Category Archives: Time Magazine

Infographic: Time Magazine’s Person of the Year – Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Time Magazine just announced that their Person of the Year is Pope Francis, The People’s Pope.

Time Magazine’s Managing Editor, Nancy Gibbs, discussed why Pope Francis was their choice for Person of the Year.

Once there was a boy so meek and modest, he was awarded a Most Humble badge. The next day, it was taken away because he wore it. Here endeth the lesson.

How do you practice humility from the most exalted throne on earth? Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly—young and old, faithful and cynical—as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.

At a time when the limits of leadership are being tested in so many places, along comes a man with no army or weapons, no kingdom beyond a tight fist of land in the middle of Rome but with the immense wealth and weight of history behind him, to throw down a challenge. The world is getting smaller; individual voices are getting louder; technology is turning virtue viral, so his pulpit is visible to the ends of the earth. When he kisses the face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church.

The skeptics will point to the obstacles Francis faces in accomplishing much of anything beyond making casual believers feel better about the softer tone coming out of Rome while feeling free to ignore the harder substance. The Catholic Church is one of the oldest, largest and richest institutions on earth, with a following 1.2 billion strong, and change does not come naturally. At its best it inspires and instructs, helps and heals and calls the faithful to heed their better angels. But it has been weakened worldwide by scandal, corruption, a shortage of priests and a challenge, especially across the fertile mission fields of the southern hemisphere, from evangelical and Pentecostal rivals. In some quarters, core teachings on divorce and contraception are widely ignored and orthodoxy derided as obsolete. Vatican bureaucrats and clergy stand accused of infighting, graft, blackmail and an obsession with “small-minded rules,” as Francis puts it, rather than the vast possibilities of grace. Don’t just preach; listen, he says. Don’t scold; heal.

And yet in less than a year, he has done something remarkable: he has not changed the words, but he’s changed the music. Tone and temperament matter in a church built on the substance of symbols—bread and wine, body and blood—so it is a mistake to dismiss any Pope’s symbolic choices­ as gestures empty of the force of law. He released his first exhortation, an attack on “the idolatry of money,” just as Americans were contemplating the day set aside for gratitude and whether to spend it at the mall. This is a man with a sense of timing. He lives not in the papal palace surrounded by courtiers but in a spare hostel surrounded by priests. He prays all the time, even while waiting for the dentist. He has retired the papal Mercedes in favor of a scuffed-up Ford Focus. No red shoes, no gilded cross, just an iron one around his neck. When he rejects the pomp and the privilege, releases information on Vatican finances for the first time, reprimands a profligate German Archbishop, cold-calls strangers in distress, offers to baptize the baby of a divorced woman whose married lover wanted her to abort it, he is doing more than modeling mercy and ­transparency. He is ­embracing complexity and acknowledging the risk that a church obsessed with its own rights and righteousness could inflict more wounds than it heals. Asked why he seems uninterested in waging a culture war, he refers to the battlefield. The church is a field hospital, he says. Our first duty is to tend to the wounded. You don’t ask a bleeding man about his cholesterol level.

This focus on compassion, along with a general aura of merriment not always associated with princes of the church, has made Francis something of a rock star. More than 3 million people turned out to see him on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last summer, the crowds in St. Peter’s Square are ecstatic, and the souvenirs are selling fast. Francesco is the most popular male baby name in Italy. Churches report a “Francis effect” of lapsed Catholics returning to Mass and confession, though anecdotes are no substitute for hard evidence, and surveys of U.S. Catholics, at least, see little change in practice thus far. But the fascination with Francis even outside his flock gives him an opportunity that his predecessor, Benedict XVI, never had—to magnify the message of the church and its power to do great good.

The giddy embrace of the secular press makes Francis suspect among traditionalists who fear he buys popularity at the price of a watered-down faith. He has deftly leveraged the media’s fascination to draw attention to everything from his prayers for peace in Syria to his pointed attack on trickle-down economics, which inspired Jesse Jackson to compare him to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rush Limbaugh to wonder whether he’s a Marxist. When you are a media celebrity, every word you speak is dissected, as are those you choose not to speak. Why has he not said more about the priest sex-abuse scandal? ask victims’ advocates. (Just this month, he set up a commission to address the abuse of children by priests.) Why does he not talk more about the sanctity of life? ask conservatives, who note that in his exhortation, abortion is mentioned once, mercy 32 times. Francis both affirms traditional teachings on sexuality and warns that the church has become distracted by them. He attacks priests who won’t baptize children born out of wedlock for their “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.” He declares that God “has redeemed all of us … not just Catholics. Everyone, even atheists.” He posed with environmental activists holding an antifracking T-shirt and called on politicians and business leaders to be “protectors of creation.”

