Why they exist, what they are, how they work, and some samples

 This site explains how World Mind Network projects are envisioned and created.   Since these differ from other things on the Web in
their conception, management, and execution, it's important to understand how they work. It's also important to think of Web 2.0 tools in an entirely new way.
  Although anyone who is invited is welcome to contribute, the target group is usually students  (guided by their teachers and professors).  This is because this group is the first generation in history to be intimately connected to the rest of the world through the Web.  They grew up in a world in which social networking, blogging, wikis, webcams, Smart phones, virtual worlds and the like are  the rule, rather than the exception.

We look at modern Internet and Mobile technologies as a leap forward in human evolution.  Because most of us are too close to the Web phenomena which have emerged in the last few years to see the whole process objectively, it can be useful to take a historical perspective and compare today's technological revolution to an earlier era.

  Two million years ago our primate ancestors experienced a major increase in brain size.  Brain volume had 'flatlined' for about 4 million years at 400 cubic centimeters, about the size of a modern chimpanzee's brain.  But then for some reason the volume of gray matter dramatically increased, around the time of Homo Habilis (Handy Man) who was the first hominid to make and use tools.   His brain volume was about 800 cc.

  Several reasons have been advanced to explain the sudden spurt in brain size. The leading one so far is that rapid changes in African  climate between wet and dry forced Homo Habilis to learn to adapt quickly, leading to increased brain volume.

But it's not hard to see why a creature that suddenly has discovered how to make tools will make rapid progress in the development of intelligence.

  This is because making and using tools introduces a forced feedback loop.  Your increased intelligence directs your hands to make implements (at first obsidian and flint stone axes) which become more and more sophisticated.  As you observe the effects of your tools, you naturally look for more creative ways to use them.  At first you may use your stone cutter to dig the marrow out of animal bones;  soon you discover you can also use it to chop groundnuts, or sever roots from stalks.

  The point is that the wedding of a powerful brain with infinitely capable hands proved to be a combination that would eventually lead our ancestors to out-compete all other primates.

  What does this have to do with today's situation?  We're too close to the situation to objectively see it, but the appearance of Web 2.0 technologies in the last  five or six years has provided us with tools that invite hundreds of kinds of proactive activities that were unlikely or impossible only ten years ago.

  Consider:  Homo Habilis changed history merely because he developed a chipped stone axe, the first human-made tool.

  But WE  have been given  tools in the last five years which are far more potentially revolutionary:

   Through social networking sites  like Facebook we can spread knowledge and wisdom around the world instantly at no cost.

  Through Skype we can talk and even videoconference with most people around the globe for almost nothing.

  Through blogs we can float our opinions and determine their relative value against a myriad of other viewpoints.

  Through YouTube we can access complex video and audio  content about any subject immediately and at no cost.  And we can create videos which will be used the same  way by others.

  Through Wikipedia we can shape the way knowledge is presented, co-editing with thousands of other interested parties.

  Through Google and other search engines we can answer milllions of questions with access to the world's best experts on anything.

   Through Twitter we can know the most intimate thoughts of millions, almost as soon as they utter them.

  Through Smart Phones like the iPhone and Droid  and their 200,000 apps we can--  well, we can do 200,000 things, most of which have never been possible before.

We are a species which has been gifted with the powers of comic book Superheroes.   But for the most part we don't act like it. 

Why do most human beings not sense the enormity of the power of their new tools?
For one thing, most web technologies are marketed as toys.  

  Also, the early adopters of Web 2.0 have largely been children, who tend to be  more interested in entertainment than in changing the world.  And the unimportant and in some cases harmful uses they make of the new technologies do not inspire their elders to explore further.

  Most critically, very few people of any age, and almost no one in the academic world,  consistently ask what the new tools can do IN COMBINATION.

  If you do ask this, and ask it repeatedly, and apply a little imagination, you may be amazed at what can be accomplished.  We have been doing this for four years, and there has never been a time when the capabilities of the Web, when aided by imagination, have failed to astound us.

"The compass was once a toy" - Emerson                                                          

  The analogy of the automobile is useful here.   In 1888 or so, Herr Benz and Herr Daimler were driving around Germany with their newly invented internal combustion engines on wheels. They had invented  the first cars.  Did the rest of the world immediately embrace the new technology and apply it to all the uses we take for granted today?  No!  For years the automobile was considered a rich man's toy. It took 10 years before the first trucks were invented to carry freight;  15 years until the first ambulances appeared;  17 years before the first fire engines;  20 years until mail was delivered by car.

