Barefoot In the head

If you think so....

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Location: Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom

I am around if you are around.

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Conscious Mirror

     My first attempt at self-publication!

Published by in 2021. Paperback available on Amazon and most online book sellers. Search for ‘the conscious mirror sugata mitra’ and hopefully you will get to it.

I came to know about ‘Tripura Rahasya’ from an erstwhile Facebook friend, Angsuman Chakraborty, to whom I am extremely grateful. It is a free pdf download.

After reading it, I found that I would often recall lines, thoughts, or ideas from the book, while going about my normal life. This happens with many books and usually subsides with time and after reading other books. With ‘Tripura Rahasya’ this did not happen. So I read it again, somewhat more slowly than the first time.

After the second reading, ideas from the book began to crystallize in my mind. I started to experiment with the ideas, relating them to the actions of myself and others. I realized that the book was not quite about philosophy, it was about psychophysics, from another world in another time.  Not only that, but parts of it were also like a manual explaining how to do things with or to the mind. I decided to read it again.

After the third reading, I realized that this book was a textbook for a course of study on self-realization. I knew by now, from personal experience, that I was under the influence of a powerful instructional design. I decided to republish the original English translation as a synopsis, to make it more succinct and acceptable to a 21st century audience.

The original author Haritayan, possibly a Professor at an ancient Indian university, wrote the ‘Tripura Rahasya’ around 250BCE, well over 2000 years ago. It was probably a ‘taster’ course for applicants.

Next, I had to research copyrights carefully, here is what I found:

Part1 of this book is authored by me, so no problem.

Part2 of this book is a reproduction of the original Sanskrit text of the book “Tripura Rahasya” authored by Haritayan of antiquity circa 250BCE and hence in the public domain.

Part2 also contains sections from an English translation of the Sanskrit text by the late Swami Sri Ramananda Saraswathi (born Munagala S. Venkataramaiah) and first published by the late V.S. Ramanan (President, Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India) in 1959. I have identified parts of the translation that refer to corresponding parts of the original Sanskrit text and inserted them in the right places. According to the copyright laws applicable to books published in India, literal translations of works by unknown authors of antiquity, first published more than 60 years ago are free of copyright. 

It is now sold as a paperback on the internet and you need to search 'the conscious mirror sugata mitra' to get to it. I hope.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Review: The Social Dilemma

 ‘The Social Dilemma’ is a documentary on Netflix that has been recently released. It is about the evils of social media and is causing a lot of distress. A school principal was dismayed that now parents are going to say, ‘We told you so! Take away the internet from children, immediately’. Hopefully, nothing of the sort will happen. 

This documentary is worth watching, but with an open and discerning mind. First, note that it is produced by disgruntled ex-employees of Facebook, Twitter and Google. Then, note that the views of the other side, people from these, and similar, companies, are missing. And, of course, children’s opinions are absent, but that is usual. 

The main contention of the documentary is that our minds are being psychologically manipulated by AI, created by evil designers. This used to be called ‘advertising’, I think. Note that any algorithm that uses a lot of data to make accurate projections of short-term future is called AI. In my time, we used to call these ‘moving averages’, ‘standard deviation’ and extrapolation. Nobody thought these were evil. 

Missing entirely in the documentary is the main new idea of our times, that when lots of things are connected together (phones, computers, people) into a network, we get self-Organizing Systems. Self organizing systems can show Spontaneous Order and Emergent Behavior. Ilya Prigogine got a Nobel prize in the 1980's for discovering this. 

Self Organizing Systems are unpredictable, so they cannot be ‘programmed’ for evil. Organisations like the ones above can only facilitate their formation, not what they will do. Like a gardener who can plant flowering plants, but cannot say where a beehive might form. You cannot make Self Organising Systems do anything, you can only let them do what they will. 

Jaron Lanier, the inventor of Virtual Reality, is prominently present in the documentary. He even compares us, humans, with neurons in our brains, being ‘forced’ to mindlessly perform as part of a network! Well, imagine if all the neurons in your brain became independent, free agents, while you sat around – brainless and smiling vacuously.

