Low (to no) cost high strength satellite internet for every corner of the world

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Ever wondered if there would come a time when every corner of the planet, both on and off land, would be connected to the internet? Elon Musk wants to do just that via a satellite internet network called Starlink as part of his ambitious Space X project (founded in 2002 to further develop space technology and create the conditions for people to live on other planets). Musk plans on launching a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband “constellation” of satellites, which would beam down high speed internet to every part of the globe. Space X is scheduled to start launching these satellites potentially in 2019 and hopes to have all the satellites in orbit and everything complete by 2024.

Musk’s project is not a brand new thing. A 1990s company called Teledesic along with two other companies, Iridium and Globalstar, tried to build a commercial broadband satellite constellation. Yet these companies didn’t succeed and Teledesic suspended its satellite construction work in October 2002. These companies were maybe too ahead of their time, but with the expansion of the space industry over time as well as the advancement of space technology development as more money continues to be invested in it, Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation has a higher chance of succeeding.

 

The end of cell tower network telecommunications companies?

Over half of the world’s population has internet access and some device to access the internet with, most commonly a smartphone. Yet most people still rely on assorted telecommunications companies to call and connect to the net. Telecommunications companies are still needed as long as their are landline connections, but with the world constantly becoming increasingly mobile and with so many people completely bypassing landlines for smartphones (especially in developing parts of the world where it’s cheaper to buy an inexpensive smartphone or dirt cheap cell phone than install a landline), the services provided by traditional telecommunications companies could potentially be bypassed if Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet project really does take off (no pun intended). For now we need these telecom companies as they still provide us with the essential connectivity infrastructure, yet unless they match or better Elon Musk’s ambitious satellite plans, they could encounter huge challenges. Free public internet in assorted public spaces via normal on the ground cell towers is always increasing across the world. Fast developing countries such as India already have free internet in many railway stations across the country (thanks to Google).

 

Wi Fi from balloons and drones

Google and Facebook both tried to solve the challenge of internet for the entire world. Google tried this via their Project Loon project (“cell towers in the sky”) which via mobile cell towers connected to hot air balloons they tried to connect remote parts of the world to the net. However the problem was that sometimes the balloons would not last in the sky and would soon come crashing down to earth. Facebook tried to solve this via internet powered drones flying above parts of the world lacking internet infrastructure. SpaceX’s project seems the most ambitious yet in solving this challenge.

 

No need for multiple networks and SIM cards to provide your roaming

If every part of the world is connected to the internet via Space X there could be potentially almost no need to use the services of traditional telecommunications companies (This is, of course, not only dependent on Spacelink succeeding, but on decreasing costs of sending satellites into space). It is always a pain to change SIM cards whenever travelling to a different part of the globe. Even if there are a clutch of competing online telecom startups offering SIM cards that can be used in almost every country and traditional telecom companies are offering services where existing national SIM cards can be used in many other countries (though often at high costs), it is still a rather cumbersome way of connecting the world when one considers all the future possibilities. Sending satellites into space may currently be vastly expensive but as more companies tap into the very nascent space industry and the technology to explore and enter space improves and becomes cheaper and safer, costs for satellite powered internet will go down dramatically. Hopefully Musk’s ambitious project will set a new bar for others to follow suit and maybe even match or better what he is doing.

 

The end of mobile numbers for instant connectivity

With access to a super fast public internet connection wherever you go in every part of the world, there is no need to even have your own mobile number (even if online video/messenger services like WhatsApp still require it – for now) and anyone from any part of the world can instantly connect to each other. This provides the ultimate instant connectivity transcending all networks and other connectivity services. I suppose with Facebook being the social media site with the highest number of users at close to almost two billion, it’s Messenger service is the closest thing for over 25% of the world to instantly connect and communicate with one another without a mobile number and only an internet connection.

In the wake of this it is crazy to think that for far too long we have relied on a plethera of large global telecommunications to provide us with our daily connections. Of course at this moment, the infrastructure provided by these telecommunications companies are still vital for our daily connectivity and on-the-go roaming. Yet Space X’s Starlink satellite project has the power to revolutionise the way we all connect if most if not all of the world has a state of the art internet connection. Having the entire world connected to the internet you have the quintessential Smart World of every corner of the world connected to the net. What’s more there’s a parity in terms of connection with everywhere having an equally super fast connection. This also has the potential to dramatically speed up the development of developing/undeveloped nations.