  Today we can not envision life without ambulances, trucks, fire engines, or mail delivery, and yet it took decades AFTER the technology was already available  until these usages were commonly accepted by the public.

  You can find similar stories with other advancements.  The airplane was invented in 1903, and yet there were no airlines until the 1930's. The Internet had its roots in the 1960's, but it took more than four decades until it could do the amazing things we depend on today. (To some extent these required faster servers, more bandwidth, and improved software, but lack of imagination was also a factor)

Modern Web and Mobile phone tools in 2010  exist in a situation analogous to the automobile in 1888.  They have enormous potential to transform age-old human problems, and yet for the most part they are playthings.

Very little of their vast potential  is used to actually achieve goals which clearly help Mankind.

That's what World Mind Network projects aim to do.  We create programs using the most modern Internet phenomena, few of which even existed before 2004, and use them to address real world challenges, problems, and issues.

Our projects are intended to build community,  preserve cultural artifacts, find new sustainability strategies, improve education, assist research, protect the environment, and initiate worldwide philosophical discussion on topics that rarely receive global attention.

If you represent a classroom which has engaged in traditional electronic Pen Pal exchanges, it's important to know how our programs differ from those.   In the older type of discussion, students trade emails about their lives, pop culture, the weather in their countries, etc.  There is nothing wrong with these.

  But we have found that students develop deeper connections with others, learn more, develop more  21st century skills, and have a more profound sense of fulfillment if they collaborate on projects which actually accomplish something beneficial to Humanity.

  Because of our experience with social networking, blogs, online press releases, wikis, article submitters, and search engine optimization, often our forums are the most popular in the world for their subject matter.

  If we are working with a classroom on a project which we both feel has great potential for human improvement in some way, we can utilize our series of search engine formulae.   These are principles  we have discovered over the last five years involving social networks, article submission sites, wikis, blogs, online press releases, search engines and video sites.  They create as much global awareness for the project as possible.  

Here is a sampling of projects that are either ongoing, completed, or in the planning stages:

  Right now we're using a program which superimposes text messages  on a Google map of the vast areas flooded in Pakistan in September, 2010,  so as to instantly link victims of disease and malnutrition with those who can help.  

See http://pakreport.org/ushahidi/

We created a program which allowed people  to save their unused cell phone minutes, and send them to a multimedia ICT center in Kenya, where they were converted into cash:

See Sambazagroup.com

  We  created an interactive blog  with students and professors from 14 countries exploring how 21st century communications are completely overhauling university research:


Other projects:

                                                        The Future of Education

This is a discussion group dedicated to exploring how Education 
needs to change to meet the demands of the 21st century. It is 
sponsored by the Institute for the Future of Education and the World Mind Network.

  We will be exploring questions like: how will educational systems everywhere have to evolve to produce citizens who can adequately meet challenges like Climate Change?   Sustainability?  Terrorism? The new interconnected world economic order? 
   How will Internet and smartphone technologies change the ways schooling is conducted?  To what extent can the teaching of  creative thinking and problem-solving skills replace the memorization of names, facts, and dates, since the Web makes much of this unnecessary?  Are there 'dinosaur' subjects still taught today out of habit, which should be replaced by more relevant ones? 

                                                                                       Chile Tweet Tracker       

On February 27, 2010 an 8.8 earthquake rocked central Chile.  Hundreds were killed, and many thousands were left homeless. Throughout March, many aftershocks have compounded the misery.  Aid agencies like Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, and Oxfam have helped the Chilean government and people in the recovery process. 
  Many people in the affected zones, both victims and helpers, have been using Twitter, Blackberries, iPhones, Facebook, and other media to alert others about their needs and their ability to help.   But a common central site is needed to allow people to see several streams of these messages posted live.   Thus, Chile Tweet Tracker  (chileearthquaketweettracker.net). It was up 24 hours after the quake and allowed family members, friends, and medical personnel to locate each other. 
   This long after the quake, less than 2% of the messages have to do with urgent needs or offered assistance.  But it's still worth monitoring the streams to find the occasional request that can be met by connecting a victim with available resources.    
   Chile Tweet Tracker is seen as a 'template' to improve the concept so that it can be of service in future crises.  