Algorithms in social media have small, very specific goals, usually to focus your attention on something. Just as neurons have a small and specific goal, to connect with other neurons. If the internet makes all of humanity into one giant brain, that would probably represent an evolutionary step. Evolution is not evil, it has no goal – it just happens. 

Similar documentaries and comments have been made about books, newspapers, television and radio when they were invented and started networking people. Even the postal system was not spared criticism. It all created some noise and died down. As will this one. 

Lastly, someone in the documentary suggests that children below the age of 16 should not be allowed to google! That is a bit like saying that the reading habit in children should not be encouraged until they are grown up because they might read comic books. 

So, do watch the documentary, and enjoy the paranoia. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Hole In The World

There is a space in her home. It is a 8’x8’x8’ cube. Or 3m x 3m x 3m if you like metres. When she enters it, one wall lights up with the Internet. She finds a webcam in the Amazon delta. The climate control in her Cube reproduces the temperature, humidity, sound and light levels of the webcam in minutes. Sweating, she rents a virtual drone and flies. She wants to get to the coast and meet some people there. When she reaches the blue-and-muddy water, the children come running out to their cube and screen. She smiles and speaks, hoping the translator will do a reasonable job with Portuguese. It does not, and the children laugh and roll around on the ground. 

All the technology to do this is there already. It is not expensive and can get cheaper if we keep electric cars and spaceships on hold for a while. We don't need to isolate ourselves with expensive VR headsets - we need to share screens.

We need reliable batteries, broadband, a projector that can project high resolution images vertically without having to be placed horizontally away from the wall. All of this exists. We need a climate controller that can cool, heat and humidify a small space quicky. We need 3D surround sound and variable lighting. All exist.

The idea is really simple. Imagine you are on a video conference with someone, using Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp video or whatever works for you. You would be using a screen of some sort, and so would the other side. On your screen you see a bit of the environment of the other side, just as they see a bit of your environment on their screen. Now imagine if your screen was the size of the wall in front of you and it was the same on the other side. It would now be as though the two walls have merged into one glass wall – the two environments have become one. If you are in your study and your friend is in her living room, it would now look to you as though her living room was an extension of your study. Similarly, to you friend it would look as though her living room had your study attached. There would be a hole in the world connecting your spaces.

To enhance presence, you would need to match the sound, light temperature and humidity of the two connected environments. You could decide which one to replicate on the other side. It would be cheaper to do this to a small, enclosed space, hence my suggestion of the cube.

We can create this world, a world as alien to a virus as a virus is to our biological selves. Unless, of course, we would rather go back to the world that we left behind. A world where we kill the enemy and live happily ever after. Just as there are people who want to go back to the 20th century or the 7th – even today.

COVID19 has changed our world, swiftly and immensely. It has emptied the world and put people in their homes. It has closed commerce, industry and almost all physical human interactions. It has shut down the world as we knew it. We need to create a new world.

We are now alone, except perhaps for immediate family. We have to avoid the outdoors, except to get food and medicines. We have to be as clean and isolated as possible. In the process, along with the COVID, we will also avoid all other infection, viral or bacterial. Presumably, we will need less medicines. Presumably, we will need less food.

Gradually, we are getting used to the ideas of silence, clean air and living with ourselves.

Along with this physical isolation there is a growing new world, seething with activity – the Internet. It is rapidly replacing the unidirectional world of television and print. In this new world, we live with the Internet (I think we should get used to spelling it with a capital I). It is our collective consciousness, our collective Self. It has no physical form, it exists but is not ‘anywhere’.

We access the Internet all the time, with devices, usually small phones, tablets or laptops. Sometimes we use a desktop screen and love the size and presence it offers.

