After the first wave of no-excuses charters (like Roxbury Prep) proved to critics that it could be done, networks like Uncommon Schools have proven that it can be replicated. Very, very excited.
It’s all about the execution.
Tough note to communicate today: Automattic had a low-level (root) break-in to several of our servers, and potentially anything on those servers could have been revealed.
We have been diligently reviewing logs and records about the break-in to determine the extent of the information exposed, and re-securing avenues used to gain access. We presume our source code was exposed and copied.
Moderate kudos to Automattic for the disclosure. Big questions:
- When did the break-in happen? Those kudos have a limited shelf life, particularly if it’s revealed that the company’s been sitting on this for a while.
- Was Wordpress.com account information compromised? My guess is yes, which would explain the far-too-passive “You know, you should really use different passwords for each web service” PSA that follows the break-in disclosure. Given the number of Wordpress.com accounts and the amount of personal information shared on each, this could make the Gawker password incident seem like small potatoes.
- How screwed are self-hosted Wordpress installations? Wordpress releases a lot of security updates already. It’s hard to say without more details about the “sensitive bits” of code that were accessed, but it sounds like we may be expecting a flood of 0-day exploits on the horizon.
I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the next few days.
I understand the rationale: as smart phones begin to include cameras with enough megapixels to satisfy most consumers, there’s no market for a dedicated non-pro video camera.
But there is: teachers, for whom frequent and repeated self-assessment is crucial to success.
Teachers love Flip cameras because they’re cheap, simple and reliable. The Flip’s single red button doesn’t induce the reflexive technophobia that even a slightly more advanced camera can. While we nerds may scoff at FlipShare, it’s the gold standard for sharing with administrators and teaching coaches. Especially in the charter world, where talent is aggressively pursued from across the country, filmed classes are a valuable tool for earning plane tickets to a sample lesson. Even in some of the most under-funded schools I’ve worked with, there’s at least one trusty Ultra that gets passed around.
Can a teacher film a lesson with her iPhone? Sure, but she may not feel comfortable leaving the weekend’s text messages in the back of her classroom. Could he use the video feature on his point-and-shoot? Sure, but watch him be surprised by YouTube’s 15-minute limit.
In the ed world, the Flip will be mourned.
At a former education job, we used to end each meeting by “going meta.” Sure, we’d cover the standard logistics (Did hit all the items in the agenda? Do we each know what to do next?), but we’d also pick apart the flow of the meeting that had just ended. Did somebody unreasonably monopolize the conversation? Did anyone feel as if they shouldn’t have been present? Finally, we’d score the meeting on a scale of 1 to 10.
Whoever initiated the meta-conversation always did so with a sheepish grin, as if to intimate to everyone assembled, “Yeah, I know this is kind of a joke, but it clearly means a lot to the principal, so let’s just get it over with.” Other times, from the safety of a barstool, similar ideas were stated outright.
Confession: I really enjoyed going meta. I still enjoy going meta. I can’t not go meta. And neither, I’d argue, can anyone else. Who doesn’t ask silent questions in the middle of a conversation? Why isn’t he making eye contact? She was 15 minutes late: should I read something into that? Is he a little drunk, or is that just his personality?
The formalized, public meta session simply provided a sanctioned, low-resistance mechanism for voicing these thoughts (or their more professional equivalents) right there and then, rather than at the bar later — or worse, not at all. It made it okay to say the meeting sucked. Or that it should never have been called in the first place. And that ultimately led to better, fewer meetings.
So, indulge me as I go meta on this… writing platform. This “blog”.
It wasn’t supposed to be a Tumblr, I can promise you that. It was originally intended to be on WordPress, and indeed it was, back in its earlier incarnations. Self-hosted and spartan, it was a place where serious writing could be set down in an appropriately serious serif font.
I didn’t write in it. Of course I didn’t. It was the digital version of a new Moleskine notebook. How dare I set down crude doodles and notes to myself ("you’re not allowed to buy Nutella") in the same shared paperspace where Hemingway and Van Gogh produced art? Similarly, what writing would ever be good enough to send out to the world as my emissary?
I don’t really like Tumblr. I admire the heck out of it—as a work of technology and design, as a business—but I don’t want to have one. I don’t like that my content is on some servers in, where, California? that I don’t have access to. I don’t like that even with a domain name, my post URL structure instantly reveals my blogging platform. I don’t like that I’m using a service intended for multimedia microblogging to do my largely-textual macroblogging.
My notebook was a gift, and I don’t like the way it’s ruled or bound. And that’s why I think I’m going to write a lot in it.
Meta over. 7/10.
Perhaps I am more than usually jealous with respect to my freedom. I feel that my connection with and obligation to society are still very slight and transient. Those slight labors which afford me a livelihood, and by which it is allowed that I am to some extent serviceable to my contemporaries, are as yet commonly a pleasure to me, and I am not often reminded that they are a necessity. So far I am successful. But I foresee that if my wants should be much increased, the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. All great enterprises are self-supporting. The poet, for instance, must sustain his body by his poetry, as a steam planing-mill feeds its boilers with the shavings it makes. You must get your living by loving. But as it is said of the merchants that ninety-seven in a hundred fail, so the life of men generally, tried by this standard, is a failure, and bankruptcy may be surely prophesied.
— Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle (1863)