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Framing: Library Today ≈ The Living Room of the City

library today ≈ the living room of the city
moderní knihovna ≈ obývak města

I’ve heard this phrase framing the new role of the city libraries only recently thanks to Tereza Garamszegi It sounded to me as a great idea how to refresh the purpose of these institutions. Few days ago I’ve registered at the Dresden library planning to study there. But apart from that there are board games, PlayStations, armchairs and fatboy pillows, a gramophone & LPs, computers, and e-pianos. Quite a living room.

Toto zarámování role knihovny pro dnešní dobu jsem slyšel prvně od Tereza Garamszegi a přišlo mi velmi dobré jako vzorec pro refresh funkce těchto kdysi majestátních institucí. Nyní jsem si zařídil kartičku do knihovny v Drážďanech. Budu tam chodit studovat, ale jsou tu taky deskovky, PlayStation, křesílka a polštáře, gramofon a LP desky, počítač, elektrické piáno. Vcelku obývák.

PS: It is not my idea (obviously), but I like to spread it.


Concept: World’s Calling – Language Education & International Friendship

#worldsCalling #project #idea #free4taking

I’d like to share an idea for an edtech project with the goal to support language learning (possibly history, geography & more) and international relationships. It could be called World’s Calling (it has a nice abbreviation :) )

1. stage “Foreign speaker – class connection”

An easy thing to imagine. There is a language speaker (possibly a teacher) and a class from a different country learning the language. Then we need a web app. The speaker inserts his schedule possibilities into the web app (with his other preferences), the class teacher shares through the app their schedule. The app will make the match. After the speaker and the class teacher agree on the online meeting the class is connected with the speaker via videocall. Students may be asking in the foreign language questions – about the other country, people, etc. They could be discovering the culture and practicing the language. Only the two connected computers through the internet and the wish to enrich the lessons are needed.

2. stage “Class – class connection”

More complicated – both classes of students need multiple PCs – but nice as there is a higher probability of making international friendships. Basically very similar to the first stage, but whole classes are getting connected. Both of the classes can be learning the same language (e.g. a French class learning English connected with Czech students learning English) – in that case less might be learnt concerning the quality of the language, but students could discover that even with imperfect skill they can be communicating.

It’s only an idea. Maybe someone has already created that. Or maybe it is not viable. Maybe you will take it and make something good out of it. What are your thoughts?


Search Trends: Which Math Concept is the Most Problematic for Czech Pupils?

Is it possible to uncover through search trends with which mathematical concepts are czech students struggling? I was trying for a while to do it, let me show you my findings and (limited) conclusions.

There are two main tools I’ve used for my tiny “research”. The first one is the Google Trends service provided by the most popular search engine worldwide today. The second tool is belonging to a more local search engine, but having a great share (around 30 % back in 2016) in Czechia.

At first I was interested in how much and when is the term ‘matematika’ (= math) searched in general. The tool from Seznam shows the exact number of searches – it seems like the term is searched between 1 000 – 2 000 times per month with the exception of the summer months. A related term ‘matematika online’ (= math online) is searched similarly often. Even if we add those two it is still bit less than for example a searched term from different school subject ‘vyjmenovaná slova’ (grammatics of the Czech language). For another comparison a word ‘hry’ (= games) is being searched much more – in last two months it was searched 30 times more often than ‘math’. I’ve picked the ‘games’ for comparison as something pupils might be searching for. To put it in another perspective (to have some scale) let me pick as well a word from top 10 most searched keywords on the czech internet in 2016 – there is only one general word (not a name of a company or a service) and that is ‘porno’ (= porn). The ‘porn’ is being searched ten times more often than ‘games’, roughly 300 times more than ‘math’ on Seznam. Not surprising.



Google Trends shows a nice periodicity of the searches. Searches for ‚math‘ jump up with the start of the school year after summer holidays. The peak appears mostly when there are state exams on high schools.


How to get to the math concepts and their difficulty? My idea was that those who need to learn something will try to train it. And so I’ve typed in ‘příklady’ (= math examples) and there was already something usable there. Google Trends showed me in top five related queries ‘rovnice’ (= equations) and ‘funkce’ (= functions). Seznam stats revealed among top five related queries ‘zlomky’ (= fractions), ‘lineární rovnice’ (= linear equations), and ‘dělení dvojciferným číslem’ (= division by two digit number). Apart from using this way to find math concepts to compare I’ve looked as well into learning plas such as this one for elementary schools and high schools.


