links for 2007-10-30


links for 2007-10-28

Shortlisted for the KaosPilots – off to Stockholm!

I’ve been shortlisted for Team 01 of the KaosPilots Stockholm program, which means being invited to attend a 2-day admissions workshop in Stockholm. From 380 applicants, they chose 100 (including me), and from 100 they’ll whittle it down to 35.

According to the Stockholm crew, I’m the “most antipodean” applicant – I’m flying the furthest to get to Stockholm. If I get in, not only will I be part of the first Stockholm team, I’ll also be the first Malaysian (and possibly the first Asian) in the KaosPilots history. As far as the Stockholm crew are concerned, I’m the only Australian, haha.

I’ll be in Stockholm from November 2nd to 4th, then I’ll visit Aarhus (Denmark) from November 5th to 7th before going back to Stockholm to catch a plane home. If anyone wants to house me or meet up, feel free to contact!

See you in Stockholm!

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links for 2007-10-26

5 Alternative Career Paths – What’s Yours?

Tony Pua wrote a blog post about his 5 alternative career paths – other jobs he could have had instead of what he’s doing now. There are some fascinating answers in the comments, and it looks like it could be a good blog meme. (Though I think the ultimate winner of this would be Craig Robinson’s What If…, which is amazing and crazy in its comprehensiveness. Seriously, check it out.)

5 alternative career paths I could have taken:

1. Superstar. I’ve always wanted to be famous – what if I really had done something big about it? I manage to convince my mother at age 5 to enrol me to singing and dancing classes, and have a ball. At 13, the songs I scribble out are actually pretty good, and I record a demo and put up a massively inflated file online – which still gets hits and downloads. I become the first Internet music superstar, mainly because I’m online so often. I travel around the world, hit every continent before I turn 16, and show up on both MTV and Channel [v] professing my love for them both. On my world tour I bring as an opening act a local band and showcase a non-profit. My unorthodox charitable ways get me news clippings and an appointment as a UN Peace Ambassador, but I don’t seem to be getting as much press as Paris Hilton because I’m too tired to party. Oh well. Back to the studio I go.

2. Actor. When I was about 13, I applied for a role in a movie (which would later include my good friend Asha) but could not audition because my mother wouldn’t let me try out, even though the directors liked the sound of me. What if I’d actually auditioned and won the part? I’d be buddies with Asha a lot earlier probably. I would then get into more acting gigs, first in silly Malaysian soap operas that play on RTM and TV3, then move to Singapore where things are actually in English. I’d then hop between the two countries taking part in their stage acting scene, possibly doing a lot more musicals. I’d be the star of my own sitcom and people would have a hard time differentiating my character from myself. Just before 18, I hang out with some indie filmmakers and play all sorts of roles in all sorts of oddball films. I eschew Hollywood because it’s too plastic, and Bollywood because I can’t speak a lick of Hindi. I do, however, become Yasmin Ahmad’s muse. Sharifah Aleya who?

3. Teacher. Apparently the only consistent “ambition” I had while in primary school. I would teach a early secondary school class – when they’re old enough to understand the world but not too old that they think they know it all. I would have the most unorthodox class in the world as I’ll let my students decide how they’d run the class, which annoys the other teachers but pleases the students. I would be teaching English, most likely, but in my lessons teach them about other things in life too. My assignments are creative tasks that are up to the interpretation of each student. I take them to all sorts of field trips everywhere, and for one year save up enough money to take an overseas trip. When my students have personal issues, I listen and try to help, and lay off the academic work for a while. After a few years, I start up my own democratic alternative school and a lot of my students follow me.

4. Pageant Queen. For some reason my mum used to think I should aspire to be Miss Universe. If I was, I’d be the only contestant with dyed hair and a threaded hair tie. I would ace the interview and current affairs section, and get my indie designer friends to do all my clothes for me. I would not bother with heels and instead prance around the stage in sneakers. I wouldn’t even bother with too much makeup during “casual” days, but revel in dressing up on stage. My talent would be a comedy slam poetry show. During the final Q&A I actually give a coherant answer that is more than just “world peace”. I don’t win, because I am not typically modelesque, but I get a lot of fans around the world from people who cheered me for not falling into the stereotype and just being myself. I end up being called up for events and community work and all that, but instead of just being a pretty face, I work on plenty of actual youth projects to encourage young people to be themselves. Fashion magazines completely revamp their model guidelines because of me and my growing popularity. The year the crown is handed over, every contestant prances on stage in sneakers.