 

By Nicholas Peart

©All Rights Reserved

 

Other useful links…

https://edgylabs.com/spacex-satellite-network-soon-to-be-named-starlink/
More info on Space X’s Starlink project

Video link below illustrating Space X’s plans to establish satellite internet for the entire world…

How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies will transform education

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This is a piece I wrote back in May 2017 on how new technologies could enhance, change and revolutionise the education system

 

One of the true benefits of virtual reality technology is how it is going to impact education. Already there are online courses offered by educational websites such as Coursera. This is a godsend for those who not only can’t afford physical onsite education, but also for those who don’t have enough time and flexibility to always commute to a physical institution. For some, time is actually more valuable than money.

 

Digitising the class room

The real game changer will be when all classes and lectures are recorded and then stored online. Some university lectures are already filmed and made available online but I can see this increasing not just with university lectures but also with typical school classes. This is helpful not just for students who are unable to turn up to some classes/lectures but also for students who did attend the classes/lectures yet want to recap on what was already discussed.

If one can’t physically attend classes because they are unwell, they can catch up via the growing archives of recorded classes. Also if they are not too unwell, they can attend a class virtually in live real time via their VR headsets while resting in bed. They can even participate.

 

 

On site teachers augmented by AR, VR and virtual assistants

Also whilst being present in a classroom one could use Augmented Reality glasses (the original 2012 Google Glass was the earliest example of this technology), which are poised to be brought to the mass consumer market soon, to enhance the learning experience as the teacher is talking. The AR glasses could have intelligent speech recognition sensors which pick up on everything the teacher is saying and pick up crucial words and sentences and create visual examples in the students field of vision as an extension of what the teacher is conveying. In addition the sensors could contain algorithms which translates everything the teacher is saying into key bitesize points with several links to relevant related websites for further research and reading.

Intelligent virtual teacher assistants, especially one which one could have an intelligent and deep two way conversation with (given time) is the holy grail of VR and AI in truly transforming the education system. This is not to say that teachers are replaceable. On the contrary, truly inspirational teachers will always be needed regardless of the quantum leaps made in the field of AI. It’s just that teachers are human and one can only consort with their teachers for so much time. Whereas with virtual teacher assistants, one has 24/7 access to them. Struggling with some research at 2am and want to talk to talk to someone? Even your favourite teacher will not want to be disturbed at such an ungodly hour yet your virtual teacher assistant will always be available.

The hybrid situation of having both on site human teachers and virtual teacher assistants is more likely to seriously enhance the educational system and one’s own learning development than turn it upside down. As I’ve already mentioned, good inspirational teachers will always be needed but teachers who periodically don’t make the grade and don’t have their heart in educating and empowering their students will struggle against virtual teachers systematically becoming more intelligent as time marches on.

 

Virtual teachers designed for primary schools

What’s more, I think virtual teacher assistants will be crucial for primary school education. In my view, it is not very wise to expose children under the age of five to too much (if not any) technology. Yet after that age, virtual immersive teacher assistants may truly assist that stage of the education system. Teaching young children can be very challenging and it takes a unique teacher with vast reserves of energy and a special knack to truly connect to them and get their attention. Most of the time teaching children of that age group can be an incredibly gruelling and trying experience. As a result there is sometimes a severe shortage of good teachers. An intelligent and highly interactive virtual teaching assistant which children love to connect with could revolutionise and be a godsend to the primary school sector.

 

Understanding something better by being totally immersed in it

Children with a short attention span invariably struggle to absorb what a teacher may be trying to get across. Especially if the teacher is explaining things in a boring and uninspired manner. The best way for a child to understand and grasp something is to be fully thrust in that environment. This is where virtual reality can seriously revolutionise the whole education/learning experience. During a history lesson, a film depicting the horrors of the Second World War will likely move most people, but to actually live and feel it vicariously via VR technology could very effectively help people better understand that period of history far more effectively than through books, traditional storytelling and 2D visuals via film and TV.