I was playing with the tools showing the trends. I was trying different inputs – not only the keywords mentioned above but as well terms like ‘multiplication’, ‘division’, ‘combinatorics’, ‘geometry’ etc. It was not really easy to get a good formulation of the search terms – as many words might be used in another context outside of mathematics. This limitation might have biased my search. Anyway, it occurs to me that the three “problematic” concepts might be ‘fractions’, ‘equations’, and ‘functions’. I’ve used directly these three words at first. For Seznam ‘fractions’ and ‘equations’ worked well showing mostly mathematical terms in the top 5 related queries. The term ‘functions’ was of course used in mutliple domains (such as health), but the top related query was ‘goniometrické funkce’ (= goniometric functions). Seznam showed that ‘fractions’ were searched the most.



Google Trends shows it a bit differently. As the term ‘functions’ is ambiguous I’ve added to the term czech word for ‘examples’. The outcome is that from Google points of view the ‘equations’ and ‘functions’ are causing some problems and the ‘fractions’ are less problematic.


Let’s wrap up this short excursion to the search trends tools. We’ve uncovered some top searched math concepts – I’d say that it might show how many students are trying to grasp them. I admit that I could have made some flawed step in my “research”, but in general the thought of using the terms pupils search for in education could be useful. Maybe it can suggest in which direction we need better didactic methods, tools, videos etc.

#7 Privacy of Location and Space

“According to our conception of privacy of location and space, individuals have the right to move about in public or semi-public space without being identified, tracked or monitored.” (Friedewald, 2013)

Do you feel the gaze on the back of your neck? Is there a darker shadow among the other shadows on the opposite side of the street? It can give me a chill if anyone is following me from subway, then to my street, then to the same building… I would stop annoyed (and bit scared) and ask: “Why are you following me?” If only for this unpleasant feeling of being watched the privacy of location and space should be a topic in the public discussion as the number of cameras in the public space increases.

I think again that the technologies should be used in a ‘reasonable’ way and that there should be clear regulations. I understand why there is a camera in shop or in a bank, but there is no need to have them on each corner. I agree that it is nice to have a smooth shot thanks to a camera attached to a drone, but the drone should not invade in a private garden or look through a window of a bathroom.

If someone is tracking us down it really bites away a piece of our freedom, it is potentially dangerous for us. We might be robbed why we are away, any important person could be delayed (putting obstacles into the way) or attacked, or their kids might be kidnapped… so what are the ways to determine our location?

Apart from already mentioned example  “taking picture & using face recognition” there are multiple other ways. Many smartphones are having GPS for instance (and many apps ask for permission to use it) and the operator is as well having some idea about our location due to the location & range of antennas. Michael Friedewald is correctly mentioning all the RFID cards such as those for public transportation. They are tied to your identity and by collecting data from different RFID readers your path (and schedule) might be reconstructed. And these can be read remotely (from a short distance).

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.

#6 Privacy of association

“[P]rivacy of association (including group privacy), is concerned with people’s right to associate with whomever they wish, without being monitored.” (Friedewald, 2013)

As we are social beings we like to gather and create groups sharing something in common. Sometimes we do not even choose to be part of the group – we are being born to a family or to an ethnic. Throughout the history it happened multiple times that one group of people were about to destroy another. So that might be a reason why the data about us associating ourselves with a group should concern us.

I’m considering political / ideological groups. I’m imagining a demonstration or a gathering. Today, we have those cute little drones which could be flying overhead and taking pictures and shooting videos. Then there are all the face recognition softwares. I wonder to which extent police should monitor the people in the crowd. I would say that it depends on the “criminality” of the group – for example rather monitor neo-nazi than student protest. I can already see all the strict regimes (Belarus, Turkey, Russia…) using the technology against opposition.

What is over the edge, according to my opinion, is using DNA data to breach the privacy of association. It was mentioned in the Friedewald’s text that with today’s genome reading technology someone could get to (apart from many other private things) our ethnicity or our family connections. We should decide about it and others should respect the right.