We respond differently to large screens than to small ones. I learnt this from watching children learning off the Internet on large screens. Large screens have large presence. Large screens can be seen, shared and heard by others. Children clustering, physically or virtually, around large screens learn rapidly through shared experience. Twenty years ago, I saw this by embedding Internet connected computers into walls in public spaces in the slums and villages of India. The experiment was dubbed the ‘Hole In The Wall’ by the media. Over the years, the hole in the wall became ‘Self Organised Learning Environments’ in England and then the ‘School in the Cloud’ all over the world. But it remained a curiosity in the physical world of classrooms and playgrounds and shopping malls.

I think we need those ideas now in our new world. From social distancing we can move to a life that is more full of activity and learning than it was ever before. 

We need a Hole In The World.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The School in the Cloud - when children and teachers cannot come to school

The Corona Virus, Covid-19, has done what experts have suggested, but not been able to implement, over decades. It has stopped children from being herded into classes. At least for a while.

So, what’s going to happen to the children who are at home? Who is going to look after them if their parent(s) are away to work? What will they do all day?

I have worked with children, both in and out of school, for several decades. In particular, I have worked on what the internet and children can do together. Maybe, in all those years of work, are some answers to what could happen in a world without schools as we know them.

In what follows are some ideas that I know will work, some that may work although I have not tried them and some that are just guesses. If you are a teacher or a parent, I hope you will find some of this useful.

Groups of unsupervised children sharing an internet connection on a large screen in a safe and public space, can learn anything by themselves – if they want to.

This was the main finding from the ‘hole in the wall’ experiments of 1999-2005 in India that led to the development of ‘self organized learning environments (SOLEs)’ between 2006-2009 in England. Later, we added a ‘granny cloud’ from 2010 to augment the process and whole thing was called ‘the school in the cloud’. Its all there in my book ‘The School in the Cloud – the emergning future of learning’ ( References to published research work are available from my website at .

Maybe it is time to bring the school in the cloud to this strange new world we have been plunged into by the Corona Virus of 2019. Here are some of the things you could do – and some that you should not.

Make a group of 24 children using, say, WhatsApp, FB messenger or something similar. This is not a ‘class’ and you are not going to do ‘online teaching’.

Take anything that you think would be interesting for the children to learn about and make a question out of it. Start a group chat and build up to the question. This is a very critical part of the process you are about to start. Don’t make the questions too easy. Not the kind that google can produce an instant answer to. Questions that you or anyone else does not know the answer to are sometimes the best! There are lots of questions that teachers have tried, good or bad, available from sites such as Also, the Granny Cloud ( has people who have used the internet to talk to children for over 10 years. They can give you invaluable advice.

It may be poetic justice to ask, ‘Is a virus dead or alive?’ as one of your first questions. No one, I think, knows the answer.

It would be ideal if the children in your group could form groups of about four each, maybe by gathering at someone’s home. They should access the internet using a large screen, such as a desktop computer or a smart TV. Tiny devices like smart phones and tablets are not good because it is difficult for more than one person to see what’s on the screen. Giving a device or computer each to every child is not a good idea – you want them to share the resource and share their ideas.

If it is not possible to make physical groups of children, things are bit more complex. Try to get each child to access the internet from a large screen and, at the same time, be in touch with other children in the group, using whatever means works best – phones, tablets, Bluetooth, whatever.

Tell the children they must collectively arrive at an answer, or answers, to your question. Suggest a time to reassemble. They could present that collective answer in whatever form they want – video, audio, document, presentation etc. But it must be only up to six answers for your group of 24. Not more. They have to discuss and figure out how they will assemble the answers. They must figure out how they will go about finding the answer. Don’t make this sound like an order, tell them you are helpless, you don’t have the time to look at 24 answers. Ask them if they can figure this out by themselves

This is your new sci-fi school. Just some learners and you, floating in cyberspace. ‘You go there, I will go with you’ is all you can say.

This is called a Self Organised Learning Environment. A SOLE. It works with children from 8 years old to young adults in Universities. That is as far as I know.