I think there is a huge market for VR technology to recreate virtually certain periods in history to give people the opportunity to better understand them. In addition to this, there are countless more opportunities for VR (especially when it is more advanced at replicating our sense of touch, taste and smell) to recreate any environments for people to immerse themselves in.

 

By Nicholas Peart

©All Rights Reserved

Image Source: www.nbnco.com.au

 

How 3D Printing Could Be The Biggest Thing To Affect Our Lives Since The Internet

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I’ve been very interested in 3D Printing for a few years now. What fascinates me the most about this technology is the awesome and unlimited potential it has. Currently it is still at a very embryonic stage in terms of its development but, like the internet before it, its potential is enormous. 3D Printing has the power to transform and effect many different industries. I am listing a few of these industries below.

 

The Manufacturing Industry

This is the industry which I think will be most affected by 3D Printing. Already large segments of the global mass manufacturing industry are automated via Robotics and AI. As 3D Printing develops and evolves more and more, it will be able to greatly increase the productivity of this industry and even contribute towards automating it to even greater levels than robotics. In fact, 3D Printing may even have the power to completely disrupt the entire mass manufacturing industry. This is especially true after this technology has become truly mainstream and every home not just has a basic 3D printer, but one that is capable of printing almost any kind of 3D object imaginable using just the basic raw materials. Once 3D Printing has got to this stage of development and has matured as an important consumer technology, then one could say that every household is a factory. People would be able to create and customise any physical good they want through simply taking the designs of the products and applying them to the 3D printer. This could severely disrupt businesses whose business model is based mostly on manufacturing goods, especially at the mass level.

 

The Construction Industry

The construction industry is the next obvious industry to be affected by 3D Printing after the manufacturing industry. As with the manufacturing industry, it has the potential to increase efficiency and productivity as well as save costs and time. The construction industry is also a potentially dangerous industry for human labour and any building physically constructed by humans will always be vulnerable to flaws and errors. Yet 3D Printing with a double dose of robotics and strong AI has the potential to create buildings more robust and in less time than humans can and without the labour costs involved. And as these technologies develop further, it will be possible to 3D print entire cities. And why stop at building on dry land? Perhaps one day in the distant future when these technologies are at a level far greater than our comprehension, it may even be possible to 3D print domed cities under water. A crazy notion but with out of this world technology anything is possible.

 

The Medical Industry

The medical industry and our lives and health have the power to be greatly augmented by 3D printing. Already the technology has the ability to print prosthetic arms and legs. Yet 3D printed bones and organs are a real possibility. 3D printed organs will already reduce the enormous waiting list of patients waiting for organ transplants, especially for kidneys and livers. And what if the 3D printed organs were more developed and healthy than the healthiest of donated organs? 3D Printing combined with other groundbreaking emerging technologies in the biotech sector like stem cell technology, genetic engineering and nanotechnology have the power to achieve this.

 

I am looking forward to experiencing how 3D Printing will further develop and more importantly how it will greatly assist and make our lives easier as well as being an amazing resource to make our lives more efficient and aid us in reaching greater heights. Already there are a number of growing 3D Printing start ups and businesses all trying to further develop this amazing technology.

What is becoming increasingly clear with the way emerging technologies are developing, and will develop, is that our ideas and creativity will be our greatest assets. These technologies will help us expand our ideas and creativity and realise them to the greatest levels possible.

 

By Nicholas Peart

©All Rights Reserved

Art And Living In The Digital World

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This is an essay I wrote towards the end of 2014 about being an artist and living in the context of our digital world. I have made a few changes since then but the general gist of the essay remains the same.

 

Today art can be split into two categories; “Pre-Internet” and “Post-Internet” art.

All the important and influential art movements are all of the Pre-Internet age. It seems to me that in this current Post-Internet age, there are no real lasting and meaningful art movements. There are of course many interesting artists today creating challenging and original works of art via digital media and who are very much in tune with the zeitgeist and more power to them. Yet there is something I long for which I feel is missing. And this is not strictly limited to artists and art. This applies to (and perhaps to a much greater degree) general living.