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.

#5 Privacy of Communication

Privacy of communication aims to avoid the interception of communications, including mail interception, the use of bugs, directional microphones, telephone or wireless communication interception or recording and access to e-mail messages.” (Friedewald, 2013)

We’ve agreed that our thoughts and feelings are a private matter. Now, we’ve decided to share them with someone – with particular someone, not with everybody. So these messages dedicated to a recipient should not escape our control, right? Haha, haha, hohoho.

To be honest, I’m often having second thoughts before writing an email about something really delicate. And I usually write in a manner that for example the person which is being mentioned there not in a nice way would be still alright to read it. Well firstly, I do not trust myself that I won’t send the mail to someone wrong (happend to the head of HR in one company that she mistook a name of the boss with the name of an employee which she wanted to fire, oops). Secondly, the digital representation of our messages makes it so easy to copy+paste, to resend it, to spread it.

I wanted to say something meaningful now, but I have another story about the new ingenious ways to pay on the internet. A lady in a tram was on the phone: “To buy the ticket you will need some numbers from my card, wait a second.” Whole tram hold their breath, while the lady was dictating the data closing the conversation with: “Isn’t it great that it is so easy today?”

What to say. Postal secret is here for some time. We should definitely build on it. The jungle of technologies is making our communication vulnerable. And we can easy put ourselves in troubles by making something stupid. I would say that some education could do some good and that we should think twice if we are dealing with important data. There are experts (and you can google their opinions) that can help you with security of your communication channels (or help you to choose the right channels). It starts with giving it a thought – what I wouldn’t be happy about if it leaked out?

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.

#4 Privacy of Behaviour and Action

“This concept [privacy of behaviour and action] includes sensitive issues such as sexual preferences and habits, political activities and religious practices.” … “Privacy of behaviour means the person has a right to behave as she wants (to sleep in class, to wear funny clothes) so long as the behaviour does not harm someone else.” (Friedewald, 2013)

With the privacy of behaviour and action we are getting on the edge of our private space, getting closer to the semi-public and public zones. The key concept is that as long as we do not intrude other people’s lives it is our business what are we doing.

I love the phrase: “You do not have to be afraid, if you are not doing anything wrong.” Lovely. Cause it does have a certain logic behind it, doesn’t it? The interesting part is the “doing something wrong”. Who should be the judge of it? Me or you? Society? Legal authorities? State? What might be okay for someone, could be condemned by another. What is fine under current regime, could be a cause for persecution in another. Really, our behaviour is our private matter.

Of course in the end everyone talking about this type of privacy in connection to technology is mainly thinking about the time spent on the porn websites. What is the browser saving anyway? Is my IP address unique for me, well? Were the news about hacking into someone’s webcam just a hoax? Until we are living in a truly tolerant society (truly, truly tolerant), some behaviours should stay private.

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.

#3 Privacy of Data and Image

“This privacy of data and image includes concerns about making sure that individuals’ data is not automatically available to other individuals and organisations” (Friedewald, 2013)

I think that most of us have a notion of our data being used against our wishes. Just simply look into the electronic mailbox and consider all the spam. Of course our email is a channel which is often exposed to the public, but some spammers are getting to it through sites where we register for a service or where we want to participate in a forum (we did not come there for spam). And that might be on the edge. Another example – I’ve heard about quite disgusting way of getting to personal data. A good lady is going to a hospital visiting mothers who gave birth and giving them some little presents – creams, toys, nice words. She only wants the mothers to subscribe – of course they can refuse and cancel it later on, not a problem. Like that a company is collecting precious data about the age of kids – therefore being able to target the right offer in the right moment of childhood.

These are pretty “old” technologies, there are newer ways to collect, store and process the data. We can be glad that there is even some legislation regulating the usage of personal data (actually, next year there is the EU legislation coming to our country and causing some headaches to companies). As Friedewald says “we should be empowered” concerning our data. The interesting thing is that many of us do not feel the urge to protect our own data. I have to admit that I’ve already lost the track of all the videos, photos, opinions I was sharing somewhere – hope that it won’t get back in the wrong way.

