence and how we understand the world” (cover text) (the brief video is really worth to watch)
What work is about is under fundamental change. This has big implications on the goals of higher education.

Because many/all 7413+ languages are possible now in the I.T. age, and Wikipedia's 285 set a precedent. All languages are also fascinating and a MIT / Harvard-caliber, wiki school in each language will help so, so many people - especially for open, people-to-people teaching and learning (and with a MIT OCW standard and for academic content). The current Wikidata / Wikibase is being written with Wikipedia's 285 languages in mind, as well as possibly WUaS's 7413+ since I've been communicating with them over some years now. WUaS is also planning an universal translator - - explicitly emerging from our plan for all languages (wiki addable, too), and building on Google Translate + other similar translation projects.
High quality universities could open the way to innovation in each language, as well as idea exchanges.
Also, I'm an anthropologist, and WUaS hopes to hire anthropology graduate students at great universities with their knowledge of both their field, different languages as well as the idea of the university.
All for now ... more later ... :)

Hi Scott!
Thanks for your answer.
Most people are good with english. In higher education you need to be. Eg in the biomedical field everything of relevance is published in english. You have to use english and actually push the students to use english. This is common praxis. However, one can always have a free option to choose language.
We might need also discuss the other points I mentioned.
Best G

Hi G!
Ph.D. ... Google + video hangouts, and related, will facilitate such learner-to-learner, professor-with-student contact, and with two+ channels - group video and group text (and for the Conference Method - which is also central to WUaS's plans for free degrees and approaches to teaching and learning - - as well as to Reed College's (where Steve Jobs also went to school) approach to education.
Free, online, MIT-centric Ph.D.s are also what differentiate WUaS from most of the other online educational projects. WUaS would love to work with Udacity - I/WUaS haven't yet met and talked with Sebastian Thrun.
WUaS seeks to become a great university (in all languages and countries), a MIT / Harvard online, and Ph.D.s are a key part of this. Thanks, too, to MIT OCW.
And professional degrees, and online!, are also potentially very practically helpful for people. Law and Medicine under one umbrella in all countries, and many languages is also part of our mission, and will help these disciplines immensely as well.
I suppose much of the answer to your differentiator question comes down to WUaS's mission, vis-a-vis other online University's missions.
As the other wing, Wikipedia and wiki (editable web pages) are the idea generator, for open teaching and learning, as a new kind of conference method, even (see
Business model: endowment ... fundraising, grant writing, philanthropists ... think Wikipedia - and with no advertising ... and then companies and governments ... and also an online bookstore / computer store (new and used) for textbooks etc. and in many, many languages ... do see the business model canvas here in this class for WUaS.
But we need access to governments and companies (Norway?). WUaS would like to produce A teams around the world, and undergraduate and graduate students may significantly help run CytoComp, for example, but first we need financial resources to begin to matriculate students.
Employee model: WUaS plans to become a significant employer, and worldwide. We want to create jobs - good academic jobs - and in all 7413 languages and at least 205 countries. MIT has about 1000 faculty, and in English only, by way of comparison. Yes, the internet is very inexpensive, yet people still need jobs. And in all languages, not just English.
I'm kind of a Castellian. See Manuel Castells here, with video as well as transcript - - and his trilogy "The Rise of the Network Society" (rev. ed.). I've taught a class on 'Society and Information Technology' for 7 semesters on Harvard's virtual island in SL and elsewhere. He characterizes and analyzes, more far-reachingly than many, some of the fundamental changes emerging with the internet. I'll look at Nielson's book, which I hadn't known of ... Castells doesn't examine the implications of the internet explicitly on science, although information processing and knowledge generation is what chips/semiconductors in the '50s made possible, and which have informed the IT revolution significantly, - with benefits to end users especially.
WUaS would also like to become an institution for global democracy, and the Quaker-informed business meeting consensus model scales ...Here's the annual meeting agenda, - - and its minutes are open if you'd like to see them.