Before the internet the main media sources were television/video, the telephone, the radio and the printing press. The internet is all this and much much more. It enables us access to diverse and limitless quantities of information. In order to source information before the internet, most people went to libraries and even these institutions were no guarantee that you would find the specific information you were looking for. But with the internet almost all kinds of information can be accessed without having to travel to libraries or even spend valuable time and money employing people to find certain bits of information. Access to information has been truly democratised (assuming everyone has an internet connection) since the development and growth of the World Wide Web.

Today we have a whole plethora of internet related social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. to communicate/express ourselves through. Before the internet, the only possible ways to communicate with one another apart from face to face, were via the telephone, fax, telegram or via mail (in the form of letter writing which save for a few dedicated souls is well and truly six feet underground as an art). The channels of far flung communication were limited. People were more in the woods with regards to what was happening globally.
People did not lose themselves or devote much of their time to living in “electronic virtual reality”. People actually spent much time reading books, spending their free time outside, having real relationships (we still have real relationships but these are decreasing and I believe in the wake of “hyper-immersive 3D virtual reality” more and more people will be cutting themselves off and almost be living at least half of their entire existence in this new type of virtual world. More and more people will even cease having sexual relationships since the stimulated virtual way will feel even better than the real thing).

Via the array of social media sites there are many different groups that artists join. Too many groups. A humongous vertigo-inducing fragmentation of different groups. In the context of today’s world, everything changes faster than before. This is a faster world. News travels faster. There is less mystery. Life is documented more than ever before. Through the internet, everyone can now express themselves. There are more artists today than before. Art or being an artist is not something that is taboo or contentious anymore. Things that may have been considered ‘renegade’ or less accepted in the past such as being an artist, a musician or traveling around the world are now accepted and quite conventional. To travel around the world for a year as part of a ‘gap year’ is now the done thing.

I think that to be a true artist (a most overused weird) in this current digital age is to leave no traces; no evidence of art or living. To disappear and be an eternal apparition.

Often I don’t have the guts or the humility to leave no traces. There is something intricately hardwired in me about having to ‘be somebody’. Yet as the great Indian sage Juddi Krishnamurti once said, ‘the moment we want to be someone we are no longer free’

 

By Nicholas Peart

Originally written on 27th December 2014

(All rights reserved)

 

Image source: http://www.blouinartinfo.com

Virtual Reality: Further From The Source

A hundred years ago people had much more time than choice (and even only 20 years ago just before the rapid rise of the Internet). Radio was a new thing. TV wasn’t invented yet and video and the Internet were still some time off. What ‘entertainment’ distractions were there? The theatre (yes people used to go to the theatre in droves), books, newspapers, various sport and outdoor activities, musical instruments, poker, chess, backgammon, to name but a few.

With the invention of TV eventually video emerged as a major medium and would kill the radio star – or at least significantly reduce the major market share it had in the market for all global mass media communications outlets. Then it was the Internet which would upstage and threaten the video star.

With Virtual Reality one can potentially travel without moving and leaving their fixed space. Travelling Without Moving, to quote the title of an album by the pop star Jamiroquai which was released 20 years ago (what foresight Jay!). Taking into account the level of instant gratification which VR could bring combined with the Internet and the increasing sophistication of Artificial Intelligence, one could potentially satisfy all their wildest sensual wants, needs and desires without ever leaving their bedroom.

 

Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity

 

Of course the virtual world is nothing new. Any time spent surfing the Internet especially through social interaction via the many social media sites available is time spent in the virtual world (and as is any fantasy experience such as getting lost in a good book). Yet this is still a 2D virtual experience. You are fixed to it but not completely immersed in it. VR has the potential to change all that. The 3D experience it offers is still very limited but with time the potential for further development is enormous. Yet perhaps it will never be a viable substitute to real life experiences? At least I hope not. I for one would rather still travel around different parts of the world the hard way, preferably overload via clapped out public transportation. But what if sometime in the future when every nook and cranny of the world becomes connected to the Internet, travelling virtually becomes a real possibility? Google Maps has already done a sterling job in shrinking the world and making it easier to navigate than ever before. Two of the original pioneers of globalisation, the Portuguese explorers Bartholomeu Dias and Vasco Da Gama, would be astonished with this progress.