I promise, I’ll try to be more cautious. Especially as I remember examples of burglers going to social networks like to a shopping mall. First, they browse through your photos searching for valuable objects (TVs, computers, Hi-Fi, VR sets…), then they look again at the photos of your flat observing the weak spots and how the interior is set (to navigate without problems). And then they are just waiting for your post such as: “Greetings from Corsica, suckers! #summer #vacation #finally”.

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.

#2 Privacy of the Person

Privacy of the person encompasses the right to keep body functions and body characteristics (such as genetic codes and biometrics) private.” (Friedewald, 2013)

Each of us is tied to his or hers body. We cannot do much about so far and it sounds pretty natural to talk about our body with indisputable certainty who is in the possession of ‘the body’. There is surely a logical connection that if it is ours we should be in charge of it and of the information linked to it such as above mentioned genetic code, biological traces, or body functions and body characteristics. If we imagine that someone else is deciding about our body or using an information about it without our consent it feels like being in some nightmarish movie. Try to imagine that your doctor is sharing all the medical information about you…

Oh, yes, medical records – we could start there with the question of how today’s technology influence the privacy of the person. Doctors are often using information systems for managing patient’s data. It is easy to process, to edit, handy for searching in the records. Moreover the aggregated datasets might be useful for medicine as the whole field, quoting the WHO: “Analysis of data in patient information systems can lead to new insight and understanding of health and disease, both chronic and acute.”

Apart from the potential to do good we need to consider that the medical records in the wrong hands could lead to unpleasant situations. For example someone could know a weak spot of a politician (such as that he was being treated because of alcoholism) or an employer might refuse an applicant cause he’s having some chronical illness (therefore not being able to work all the time). It is clear that the more the data can reveal the more they should be protected. One day the insurance company might ask you to do the genetic tests and charge more if you have higher risks of some illnesses that are expensive to cure. I hope that it won’t happen as we cannot choose our genetic code and that it would be really unfair, but the technologies are here waiting to be used.

In the particular example of medical records I can clearly see the benefits of the data collection, but I only wished to stress the importance of being cautious. The ideas about potential threats help us to mitigate the risks. This blog post was again only a short comment  touching the privacy of the person, it is good to remind ourselves of our bodies and of what should we protect.

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.

#1 Privacy of Thoughts and Feelings

“People have a right not to share their thoughts or feelings or to have those thoughts or feeling revealed. Individuals should have the right to think whatever they like.” (Friedewald, 2013)

Our mind. How often was I looking at others imagining what are they thinking about? And how often I’m glad that my thoughts, ideas and feelings are not visible to people around. If my face does not betray me. It is a betrayal to have all the thoughts – stupid, ingenious, secret – on display, no doubts.

Few decades ago and earlier it was possible to extract someone’s thoughts without his consent only with help of drugs or torture. I would say that to do so today through technology is as wicked. Do you think it is not something to worry about? That all the technology for scanning brain activity and all the human-brain interfaces for simple handling of a PC are far from diving into our minds? Might be so, I’m not an expert, but I can imagine a way how to use current technology to estimate someone’s feelings and use it to “my advantage”.

I would say for example that in certain emotional state people are buying more, or buying without too much thinking while being excited. How to detect someone’s mood and thoughts? Well, what about Facebook? A person might put his or her thoughts into a status, a person might share it through message. Even without writing a thing, only through the interaction with the system there could be many clues about the inner feelings. Is the person scanning through funny memes as he or she is bored at work? Is the person admiring pictures of some favorite singer (and having own band trying to get some attention)? All the actions – including the unconscious click-rate or time spent reading a line of text – could be combined into a pretty impressive dataset helping to guess the state of one’s mind. And imagine you have millions of similar collections. Imagine that you have advertisers knocking on your door trying to sell their stuff. If you are Facebook, you do not need to imagine that.

To wrap it up. My main point is that our thoughts are one of the most private things we have and that current technologies are getting closer and closer to the point that they can reveal our inner activity. So be aware of it and if you want to laugh a bit watch again the movie “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson.

- Finn, R. L., Wright, D., & Friedewald, M. (2013). Seven types of privacy. In European data protection: coming of age (pp. 3-32). Springer Netherlands.