Great Interview with Ray Kurzweil…..when computers and humans merge

I found this to be a great interview with one of the people I admire. He pushes the envelope on technology, human behavior and evolution. Click on the title to see interview with Ray Kurzweil.


by Jeff Piontek


Then you have the other side of the idea, where corporations are controlling the afterlife and a transitional state….funny

KONY —- The real story, well at least one parents view of what it actually did accomplish!!!

I was happy to have both my son and daughter come to me and ask about KONY and the issues that are being presented in the video. I explained to them that it seems that everyone is talking about the Kony 2012 video, which has received more than 80 million views since it was posted.  My 12 year old son explained to me that it is part of a campaign by a non-profit group Invisible Children to bring awareness to the rebel leader Joseph Kony who’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been terrorizing Ugandans and people in the Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan since the 1980s. The narrator in the film states that “Kony stands accused of overseeing the systematic kidnapping of countless African children,” and, “brainwashing the boys into fighting for him, turning the girls into sex slaves and killing those who don’t comply.” My son was heartbroken knowing we actively work with two charities in the Congo, one for rape victims and the other for HIV positive students, helping them get access to medicine and schooling. So this was something we had already known about and he wanted to know why Kony had not been brought to justice.

I explained that there are people who are actively working to do this but given the political climate it is difficult. My issue was with the video and how it was portrayed.

The video, which features  Jason Russell (co-founder of Invisible Children) trying to find ways to explain Kony’s atrocities in an age-appropriate way to his very young son, which made it only more compelling and moving. It ends with a three point call to action: 1. “Sign the Pledge to Show Your Support;” 2. “Get the Bracelet and the Action Kit” (for $30); and 3. “Sign Up to Donate a Few Dollars a Month.”

The group is targeting young people and, from what I can see on Facebook and Twitter, it has raised support from youth around the world.  In some ways I’m happy, especially that my son is taking more of an interest in global politics. It’s amazing to see young people engaging with issues beyond their immediate lives and thinking about the plight of other youth thousands of miles away, my son I am sure remembers the terms I always say to him and my daughter “think globally and act locally”. Not to disregard global issues but be the change you can be in your own community and then expand, we need help here in the U.S. and other places as well.

But, as has been pointed out in numerous articles and videos, the group has many critics. As the Washington Post reported, some experts argue that the crimes of the LRA “have been exaggerated and the attention they are receiving is disproportionate,” while others say that Kony and his group are indeed despicable international criminals but that there are many more effective campaigns to stop him, including some that have been working on the ground for many years. Others argue that the video and the campaign represent a “white savior” approach to the problems of Africa as the New York Times reported.

I’m not going to repeat what’s in the countless number of articles about this film (you can find them by searching Google News for Kony), but after reading several of them, it’s pretty clear that the issue is not as simple as depicted in the film and that Invisible Children — while deservedly getting credit for raising awareness — is not necessarily the best place to donate if you want to help the children of Africa. If you search and look for the Ugandan blogger Rosebell Kagumire who has major problems with Russell’s video. “He plays so much that this war has been going on because millions of Americans are ignorant about it, but this is not entirely true.” She also says that “the situation has improved in Northern Uganda and that it’s about conflict recovery right now.” And, she reminds us, “this is another video where you see an outsider trying to be a hero rescuing African children … it does not end the problem.”

Lessons Learned 

This leads to the issue of critical thinking and media literacy.  As an Internet safety advocate, I’ve been saying for years that one of the most important skills that young people (and older ones too) need is the ability to think critically about what they see online. Whether it’s a pitch from a company, an invitation to meet up with an appealing stranger or even a news items or an opinion piece from a pundit like me, it’s important to look beyond the page — or in Kony’s case, the video. Use a search engine and whatever other tools you have to learn more about anything that you’re on the verge of buying into. Ask your online friends but also consult as many expert sources as you can.  There is often more than one side to a story and even well intentioned campaigns by decent people can have nuances worth exploring.

Parents, please use this as an opportunity to talk with your child. You can talk about anything ranging from how great it is to get involved in issues to how important it is to do your homework before signing an online (or printed) petition, donating money, showing up at a demonstration or supporting a politician who’s rhetoric may be initially appealing, there are so many politicians that garner support because they can speak well or get people riled up but have no substance.

Investigating charities

I have a friend who I grew up with in NYC and he works for a company that is one I ALWAYS check before donating moey to the cause.  Charity Navigator, which rates charities on a variety of criteria.  Charity Navigator gives Invisible Children a 3 (out of 4) Stars for as an overall rating but only 2 stars for Accountability and Transparency with a score of 45, compared to 70 for the American Red Cross and 59 for the American Heart Association, just to give two examples. 