                                                                                                      Ukraine in the 21st Century     

This  is a wiki dedicated to exploring the current political, social, educational, and cultural
 situation in Ukraine.

We will be examining Ukraine's evolving relationship with Western countries, and with former member states of the Soviet Union, especially Russia.

  We will use the recent (February, 2010) presidential election between Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko (left) as a starting point for looking at important issues in Ukraine today.

  This project is a partnership between Professor Donnie Lawrence and graduate education students at Union College in Kentucky, the World Mind Network,  and Natalia Zhukov and students at the University of Kiev.


              Flood Relief Project

During October and November of  2009 several natural disasters have created great havoc in the Philippines, India, Samoa, and Indonesia. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced and are subject to severe water and food shortages, as well as disease.
  Flood Relief Forum (floodreliefforum.wetpaint.com) is a student and teacher-run program to share information about the disasters and find innovative solutions to recovery problems involving cell phone networks and the Web.  It is managed by Geeta Rajan of the St. Mark's Public School in New Delhi, Rox Cosico of the Claret School in Quezon City, Philippines, and Mike Fitzgerald of the Mary Institute and Country Day School in St. Louis, Missouri.

  Students will be using Google maps to overlay charts showing locations of relief supplies onto maps showing areas of greatest need, and then getting this information to as many people as possible using mobile device networks.  They are creating searchable blogs with current recovery information in order to streamline search engine rankings for worthy relief efforts.  Since water-borne diseases like cholera and typhus are always a concern in flood-affected areas, and since cell networks are often the only reliable forms of communication during disasters,  they are developing apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and In Touch cell phones which contain the latest updated information on how to find clean water and how to purify unclean water, and which clinics and hospitals are open.

   To see how Constance Bebis' Environmental Science class at Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville, Massachusetts is doing this project, go to floodreliefproject.org.

                                                                  World Economic Forum

The global economic crisis of 2009 has affected everyone in various ways.  This is an online discussion group which will look at the situation in all its aspects. Although people talk about the crisis all the time, there are few arenas in which widely varying opinions from all over the world, including those of students, teachers, workers, and voices from the developing world are shared.   This project is co-moderated by  Edmund Phelps (right), Professor of Economics at Columbia University and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics.  Project Managers are Traci Chappelear of the Manhattan Business Academy in New York,
Jaroslava Hajkova of the Usti nad Labem Business Academy in the Czech Republic, and Dong Huk of the Daewon Foreign Language High School in South Korea.          WorldEconomicForumOnline.net

                                                                                                                                   Science Education Forum

The world needs expert scientists, engineers,  and researchers more than ever to deal with global issues like climate change, poverty, disease, and sustainability.
   But schools lack the budgets to adequately train future scientists, or even to make sure that all students have a sufficient appreciation for the role of science in everyday life.  This group searches the amazing treasure trove of science education sites on the Web, including videos, blogs, games, webcams, wikis, Yahoo groups, and online experiments to find the compelling ones which not only teach physics, mathematics, biology, and chemistry, but which inspire students (and everyone else) to want to explore further.  
  Project moderator is Peter Doherty, professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne, Research Fellow at St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and 1996 Nobel Medicine Laureate.  Scienceeducationforum.org.

                                                                            Haiti Earthquake Relief


  This project is a partnership between the World Mind Network, the students of Paige Sullivan at Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Maryland,  Severine Morel at the  Normandie Niemen Vocational School in Calais, France, East Brunswick High School in the U.S, and Friends Beyond Borders to help disaster victims in Haiti. We are supported by Shellonda Anderson, president of the Harvard Caribbean Club, whose membership includes many native Haitians. Among other things, we are working with Haiti Kiskeya, Haitilist.com, and Haitianspace.com to re-unite relatives and help aid agencies effectively deliver relief supplies.     Haitiearthquakerelief.net

Practical Ideas for Thailand's Future

 In March, 2010, demonstrations erupted in Thailand, aimed at the government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. At least
100,000 red-shirted protestors, most supporting deposed and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra,  filled the streets of Bangkok.
They  demanded that the government resign, which it has refused to do, though its representatives say they want to hold discussions with the demonstrators. 

The political rhetoric in Thailand has become very heated and very much about personalities. In reviewing hundreds of blogs, social network posts, newspaper letters to the editor, Twitter feeds, and other Internet postings, fewer than 10% of comments were found to be about the actual issues and problems that face Thailand, and potential solutions for them; the rest were all personal criticisms of either Thaksin or Abhisit and their respective factions.