You can map an entire curriculum into questions. A curriculum that is made of the things that we don’t know is more interesting than one that is a list of the things that we know. In trying to figure out what we don’t know, learners will come across what we do know, anyway.

The statement, ‘No one knows the answer’ attracts all of humanity - we are built that way.

The SOLE as a method of learning needs no tests or examinations. After all, the whole process consists of learners attempting to answer questions, which is what tests are all about anyway. You could give a score to each SOLE session, if you like. You won’t find out how much learners remember, but you will find out how they can critically examine issues and problems.

This then, could be your school. The Corona Virus may have closed schools down, or it may have expanded them to cover the globe.

If these suggestions interest you and you do try them, please let me know how it went. There will be many ways to let me know, I think. You figure that one out 😊

Monday, January 06, 2020

A sixth sense?

Our brains are in total darkness inside the skull. The only inputs a brain gets are the rather limited range of signals from the five sense organs. VIBGYOR from the eyes, just a tiny bit of the electromagnetic spectrum. 20 Hertz - 20 KiloHertz, a tiny part of the audio spectrum from the ears. A few molecules, of the nearly infinite numbers that exist, that we can sense with our noses. Even fewer molecules that we can sense with our tongues. And finally, the few grams to the few kilograms that we can sense with touch. With these miserly inputs, our brains, floating in pitch black darkness – creates reality. It’s own reality, a limited sense of what is out there. If there is any ‘out there’.
A long time ago, when I was a post doc at the Technische Universitat in Vienna, my friend the late Ing. A.K. Bannerjee and I sat in a café at Karlsplatz and discussed why our sense organs are located where they are. Mr. Bannerjee pointed out that the higher up on our faces the sense organs were, the less the mass they sense. I took the idea and worked on the numbers. There seemed to be a correlation between where the sense organs were on the face and how much the energy of the particles they sensed. I wrote this up as a paper and could not find anywhere to publish it. Finally, an Australian journal called ‘Speculations in Science and Technology’ accepted our paper. It was published in 1982 and many read it, frowning and smiling.
At the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi, where I was by then back from Vienna as a research associate, I discussed the idea with my friend, Dr. Amitabh Jain. He had an intensely practical theory about why the sense organs were where they were. It had to do with food.
Before putting a bit of food into our mouths, we need to guess if it is likely to harm us in any way. First, the nose tells us if it smells alright. So, the nose needs to be on top of the mouth. Then the ears tell us if it is making a sound (the squeal of a rat is not good, the sound of a sizzler is safe). Finally, the eyes tell us if it looks edible and harmless. I did not think it was much of a theory, but it had an evolutionary flavor. Maybe we could even design a set of four sensors placed at about the same positions they are on a face and use it to find out if a piece of food might be attractive to a potential eater or not.
Anyway, back to the paper. The journal it was published in went out of business. There was no Intenet back then, so the paper just vanished.
Last week (January, 2020), I found a yellowing reprint of it while cleaning out a drawer, I have scanned it and put it on my website. Here is the link:
If it doesn’t work, you could go to my website,, and navigate to the section called ‘Hard to find publications’ and click on the paper.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In 2001, I was asked to write an article about the next ten years to come. I tried, but what came out was the next 10 million years. The article was eventually published in German in a student magazine called Ultrazinnober (No.3). Its available in German from

Here is the English version. I found it fun to read after 15 years....

Eight powers of ten

-Sugata Mitra

Projection, prediction, prophesy and fantasy

There are four ways you can think about the future. In the near term, the length of which may depend on the subject you are thinking about, you could project. For example, you can project that there will be more and better cars next year. You could even project how many cars will be sold by studying the trends from the past couple of years. Projection as a method of forecasting the future is safe if you take a small enough length of time and if the trends you are forecasting are in some pattern.

In the short and medium term, the length of which will also depend on what you are forecasting, projection may not work too well and you will need to predict. Predicting is different from projecting because you will need to see farther and, therefore, will need to take into account factors that may come into play that can disturb a smooth trend.

