Monday, December 21, 2015

17-year old South Bombay teen invents solar bicycle, donates 5 to dabbawalas

Ahaan Parekh, 17-year-old south Mumbai resident, has invented an Eco Solar Bicycle (ESB), which offers three different usage options – solar-powered, battery-powered and manual. This cycle can make life easier for home delivery vendors, such as newspapermen, milkmen, and dabbawalas.
  • solar cycledna Research & Archives
Ahaan Parekh, 17-year-old south Mumbairesident, has invented an Eco Solar Bicycle (ESB), which offers three different usage options – solar-powered, battery-powered and manual. This cycle can make life easier for home delivery vendors, such as newspapermen, milkmen, and dabbawalas.
The ESB can touch a maximum speed of 20kmph and takes about 5-6 hours to be completely charged under normal sunlight conditions. It also offers the comfort and convenience of getting charged while in use. The project was selected for the All India Nehru Science Center Innovation Festival and Parekh's participation was acknowledged with a trophy. He also impressed as one of the prominent speakers for TEDx, Juhu, in one of their flagship events titled,'Ideas marrying execution'. Parekh have donated five ESBs to dabbawalas.
Parekh, a former student of The Cathedral and John Connon School in Fort, decided to do his International Baccalaureate (sIB) studies from Seven Oaks in the UK, so that he could "experience a different culture and a boarding house".
He said, "I did an internship with a solar energy company last year and also attended some online courses on renewable energy. I was thinking of using solar energy in everyday life. That is when I thought about the solar bicycle. This is my own idea and project, and I started working on it in May 2014, when I had a five-month break. It has been more than a year. I made my first prototype in about four months but kept improving it."
"Primarily, home delivery vendors such as newspaper boys, milkmen, dabbawalas, dhobis and so on can use this bicycle. It will make their work easier and they can earn more by covering more customers. If they stop using mopeds or motorcycles, it will also help in reducing pollution. It will be a good showcase for use of clean energy. The financial part of the project was not substantial, as I used indigenous components readily available in the market," added Parekh.
When asked about the difficulties he faced, Parekh said, "Yes, there were a lot of issues with design and placement of components. The major challenge was to keep the weight low, while maintaining the balance. Also, procurement of components in single quantity and vendors selling the parts without providing detailed specifications made the task difficult."
Source: DNA dated 21 December, 2015

Christmas 2015: This woman from Borivali celebrates by helping her maid set up her own business

Sumi has set up a small stall near a grocery store in IC Colony.
  • Sumi with her Marzipan packets at Cassandra's residence. Sumi with her Marzipan packets at Cassandra's residence. Aparna Shukla Team iamin
Borivali’s IC Colony resident Cassandra Nazareth, as part of her Christmascelebration, has helped her maid Sumi Hemrom, become an independent woman.
Nazareth helped her set up a cookingbusiness during Christmas. Sumi sells Marzipans, Potato Chops, barbequed chicken and much more. A relation that is 16-years-old, is close to Cassandra’s heart. She can't hold back tears, as she speaks of Sumi. As a working professional herself, Cassandra has helped Sumi bring out the cook in her. "She had just come back from West Bengal when I got her home. She was very shy in the beginning but was very honest. Somebody I could trust my children with. They were very young and I had to work. She was a great support then," says Cassandra, who taught Sumi the art that business is.
From structuring the business idea to packaging, taking orders and cooking, Cassandra has been Sumi’s role model. "I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am to ma’am. I didn't have anything when I came here. Zero! But she took me in like a sister, trusted me. Who does that these days? She not just provided for me financially whenever I needed but was always there for me emotionally. I owe her everything that I have today," says a teary-eyed Sumi, who with Cassandra's help has been able to have some land for her own, back in her village, where she initially had nothing.
Sumi has set up a small stall near a grocery store in IC Colony and with word of mouth and through people who see her on the road, she has been able to have a good business. "Madam’s mother is a great cook. She and I go along very well. I never want to leave these people. They are my world now," Sumi says.
After Cassandra suggested that Sumi alone be interviewed for this piece, it was a heart-warming sight that both the women couldn’t hold back their tears.
"One day my children came home and I, for fun told them that Sumi has gone back to West Bengal as we had an argument. My children first searched the entire house, then had a discussion among them and said, 'she will never go without saying bye to us’. That just melted my heart. That's the kind of relationship we share. I'm not going to be there forever. I'm doing this so she can stand on her own feet," says Cassandra.
 The article was originally published on

Markers of Quality: The Role of Librarians in Everyday Life Information Literacy | Peer to Peer Review