We are a group of Thais and friends of Thailand, both expatriate and in-country, who are concerned about the country's future. Among us we count both supporters of Thaksin, adherents of the Abhisit government, and those who support neither. The purpose of our coming together, and this website, is to bring level-headedness to the political discussion in Thailand by concentrating on practical solutions, and not personal attacks. Therefore we welcome comments from the public which propose novel approaches to the country's challenges, but not comments which simply blame one party or the other, or demonize any political leader.  See practicalideasforthailandsfuture.wetpaint.com

                 The Future of Psychoanalysis

 Psychoanalysis has faced many obstacles since its inception in the 1890's.  It has been
 remarkable in its ability to adapt to new circumstances.
  Today an unprecedented new set of challenges presents itself.  How will the field adapt?

This forum is an open-ended colloquium  about finding ways to keep Psychoanalysis current and relevant to post-Millennial  society.   The touchstone for the discussion is this statement by analyst Erik Gann, M.D:  "The future of Psychoanalysis is not going to be in treatment per se, but in the extension of psychoanalytic thinking into 21st century culture."   Contributors include Jhuma Basak of the Indian Psychoanalytical Society and Robert Bosnak, Jungian Analyst and founder of CyberDreamwork.

Within this larger query there are many more specific questions we want to examine, such as: 

   In the U.S., how will the Obama health reforms affect the delivery of analytic treatment, and psychotherapy in general? 
   How can Psychoanalysis benefit from  burgeoning new discoveries in Neurology?  How is it affected by the new generation of psychiatric drugs?

  Will Psychoanalysis always remain mainly confined to Europe and North America, with a pronounced tendency to concentrate in a few hotspots like New York, London, and Los Angeles?
 Can it make itself relevant in parts of the world where it is still relatively unknown?    thefutureofpsychoanalysis.org


                            The Arts of Colombia

 The explosion of innovative Colombian art in recent years has been unparalleled in Latin America.  This site provides a forum for sharing both the modern and traditional products of this unique culture's aesthetic genius.  We will discuss classic pre-Columbian gold work and pottery as well as famous artists like Alejandro Obregon, Fernando Botero, and Omar Rayo, and some of  the amazing contemporary works in painting, sculpture, music, dance, film, and video.  Participants will also include links to their own work. 

This is a collaboration between students from the IES school in Bogota and from the Art Institute of Chicago.



  Many parents and teachers don't like social networking, because 
they feel that students waste time on it instead of studying.  This
may be so, but it could also be that there are ways to USE social networking
to actually interest students in learning.

Twitterature (TwitLit.net) is a program which publicizes efforts to write
poems in classic forms which happen to be short enough to fit into
a 'Tweet' (less than 140 characters).  The idea is to encourage people
to utilize microblogging to create literary quality, instead of the trivial,
often boring messages that are usually tweeted. 

  In September, cash prizes were given to writers who penned the best verses
in the following forms:  limericks, (the short verse form popularized by Edward Lear, right),  haiku, cinquains, quintillas, clerihews, kurals (from South India), , Sijos (Korea) , and Than-Bauks (from Burma).  The contest will begin again shortly.  Project managers for Twit Lit are Doeon Lee of Daewon Foreign Language High School in South Korea, and Irina Higgins of the Foundation for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence at Oxford University.   Twitlit.net

                                                                                               Indonesian Deforestation Research Group

  The  Copenhagen Climate Summit Meeting produced several groundbreaking agreements.  Many were aimed at the reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.  Many think of these as results of industrial processes, but 20% of Earth's CO2 emissions come from deforestation, mainly in tropical areas of Africa, Asia, and South America.

   Deforestation has continued in Indonesia for over a hundred years.  It is so 
widespread that Indonesia is now the world's third leading producer of atmospheric CO2, behind only China and the U.S., despite having very little of the industrial infrastructure found in those countries.