In the long term, which may spread over decades, you would need to prophesy, because, beyond a certain point, you may not be able to extrapolate to the future. Yet prophecy need not be merely intuitive, sometimes looking back at the past can give us clues about what might happen in the future.

In the very long term, say in hundreds of millennia, even prophecy, or intuition may not help. Here you can only fantasise. Even then, your imagination, which is the main tool for fantasy, is often derived from your knowledge, experience and desire. Even fantasy must have a basis.

When I sat down to write about what might happen to computers, I decided not to restrict myself to any period. Instead, I decided to start with projection and see when I need to move on to prediction, fly into prophesy and drift into fantasy. That way, we can go on a very long journey indeed, as you will see.

To organise the times we will talk about, I took powers of ten and added them to the year two thousand. So the first period will be the year 2000 plus ten to the power of zero, which gives us AD 2001. The next period would be the year 2000 plus ten to the power of 1, which gives us AD 2010 and so on.

Salt Lake City, Calcutta, was pleasant indeed on this December morning of 2001 when I began to look forward. The journey went on until eight powers of ten….

Power of zero: AD 2001 and onwards..

The two gigahertz Intel pentium will be commonly available around the end of 2002. Intel says so and they are usually very reliable.
Windows XP requires a minimum of 128 Mb so it is reasonable to suppose that 256 Mb will be common and 512 Mb RAMs will be what everyone will like to have.
Rewritable CDs are easily available and the standard will probably change to the DVD format that is currently used for video disks. This sort of standard will increase the CD capacity to something between 4 and 16 Gb by 2003.
Windows and Linux will dominate the scene for sure. I hope Microsoft will make Windows free in this period. By the end of 2002 it will be clear which of these operating systems will dominate for the next few years. I think a Windows look-alike for Linux will probably be the winner.

Freeware and open source (where software writers give away the software for free and even tell you how to write your own) will become the new standard in most software. A new economics will have to emerge to decide how people will get paid for their labour.
The Internet
The Internet will explode with activity. A mature electronic commerce will rise from the ashes of the dot com bust and begin to take over from conventional business models. Some businesses will cease to exist as they do now. For example, the music industry will change completely, followed by the film distribution industry.

By 2003, Internet appliances will begin to become common in households. Mobile phones took over many of the functions of the PC in 2002, this was just a hint of devices to come. Machines with computers embedded in them, connected to and controlled through the Internet. For example (as a hopeful TV ad already shows), a refrigerator may “know” how much milk is in it, at what rate you consume it and, therefore, place an order over the Internet when required. It will, of course, check with your bank to see whether you have money to pay for your milk, before placing the order. Initially, it will even ask your permission before doing all this, but not for too long!

The toy industry will see the first major changes to Internet enabled toys. Teddy bears that download speech and music, cars that drive around on their own, robot toys, video telephony, games played by thousands of people all over the world, these and many more will be common.

So, what will we do with all this power? It is hard to project, but the next two years will be the beginning of a transition to a great, connected world that we can barely imagine.

Machines that think, machines that know, machines that remember and machines that are connected will be the dominating paradigm.

Power of one: AD 2010

The computer as we know it would have disappeared and become small enough to fit into anything. From watches to handbags, from bottles to toilets, everything would have embedded computers in them. Everything would connect to everything wirelessly.

Computing power would have moved on to the equivalent of terahertz and would cease to be a limiting factor for most purposes. Storage would be entirely solid state and almost infinite at the molecular or atomic levels, where individual atoms and molecules would store one of more bits. A full-length feature film, for example, would be stored in a piece of material the size of a fingernail.


Software would have changed to an art form. Each piece of software subtly different from another. Individuals will put together software on their own much as artists create paintings. The large corporations that used to create software will become manufacturers of software objects, the “paint”, the “brushes” and the “canvas” for the individual developers.

Every operating system will be different from each other, indeed every word processor will differ from each other, yet they will be able to communicate with each other and, sometimes even change themselves.