Leslie StebbinsThis all started when my teenage son reported that Adam Sandler has Ebola. He saw it trending on Facebook. I sighed inwardly and asked if he had looked at the source of the information. Being the son of a librarian he quickly said: “Yes!”
Of course, Adam Sandler did not really have Ebola, and CNN wasn’t reporting that he did. The site had been hacked. But a lot of people fell for it.
The Adam Sandler Ebola scare threw me for a loop. I decided to take a deep dive into the research on how we should be thinking about evaluating and searching for information at a time when people get most of their information from Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
I devised some interesting everyday-life research questions, then set about trying to answer them: I investigated whether red wine has health advantages, whether dogs exhibit some rudimentary form of empathy, and the veracity of user review sites for restaurants, travel, books, and other products. (Byinvestigated, I don’t mean I spent a few hours: I spent months getting the backstory on the information I was turning up.)
There were many surprises. After 20 years of teaching information literacy I found I didn’t know that much about finding reliable everyday-life information. My teaching focus had been on discipline-specific research skills, but many undergraduates could benefit as much from, and relate better to, learning more sophisticated search and evaluation strategies for work, for health, even for buying a car.
In research done in 2012 by Project Information Literacy on the information competencies of recent college graduates in the workplace, employers indicated that their newly hired students were adept at quickly finding an answer, but lacked the skills needed to find the best answers to solve problems in the workplace. They lacked persistence and patience and relied on information found on initial search screens rather than using more sophisticated strategies.
As I traversed the information landscape I was glad to be supported by ACRL’s new Framework for Information Literacy. Research can be creative, reflective, iterative, and most of all, messy! One of the messiest places I explored was the notion of expertise and how it could vary in different contexts. I also looked into why user-generated data is wonderful in some cases and unreliable in others.
As I devised strategies to answer my research questions I uncovered a new (to me) area that I call the “psychology of search,” which encompasses information heuristics and other phenomena that can greatly impact our ability to locate reliable information.
Information heuristics are shortcuts we all use when we search for information. For example, there is the Bandwagon Heuristic that involves people assuming that if many others think something is correct, then it must be correct. Other common information heuristics are the Reputation Heuristic, the Consistency Heuristic, the Persuasive Intent Heuristic, Motivated Cognition, and “Satisficing.” Research by media studies professor Miriam Metzger and her colleagues reported on in the Journal of Communicationfound that these heuristics are a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, they can reduce the amount of cognitive effort used in information seeking. On the other hand, using heuristics can also lead to systematic biases or errors in judgment.
Daniel Kahneman’s research on fast and slow thinking is a useful antidote to relying on shortcuts that can shortchange our ability to locate reliable information. Slow thinking includes the ability “to doubt, to hesitate, to qualify” and can also help us question our tendency to suffer from source amnesia, a common occurrence involving remembering the information we find, and thinking of it as “true,” but forgetting the source of the information. Slow thinking can also keep us from our penchant for “false certainty,” drawing instant conclusions based on the first piece of information we find and not even recognizing the possibility of uncertainty.
I also made new connections between evaluating information and Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele’s research (reported on in Science in 2013) on self-reinforcing information spirals. This spiraling takes place when how people search for a topic then influences how a search engine like Google weighs and retrieves content. Brossard focuses on how science findings are communicated to the public. She questions whether we are headed into a world in which the information we view is heavily influenced by what links search engines pull up, in effect narrowing our options. Moving forward, as many people are fed news through social media sites, this phenomenon will likely accelerate. It may be that your friend who keeps “liking” cat videos is also choosing the science news you read.
Eli Pariser’s ideas about echo chambers also have an impact on the information we view. An echo chamber occurs when information is amplified by repetition inside an enclosed system, such as our Facebook or Twitter Feed, and where different or competing views are not provided. In related work, Andrew Revkin criticizes the journalistic tendency toward “single study syndrome,” which refers to the habit journalists have of seizing on the latest scientific finding and representing it as “the truth,” greatly oversimplifying the way science is communicated by implying it is an isolated event rather than a scholarly conversation that needs to be presented in context.
What really struck me hard, as I carried out my investigations, is what a mess we are in! As we do our Google searches we are too often hit with clever marketing drivel masquerading as information. For certain kinds of searches, such as brief factual information, Google is often terrific. But Google is not able to keep on top of the search engine optimizers, and Google itself manipulates search results for commercial gain. Many factors contribute to what comes up when we search, including white hat (legal) and black hat (illegal) search engine optimizing tactics. As a result, appearing in the top five in the search list sometimes has little correlation with being a trustworthy source, though research by Eszter Hargittai and colleagues in the International Journal of Communication in 2010 found that many people equate link order with reliability.
I came up for air three years later with a new book of information stories that illustrate best (and worst!) practices for finding and evaluating information online. Hint: librarians play a humongous role. These practices include helping our users “start at the source” when searching for information rather than just throwing a few words into Google. In other words, helping people articulate and locate trustworthysources of information as part of the search process. By helping people better understand their options, for example knowing that Amazon is not the best place to go for honest book reviews, we also help boost the visibility of more valuable information sources improving their odds of survival.
We also need to educate people about when the “wisdom of the crowd” effect is valid. For example, sites like the Weather Underground, that crowdsource verified objective data can be relied on, whereas aggregated review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor need to be used with caution because they contain many fake reviews, suffer from positive data skew, and do not meet the various criteria required for a “wisdom of the crowd effect” to function. We need to point people toward experts when expertise is called for, such as investigating health treatment options, and we need to help people understand motivation and context in a disintermediated information environment.
But developing strategies to find reliable information is only one small step in the much larger challenge of how we decide to structure the web in the years to come. We need to have better markers of quality and reliability. We need to know when we are on a pharmaceutical company–funded site that is giving us biased health advice (such as WebMD) and when we are on an independent health information site. We need many new tools to help filter and curate the web. Crowdsourcing “likes” is not a sufficient strategy.
If we think of the web as the Wild West, where brothels and outhouses were a little too front and center and more reputable businesses took time to establish themselves, we can start trying to create some zoning and street signs online to help people find their way. Librarians have a long history of curating and filtering information, and we need to continue to transition this important work onto the web.
There is a tremendous need in our profession to communicate and develop new strategies for locating reliable information, such as the ones mentioned above. I see the road ahead as drawing on what librarians are great at: providing filters, curating information, designing markers of quality, and helping people figure out when they are in a shoe store and when they are in a library.
Leslie Stebbins is a consultant and the author of the new book: Finding Reliable Information Online: Adventures of an Information Sleuth, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. For more on the author, her book, or a free ALA Booklist Webinar on the book see:


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