  This forum is a discussion group about finding new and innovative ways to reduce deforestation in Indonesia.  It is a partnership between the World Mind Network and Erna Susilowati and her students at SMPN I Asembagus School in Situbondo, East Java. Indoneseandeforestationresearchgroup.org

       Radio Khyber

For years the FM airwaves of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the frontier lands
 on the border between Pakistan
and Afghanistan,  were dominated by political and religious extremists, many from outside the country.  Radio Khyber began as a way to air moderate voices.  It is the only radio station in the area which employs women, some of whom have been threatened by those who think it's un-Islamic for women to talk on the air.  We will be providing English translations of some of the Pashto language programs on Radio Khyber. radiokhyber.net

                         Committee for Somaliland

  Somalia is the only country in the world which has no semblance of a national government.  This has led to enormous suffering for its people because of lack of law enforcement, food and water distribution, international trade, health care, and social services.
   The northern third of Somalia is a region called Somaliland.  In this sector a barely functioning provisional  government has been operating since 1991.  It is not recognized by the rest of the world because it suffers from the same corruption as the rest of Somalia.  This includes the pirates who have been targeting shipping off the East African coast for years.
Because infrastructure is so spotty, it's hard to communicate electronically with residents of Somaliland.  Our research indicates that there are only about 150 reliable functioning email accounts in the whole country.
  The Committee for Somaliland was formed to build online friendships between these few connected individuals and student groups around the world.  When we first contacted these Somalis by email their first comments were "Why is the rest of the world ignoring us?"   No one was bothering to contact them.
  We know that communications alone cannot solve the immense problems faced by Somaliland, nor stop the pirates.  But we feel that as a first step, it's important to create a community around the world that at least knows about the problems in Somalia.  We don't support or oppose any political faction in the country. We just want to create a community of awareness as a first step in devising solutions to the desperate problems that face this region.   CommitteeforSomaliland.wetpaint.com.


Chukchi Cultural Preservation

The Chukchi are an Arctic people who have lived in the northeastern corner of Siberia for at least 1500 years.  The purpose of this project is to celebrate and preserve the rich heritage of these hardy people in song, story, poem, picture, and dance.  The Chukchi's traditional way of life is threatened by climate change and by the pressures of modern urban society.  There are no mainstream media to share their culture with the outside.  So students at the Chaunskaya School in Ritkuchi, Chobotka, Russia will use video, webcams, digital cameras, and text to preserve the best elements of their culture for the world.  They will share these with Michelle Gutierriez' class at June Jordan High School in San Francisco.     Sites.google.com/site/chukchiculturalpreservation


      The Philosophical Research Society investigates
topics and questions of current interest using online wikis and discussion groups.  Members can comment on general
issues on the main site, or go to individual sites devoted
to each question.  The forums are moderated by a team
led by Aaron King of the University of California at Irvine and Sarah Mendel of Friends Beyond Borders.

                     Video Game Consoles as Research Tools

  Schools and parents have a lot of bad things to say about Video game consoles, like
the Nintendo Wii, the Sony PSP, and the Microsoft XBox (right).  They take up millions of hours
of students' time, especially boys. 

  But these machines may have a value beyond entertainment.  Dr. Simon Scarle of the University of Warwick used an XBox to model how electrical excitations in the heart navigate around damaged cardiac cells.

  And Gaurav Khanna and other  researchers at the University of Massachusetts are using networks of linked Sony PSP machines to determine the gravitational pull of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies.  They have also developed a way to cluster Playstations to create an MPI (Message Passing Interface) supercomputer.
  And when Nintendo Wii games are played by seniors in retirement homes there is some evidence that cognitive function as well as short term memory skills are improved.

  So we have started a contest to find more useful ways to employ these devices as research tools.  The contest ends on December 31, 2009. The winner will receive 1000 dollars US and a publicity campaign.  The Judges are Dr. Stephen Jarvis, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Warwick,  Dr. Phyllis Nelson, Professor of Engineering at California State Polytechnic University and Co-Director of the Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Materials Design, and Dr. Mitchell L. Neilsen, Professor of Computer and Information Systems at Kansas State University.

                                                                                    The Utenzi Project

Kenya has a rich culture extending back thousands of years.  Waves of invaders and immigrants have left their imprint on language, art, music, drama, and philosophy.
  Much of this  cultural heritage is in danger, because of the many modern influences that are transforming the country.

Aspects of native culture are being lost, as young people move to the cities and the Elders who served as the depositories of the nation's patrimony die off. 
  This project is a partnership between the World Mind Network and the students of Charles Kogi at Muhoya High School in Nyeri, Kenya to preserve this heritage.  We call it the 'Utenzi' Project after a type of heraldic East African poetry which existed in Kenyan Royal courts for centuries.