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The 15th century Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias

 

But if VR could provide even higher degrees of sensations than those experienced through real life experiences than it has a serious future. One area of pleasure that springs to mind is sex. I can with complete certainty see the growth of the virtual sex industry growing exponentially via VR as its main vehicle. And with synchronisation from additional growing technologies like haptic technology (which enables one to feel something virtually without actually physically touching it) than the potential for experiences and sensations even more intense than the real thing is very high. Yet this idea both scares and disconcerts me. This is one of the ugly sides of VR which seems unavoidable. Sex sells and there will be some people becoming obscenely wealthy through this.

 

The Digital Love Industry documentary

 

But what disconcerts me the most with VR technology is the further separation and isolation it will bring on its users. It will become so addictive and immersive, that there is a real possibility people will be living almost 100% of their days awake (un-awake spiritually) virtually. I would guess that currently many people spend at least 50% of their days awake virtually via the internet and social media sites.

What the Internet has achieved is an increased fragmentation and separation of global society (even though it has, ironically, provided the tools for greater connectivity with one another than ever before). VR has the potential to speed up this fragmentation. In spite of the rise of the net, there are still ‘hubs’ where people meet. And cities, towns and villages where people live. Communities (although decreasing) still exist. Yet if everybody were to live all of their daily lives (including their professional lives) via 3D virtual reality (and have all their provisions delivered by super fast drones), one could live anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The very concept of cities, towns and villages could blur (a wild and demented prediction but what if this occurred?).

VR could mean a future where people almost only communicate and socialise virtually. I think Facebook knows this hence their purchase of the VR company Oculus VR two years ago, which may prove to be a very shrewd move. Communicating via Facebook is still a 2D virtual experience but with the additional VR vehicle of the Oculus Rift device, this 2D experience is transformed into a 3D one. And how many Facebook users currently are there?

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Oculus Rift VR device

 

What implications would this increased disconnection from the real world have? Could there come a time when real life socialising dramatically decreases? People meeting one another face to face less? People not having real and meaningful relationships anymore? People not going to cafes, bars, pubs or clubs anymore like they used to? The rise and development of the Internet has already had a catastrophic impact on physical high street retail outlets (through the rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon), that could VR be the final (or penultimate) nail in the coffin for the high street? Could most leisure activities like nights out to pubs and clubs, social meet-ups in coffee shops, holidays abroad and travelling to exotic places, going to gigs and festivals, day trips to theme parks etc, almost disappear if VR really takes off? Such a scenario depresses me. I hope I am talking rubbish and none of these situations occur.

 

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Back to nature

 

Yet the real world is always there. No one is forcing me to be deeply sucked into VR. I can take it or leave it. The Internet and the fast pace of globalisation has already succeeded in making the world a smaller place but the world becomes a larger place again if one is prepared to free themselves from these digital shackles for just a moment.

by Nicholas Peart

13th May 2016

(All rights reserved)

The Curve

The Curve is an innovative and groundbreaking concept by Nicholas Lovell. His excellent book The Curve (2014) explains how one can survive and be succesful in what they do in the context of the current Digital Age where many things are free. This is especially true if you are a creative person such as a musician or a writer struggling to make ends meet in a world saturated with Free Content.

The video below is a presentation by Lovell where he explains the Curve model and the significance and relevance of it today…

 

Nicholas Lovell explains The Curve

 

The Curve is split into three parts;

  1. Use Free to find an audience
  2. Use Technology to be able to talk to your audience again
  3. Use Technology to understand what your audience wants

 

The model of The Curve focuses on two groups of people; Freeloaders and Superfans. Freeloaders make up the bulk of your potential audience. They want something for nothing but that doesn’t mean that they should be ignored or treated with contempt. On the contrary, they should be viewed as ‘potential converts’ rather than unscrupulous pirates. They may not always remain Freeloaders and may at some point down the line spend some money on your products and services.

Then you have your Superfans which represent a small fraction of your audience (perhaps 10%). They are the most important part of your audience since they are the ones who love what you do so much that they are prepared to spend serious money on your products and services. This is the part of your audience you should care for the most since it is through them you’ll be making the bulk of your revenues.