None of which makes him a liberal—he also says the all-male priesthood is not subject to debate, nor is abortion, nor is the definition of marriage. But his focus on the poor and the fact that the world’s poorest 50% control barely 1% of its wealth unsettles those who defend capitalism as the most successful antipoverty program in history. You could argue that he is Teddy Roosevelt protecting capitalism from its own excesses or he is simply saying what Popes before him have said, that Jesus calls us to care for the least among us—only he’s saying it in a way that people seem to be hearing differently. And that may be especially important coming from the first Pope from the New World. A century ago, two-thirds of Catholics lived in Europe; now fewer than a quarter do, and how he is heard in countries where being gay is a crime and educating women for leadership roles is a heresy may have the power to transform cultures in which Catholicism is a growing, even potentially liberating force.

These days it is bracing to hear a leader say anything that annoys anyone. Now liberals and conservatives alike face a choice as they listen to a new voice of conscience: Which matters more, that this charismatic leader is saying things they think need to be said or that he is also saying things they’d rather not hear?

The heart is a strong muscle; he’s proposing a rigorous exercise plan. And in a very short time, a vast, global, ecumenical audience has shown a hunger to follow him. For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is TIME’s 2013 Person of the Year.

As part of the Person of the Year article on Pope Francis, Time Magazine provided an infographic on The Pope’s Divisions which details the power of the papacy and the positive numbers that are working for Pope Francis. I have included a copy below for you to review (click on the image to enlarge).

The Pope's Divisions

How We Learn: My Critique of the Time Magazine The Price Of College Graph – Part 4

Over the past three days, I have been discussing a Special College Report article that is in the current issue of Time Magazine (October 7, 2013). It is titled Class of 2025 How They’ll Learn and What They’ll Pay.

The first three parts are as follows:

Part 1, Teaching Methods that involved critical thinking I experienced early in my education when I took a course on the History of Napoleon at Texas A&M Univerity in the early 1980s from the late Dr. Shirley Black.

Part 2, I discussed the Time Magazine article, Online learning will make college cheaper. It will also make it better by L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, Mr. Reif states that “digital learning is the most important innovation in education since the printing press.” He then describes the benefits of digital learning.

Part 3, I discussed the a MOOC class I took earlier this year from Professor Alberto Cairo titled introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization.

Today, in this fourth and final part of this series, I provide a critique of The Price of College graph from the aforementioned Time Magazine article.

The Price of College Graph

The question the Time magazine graph wants to answer is if rising tuition has made the price of a degree out of reach as opposed to other big-ticket expenses a family would have. The graph is a horizontal line graph with five series: house, 50 most expensive colleges, public tuition, private tuition, and new car price. The series is based on 2012 dollars and runs for 12 years from 2000 – 2012.

I tried to first focus on the lines related to tuition. As we can see, all of them are increasing over the 12-year period. However, the author of the graph then projects what these costs will be by the year 2025, which is the focus of the Special College Report. They show us the projected numbers, but just have then linearly following the path of the existing line. I have shown with red arrow lines where they actually would appear based on the Y axis (cost). I think if they had allowed the lines to increase to its value on the Y axis, the rise of tuition then shows the dramatic increase in the future. More specifically, the 50 most expensive colleges has a dramatic increase.

It would have also been nice to see them also project a single family home and a new car out to the year 2025. I realize the house market is in flux, but again, we are projecting. Will the housing market fully recover and houses double by then? Will new cars continue its incremental increase or will there be a spike upward or downward?

Also, it would be nice to have some indicator that shows that private college tuition is approximately double of public college tuition. Is there a want to quantify (or justify) the additional cost of sending your child to a private school (I’ll pick on my alma mater for this; is four years at Harvard worth the extra cost versus going to Texas A&M?).

The small graph in the bottom left corner is interesting in that it shows the actual increase for the past 40 years. However, should it have been overshadowed by the larger graph in this example or have been shown separately so it is in front and in full focus? Clear, over the 40 year span, all costs are dramatically increasing except for the housing bubble crash of the past 5 years or so.

