Stephen Wolfram, [Bloboprev] who has good claim to being the smartest man in the room during most of his daily existence, has just been interviewed on The Edge. He talks for 100 minutes. With transcript! if you're the least bit nerdy or interested in AI, you could do worse than skim the transcript. If you like your edutainment without few car-chases and a blizzard of ideas, then do the video. Towards the end of his piece to camera he asks if there is any evidence that there is intelligent life on our pale blue dot as viewed from space. We all now acknowledge that you can't see the Great Wall of China from the moon, it's too narrow and wiggly. When NASA sent it's exploratory landers to Mars, they included some tests to see if life-as-we-know-it exists on the red planet. That was a very narrow definition/imagination of life - as the ability to metabolise glucose - which we would be ashamed of today.
CoderDojo has been highly empowering to young people. Their effective coding ability can ask, and answer, questions about our world which would have previously been only addressable by academics with access to a big library and decades of experience and accumulated knowledge. The image [L] of the distribution of Norse Placenames was generated by the British Museum and it's wonderfully informative - there is Danelaw after 1000 years. But that sort of insight could be generated by dozens of 13 year old data-minors. Of course they are more likely to map the density of Justin Bieber tweet-tribs than the history of the Vikings but the point is that original, interesting research is available to people who haven't been to college and don't have The Calculus or Ulysses under their belts. My pal El Asturiano sent me some wonderful mappy links a couple of days ago: a zoomable map of the Roman World from the Austrian Institute of Technology. And Harvard's equivalent.