Archive for November 21, 2013

FRĒDA SALVADOR Designers On Shoes and ‘Just Going For It’

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment



Monday, June 24, 2013, by Leslie Price

How did you two meet and how did the idea for the line come about?
Megan: “We met at another footwear company based in the Bay Area. I was there for about four years and then Cristina joined and we worked together for about a year on the design team. We had a really great design synergy and Cristina comes from a shoe-making family so it was always her path that she would start her own brand. Once we started working together we took a leap of faith and decided to go out on our own.”Cristina, your family is from El Salvador—how long have they been in the business of shoes?

Cristina: “It’s actually this week that we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of the factory my grandfather started. We’ve been manufacturing shoes for 60 years and along the way we’ve had different ventures with licensing, franchising and opening retail stores within Central America.

We’ve manufactured for Cole Haan, we’ve done a little for Prada, L.L.Bean and G.H. Bass, [which] is probably one of our largest companies that we still manufacture for. We’re really focused on men’s footwear, that’s where our expertise and knowledge lies.”

What’s it like working in fashion in San Francisco? Are there challenges to being located on the West Coast?
Megan: “We travel so much to New York and Europe—we are gone once a month to pretty amazingly stylish places—so it’s a great work balance. I think we don’t feel the competitive nature that we would maybe in New York.”

Do you remember the moment that you realized that FRĒDA SALVADOR was really becoming a success?
Cristina: “Right now?”
Megan: “I feel like every day is such a high for us. We just got the email with the link for the Racked Young Guns Semi-Finalists and we’ve been smiling all morning. We never know what’s going to happen each day. It makes us work even harder and get more excited and it’s been an awesome ride so far.”

You already have a store too, right?
Megan: “We do, we opened a store on Union Street in February.”

It seems like you’ve accomplished quite a bit. The line is selling at some big retailers now and you have your own store—how has the process been? What are the challenges you’ve faced?
Megan: “The biggest challenges we’ve faced are internal as far as production. Being such a small company right now, finding the right production facility is oftentimes the biggest challenge. We’ve been super-lucky because of Cristina’s family connections—so we’re in really good places—but some things are out of control. For instance, we started producing our first collection in Brazil and that factory went out of business. Then we were looking into a factory in Guatemala and that factory went out of business. And finally we went to Cristina’s family factory in El Salvador and now we’re in Spain which is definitely our [current] home for production. Things that are out of our control are the biggest challenges. But that will never bring us down or hinder us. We’re so motivated to succeed.”

What’s your next step?
Megan: “We definitely want a broader range of retailers, to grow our volume and to just become more well-known for ladies contemporary shoes.Eventually, maybe a men’s line. People ask us all the time. Small leather goods.
Cristina: “We’re really focused on growing distribution right now.”

How would you advise someone who is just starting out in footwear design and wants to go into this business?
Cristina: “Make sure you really have the passion and the love for it because there are so many factors, like Megan was saying, that are out of your control. Especially with shoes, [there’s] production, and the tanneries and [other] things that you really need to trust and make sure that it’s all adding up at the end of the day. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to search for alternatives in the blink of an eye and throw away that idea that we were so in love with and just move forward and just keep our heads up.”
Megan: “If you don’t have the absolute passion for it I think it would sink you because at the end of the day, as much as we love every day, every day is also such a challenge. But for us, we’ll welcome every challenge because we love it.

Cristina: “We’ve been very fortunate.”
Megan: “We are just literally going for it. We were looking for a temporary pop-up store and we found this space and it was just perfect. We were like, guess we’re opening a store! We couldn’t turn this opportunity down. So that’s kind of how we’re rolling right now. We have ideas, we research them, then we go for it.”
FRĒDA SALVADOR [Official Site]

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November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

19 NOVEMBER 2013

Contributor Shannon Whitehead

Sara c peace silk dress

SOURCE expert contributor and branding consultant, Shannon Whitehead picks out 7 of her favourite and innovative natural fibres that fashion brands should look to use when building a collection. Image: SOURCE member brand, Sara C.