To further explain how the Curve model can be applied today lets take the example of a band trying to raise funds to make their next album. The fundraising sites KickStarter and Crowdfunding really take the Curve model to their bosom. A potential Curve model the band can use could be as follows;

1. FREE : Free download of new album.

2. $2-5: Live clips of the making of the album streamed directly from the studio

3. $10: CD copy of the album

4.$30: Vinyl copy of the album limited to 5000 copies

5.$50: Red coloured vinyl copy of the album limited to 1000 copies

6.$100: White coloured vinyl copy of the album limited to 500 copies

7.$250: Gold coloured vinyl copy of the album in a luxury box-set with booklet limited to 100 copies

8.$2000: Private acoustic gig anywhere – the buyer pays for all transportation. One hour slot. 10 slots

9.$5000: Private electric gig anywhere – the buyer pays for all transportation. One hour slot. 10 slots

10. $10,000: Private electric gig anywhere where the band play NAKED – the buyer pays for all transportation. One hour slot. 5 slots.

 

This is just a rough model I drafted up which is far from perfect (and maybe some of the prices need some reconsideration – hehe) yet the most important thing is that it very much embraces a ‘Curve’ model. The old way of making money through selling ‘units’ of your album at the same price worked perfectly well in the pre-Internet age but sadly not today.

by Nicholas Peart

14th May 2016

(All rights reserved)

 

 

 

You can download a free e-book by Nicholas Lovell entitled ’10 Ways To Make Money In A Free World’ by clicking on the following link…

 

Or you can buy The Curve by Nicholas Lovell by clicking on the link below…

 

 

 

 

Want Your Children To Survive The Future? Send Them To Art School

I am presenting you all with one of the most illuminating and forward thinking articles I’ve ever read entitled ‘Want Your Children To Survive The Future? Send Them To Art School’. The author of this article, Dustin Timbrook, talks about a ‘Post-Work’ world (which many economists and futurists are predicting) where most jobs become obsolete due to automation from growing technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing and Robotics. But what is even more interesting, and very much the heart of this article, is that when this does occur, then our creativity will be all that is left. Yet it is interesting how in today’s world the ‘Arts’ are becoming an increasingly maligned sector. Art schools are currently in danger of becoming exclusively the preserve of people who can afford to pursue an ‘arts career’ and more and more focus is put on STEM subjects. In the context of today’s world this is understandable and there will be an ever increasing demand for computer programmers and website developers (‘coding’ is the current buzzword) and workers in growing technology sectors. But what happens when there comes a time when we are just not needed any more for any jobs? I often think of the inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity prediction for 2045 when Artificial Intelligence will become on par (and subsequently more and more advanced) with human intelligence (our logical intelligence)? Suddenly we will all have lots of time on our hands (yippee!!!) and be able to put all our energies into things that interest us and that we are passionate about. It will be our creativity which will be king in this new world.

Being an artist has always been viewed as an ‘unstable career choice’. In a way, to quote Picasso, every child is born an artist. Every child is born with an innate sense of curiosity and wonder. To quote Timbrook (from a TED Talk he did in 2015), every child is ‘born weird’. But the problem is that traditionally (and today) this ‘weirdness’ and curiosity would be stifled and suppressed by the child’s parents who were (understandably) fearful of their children becoming outsiders or ‘drop outs’. By moulding them more in sync with the mores of current society, they would lose all their unique qualities and go on to do jobs they had little to no interest in doing. A recipe for a repressed and unhappy life. Yet by allowing a child’s ‘weirdness’ and sense of wonder, curiosity and creativity to flourish you are enabling a child to develop not only unique skills and traits, but gifts it will one day be able to present and share with the world and even contribute to making the world a better and happier place to live in.

Just underneath Timbrook’s article, I am also enclosing a You Tube video of his excellent TED Talk, which continues on the themes covered in his article.

by Nicholas Peart

8th May 2016

(All rights reserved)

 

 

Want Your Children To Survive The Future? Send Them To Art School   by Dustin Timbrook

http://www.rocketcitymom.com/want-children-survive-future-send-art-school/

 

Creativity Is Not A Gift – TED Talk by Dustin Timbrook