5. Computer Scientist. I get a lot of people asking me why I’m not doing computer science if I’m online so often. I do a Comp Sci degree, and immerse myself in numbers and code. I get glasses for the first time in my life. I dream in C++ and talk to everyone in LOLspeak. I know too many Internet memes for my own good. Whenever I am faced with a technical error, I just write a computing program to take care of it. I give my own programs away and then work with an indie computing company, something open-source. I get invited to all sorts of conferences and suddenly become cool when blogs become cool – mainly because I’m female and not bad-looking. I get asked to contribute to a Sexy Geek calendar and have a picture of myself in can-can girl gear twirling a USB drive. I run a successful tech support business, writing programs to solve people’s problems. My blog gets millions of hits a day and I’m often sent free stuff to “Review” – which I do, sometimes to the company’s chagrin. I then branch into game writing, and write fun adventure puzzle games that are the product of vivid dreams.

What are your 5 alternative career paths?

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This Just Isn’t Right.

One of my very good friends is going through hell and back just so she could get a retrospective withdrawal from one of her university classes. Last semester, she suffered sexual assault, and her grades for one of her subjects went down tremendously despite studying and working her hardest. She is still trying to heal and work through the emotional pain, but she now has to deal with all this paperwork just to prove that there was a valid reason her grades dropped. She had to call up the police station for a copy of her report and collapsed into tears.

What sort of system forces people who’ve faced trauma to REVISIT their trauma just so they could get their educational record in order? My friend is doubling up her university work to make up for last time. How fair is this? She’s gone through a lot of pain, she’s still trying to deal with it, but the university demands that she stills perform academically so she has to pretty much do two semester’s work in one.

The process is demeaning and unnecessary. Why must victims of assault go through all that trouble just to prove themselves? Apparently many people have tried to cheat the system before, hence the paperwork. But how many of those who would benefit from special consideration or retrospective withdrawal just give up because it’s too draining?

How many schools put academic performance above all else? Where you are so pressured to perform that you have to put your mental and emotional needs aside and just slog through papers? It’s not like the papers actually help anyone. They get looked at, graded, then shoved aside. It’s all busywork. And the poor person writing up to 10,000 words a week just to catch up (like my friend) has to also get all that paperwork in order and try to continue with her life.

This just isn’t right. This angers and saddens me. This is unfair.

links for 2007-10-18

KaosPilots: Now This Is Learning

Imagine a business school where all your assignments are real-life projects from real clients. Imagine spending your second year in a different country working on community projects. Imagine your final exam being a sustainable project for change.

For the KaosPilots, this is reality.

I’ll just quote the post I made on MetaFilter about them:

The KaosPilots, deemed “the world’s most adventurous alternative business school“, teaches social entrepreneurship and leadership through real-life situations.

Part of their education involves international outposts in Vancouver, Buenos Aires, and Bahia, working on projects related to business, community, and sustainability. The final exam is an operational project of your own.

Many former students go on to the private sector or create projects and jobs of their own (though creative industries and non-profits are very common).

They have been nominated for design awards, are considered as worldchanging, and have published a book about their methods. New web technologies are highly utilized by both students and board members alike.

The KaosPilots have been based in Aarhus, Denmark for 15 years, but there are also schools running (or about to start) in Sweden, Norway, and The Netherlands, with more coming in other continents.

The KaosPilots are my new obsession. They are EXACTLY what I have been looking for education-wise. I’ve been looking for ways to actually learn how to run projects and gain first-hand experience, and while I was hoping to get that in QUT, I’ve been getting more theory than anything else. This actually makes things RELEVANT – your work actually matters, and your passion is rewarded. Their core values aren’t gooblyspeak, they’re six simple but powerful aims: real world, balance, being streetwise, being playful, risk taking and compassion.

I’ve applied for the Stockholm (Sweden) program, which starts next year. This would be a major change as it means I drop out of university and I have to work out how to support myself in Sweden for about three years. It also costs a LOT, and I’m not sure I can afford it. But the sheer value of the education I receive would be priceless. That’s if I can handle how hardcore it is, anyway. There will be a 2-day workshop in Stockholm in November for those shortlisted, so I’ll know pretty soon if I make it.

I know the people over at the Stockholm KaosPilots have seen this blog, and may still be reading it – HELLO! I’ll also be meeting one current KaosPilot, Kamilla, at the Youth Enterprise Symposium this weekend, and I’ll have tea with Michael Doneman, a KaosPilots board member and founder of Edgeware who also happens to be a postgrad in my faculty. How convenient. I can’t wait to pick their brains and find out what they’re all about.

Do you have any more information on the KaosPilots? Please share them to me, because they’re awesome and I want to know more. Otherwise, watch this video to see how awesome they are: (you might need to amp up the volume on your computer, as the video’s volume is very soft)

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