The Internet
One in every four human beings on earth would be connected. The Internet would be a melting pot of over four billion people. It will be used for everything, from religion to sex, business to government, from relationships to research, the net will rule all lives on the planet.
Living systems
The first decade of the 21st century will see massive advances in the life sciences. Genetic engineering will become the most preferred profession, finally dethroning computer science. We will begin to understand what life is and to manipulate this understanding to create organic and silicon life of our own design. The first artificial life forms, indistinguishable from nature will arrive in this decade.

Computing will be all-pervasive, to the extent that the term “computer application” will be considered archaic, like calling a bicycle a “machine application”.

Perhaps the greatest applications will be in medicine. Hearing and sight will be routinely restored by embedded systems. As will defective hearts, kidneys, lungs and livers. In the process an understanding of how silicon systems can interface with the brain will begin to form. An understanding that will change all humanity forever.

Power of two: AD 2100

To understand the year 2100, one needs only to agree that it will probably be at least as different from the year 2000 as 2000 was from 1900.

Computing systems will be developing and maintaining their own software routinely. Such adaptive and self-organising systems will tailor themselves to their owners needs, much as a cell in a body can adapt itself into the correct organ depending on where it is.

Even more importantly, computing systems will be designing and creating new computing systems, the first artificial beings to do so.
The Internet
The net would have spread across the solar system, linking planetary Internets together. People would be routinely guiding vehicles on other planets as they can control web cameras in remote locations, today. Like computers, the Internet will be a non-issue. Something that everybody will take for granted. By the dawn of the 22nd century, machines will be controlling almost all aspects of human destiny.

Life and cognition
The big difference between the year 1900 and the year 2000 is in our fundamental understanding of nature. I think the greatest and the strangest of this understanding is our knowledge of quantum mechanics. An understanding that is the basis for all electronics. The ability of an electron to be in two places at the same time, to move backwards in time, to do almost everything the 19th century called impossible.

A similar understanding will change the world in the 22nd century as quantum mechanics did a century earlier. I think this time the breakthrough will be in the cognitive sciences. We will finally begin to understand cognition. The neural connections of the human brain will be completely mapped and understood. Psychology will have achieved the status of a mathematical science; much as chemistry did two hundred years earlier and biology will in the next fifty years.


People will be doing significantly different things than the previous century. All pervasive computing would have made many professions extinct. The programmer, the engineer, the doctor, the lawyer, the businessman, would all be fond old memories. The artist, the writer, the musician will be under threat from artificial cognitive systems.

Remote presence and the storage of human personalities will be as simple as writing an autobiography or creating an organ bank is today.

Education used to fill the first 25 years of life for thousands of years. In the 22nd century, its form and content would have changed completely. People will learn continuously and automatically. Machines and new educational methods would speed up the process ten fold. Primary education will be universal, ubiquitous and automatic.

The pursuit of pleasure will be a major preoccupation.

Power of three: AD 3000

Life, cognition and consciousness
If the 2nd millennium was the millennium of science and technology, the 3rd would have been the millennium of life and mind. The 4th will be the millennium of consciousness.

As cognition becomes understood a new Physics will establish itself.  A Physics of consciousness. It will have been invented in the 21st century, but will be used only in the 4th millennium.

While machines that are alive, cognitive and conscious will be common, their creators, human beings, will find less and less use for their own bodies and brains. The brain is a network of neurons. Neurons and their connections can be completely replicated in computer memories. Brains and their conscious personalities would be routinely represented as strings of zeros and ones – binary strings. Space travel would be common and non-physical. Bits can travel easily at the speed of light. Perhaps faster. Power, money, religion and sex, the driving forces of human destiny for many millennia would be irrelevant and nearly unknown.

Becoming a binary string has other advantages as well. Immortality being one. Humanity will begin its transformation from matter and energy to time and information.

