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Knotes From the Underground
Site news, physics jokes and winning Lotto numbers from Joe and Tom

Knotebooks Featured on FeedMyApp.com

Check it out, folks. Knotebooks was featured in FeedMyApp.com, a curator of all things Web 2.0 and a little extra exposure for science education.

If you love science like you say you do, follow the link and retweet Knotebooks. Thanks!

Roll Out: Printer-friendly Knotebooks

With the advent of the digital revolution and the near ubiquity of multimedia content within increasingly powerful Web frameworks, the way we learn science has undoubtedly been permanently transformed.

That being said, sometimes you just want to print stuff out to read on the train.

Well, Knotebooks is now 100 percent printer-friendly and, frankly, gorgeous as hell. Customize any knotebook to exactly your level of understanding with the best educational science content on the Web and hit print!

You can either do it through your browser with the ol' File > Print two-step, or just click the purdy print button recently added under the title of your knotebook.

We stripped out all the superfluous (albeit charming) colors and page elements to generate a brass tacks, picture perfect document that is eerily reminiscent of a science textbook.

Print out study sheets to prepare for tests, generate homework assignments or course readings, or create a binder of your favorites to mark-up or hand out.

Maybe you hate the environment... but then again, maybe you just love Knotebooks.

MIT's Classical Mechanics Course is Up!


We've just finished putting up the entire Classical Mechanics course from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a collection of 35 video lectures that have received particular praise for their clarity, thoroughness and great demonstrations.The lectures were given by the incomperable Professor Walter Lewin during the Fall '99 course at MIT.

The videos are currently collected in knotebooks that correspond to the lecture in which they were given, but each clip is broken down by topic and thus completely integrable with any other knotebook. We see it as a great way to buttress any classical mechanics lesson with some great video. Just a few highlights include:

An extra special thanks goes to the folks at the MIT Open Courseware initiative who have made such a great committment to open education.

Knotebooks at TEDxNYED

TEDxNYED, the all-day conference examining the role of new media and technology in shaping the future of education, was held at the Collegiate School in NYC on Saturday, March 6, 2010, so of course Tom and I were in attendance.

The folks over at TEDx released the video of the talks from the conference this afternoon and we thought it would be cool to provide some links. In addition to the great selection of speakers and impromptu game of horse that broke out between Knotebooks' Tom Clark and Dr. David Wiley of Flat World Knowledge, we managed to get two shameless plugs for Knotebooks during the presentations.

Here is the incomparable Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? and new media blogger at Buzzmachine.com, lecturing about lectures as an outmoded form of education and news. Around the 5-minute mark, he mentions Knotebooks as a new way to pull together the best multimedia on the Web to allow more customization and curation of high quality educational material.

And here is one of our new heroes, Dan Cohen, Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, who mentions Knotebooks' Joe Filippazzo around the 1-minute mark because he has the first 25 digits of π tattooed on his body.

From TEDxNYED organizer Dave Bill, "There will be 30 minute synchronous conversations on each of the 14 videos via our Twitter hashtag, #tedxnyed. There will be one discussion for each speaker. This will begin this Wednesday, April 21st at 12pm EST. To learn when the conversations will be held, click on the following link: http://goo.gl/yW0b. Also, feel free to comment asynchronously on the YouTube videos and in our Facebook page."

Check it out!

Talis Incubator Announces Eight Finalists

Very quickly, here's the official announcement of the eight finalists in the Talis Incubator for Open Education project. There are some very interesting proposals and we're psyched to see who comes out with some working capital.

Do the right thing, Talis!

Roll Out: Automagic Reference Generator

The problem: A contributor has to create many knotes to assemble an awesome knotebook. For knotes that are constructed using external sources (e.g. MIT's Open Courseware, Connexions or Open.Michigan) the contributor needs to enter the proper citation in the reference section, which looks something like this:

Professor Charles G. Torre (2007, October 15). Quantum Mechanics. Retrieved July 28, 2009, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web (http://ocw.usu.edu/physics/classical-mechanics)

But what if the knote is your original content? It's not always clear which reference style to use and, worse yet, you have to manually enter it every time you create a knote where you are the source.

The big idea: Provide some way for contributors to dynamically create the reference for original content that has all the relevant information and a consistent style — all with the click of a button.

Our solution: The Automagic Reference Generator — with the click of a button — dynamically creates a consistent reference for all of your home brewed knotes.

In the reference section of your new knote, simply click the button "This is my original content" and select the Creative Commons license you would like to use. Then just leave the field below it blank and we'll take care of the rest. Here's what it looks like in action:

We Heart Disruptive Technology

We were notified this week that our proposal has been selected as one of eight finalists by the Talis Incubator!

With this investment, we will build the OER Starter-Kit, an open source development package that will pave the way for a decentralized educational network.

The Starter-Kit has three main components:

  • the Knotebooks API;
  • a Rack-based headless interface as middleware;
  • and a Ruby client library.

Any organization will be able to build their own platform to suit their specific educational needs. Then they can use the Knotebooks API and Starter-Kit to link their database to this network of OER and OCW repositories to populate it with high-quality, Creative Commons licensed multimedia. With this technology, we hope to move past the idea of open content to create entire open databases while maintaining the soverignty of individual platforms.

We would be remiss if we neglected to thank the Open Courseware Consortium for thier support on this proposal as well as their invaluable contribution to the OER movement. We're very excited about the prospect of building this project and we'll be sure to keep you posted as things develop.

Knotebooks Beta!

Today is the official launch of Knotebooks Beta — the faster, simpler, prettier and more intuitive successor to our recently retired guinea pig, Knotebooks Alpha.

In addition to our complete redesign, there are a host of new features available, including:

  • Regular news updates and weekly feature release information via this site blog, referred to affectionately as Knotes from the Underground;
  • Login using a number of third-party providers like Facebook, Twitter and Wordpress, which you can use to link several accounts for faster access;
  • More intuitive knotebook editing, knote creation and organization of content, plus knotebooks tips and auto save;
  • Browse by the most popular knote concepts from the knotebook index page;
  • Unintrusive growl notifications that give you the goods then disapprear from view;
  • and a bunch of other little tweaks and embellishments we think will make the site easier to use.

We're very excited to introduce Knotebooks Beta and we'd love to hear your ideas about how to improve the site. Leave feedback by clicking on the tab to the left of your browser window or send us an email with your suggestions. Thanks!