Chemo-cotton. Dirty cotton. Petrol polyester. Most of us have heard the unflattering monikers of popular fabrics used in the fashion industry.

Conventional cotton requires 16 percent of the world’s insecticide use, and chemical-based synthetics like polyester eat up limited supplies of crude oil.

When it comes to the traditional fashion industry, designers, buyers and retailers are happy to overlook the process of how the fabric is made. The focus is on the apparel — not on the fibres.

But despite how the situation may appear, there is a way to do things better. There are natural resources available to the textile industry that aren’t carcinogenic, don’t dry up entire bodies of water, don’t require constant consumption of a non-renewable commodity, or take hundreds of years to decompose. Here are seven natural fibres that are perfect for fashion:

1.) Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is the plant used to produce Tencel® and is grown on marginal land unsuitable for growing food. These trees are grown with minimum water use while using sustainable forestry initiatives.

Because the Tencel® process is “closed-loop,” it’s been deemed the fibre of the future. It starts with the extraction of raw material wood before a 100 percent “recoverable” solvent is applied to break down the wood pulp into fibre. The production process won the “European Award for the Environment” by the European Union.

A dress made from Tencel® – Komodo, one of the UK’s leading organic and eco fashion brands

2.) Jute

Jute is second only to cotton in its popularity and the amount produced for textiles. It’s a vegetable fibre composed of plant materials, primarily cellulose and lignin.

Jute is a rainfed crop that doesn’t require the use of pesticides or fertilizers — and the final fabric is particularly strong, durable and biodegradable.

As with all sourcing, it’s important to know the hands that are touching the jute you buy. The plant is mainly grown in India and Bangladesh where children are often “employed” for the retting, or stripping, process. It’s worth developing a close working relationship with your supplier to ensure you know how they are doing business.

You can buy ethical jute bags from SOURCE member BIDBI. Find out how to buy,

3.) Soy

Soy fabric is made from food production waste — specifically, the hulls of soybeans. The plant is easily renewable and the fibre biodegrades much quicker than oil-based fabrics like polyester.

The fabric has been called “vegetable cashmere” because it’s silky soft and easily drapes. Although it’s not as strong as cotton, it is moisture absorbent, antibacterial and UV resistant.

4.) Flax

Flax is the fibre used to produce linen. The harvesting process is short (100 days) with sowing in March and harvesting in July.

Once flax is spun into linen, used as a fabric, and eventually discarded, the fibres are both recyclable and biodegradable. Linen has a long shelf-life, compared to other fibres, and is one of the strongest and most durable options for the apparel industry.

It’s worth noting that pesticides are occasionally used to grow flax, so it’s important to seek out organic sourcing options.

5.) Peace silk

Peace silk is a natural silk that doesn’t require the boiling of live silkworms in their cocoons. Peace silk allows for the worm to emerge naturally from its cocoon before the cocoon is spun into thread, and eventually turned into silk.

Projects to support peace silk are becoming increasingly more popular with artisans being taught the new, less invasive production process.

SOURCE member brand, Sara C – uses peace silk in her beautiful designs

6.) Organic cotton (GOTS-certified)

Organic cotton (Global Organic Textiles Standard certified) is an obvious alternative to conventional cotton. Its grown without the use of GMO seeds, insecticides or pesticides (although chemical use can often come up further down the supply chain, GOTS ensures these chemicals are not used).

The use of organic cotton has become popular for baby clothes and blankets, considering consumers have become more conscious of what touches their children’s skin. The downside of organic cotton is that it’s still a very thirsty crop.

7.) Merino wool

Merino wool has become an increasingly popular alternative to synthetic fabrics typically used in athletic and outdoor wear. The wool is arguably the softest in the world, and because the sheep grow winter coats each season, it’s a naturally renewable resource.