Power of four: AD 12000

Meaning and creation
Ten thousand years is a long time. Long enough for changes to be strongly discontinuous. In 12000 BC, the Vedas (early Hindu philosophical text, circa BC8000?) had not been written, the pyramids had not been built and our understanding of the universe was minimal. We barely had clothes.

In AD 12000, ten thousand years from now, our understanding of the universe is just as dramatically different. We understand the nature of the universe in terms of information. Reality is mutable. We understand, finally, the meaning of meaning itself.

We had never learnt how to create matter or energy out of nothing, because it was impossible. We learn now how to create the perceptions of matter and energy, out of nothing, with information alone. The Universe is what we perceive. We begin the creation of a new reality. A universe created by us. We exist here as binary states, expressed any way we like. As magnetic poles, as photons, as abstract mathematics even. We choose our mode of existence. We are superhuman.

We have no bodies, only consciousness and memory that we preserve in our binary state. The Earth is a distant memory of an incredibly primitive existence.

Power of five: AD 102000

Change of species
Homo Sapiens gives way to Homo Eternal. They coexist for a while as the Neandertals did with us a hundred thousand years ago.

We have no individual identities; humanity merges into a single being. A Being without form - ageless and timeless.

There is no technology, we manipulate pure information and create new realities to play with. It is a turbulent time. We question why we are the way we are. We learn to live with ourselves alone, in a last, supreme loneliness.

“There were no stars, no Earth, no time
no check, no change, no good, no crime,
but stillness….”

Byron had said, a long, long time ago.

Power of six: AD 1,002,000

Point Omega
A million years pass, like a spark from a loose connection. The collective consciousness that calls itself Homo Eternal, meets other collective consciousnesses from other times and spaces. Each time they merge to form a greater whole. We reach Tielhard de Chardin’s Point Omega.

We grow and continue to search for a Supreme Consciousness, until we realise – We are That.

Tat twam asi – words from an incredibly distant past ring out again. (“Thou art That”, quoted from the Upanishads, early Hindu texts, circa BC 8000, author(s) unknown).

Power of seven: AD 10,002,000

The being that calls itself The Creator is tormented by Its own questions. It creates universe after universe, and watches helplessly as Its creation unfolds, evolves into pure consciousness and merges into Itself.

It wonders Why.


The evening sun shines weakly through the ashok trees in Salt Lake City. I save this article as magnetic domains on a plastic disc coated with rust (ferric oxide). The screen blanks out as the article converts itself into a binary string of zeros and ones.

The year 2002 seems like a very long time ago.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

From the
Hole In The Wall
to the
School In The Cloud
The story so far....


The Hole in the Wall

Groups of children can learn to use computers and the Internet by themselves,
If they are left unsupervised

Later experiments 

Groups of children can learn almost anything using the Internet

 This kind of learning happens in unstructured, unsupervised and free environments

Why did we not have this before?

Schools of the 19th century were meant to produce soldiers, clerks and factory workers

There were no telephones, computers or the Internet

Creativity would adversely affect the smooth operation of Empires


is meant to produce these people

but we still have them!


Self Organised Learning Environments can be created inside schools

Creating a SOLE

One computer with Internet for every four children

Children make their own groups around each computer

They can talk to each other and to other groups

They can walk around

They can change groups if they like.

They research a Big Question

Create the 'Edge of Chaos' in the classroom and you will get Emergent Order

The ‘Granny Cloud’

Children react well to encouragement

Children exceed targets if encouraged

Children like to show off to a friendly adult

A New Primary Education

Convert the curriculum into questions

Preferably, questions to which no one has an answer

Change assessment from factual recall to creative expression of ideas

Look for methods of problem solving rather that the application of memorized procedures

Use SOLEs as a major pedagogic method where children find their own answers

                            SOLE+Granny Cloud+Big Questions

This can be built anywhere

It is a space, not a school

It may produce people

for offices like this....

Will this improve:

 Reading comprehension?

Critical thinking?


Self confidence?

Searching skills?

We think so, and are collecting the evidence….