Time - The Price Of College Graph - Revised

In Summary

I hope you enjoyed this four-part series on The Class of 2025 and How We Learn. I will be working in New York City the next few weeks and will be blogging about interesting data visualization topics related to New York.

Until next time.

Best Regards,

Michael

How We Learn: Alberto Cairo’s MOOC Class, Critique of Time Magazine Graph – Part 3

Time MagazineOver the past two days, I have been discussing a Special College Report article that is in the current issue of Time Magazine (October 7, 2013). It is titled Class of 2025 How They’ll Learn and What They’ll Pay.

Time discusses the debates going on over traditional education with a core curriculum and other academics who would rather have students attend a more specialized set of courses that allows them to set their curriculum. It seems, however, that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force.

I had two personal life experiences I wanted to share. Last Saturday in Part 1, I discussed a course I took on the History of Napoleon at Texas A&M Univerity in the early 1980s from the late Dr. Shirley Black.

Yesterday in Part 2, I discussed the Time Magazine article, Online learning will make college cheaper. It will also make it better by L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, Mr. Reif states that “digital learning is the most important innovation in education since the printing press.” He then describes the benefits of digital learning.

Today, in this third part of this series, I am moving ahead in time and discussing a MOOC class I took early this year from Professor Alberto Cairo titled introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization. I am also currently sitting in the latest section of this course Professor Cairo is teaching that began this month.

Alberto Cairo

Alberto CairoAlberto Cairo is a Professor of the Professional Practice at the School of Communication of the University of Miami. He teaches courses on information graphics and visualization, and is interested in the convergence between visual communication, journalism, cognitive science, cartography, and statistics.

He is the author of the books Infografía 2.0: Visualización interactiva de información en prensa (Alamut, Spain, 2008) and The Functional Art: an Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (Peachpit Press/Pearson Education, 2012). He’s working on a new book, tentatively titled The Insightful Art: Storytelling with Data, Charts, Maps, and Infographics, to be published at the end of 2014 by Peachpit Press, too. He’s also the author of a 12-hour video tutorial about how to use Adobe Illustrator to produce information graphics: http://www.thefunctionalart.com/

Between June 2010 and December 2011, Cairo was the director for Infographics and Multimedia at Editora Globo, the magazine division of the biggest media group in Brazil, where he acted as an executive editor for the weekly news magazine Época and as an internal consultant for the other 12 publications of the group. He has also been an assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, between 2005 and 2009. He was the James H. Schumaker Term Assistant Professor in 2008 and 2009.

Alberto Cairo led the creation of the Interactive Infographics Department at El Mundo (elmundo.es, Spain), in 2000. Cairo’s team won more Malofiej and Society for News Design (SND) infographics international awards than any other news organization worldwide between 2001 and 2005.

Cairo has been an invited lecturer and keynote speaker at all most influential international conferences on visual journalism and design. He has taught and consulted for educational institutions and media companies in more than twenty countries.

Professor Cairo’s MOOC Course, Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization

This course is an introduction to the basics of the visual representation of data. In this class students learn how to design successful charts and maps, and how to arrange them to compose cohesive storytelling pieces. The class will also discuss ethical issues when designing graphics, and how the principles of Graphic Design and of Interaction Design apply to the visualization of information.

The course has a theoretical component, and covers the main rules of the discipline, and also a practical one: to design basic infographics and mock ups for interactive visualizations.

Is this class for me?

This class is tailored for journalists and designers. However, it may be a good fit also for anyone with an interest in the visual display of information.

You do not need any previous experience in infographics and visualization to take this course. With the readings, video lectures and tutorials available through the course, you will acquire enough skills to start producing compelling simple infographics almost right away.

How much time will I need every week?

The answer depends on many factors, including your previous experience in this area. My suggestion is to plan between 6-12 hours of work a week. In most cases, that should be the minimum necessary to read the materials, watch the videos, and complete the assignments.

What will I learn?

  • How to analyze and critique infographics and visualizations in newspapers, books, TV, etc., and how to propose alternatives that would improve them.
  • How to plan for data-based storytelling through charts, maps, and diagrams.
  • How to design infographics and visualizations that are not just attractive but, above all, informative, deep, and accurate.
  • The rules of Graphic Design and of Interaction Design, applied to infographics and visualizations.
  • Optional: How to use Adobe Illustrator for creating infographics.