When considering the use of merino wool for apparel, it’s always important to consider the treatment of the sheep and to make sure the common practice of ‘mulesing’ is not used by the farmers.

Additionally, alpaca wool, cashmere, mohair, sisal and abaca are considered low-impact natural fibers ideal for apparel.

SOURCE Founding Partner brand Animaná who works with Patagonian merino wool

Shannon Whitehead is a sustainability strategist and branding consultant for designers and apparel companies. Find out more about her work –

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From Waste to Wear: ECONYL® recycled nylon is cleaning up our seas

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment


13 NOVEMBER 2013

Contributor Sarah Ditty

Healthy Seas socks

SOURCE Intelligence Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Ditty, visits the Healthy Seas initiative in Slovenia to find out more about the ECONYL® closed-loop process for recycled nylon yarn – from sea to final fibre. Find out why ECONYL® is the new go-to fabric for swim and sport wear.

The vitality of the ocean is in serious trouble. In a recent article, yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen described his extensive and rather harrowing experience of traveling the Pacific and how over the last few years the ocean has become a literal wasteland.

Just to paint a picture of the level of waste we humans collectively generate, it has been estimated that about 600 billion plastic bags are used every year with each bag having a lifespan of 15 minutes. And collectively, we throw about 35 billion plastic bottles into the bin.

With roughly 8 million pieces of waste going into the ocean, every single year, this means that for every 1 kilogram of plankton, there is 6 kilograms of plastic in our seas.

Rubbish is literally filling up the ocean, with the Texas-sized garbage island as one of the most illustrative examples.

‘Ghost fishing’ – from a problem to a solution

The global fishing industry is worth about $92 billion USD per annum at the first stage of trade. This is big business and requires big fishing nets to supply the huge amount of stock required to fulfill increasing global demand.

Some fishing nets are big enough to hold 13 jumbo jets – these are commonly known as ‘super trawlers.’ It’s all too common that disused fishing nets are left to wreak havoc to undersea ecosystems. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly 640,000 tons of fishing gear – 1/10th of all marine litter – has been left abandoned in our seas.

Some 130,000 whales and dolphins and 40,000 seals die every year due to net entanglement. This is commonly known as ‘ghost fishing.’ And monofilament (what fishing nets are typically made from) can take up to 600 years to biodegrade.

Image credit: Peter Verhoog / Dutch Shark Society

With less than 1% of the ocean fully legally protected and less than 3% somewhat protected, the chances the scale of these issues will grow is high.

One pioneering initiative is beginning to tackle some of these problems with creative, productive solutions. Healthy Seas has quite literally created a journey from waste to wear.

ECONYL® – Turning fishing nets into fashion products

The main objective of the Healthy Seas initiative is to remove waste, in particular fishing nets and other marine litter, from the seas for the purpose of recycling these into textile products.

As part of the Healthy Seas initiative, rescued fishing nets are transformed and regenerated into ECONYL® yarn, a high-quality raw material used to create new products such as socks, swimwear, underwear, carpets, etc.

ECONYL®, under its parent group Aquafil, is one of the key partners in the Healthy Seas Initiative.

The ECONYL® brand was inspired by Giulio Bonazzi, President and CEO of the Aquafil Group, who is personally committed to sustainability and particularly interested in closed-loop manufacturing systems.

Healthy Seas initiative founders

Having invested four years of R&D and nearly €20 million, ECONYL® is now a key commercial driver in Aquafil’s business.

Without relying on a previous proven business case, Aquafil has taken a leap of faith in creating the ECONYL® brand. What they are trying to achieve is pretty remarkable and almost unprecedented in the industry – driven by commitment, passion and creative ideas for sustainability.

In the years 2011 and 2012, ECONYL® has reclaimed close to 16,000 tons of pre- and post-consumer waste globally and has produced 12,000 tons of recycled nylon6 polyamide fibre. They expect they will have produced 15,000 tons of ECONYL® by the end of 2013.

