Monday, December 24, 2012

Teachers: Why not add an additional purpose to CURATING?

I think it would be a nice gesture to become a curator of information for a family in Cuba.....

it doesn't matter which side of the debate about the embargo you support.  
Perhaps you believe that keeping tourist dollars away from Havana will weaken the Castro government.

Perhaps you believe that engagement and more information is the way to empower the people of Cuba.  

The Diamond Media Reader
(note the input places for media card
and the USB)
There is something that both types of people can do, at least three times a week:  Become a curator of information for Cubans.

Dan Pink, the author of books about business (and the transformation of schools), has an exercise that he offers in his latest book To Sell Is Human.   He recommends that we each spend thirty minutes in the practice of CURATING information.  He suggests that we will learn more about curating by visiting a website managed by Beth Kanter called      You can learn more about Dan's workbook and new book by going to his website...  

The procedure is to  capture articles, rate information that comes across the computer screen,  and then make recommendations.   This process causes the brain to give more weight to certain types of information.  which in turn helps reinforce synapses (because we repeatedly review the previous articles when we look at a new article.  "Is this article about Russian activity in Syria as important or more important than the article about Indian cooking that I found interesting?").  Pink suggests that doing 20 minutes of "collecting, then rating, then sharing" should be called "curating."  ... and he suggests that this is a useful brain-building activity.   

Instead of looking at all information as equal, we can rate and weigh the information.

We know that adding more purpose can sometimes make an activity more meaningful, so I'm going to ask that you offer the following service.   Why not curate for a Cuban family?  My friend Miguel can find a friend of a friend of a friend (such links are common in the walk-around Internet of Cuba).  You could collect useful information for that person.  The curating can be three forms:  text, photo and video.   You can sign up by writing to and ask to join the "Mail for a Family" network.  Miguel gives me these guidelines.


Adopt a Cuban by email

My friend Miguel checks his email at a teleposto.   He tells me that he looks forward to any news that I can send him.  No photos, no links to youtube, but pages and pages of text.  Better to have one long email message (which can be saved quickly to a USB pen drive) than to have fifteen messages, each with an attached PDF.   Remember when there was dial-up?  Modems could transmit 56,000 bits per second.  Often the rate of transfer was lower, so a typical photo of 100 kb took five or ten seconds to appear.  Today it's common for friends to exchange larger photos 2MB or 5 MB, which would take more than two minutes to download for Miguel.  Since computer access can run $6 to 8 per hour of use, a digital photo can cost  25 cents to receive.

1.  Be selective about sending photos -- You can transmit 10,000 words in the same time...
2.  Think about news that is likely to be highlighted by the Cuban press.   Anything about Venezuela and most of Europe is well-covered, especially if the article depicts a negative aspect of life in the USA.
3.  Positive news of Cuba is likely to be shown in the Cuban press, but MIguel often likes to see how Cuba is reported in the world.
4.  Don't send information that could be inflammatory.
5.  Articles from blogs and professional journals are often appreciated.
6.  Look for articles about Cuba in international papers, such as and newspapers in Spain

If you find a TED talk, download the transcript ... and then find the translation in Spanish and download that, too.   Miguel has a "walk around" web.  He carries a device that reads videos from a USB drive a shows them on a standard TV.  The device turns images and even PDF documents into something that can be seen on a TV.

It's called a digital media player:  
Micca MPlay Digital Media Player For USB Drives and SD/SDHC Flash Cards - Plays MPEG1/2/4, DivX, Xvid, RMVB, AVI, MOV, MP3, MP4 On All TV and HDTV

I prefer the DIAMOND
Diamond HD Media Wonder Mini Media Player

  • Supports RM, RMVB, AVI, MPEG1(VCD), MPEG2(DVD) and MP4 video formats
  • Supports JPEG, M-JPEG, BMP, TIFF and PNG photo formats
  • SD, MMC and hot-swappable
  • Support USB and card insert at the same time, and can switch to each other


It's not the $180 Hard Drive (Western Digital has an expensive item that stores materials...)
Product Features
  • A high capacity 1 terabyte hard drive and network HD media player in one
  • Play media from USB drives, home network, and the Internet on your TV
  • Beautifully simple user interface for everyone in the family to use
  • Access your Netflix unlimited membership or Blockbuster On Demand and watch movies and TV episodes instantly.
  • Collect your media in one place and stream it anywhere in the house.

This is the MICCA kit.  The
 Diamond kit is more versatile 

How to Send Smiles to a Cuban Family

1.  Find a travel agency Varadero Express.
2.  In a nearby office or in that travel agency, you'll find "paquetes a Cuba" and the words "envia a Cuba"
3.  Some shippers have a different rate for food, so bring the clothing, shoes, medicines in a separate plastic bag.
4.  Shipments are bundled, often in suitcases.  your 8-pound package of coffee, dried fruit, nuts and canned fish might  be next to a color TV or a computer monitor. 

A shipper contracts with a "mule," a passenger who flies with few personal items so that his baggage allowance is available to the shipper.

When the ticket agent at the airport asks, "Did anyone give you a package to carry?," the mule has to say, "Yes."


Procedure for images and videos:  
This image shows the size of the device.
At some point you will find a way to collect the videos and images on a disk or USB flash drive or compact memory card (the kind used for cameras, often called an SD card).  If you are in the USA, you can search for a "Havana envios" service and you can arrange for sending the disk or drive to your contact in Cuba.  Or you can contact me at and tell me the list of items that you want placed on a hard drive.  I'll download the items from a drop box (or you can email the images in batches) and put the items on a drive.  The next time I send a package to Miguel's family, I can include the collection of media and directions for delivery to your penpal in Cuba, with directions for getting the materials delivered.   It might take a while, but your family can contact Miguel's family and get the information through.

What are you waiting for?  I hope you are starting to collect materials to send to your Cuban family today.

Write to with your request.
This is another useful device.   The INCREDIsonic
You can ask for a particular profession or you can say, "I'm ready to curate news and information from the Internet for anyone in Cuba.  Send me a profile of someone, showing the type of information that they are interested in learning more about..."

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