I can say that, all in all, the story did its job by promoting the fact that there is injustice in the world. It is also a teaching moment for all children and their parents which will hopefully elicit conversations about all content and can teach students about empathy and world issues.


Presentation at Alaska Society of Technology Education–Using Web 2.0 Tools to Meet the Needs of the 21st Century Learner

Presentation Details:
Title: Venturing into the Clouds: Using Web 2.0 Tools to Meet the Needs of the 21st Century Learner
Time: 8:30 AM AST
Duration: 00:58:53
Description: The Future of Cloud Computing: Innovation, Service, Sustainability, Performance and how it Affects Educational Outcomes for our Students. Economic uncertainty and competetive pressures are fundamentally raising performance demands n all aspects of education. From students and teachers to parents and administrators, the pressure to succeed has never been greater.

Success hinges on developing talent to focus on innovation and growth n the global economy. Businesses are now basing their trust and focus on cloud technologies because they offer freedom, reduced cost, and sustainability, whereas education has not. This keynote intends to show advantages of simplification and standardization to support utilizing the cloud to its fullest potential in an educational setting.


Presentation at the Australian Society of Digital Librarians

Jeff Piontek, Hawaii Technology Academy

Abstract: Today’s world is constantly on the move and changing at such a profound speed that it’s hard to believe that what the eyes see as reality is already history. This keynote will introduce and closely examine the significance of several global exponential trends and challenge your assumptions about the world we live in and its future. Current technology trends are affecting our personal and professional lives, our youth and elderly, our learning institutions, the nature of teaching and learning and our definition of intelligence itself. This keynote will be a compelling glimpse into the bold, exciting and dynamic future that awaits us all!

Jeff Piontek is an author, keynote speaker and teacher (most importantly). He has worked with many at-risk school districts nationally as a consultant on affecting educational change and reform. Jeff started out as a Science teacher in the South Bronx, NYC and worked his way up to the Director of Instructional and Informational Technology in NYC.

Jeff’s book; “Blogs Wikis and Podcasts, Oh My! Electronic Media in the Classroom” has been well received by the education community and is in its second printing.

He has received many accolades including the latest from Governor Linda Lingle for Innovation in the economy for his STEM education work nationally. Jeff sits on the National Governor’s Association STEM committee as well as the State of Hawaii Economic Development Workforce Committee, which he was appointed to by the Governor.

Jeff has embarked on a new venture at Hawaii Technology Academy and the school has performed at the top of the public schools in Hawaii in its first year and doubled to 500 students in its second year. The school now has 1,000 students and over 2,000 applicants this past year.

The school was just designated as one of the 40 more innovative schools in the US in a recent study published by Innosight Institute (Michael Horn, author of Disrupting Class —

Jeff’s most recent presentations can be found on slideshare at


Over 100 Incredible Infographic Tools and Resources (Categorized)

The Best Blogs and Websites About Infographics

  1. – Awesome community for creating and sharing infographics.
  2. Information Aesthetics – The relationship between design and information.
  3. – Making sense of complex issues through data and design.
  4. Visual Complexity – A resource for the visualization of complex networks.
  5. Daily Infographic – A new infographic every day.
  6. GOOD Infographics – GOOD Magazine’s excellent infographics section.
  7. Information Is Beautiful – Ideas, issues, knowledge, data – visualized.
  8. Infographic of the Day – Fast Company’s excellent and long running series.
  9. FlowingData – Exploring how designers, scientists visualize data.
  10. Infographics Archive – A visual library offering infographics.
  11. Visual Loop – There’s an infographic for it… even if it didn’t happen!
  12. Infographr – All about infographics.
  13. Newsilike – An infographics blog from India.
  14. Video Infographics – Motion infographics that explain, educate or inform.
  15. – A news and knowledge resource for data visualization.
  16. VisualJournalism – 80% of the news in infographics.
  17. Eagereyes – Reflections on the visual communication of data.
  18. Amazing Infographics – Cool information graphics.
  19. Submit Infographics – Share and rate infographics.
  20. The Infographics Showcase – Collecting infographics.
  21. I Love Charts – A Tumblr blog about charts.
  22. Well Formed Data – An infographics blog by a freelance data visualizer.
  23. Best Infographics – Pointing you toward great infographics.
  24. Infographic List – For those who love info graphics.