For every 10,000 tons of ECONYL® yarn, the Healthy Seas initiative will have eliminated 11,000 tons of waste, saved 70,000 barrels of oil and avoided 41,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

SOURCE visited the ECONYL® factory

SOURCE Intelligence Editor-in-Chief, Sarah Ditty, recently went to Slovenia to see the Healthy Seas initiative in action.

Sarah Ditty with other journalists from the UK visiting the Healthy Seas initiative

The visit started with a tour of Fonda Fish Farm, a project partner that works with Healthy Seas to rescue fishing nets off the coast of the Gulf of Piran in the Adriatic Sea.

The Fonda Fish Farm is one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, producing the world’s most expensive sea bass in excellent, conservation-minded conditions.

They sent a diver down the seabed to demonstrate how fishing nets are dragged up from the ocean. These fishing nets are collected in different areas around the world and then cleaned, dried, collected and sent to the ECONYL® waste collection and treatment centre, based in Ajdovščina, Slovenia.

Fishing net collection systems, much like the one happening at Fonda Fish Farm, are already creating jobs in local communities, many of who are living on the edges of poverty. The Zoological Society London (ZSL) is partnering with some of these communities in the Philippines connecting them with the Healthy Seas initiative to collect waste fishing nets from the Pacific.

At the pre-treatment facilities, the fishing nets are sorted, cut off from the attached ropes and shredded into pieces small enough to be put into the ECONYL® process.

From the treatment centre, the shredded fishing nets are forwarded to the nearby regeneration plant located in Ljubljana.

Here, the fishing nets are dumped into giant chemical reactors that break down the components of the fishing net material to regenerate the nylon6 polyamide through a process of de/re-polymerisation.

About 80% of the total fishing net material make-up is capable of depolymerisation. The remaining 20% is waste, mainly dyestuffs, which are typically incinerated offsite.

The regenerated nylon6 is exactly the same chemical make-up, performance and quality of virgin nylon material. There’s no degradation, no matter how many times the material is de/re-polymerised.

Once the de/re-polymerisation happens, the nylon6 is then processed into either BCF yarn (carpet flooring yarn) or NTF yarn (textile yarn).

The ECONYL® factory operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – the process is mainly computerised with high-tech robotics doing quite a lot of the logistics. Overall, it’s a very efficient (rather awe-inspiring) process with little impact on the environment and without compromising on quality.

These yarns are sold to suppliers like Italian fabric manufacturer Carvico, who use the yarns to create fashion textiles. Carvico offers this in its Acqua range, which is ideal for swimwear and sports gear.

Having said that, it should be noted that if fabric suppliers choose to blend the ECONYL® fibre with more than 10% of another fibre – a common one is Elastane – then the resulting fabric is unable to be regenerated through the ECONYL® process again.

Fabric suppliers could broadly do with more education around designing for end of life.

ECONYL® is great for swimwear and clothing used in sport

Koru is a Florida-based brand producing beautiful swimwear made with ECONYL® nylon yarn. They joined the Healthy Seas initiative through the brand’s commitment to “1% for the Planet” – an alliance of over 1,200 member companies in 48 countries that give1% of revenues to environmental causes.

London-based luxury swimwear brand Auria, designed by Diana Auria Harris, is also using ECONYL® fibre to create her trendy, digitally printed swimming costumes, already featured at London Fashion Week and stocked by the likes of ASOS and Yoox.

Dutch brand Starsock is one of the founders of the Healthy Seas initiative and is using ECONYL® nylon yarn in their socks, which supply big name brands like New Balance, Lotto and Dakar and whose own label is stocked widely across many leading European retailers.

Surf wear brands – a natural partner?

But why aren’t more surfing apparel brands using ECONYL® yet? It seems like a natural partnership. Surfers more so than most other people are deeply connected to the ocean, both physically and philosophically.

This is especially relevant in light of recent industry realisation that quite a few of the big names in surf wear are failing to keep up with their changing consumer demands. Companies like Billabong, Quicksilver and Pacific Sunwear have been marking big losses as of late, losing out market share to a host of smaller, more sophisticated brands.