Signing up

I first found out about the course by visiting Mr. Cairo’s Website, http://thefunctionalart.com, after I had purchased his book to read. I had tried to sign up for the first session of this course taught in 2012, but it filled up very quickly (5,000 students were enrolled). I went on full alert to make sure I was able to sign up for the second offering, which started last January. Even with a cap of 5,000 students, the class filled quickly, but I was quick and able to enroll.

Communication

Mr. Cairo started each week by sending us an e-mail “New message from Alberto Cairo” which had a few notes and a link to the course News and Announcements forum. In the forum, Mr. Cairo posted detailed instructions for the week along with any recommendations and insights into the assignment. Between Mr. Cairo and Rachel Barrera, his Graduate Assistant for the class, I received e-mails every few days to let us know what the expectations were, informational items, etc. I felt the communication level was just right and both of them answered e-mail questions in a very timely manner.

Lectures

The lectures were all taught from video. The MOOC philosophy is to keep lectures around 12 minutes or less in length, which works out to about five videos to watch per hour lecture. The reasoning behind this is that our attention span starts to lapse after 15 minutes, so if the class is broken down into smaller chunks, we are more inclined to watch a shorter session on a particular topic as well as retain the information better. For the first week of class, Mr. Cairo’s videos were 2:32 minutes, 6:17 minutes, 12:03 minutes, 8:04 minutes, 9:51 minutes, 14:20 minutes, and 5:35 minutes. His style of lecture is to tell you a story related to the topic. I found the individual lectures very informative, interesting and the time went by very quickly when watching them.

I was surprised to see one of the week 1 lectures for the current class is 54:38 long. I think the reasoning behind this was it was from a presentation he made at a conference and these are usually around an hour long.

Reading

Mr. Cairo gave us a lot of different materials for reading. For example, in the second week of the course, we were assigned the following:

1. Read the interviews with John Grimwade (Condé Nast Traveler) and Steve Duenes/Xaquín GV (The New York Times).

2. Read Data Visualization for Human Perception, by Stephen Few.

Also, each week, Mr. Cairo would provide us links to additional articles, videos, and blogs he put together. They were optional, but again very useful. He also sent us an e-mail each week of links to other interesting materials to read.

Discussion

Each week, we were required to participate in the discussion forums. Whether it was to post our opinion on a topic or review other classmates assignments, we had to post 2-3 entries each week. At first, I did not think I would like this, but found this to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the class. When reviewing other classmate’s projects and assignments, we had 5,000 different examples to choose from, so there should have been discussions that appealed to everyone. I was very fortunate since the ones I picked were very interesting to read. Since we had a large pool of people from many different walks of life, we had a lot of diversity in why they created the design they did, their personal or professional interest in that topic, and the actual visualization they produced often gave me ideas for projects I was working on at work. Even after I finished my mandatory 2-3 entries to review, I often went back and read others I thought were of interest. For the final assignment we were able to pick our own topic. I frequented the discussion forum a lot just to see the variety of topics and infographics my classmates created. I was a bit frustrated that time did not permit me to view them all.

Quizzes

We had two quizzes early in the class. If you read the materials and watched the lectures, you will have no problem with these.

Projects/Assignments

We had three projects to complete as part of the class. The first was to create a topical interactive graphic. The second was to create a visualization, and the third project was to create an infographic.

I was fortunate that several of my classmates allowed me to blog about their completed assignments. Here are links to a few of these blogs.

As the current class progresses, I may ask some of the students if I can highlight their work on my blog too.

Best Quote

“Christmas cards do not cause Christmas to happen, but the two are highly correlated in time.”

Summary

As I now think back some more on my past experience in Professor Cairo’s MOOC class early this year, I feel that the theme of this blog series was accomplished in that class – that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force. The assignments in this class provided course content in dozens of small conceptual modules of instruction and building on that through the iteration of immediate practice, feedback and reinforcement. We were able to better retain the concepts and were better prepared to put them into practice once the course was over. I also feel strongly that you will get out of a MOOC course what you are willing to put into it. I took this course very seriously and set my goal of getting the Certificate of Completion for the class (which I did). To get this, I had to do all of the course work. This class was something I wanted to take to enhance my skills as well as my career. I also took this course because I had read Mr. Cairo’s book, The Functional Art, and wanted to learn more from him. In regards to the readings, I was fortunate that I had already read most of Mr. Cairo’s book and had previously read many of the articles he assigned, such as Stephen Few’s material, so the reading assignments were not as steeped for me. However, I did go out and read a lot of the supplemental materials that I found of interest too.