Hi Scott!
I share your general vision. However, in my view needs you business model major modifications.
Thanks so much for your detailed answer. 
I do not think a PhD will work, especially not in biomedicine. You do normally your work in the lab of your super wiser. A lot of hand on work can not be done in the cloud. You need the personal contact. You need physical access to a lab. 
Is education today really still about a degree or is it about to learn a skill? A PhD belongs in the frame of the industrial age where we needed fabric workers. The system was based on competition. A PhD gave you a certain place in this rat race. The winning strategies in the digital age changed. Today it is mainly important to be able to collaborate in the cloud in big teams. A team is more likely to solve complex problems. It is more important what you as an individual person are able to do, than what degree you have. Who still cares about a PhD. Look to the salary you get for this degree. No real market value any longer.
Your language idea is seen from the view point of a american native speaker. Most people with some level of education speak english. In biomedicine is this a must. Eg the UNiversity of Oslo where I took my PhD has as a requirement, that you do quite well in the test of english as a foreign language. English is in academic what latin was in the old days, a language used by all educated people to communicate.
A wiki is just a tool for collaboration. Nothing special and used by many people in collaborative projects. This is no new solution for my problems. In general I agree that all the new IT technology is the base of the game changer in the education business.
It is still not clear for me why I should study as a customer at your University and not go to established names like MIT or Stanford? You are using long explanations for your application definition statements. I would like to now in very few words, in one brief sentence 
1) What is your differentiator 
2) Which problem do you solve 
3) Who do you target
Moreover, how do you wish to make money? Grants... will not work forever. How will you generate revenue? How will your user be the product?
Looking really forward to your answers.

Hi G!
Thanks for focusing these questions in our conversation.
You'll find both MIT OCW courses with video as well as Yale OYC ones here, - - including graduate courses, and their corresponding WUaS wiki subject pages. These are WUaS's focuses for courses for matriculating bachelor's degree students in 2014 and PH.D. in 2015. WUaS is taking a kind of 'build out' approach to developing WUaS, and there a lot of nice, Creative Commons' information technology building blocks to play with.
With M.D. degrees (, a doctor friend, who used to be on the actual, WUaS board - - observed that the first two years of medical school are almost entirely in the classroom, so these first two years would work online. What's exciting about WUaS is the possibility to define online medicine, and in many, many countries and languages. Here's the very beginning of the WUaS hospital - - with one in Second Life built by Imperial College London, which you can visit in this 3D virtual world. I think something similar will emerge with movie interactive realism with some lab sciences, but not all, and WUaS will develop as an internet university, possibly collaborating eventually. And WUaS complements on the ground universities and labs, but doesn't replace. And WUaS is very MIT centric -; we'd like to collaborate with MIT in so many ways, but such that WUaS students, for example, could spend a year at MIT in Cambridge, in salutary ways (paying tuition of course). But WUaS is also great universities' centric - with this wiki list in particular -, - so perhaps these collaborations might occur with Stanford, Yale and Cambridge, as well. We'll plan carefully which Ph.D.s will work online, especially science ones, and focus on learning and computing, in part. Here's the 'Laboratory courses online at World University and School' wiki subject - - to explore some of these questions as they unfold, hopefully in conjunction with MIT / Stanford or their like.
Education is about knowledge generation as conversation expressed/recognized through degrees, and with MIT, Stanford, (especially these 1st two for their entrepreneurialism - witness this course), Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cambridge as real life models for WUAS, and all online in numerous languages.
Just as there has long been a solitary aspect to science and learning - working alone in the lab late at night, reading journal articles - and then the social aspect of it you describe, too, WUaS will focus the social aspect through group video / virtual worlds + as these develop. And the web makes team work a whole new entity, now global, now synchronous and asynchronous, now MIT OCW centric, etc. There's a distinct correlation between degrees and income, in the aggregate, sociologically - Steve Jobs and Bill Gates being two prominent examples of many exceptions. I think MIT OCW-centric Ph.D.s will help numerous people in the developing world, especially, as well - a focus for WUaS. English is the first language of WUaS, but 7,413 languages, each a school, is both exciting and fascinating, ... partly because it will be a team effort at knowledge generation that generates this (like Wikipedia). WUaS would like to be generative of language and learning, via degrees, for the developing world and people of color. And it's sad/tragic that the world is rapidly losing language diversity, and WUaS may provide secondarily an archiving focus for each of these languages, even as they become computer-based university WUaS centers/hubs of real time speech and knowledge generation. Wikipedia's 285 languages - as wiki - is a marvelous and vital example - and we all did it. 7,413 (per "The Ethnologue" out of Texas) -285=? .... a lot of online schools / universities.
In terms of why someone would choose WUaS over MIT or Stanford or Harvard ... As one member of the actual WUaS board, who went to MIT (as did his wife, both in chemistry) said ... free MIT degrees would have been very compelling to him in high school. The online-centricity of WUaS would be a bonus too. Remember, Stanford and Harvard and MIT all cost around $53,000 per year, by way of comparison, unlike many European and Japanese universities. High School is free in the U.S. and of varying qualities, but there isn't a free MIT in the U.S., as there are great, free (or nearly so) universities in Europe.
I feel a little like I'm repeating myself, but thanks for the focused questioning: 

Free and MIT OCW - bachelor, Ph.D., I.B., law and M.D. ... and wiki in all 7,413 languages and 205 countries is one main differentiator ... a big one. 