Perhaps the environmental angle could help save the demise of these big surfing apparel companies from becoming yesterday’s news.

The Healthy Seas initiative exemplifies industry best practice

The Healthy Seas initiative is driving innovation by taking a systemic problem and not just helping to solve it but creating a solution – something that is both productive and positive.

It’s promising to the future of business (not just for the textiles sector but for all business) that three organisations – each with very different backgrounds – decided to join forces to tackle the problem of marine litter. Their aim being not just to clean up the waste, but also to involve the NGO and business communities and consumers in the process.

We certainly hope to see this project grow and that more alliances like Healthy Seas will start to tackle other pressing problems plaguing the fashion and textiles sector.

For more information about the Healthy Seas initiative and how to get involved, visit –

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The Rundown on Selvedge Denim – What’s It All About

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

images (2)

Posted by Nick Coe on March 25, 2011

selvedge denim jeans

Selvedge Stack

Another term you will without a doubt come across when entering the Raw Denim world is Selvedge(aka Selfedge, Selvege) Denim.  What’s all the fuss about?  Why do denim-addicts and denim-amateurs alike pay extra special attention to it?

Let’s start off the easy way.  By definition, it is “the edge of woven fabric finished so as to prevent raveling, often in a narrow tape effect, different from the body of the fabric” (source:

One distinction that must be made clear as well is that Raw denim ≠ Selvedge denim. Many people confuse the two and think they are essentially the same, however there is a big difference.  Raw denim refers to the wash while Selvedge is the edgeI’ve found that most Raw Denim is “selvedge” and not all Selvedge Denim is raw.  From a more visual standpoint:

Non-selvedge denim

Non-selvedge denim


Edwin Nashville Red Selvedge Denim, 15 Month Fades


See the difference?  Non-selvedge denim’s edges are not crisply finished and thus can easily fray.  Whereas with selvedge denim, the edges are nicely bound (hence “self-edge”), diminishing the likelihood of the ends/edges unraveling.

It’s important to bear in mind as well that as Selvedge Denim is becoming more and more popular, it does not always equate to higher quality nor justify a higher tag.  You have to be sure to check the other denim characteristics (i.e. raw? sanforized? weight?).

The history behind Selvedge Denim is pretty interesting in itself too, and begins with the old style loom being born in the late 1800′s.  It was able to produce tightly woven and heavier denim in strips that were quite narrow but very long.

In fact, the denim was so narrow that in order to maximize use of the denim, the jean manufacturer had to weave fabric all the way to edges, which were consequently bound.  The “self-edge” would be done in various colours (red being the most common), a practice fabric mills follow to differentiate between fabrics.

Check out the video in our earlier post on Momotaro Jeans to see this traditional loom in use, or check below.

File:Japaneseweavera.jpgTraditional Japanese Shuttle Loom

However, in order for the jean manufacturers (e.g. Levi’s, Lee)  to keep up with the ever increasing denim demand in the 1950′s, they switched to the projectile loom – a machine which could produce wider denim for less cost – giving the end consumer a cheaper and lower quality pair of jeans.

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Responsive Design

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Responsive Design


November 2013
Responsive Design White Paper

Did you know that 85% of consumers begin shopping on one device and finish on another? Could that be because they aren’t having the user experience they need to make a purchase with ease? Surprised? Don’t be.

Many marketers are still far away from implementing responsive design. But it’s time to get started, and whether that is a good choice for you is spelled out in this new white paper: Responsive Design Provides the Perfect Fit.

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The Advertiser’s Guide to Activating a Mobile Audience

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

The Advertiser’s Guide to Activating a Mobile Audience

eBook: Second Screen Today, First Screen Tomorrow

Audiences use their mobile devices to learn about actors, research shows, access exclusive content—all while sharing commentary and joining real-time conversations about their favorite programs on social media.