Data Visualization Tools and Software

  1. Piktochart – Transforms your information into memorable presentations.
  2. – Create interactive charts and infographics.
  3. Gephi – Like Photoshop for data. Graph visualization and manipulation software.
  4. Tableau Public – Free data visualization software.
  5. Free Vector Infographic Kit – Vector infographic elements from MediaLoot.
  6. Weave – Web-based analysis and visualization environment.
  7. iCharts – Charts made easy.
  8. ChartsBin – A web-based data visualization tool.
  9. GeoCommons – See your data on a map.
  10. VIDI – A suite of powerful Drupal visualization modules.
  11. Prefuse – Information visualization software.
  12. StatSilk – Desktop and online software for mapping and visualization.
  13. Gliffy – Online diagram and flowchart software.
  14. Hohli – Online charts builder.
  15. Many Eyes – Lets you upload data and create visualizations.
  16. Google Chart Wizard – Generate image charts.

Data Sources

  1. DataMarket – Find and understand data.
  2. WorldMap – Explore, visualize and publish geographic information.
  3. Influence Explorer – Provides overviews of political influence data for politicians.
  4. US Census Bureau – Measures America (people, places, economy).
  5. Freebase – An entity graph of people, places and things from Google.
  6. World Bank Data – The world at a glance (key development indicators).
  7. Data360 – Telling compelling and data-driven stories.
  8. Number Of – You ask, they count.
  9. Gallup – Public opinion polls.
  10. EveryBlock – Uncovers info on large cities contained in government databases.
  11. Daytum – Helps you collect, organize and communicate your everyday data.
  12. Google Public Data – Filter and animate data sets from around the world.
  13. Gapminder – Displays time series of development statistics for all countries.
  14. Munterbund – Graphical visualization of text similarities in essays.

Create Personal Infographics

  1. Biogrify – Create a fun visual snapshot of your life.
  2. Vizify TweetSheet – Your Twitter activity as an instant infographic.
  3. Photo Stats – App for creating iPhone infographics out of your photo data.
  4. – A visual resume tool.
  5. – Visualize your resume in one click.
  6. Kinzaa – Build your infographic resume.

JavaScript / Flash Infographic Tools

  1. KeyLines – A JavaScript toolkit for visualizing networks.
  2. d3.js – Free JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data.
  3. InfoVis Toolkit – A JavaScript tool for creating interactive data visualizations.
  4. Flare – Makes it easy to create interactive data visualizations (ActionScript).
  5. JS Charts – Free JavaScript charts.
  6. FusionCharts – JavaScript (HTML5) and Flash charts.
  7. amCharts – JavaScript and HTML charts.
  8. Highcharts – Interactive JavaScript charts.

Great Infographic Studios and Designers

  1. Column Five – Creating visual content that brings people to your site.
  2. FFunction – Data visualization consulting.
  3. Interactive Things – A user experience and data visualization studio.
  4. Periscopic – An agency whose tagline is “do good with data”.
  5. Fathom – Helps clients understand and express complex data.
  6. JESS3 – Creative agency specializing in data visualization.
  7. Visual Evolution – London-based infographic design.
  8. – Create understanding through visuals.
  9. Prime Infographics – Creates custom infographics for businesses.

Infographic Articles and Tutorials

  1. How to Create Outstanding Modern Infographics – Vectortuts+
  2. Infographic: Do-It-Yourself Guide to Infographics – Marketing Tech Blog
  3. A Few Rules for Making Homemade Infographics – The Atlantic Wire
  4. The Do’s and Don’ts of Infographic Design – Smashing Magazine
  5. How to Create a Great Infographics (Slideshow) – The Content Lab
  6. Design a Magazine Infographic – Digital Arts
  7. Create an Infographic Typography Animation – aetuts+
  8. How to Create Great Infographics – .net magazine
  9. The Anatomy of an Infographic – SpyreStudios
  10. How to Strike a Balance Between Data and Visualization – The Daily Egg
  11. 7 Steps to Make Your Infographic a Success – SEOmoz

Other / Miscellaneous / Overflow

  1. Wolfram CDF – Create “infoapps” using always-current data.
  2. KISSmetrics Infographics – Useful infographics by KISSmetrics.
  3. Better World Flux – A beautiful interactive visualization of what matters in life.
  4. Data Wrangler – Interactive tool for data cleaning and transformation.
  5. Lyza – Analyze, socialize, decide.
  6. A World of Tweets – Twitter visualization.
  7. We Feel Fine – An exploration of human emotion.
  8. Visual Economics – Unraveling complexities in financial data.
  9. ComponentArt DV – Present, navigate and visualize your data like never before.
  10. DOMO – Business intelligence platform.
  11. Infochimps – Big data infrastructure made clear.
  12. Evaluat3 – The best way to know your professional strengths (graphs).
  13. Webpages As Graphics – An HTML DOM visualizer app.
  14. Creately – Draw diagrams online using a collaborative approach.
  15. Wordle – Create beautiful word clouds.
  16. Tagxedo – Word clouds with style.

Hawaii STEM Conference….great job by Women in Technology and Maui Economic Development Board.