  We will be preserving ancient utenzi, and writing new ones.  We will also post digital photos, podcasts, and videos of traditional and modern dances, songs, and dramatic performances.    sites.google.com/site/utenziproject

                Nepal Culture Project

Nepal's relative isolation in the shadow of the Himalayas means that many of its rich traditions in art, music, folklore, literature, architecture, costume, and mythology have remained unsullied by the modern world.  But as outside influences creep in more and more, many cultural artifacts are in danger of extinction.  This project seeks to document many of these and place them on an archival website.
Project Director is Govinda Panthy of the SAV School in Bhaktapur, Nepal.  Students will use Flip Video cameras to record recitations of ancient stories, legends, and songs, and upload them to a social network site. 

                    Emotional Contagion and Swine Flu

H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu)  is expected to reach endemic levels in many areas of the world this winter.  The disease itself is being extensively studied, but relatively little attention has been paid to the psychological effects of personal and media reports about it.
In some cases reactions originating in panic bring about consequences which might be worse than the flu itself.  In April, the Egyptian government ordered all 200,000 hogs in the country to be slaughtered, despite warnings from the World Health Organization that this action would have no bearing at all upon the disease. 
  This project welcomes comment from students around the world about what they know and feel about infectious disease, and practical solutions they have for dealing with it. It is moderated by Winson Shum of Hong Kong University and Robin Williams of Alberta (Canada) Health Services.

                                                              Traditional Korean Music

  Korean music traces its origins to China, but very early developed
in quite different ways.  It is usually divided into four types:
courtly, aristocratic, scholarly, and religious. Folk songs and dances prevail in rural parts of the country.

  This project will find videos and audio files of under-appreciated old Korean music and use Cyworld and other social networking sites to discuss and share them.  It is moderated by Doeon Lee and students at the Daewon Foreign Language High School.


                                        Daily Emotional Balance

In nutrition, we have an RDA--  a Recommended Daily Allowance for essential vitamins and minerals. Based on a century of research, we know how much each human, on average, needs of each nutrient every day for optimum health.

Is there also an RDA for emotions? Is it optimally healthy for everyone to experience a certain amount of love each day? of creativity? of competition? Of artistic fulfillment? Of connection with friends? Perhaps even hatred or aggressiveness?  

This discussion is moderated by Irina Higgins of the Oxford Foundation for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence and Melissa Mendoza of the University of La Verne.     dailyemotionalbalance.net

                                       Argentine Folk Music

Everyone knows about the Tango.  But Argentina has a rich tradition
of native musical styles that are largely unknown to foreigners, from
the Cuarteto  music of Cordoba, to the Chamame from the northeastern area known as Mesopotamia, and the dances known as the 'Gato' and the 'Zamba'.
   Sandra Borda and her students at Instituto Santa Catalina in Buenos Aires are compiling videos and audio files of rarely heard music for this project, assisted by members of the Argentine Cultural Institute in the UK.


                            Keitai Shoshetsu

Keitai Shoshetsu are cell phone novels.  They were developed in Japan, where they are still amazingly popular.  In 2007, five of the ten top selling novels in Japan started as Keitai Shoshetsu.  Their popularity has spread to China and Korea, though it is slow to reach the West.
   This project has slightly different aims inside and outside Japan. In the West, the purpose is to popularize the art form itself.  In Japan, where Keitai are controversial because they often feature maudlin plots, wooden characters, and uninspired writing, the purpose is to increase literary quality by offering the first worldwide prize for the best novels. 

    Project Managers are Professor Andrew Meyerhoff and his students at Saga University in Japan.

  Interesting side note: Alice Pine and her daughters in Farmington, New Mexico are participating in this project by creating the first Keitai Shoshetsu ever written in the Navajo language. (They may well be the first novels of ANY type written in Navajo)

                          Color Background Study

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that brains perform differently depending upon the background color of the computer screen used by the brain's owner.  Detail-oriented tasks are done more efficiently against a red screen, while creative work is done best against a blue screen.

  We are extending the  study to work with far more colors, different types of mental work, and many types of people.  We will be working with students who are autistic,  dyslexic, suffer from ADD and ADHD, and those with hearing deficits.