Problem solved: 
Universal, MIT centric, free, people-to-people teaching and learning is something that doesn't exist ... envisioned since at least the French Revolution - the College of France is perhaps an expression of this vision. This will help so many people with MIT-centric knowledge generation possibilities in the form of schools and universities, that we all create. 

Students who want free, MIT-centric/great university degrees
Business model (again) 
Endowment (and bookstore / computer store - 2% less than amazon in the states/competitors?) ... via networking ... all of which is taking a long time ... but is fascinating. Companies and governments that what a MIT centric university education for their citizens. User as product will become CytoComps team A. Wikimedia (the umbrella organization for Wikipedia) is growing, because they found funders, by way of comparison.
It turns out that network (science) collaborations are already emerging, including with Creative Commons' licensed MIT OCW and Wikidata and Wikibase ... but first monies soon will so help move the project along just a little further ... WUaS really needs startup monies ... and perhaps provide, for example, CytoComp with Genomic contacts at Stanford and MIT (including A Team resources in the form of students).
By the way another contact in Genomics at Stanford came to mind ... let me know if you'd like her name.

Hi Scott!
Thanks a lot for all the info. This helps a lot for the discussions at the board.
1) Here we have a very divergent opinion. I strongly oppose regionalization. I think you might have a bias of a native english speaker. However, this is my personal opinion and that of the most of my friends. Relevant bio medical science is more or less exclusive done at few places in the US. Thus at least for the PhD level a regional not US group is wrong. We might disagree. However, these hypoteses have to be tested carefully and you will need objective data about these questions.
2) (I think I said it already. I share your general vision.) Confuse sentence. (I do not wish to offend you. Your concept has such great potential, that the discussion needs to be tough and honest. I really apologize for my words) What do you mean MIT centric? You sketch here your concept. A problem is something different. A problem might be e.g.: We are now in a situation of lifelong learning. Our world is really quick changing. We will need all our lifetime learn new things. A solution would be an app addressing the special needs of such a group. The solution needs to be stated much sharper. I do not get it. What is the comment of other people on this?
Looking really forward to discuss more. 
Will also be interesting to hear the comments from the rest of the board.
Best G
PS who is the person at Stanford.

Hi G,
Thanks. I added Nielson's book to the following three wiki subjects at WUaS ...
I think one way to describe the difference between what you're asking and WUaS's approach, is that you're problem-focused and WUaS is mission-oriented, as a great, all-languages, MIT-centric university, with free degrees, to come.

In terms of WUaS's degrees (which are part of our mission and focus as part of the business plan), especially with WUaS's online law and medical schools, but for the other degrees too, and we'd like to accredit in all countries ... in main languages there ... with implications for intellectual property questions, for helping the developing world, and for global approaches to legal and medical education, which hopefully will be MIT/Harvard/Stanford centric (excellent) ... as context for our discussion ...
So, Nation States are central to WUaS's mission - - and have been central for years. While this approach to nation state, as place, may wiki-extend to regions (a nation but not a state such as Catalonia in eastern Spain), or autonomous regions in Russia, for example, if someone chooses to add this, - and that's ok and where WUaS is focused.
It's great to try to clarify our language and meaning and this will be great for discussions with this board. But I don't think I yet understand your opposition to regionalization, especially in terms of your discipline. And remember, the internet is distributed and in every country and in many languages, and people in the north of Norway or in Hawaii may be studying for various degrees at WUaS, get them, and then move, to a laboratory, or to a further degree in a city, for example. WUaS is an online university/school, and plans to produce students with degrees. Ph.D.s in many disciplines are more than doable online.

By MIT-centric, I mean the courses WUaS will offer will focus on MIT's 2142 courses, - - and via the conference method, and ideally collaborating with MIT itself (for government and company interaction for funding, access to overachieving students, etc.), which in turn will benefit the countries aforesaid.
I'm not sure I understand your characterization of problem, but not only is WUaS mission-centric, it's also a vision, which may explain another difference in our thinking (no offense whatsoever ... just attempting clarification of ideas, in language). WUaS has a 5 year history, so this vision and the WUaS wiki emerge with these elements. But in your terms, I think, MIT OCW and other great OER (Open Educational Resources) such as Yale OYC, which are CC licensed and Stanford / Princeton Coursera, which are not CC licensed, are a solution to the problem of a lack of OER, and in all languages and countries via WUaS.
And within the context of such MIT OCW courses, with free WUaS degrees, faculty will define problems and start companies, such as yours.
I'll post some of this for the WUaS board here to come into conversation with.
G.E. is the Genomic's person at Stanford. Do you know her?
Nice to be conversing here and looking forward to more.
It will be very interesting to hear the comments from the rest of the board.


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