In fact, the volume of TV-related comments on social media surged over 363% in 2012. And that percentage is expected to go even higher in 2013.

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Premium Publishers See Hope in ‘Native’ Sponsorships

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment


Spending to rise 24.0% this year in the US

NOV 21, 2013

Ad spending on sponsorships is growing faster than expected, as more premium publishers focus on selling customized, “native” digital executions, according to new figures from eMarketer.

As display ad-buying becomes on the one hand ever more automated, with programmatic eating up a greater share of ad dollars each year, premium publishers are on the lookout for a way to stand out—and offer advertisers an experience that doesn’t compare with a typical banner or video ad.

eMarketer expects sponsorship ad spending to grow 24.0% to $1.90 billion this year in the US, compared to $1.54 billion last year, eMarketer estimates—slightly up from eMarketer’s previous estimates from August. The figures include spending on sponsorship ads served to any digital devices.

The growth comes as more advertisers rapidly increase spending on highly targeted programmatic inventory at the expense, in many cases, of more costly premium placements traditionally found on the homepages of large newspaper and magazine websites.

Research suggests that premium publishers see their growing emphasis on sponsorships as a way for many to offset losses from this programmatic encroachment. eMarketer estimates nearly 20% of US digital display ad spending will incorporate real-time bidding technology this year, up from single digits just a few years ago. And that’s just one form of programmatic buying.

For some publishers, the approach may be working. eMarketer estimates that newspapers and magazines will see digital ad revenue growth increase 5.6% and 13.3%, respectively, this year, according to new figures.

These gains are most prevalent among digital-only publications such as Vice Media, Buzzfeed, Mashable and others who are willing to experiment with the customized, so-called “native” executions heavily integrated with editorial. (Editor’s note: the definition of a “native” ad is nonstandard, and eMarketer considers placements such as Facebook’s Sponsored Stories or Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, which some have characterized as native, as display advertising but not as sponsorships.)

eMarketer’s estimate for digital sponsorship spending this year comes in close to one released in August by Jefferies, though the investment bank expects higher growth this year and in years to come. Barclays Capital, meanwhile, forecasts declines in sponsorship spending, which it estimates at well under $1 billion this year.

eMarketer bases all of our forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends as well as trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

Additionally, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all our forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.


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The technology that is shaping fashion

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

The technology that is shaping fashion

FashionLab is Dassault Systèmes technology incubator dedicated to fashion designers. FashionLab is at the crossroads of the fashion world and the Virtual World of 3D, marrying the engineering creativity of Dassault Systèmes with the artistic inventiveness and industry know-how. It aims at giving rise to a fashion 3D Experience that integrates design, simulation and collaboration platform required to create an entire collection.

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November 21, 2013 Leave a comment
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MOOCs Are Largely Reaching Privileged Learners, Survey Finds

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

images (2)

November 20, 2013, 3:11 pm

By Steve Kolowich

Most people who take massive open online courses already hold a degree from a traditional institution, according to a new paper from the University of Pennsylvania.

The paper is based on a survey of 34,779 students worldwide who took 24 courses offered by Penn professors on the Coursera platform. The findings—among the first from outside researchers, rather than MOOC providers—reinforce the truism that most people who take MOOCs are already well educated.

The Penn researchers sent the survey to students who had registered for a MOOC and viewed at least one video lecture. More than 80 percent of the respondents had a two- or four-year degree, and 44 percent had some graduate education.

The pattern was true not only of MOOC students in the United States but also learners in other countries. In some foreign countries where MOOCs are popular, such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, “80 percent of MOOC students come from the wealthiest and most well educated 6 percent of the population,” according to the paper.

In other developing countries, about 80 percent of the MOOC students surveyed already held college degrees—a number staggeringly out of proportion with the share of degree holders in the general population.

“The individuals the MOOC revolution is supposed to help the most—those without access to higher education in developing countries—are underrepresented among the early adopters,” write the paper’s six authors.