  The great thing about this project is that it offers immediate results; anyone who tests this finds out instantly which colors are best for certain jobs for him or herself.  Extending this to test other age groups, sexes, and nationalities leads to further insights and more interesting discussions.   http://www.sites.google.com/site/whichcolorsdoesyourbrainprefer.  Project Director is Irina Higgins of the Foundation for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence at Oxford University.

                                                            Breton Proverbs

   Bretagne (Brittany) is home to one of the oldest cultures in Europe.  The same people who built Stonehenge were building monoliths in Brittany four thousand years ago. 
   Two regional languages still exist:  Gallo, which is of Latn origin, and Breton, which is Celtic, and related to Gaelic, Welsh, and Cornish.  
   Provincial and local authorities are trying to preserve both languages.  'Diwan' or 'seed schools' teach Breton language and culture with the approval, though not funding, from the French government. 
  Breton proverbs preserve the ancient wisdom of these hardy people.  This project seeks to find them, translate them into French and English, and discuss their meanings.  It is moderated by Awa Diack and her students at College Paul Langevin in Coueron, France, and Kate Gardenhire's French language students at the University of Sussex.                                                                             

                                                                                                      Spanish Proverbs

      "The soul of a nation can be glimpsed in its adages."  --  Ortega y Gassett

   The culture of Spain has been influenced by the many waves
 of invaders who have settled the land: Celts, Phoenicians, Romans, 
Goths, Gauls, Moors, and others. 

  Proverbs reflect this rich history. We will
translate typical ones into English and discuss them.
  Later we will do the same with sayings in the
Catalan, Galician, and Vasco (Basque)

  This forum is moderated by students of Sandra
Rodriguez at IES Montes de Toledo in Spain,
and members of John Basset's Spanish language 
class at Springfield High School in the U.S.


                                               Ethnomusicology School

The Internet, and other mass communication technologies, have many beneficial effects.  But they also  have an unfortunate tendency to 'mainstream' popular culture, to the detriment of traditional cultural artifacts.
   There are many folk musical instruments from places like Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which are in danger of extinction.  Young people don't take the time to learn them, because they'd rather play the electric guitar or drums.  Older people who do play them are dying off. 
  This project consists of a social networking website which features all the ethnic instruments participants can find.  In general the format is:  a description of the instrument including its history, and where it fits in the culture of its home country.  Then there will be a video taken from YouTube, Revver, Metacafe or other sites, featuring a lesson from the best teacher available. Then another video showing an acknowledged master playing a selection that shows off the instrument's unique qualities.

               A New Paradigm for Research

In 1439, Gutenberg invented the first printing press with movable type.
At about the same time, universities like Oxford and Bologna were
developing a model for academic research: a scholar develops an 
idea, discovery, theory,  or invention; presents it at a conference a
few months later, publishes an abstract, submits it to peer reviewed
journals, and awaits the verdict of recognized experts.  The whole
process takes months and often years.
  Gutenberg's press has long since been superseded,
but the research model still persists, as if the whole academic
world were still dependent upon movable type printing.
 Why?  This is 2009. Theories and inventions can be 
initiated and developed and shared at the speed of light.
Scientists have simulation software on their home computers,
and can locate colleagues instantly all over the world on social networks, who can collaborate on a project simultaneously.  Knowledge can move forward at warp speed.  Why doesn't it?
  None of this is a problem if someone is researching something 
relatively unimportant, but what if someone has a cure for cancer 
or an answer for Global Warming?  People could die before results are published.
This forum explores how modern Web and Mobile technologies  
hasten the speed at which academic and scientific research is performed.


                                  The Chastushka Project

Chastushkas are traditional  short poems from Russia, consisting of four lines in trochaic tetrameter with an abab or abcb rhyme scheme.  Sometimes they are sung to a balalaika or accordion accompaniment.   They are equivalent to the English Limerick. According to Wikipedia:

                            Sometimes several chastushkas occur in sequence to form a song. In fact, in Russian, this type of song is referred to as just the pluralчасту́шки, i.e. chastushkas. After each chastuska, there is a full musical refrain without lyrics to give the listeners a chance to laugh without missing the next one. Originally chastushkas were a form of folk entertainment, not intended to be performed on stage. Often they are sung in turns by a group of people. Sometimes they are used as a medium for a back-and-forth mocking contest. Improvisation is highly valued during chastuska singing.