Professor Cairo’s lecture style follows the form of story telling. He told the story about John Snow and the 1854 Cholera Epidemic in London, which made me go out and buy Steven Johnson’s book to read about it in more detail. I also loved the story and explanation of how we interpret circles and why not to use them in data visualizations.

When Mr. Cairo offers his next version of this class, I highly recommend you take it if you have the opportunity (sign up early!) I still find myself longing for more and hope Mr. Cairo or his counterparts like Stephen Few, Nigel Holmes, Colin Ware or Edward Tufte offer similar MOOC courses in the near future.

Tomorrow: My Critique of the Time Magazine Graph

How We Learn: Online Learning, MOOCs, and Alberto Cairo – Part 2

L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT

L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT

Yesterday, I started discussing a Special College Report article that is in the current issue of Time Magazine (October 7, 2013). It is titled Class of 2025 How They’ll Learn and What They’ll Pay.

Time discusses the debates going on over traditional education with a core curriculum and other academics who would rather have students attend a more specialized set of courses that allows them to set their curriculum. It seems, however, that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force.

I had two personal life experiences I wanted to share. Yesterday, I discussed a course I took on the History of Napoleon at Texas A&M Univerity in the early 1980s from the late Dr. Shirley Black.

Today, I am moving ahead in time and discussing a MOOC class I took last year from Professor Alberto Cairo titled introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization. I am also sitting in the current section of this course Professor Cairo is teaching that began this month.

Before I discuss Mr. Cairo’s MOOC class, I would like to discuss the benefits of online learning discussed in the Time magazine report.

Online Learning Makes College Cheaper and Better

In the Time Magazine article, Online learning will make college cheaper. It will also make it better by L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, Mr. Reif states that “digital learning is the most important innovation in education since the printing press.” He then describes what digital learning is good for.  His first point is that it is good at opening possibilities for billions of human beings who have little or no access to higher learning. He cites the success MIT has had with its OpenCourseWare as an example.

Mr. Reif then points out that online learning is very good at teaching content such as the concepts of circuits and electronics, the principles of chemistry, and the evolution of architectural styles. He then points out that his classroom students are not necessarily ready to apply the concepts that are taught. However, by contrast, compatible students taught through online exercises – including immediate practice, feedback and reinforcements retained the concepts better and were better prepared to put them into practice. Also, by moving the introductory materials to online courses, instructors can now take the time that was previously reserved for lectures and use it to exploit the power of innovative teaching techniques.

Time Magazine - Class of 2025Another advantage of digital learning technologies, although harder to quantify, is flexibility. Traditional colleges require four years at a physical academic address like a university campus where students have to meet regularly at the same place and time. Digital learning allows students to engage the material anytime, any day, as often as they need to, anywhere in the world. I know there were times as a student I wish I had certain lectures from my professors that I would like to have been able to listen to multiple times to reinforce what they taught us.

The next advantage of digital learning is the ability to analyze and gain information from the vast data that is being generated about how people actually learn best.  A systematic, data-driven approach to analyze the way we learn will provide us testable conclusions that could improve teaching methods and strategies for both online and in-person instruction.

With all of these benefits mentioned above, we also need to discuss the major drawback of digital learning-the ability to have face-to-face interaction. Judgement, confidence, humility and skill in negotiation that come from hands-on problem solving and teamwork; the perseverance, analytical skill and initiatives that grow from conducting frontline lab research; the skill in writing and public speaking that comes from exploring ideas with mentors and peers; the ethics and values that emerge through being apprenticed to a master in your field and living as a member of a campus community.

However, online learning may indirectly provide these benefits. The online courses will allow more time to focus on education; detailed discussions; personal mentorship, and project-based learning. It becomes more of a blended model as online tools are used more strategically. Students could, in the future, be able to complete their first year of college online, thus reducing their costs of education. Or, in their junior year, work in their field of interest while attending their courses online. MIT has around 200 lecture halls. With online learning, the need to increase the number of physical spaces (or reduce this space and use it for other academic purposes) could vastly change by the year 2025.

We need to capitalize on the strengths of online learning, make it more accessible, more effective and more affordable for the human race than every before.

Tomorrow: Alberto Cairo’s MOOC Course and my review of one of the graphs used in the Time Magazine report.

How We Learn, Online Education and MOOCs, Time Magazine Graph Critique – Part 1

Time MagazineOn my trip home to Arizona from Paris yesterday, I read the Special College Report article in the current issue of Time Magazine (October 7, 2013). It is titled Class of 2025 How They’ll Learn and What They’ll Pay.

I am always interested in they ways different groups (i.e., Government, educators, parents, etc.) perceive what the best way to learn is. Time Magazine points out in their article that 36% of college graduates in a 2011 study did not show any significant cognitive gains over the four years they spent in college. I ask myself, how can this be?

Time goes on to discuss the debates going on over traditional education with a core curriculum and other academics who would rather have students attend a more specialized set of courses that allows them to set their curriculum. It seems, however, that all parties involved are most concerned with students having the skills to do critical thinking upon graduation which will make them more successful in the work force.

Drawing myself into this discussion, I draw on two personal experiences I had during my life-long learning adventures.

The first was when I was at Texas A&M University during the early 1980s working on my undergraduate degree. I had dropped out of college in 1978 after two years to work as a computer programmer. I was restless in college and not very attentive. I loved my computer programming classes and an opportunity presented itself for me to get a real job with real money.

I worked for 5 years as a COBOL programmer when I began to realize that a degree would be important as the Computer Science field became more formalized and education, more specifically a degree in Computer Science, would help determine what types of opportunities would avail themselves to you in the future.

I chose Texas A&M University for its family like atmosphere and my initial discussions with my department before I decided on a school. I also was able to find full-time employment as a computer programmer in College Station which made the choice a lot easier. My boss was also willing to let me take classes during the day and shuffle my work schedule accordingly.

I decided to work on a History degree with a minor in Computer Science. I always loved history and felt the ability to write and put your thoughts on paper would be highly beneficial to a person in computer science (later, I would realize how correct I was in this decision).

The course I want to focus on was a History of Napoleon class I took from the late Shirley Black. Dr. Black provided great narratives of Napoleon’s time in power using great story telling. She seldom focused on a date unless it was highly significant like the Russian Campaign of 1812. Her exams were always pen and paper with challenging questions like “Compare the reigns of Napoleon and Hitler and discuss their similarities, successes and failures.” Since Napoleon and Hitler both made the mistake of entering into Moscow with Winter coming where they would have to endure the cold, harsh winter months ahead, it was a oppportunity to discuss each of their military strategies in terms of this. Her exams usually were along these lines where she would offer us a couple of questions to choose from and address that question using pen and paper. Like it or not, she made us really think about the question; not some multiple choice questions about dates and fill in the blanks.

Rosetta_StoneAnother thing Dr. Black made us do was draw the map of Europe  and Africa and indicate key locations of events relating to Napoleon. She said to us, “If I teach you one thing before you graduate, it will be to know how to find the cities discussed in this class on a map of Europe.” For example, one key location was where Napoleon found the Rosetta Stone upon his entry into Northern Africa.

On Napoleon’s 1798 campaign in Egypt, the expeditionary army was accompanied by the Commission des Sciences et des Arts, a corps of 167 technical experts (savants). On July 15, 1799, as French soldiers under the command of Colonel d’Hautpoul were strengthening the defences of Fort Julien, a couple of miles north-east of the Egyptian port city of Rosetta (Modern day Rashid), Lieutenant Pierre-François Bouchard spotted a slab with inscriptions on one side that the soldiers had uncovered. He and d’Hautpoul saw at once that it might be important and informed general Jacques-François Menou, who happened to be at Rosetta. The find was announced to Napoleon’s newly founded scientific association in Cairo, the Institut d’Égypte, in a report by Commission member Michel Ange Lancret noting that it contained three inscriptions, the first in hieroglyphs and the third in Greek, and rightly suggesting that the three inscriptions would be versions of the same text. Lancret’s report, dated July 19, 1799, was read to a meeting of the Institute soon after July 25. Bouchard, meanwhile, transported the stone to Cairo for examination by scholars. Napoleon himself inspected what had already begun to be called la Pierre de Rosette, the Rosetta Stone, shortly before his return to France in August 1799.

I find some symmetry in the fact that I would revisit Napoleon again when I took Edward Tufte’s one-day class in 2005 where he discussed Minard’s map of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign of 1812. I already had an interest in this battle and Dr. Tufte exposed another layer, the data visualization flow map prepared by Minard, to my understanding.

Tomorrow: On-line Learning, MOOCs, and Alberto Cairo

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