This project is designed to invite non-Russians to write Chastushkas in their own languages.  It also is intended to get Russians, especially students, to write Chastushkas which are fit for polite society (like Limericks, Chastushkas are often obscene).
This project is managed by Evgeniya Bychkova and her students at RZHD School in Novokuznetsk, Siberia, Sophie Repolenko and students from Gymnasium 30 in Kurgan, Russia, and Kate Salnikova and students from Bolshesosnovskaya School in Bolshaya Sosnova, Russia.      Chastushkas.net

                       Rare Indian Art Forms

India has over 700,000 villages. Many of these are the repositories for ancient forms of creative expression which have developed over thousands of years.
Art forms like Patachitra painting, Thanjaur bronzework, puppetry, village dances, and Himalayan singing bowls  will continue to exist as long as they are appreciated enough that their creators can afford to continue their pursuit.
The Web can be used to share the rarest cultural artifacts with people far from the villages.  This project is managed by Geeta Rajan and her students from St. Mark's Public School in New Delhi.
   Similar programs are planned for China, Korea, South Africa, Bolivia, and the Inuit peoples of the Arctic.

                                                 Historic French  Recordings 

   Until recently it was thought that Edison's wax cylinder recordings from 1876 were the first
sound recordings ever made.

  But in 2009 scientists found a way to 'play' the music recorded by the 'phonoautogram' invented by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (right) who made his first recordings in 1859.

  Many archival recordings from the pre-microphone era (1860-1920)  have been lost. Others are collecting dust and deteriorating in various national and university archives.  This project finds these and converts them to formats that are popular today, like iTunes, .wav, .au, Windows Media Player, and RealPlayer.  We have found speeches, songs, and poetry whose existence was previously unknown by many.   We are starting with French recordings, but plan to do the same thing with German, Hindi, Chinese, Korean, and Indonesian audio files.  

                                              Armenian, Turkish, and English Literature

The Turkish and Armenian peoples have a long and tortured history going back 3000 years.  They
 have been friends and allies at times, enemies at others, while drawing strength and sustenance from the same lands.

  They also have long and storied literary traditions.  But since the traumatic events of the 20th century, these have rarely influenced and cross-fertilized each other.

Today there is a movement to change this.  Armenians within Turkey, as well as those in the former Soviet Republic of Armenia, Iran, Lebanon, and elsewhere, are re-discovering Turkish literature.  And Turks are becoming acquainted with the rich Armenian literary traditions also.

  This project is sponsored by Yerevan State University in Armenia and students at Esayan  High School in Istanbul.  Participants will share favorite translations of Turkish, Armenian, and English Literature in an effort to find common themes and probe similarities and differences.
                                                                                                                                                   Armenian Poet Krikor Naregatsi


                 Modern Psychology: Symptomlessness or Transcendence?

Psychology grew out of a medical model: one is sick (shows pathology) or one is not.
This makes sense for the body, considered separately; if we don't have symptoms we don't 
go to the doctor.
    But is this equally applicable to the psyche?  Should mental health be defined as mere lack of 
pathology, or is there something more?  Many feel that, unlike animals, human beings are capable of vastly varied internal emotional states not obviously controlled by the environment.  Should psychology aim to help people achieve these?  Or should it merely aim to eliminate unhappiness?
   This discussion is moderated by Aaron King at the University of California at Irvine, and Sarah Mendel of Friends Beyond Borders.   symptomlessnessortranscendence.org.

                     The Top Everything

What would it be like to peer inside the contents of other people's minds?  And not just a few, but BILLIONS of people?  Well, you can't do that, but you can learn a lot about the Zeitgeist, or Spirit of the Times, by monitoring today's top Twitter feeds, blogs, Facebook pages, news stories, Internet Searches, music downloads, websites, videos, and books. 

  This site has links to tracking programs which update rankings for these daily, and often hourly.  This can tell you a lot about what Humanity is currently reading, thinking about, listening to, watching, investigating, studying, and sharing with others.  You can even break the listings down by country, region, time period, and age group.

The great thing about this project is the sheer open-endedness of it.  It can be easily combined with other projects.   Because it has no particular agenda, it's a great way to engage students in context-free, 'blue sky' thinking, which is quite rare nowadays.  No one knows what you will find out by monitoring all these trends together, but you will find out SOMETHING.
  This project is moderated by John Toomey of the World Mind Network and  Magdalena Liczkowska-Boleta and her students at Gimnazium 36 in Warsaw.     http://sites.google.com/site/thetopeverything