Coursera has made accessibility a cornerstone of its mission as a MOOC provider. “We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education that has so far been available to a select few,” the company says on its website, and it offers financial aid to students who cannot afford the fees associated with some of its premium courses.

At the same time, Coursera has taken a hands-off approach to publicity, relying almost entirely on word of mouth (and its university partners) to spread awareness of MOOCs. It stands to reason that much of the hubbub about MOOCs has occurred in well-educated circles. Combine that with spotty Internet availability in underprivileged communities, and it makes sense that only the most privileged populations have had occasion to take a MOOC.

Andrew Ng, a founder of Coursera, says the company is aware of the demographic trends and is working on a number of projects aimed at helping reach more needy students.

“We’re fully committed to granting everyone a great education, and we recognize that we have a long way to go with regard to our long-term mission,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle, adding that reaching learners in areas with poor Internet access has been an especially difficult hurdle.

The trend does not mean MOOCs will never reach underrepresented populations, say the authors of the paper; it just means they have not done so yet. The researchers also caution that, because the study examined only a slim percentage of the students registered for Penn courses, let alone all MOOCs, “the survey may not be generalizable.”

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With data, a better way to manage solar and wind energy

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

The sun doesn’t always shine and winds don’t always blow. With analytics and big data, we can mitigate the risk of using them as energy sources.

With data, a better way to manage solar and wind energy

Posting in Energy | From Issue 01 November 18, 2013

Brad Gammons is general manager of IBM’s Global Energy and Utilities Industry. Rolf Gibbels is an executive member of IBM’s global Energy & Utilities group.

One of the major challenges of relying on solar and wind as energy sources is their intermittency –- the sun doesn’t always shine and winds don’t always blow.

Since we can’t control the weather, we are coming up with innovative ways to work with it.

Our latest breakthrough is a cutting-edge power and weather modeling system called the Hybrid Renewable Energy Forecasting solution, or HyRef. This new technology is just another example of how big data can help transform industries, which in this case, enabling energy providers to forecast renewable power production in a new way.

The system works by using weather prediction and analytics to forecast the availability of wind and solar energy, so utility companies such as China’s State Grid Jibei Electricity Power Company Limited, can weave more renewable energy into the power grid. The roll-out is part of a SG-JBEPC-led, 670 megawatt demonstration project in the Zhangbei province in China, the largest renewable energy initiative to include solar and wind power, energy storage, and transmission.

Increasing the dependability of these renewable energy sources within the electrical grid is crucial to helping ramp up new solar and wind installations as well as combating climate change.

“Wind power is the largest and most readily-deployable form of new clean energy available, and utilities play a critical role in delivering this energy to retail electricity customers,” according to the American Wind Energy Association.

This new forecasting system gets the job done. SG-JBEPC estimates that it will increase the dispatch of renewable energy generation by 10 percent, or enough energy to power more than 14,000 homes, capturing energy that would otherwise have been lost. This will lower the need for conventional coal and natural gas plants, hence reducing emissions.

For China, this achievement is significant when you factor in the country’s commitment to transform its energy infrastructure: to build a nationwide smart grid. With this initiative in mind, the Chinese government issued a policy, stating that wind power forecasting becomes an essential part for all wind power dispatched into the electrical grid.

HyRef uses sensors placed on the wind turbines, which track wind speed, temperature, and direction. While advanced cloud imaging technology and cameras, coupled with weather modeling technologies, monitor cloud movements in near real time to improve power forecasts. This continuously changing data is fed to analytics systems to produce accurate local weather and power forecasts for each wind farm as far as a month in advance or short-term forecasts of zero to four hours per in 15-minute increments.

By using these local weather forecast, HyRef can estimate how much energy each of the wind turbines and solar arrays will generate , helping utilities such as SG-JBEPC accurately and dependably anticipate the amount of renewable energy power it can redirect into the power grid or store for when the sun hides behind clouds and the wind remains dormant.

Global climate change, skyrocketing population growth, and the continued march of economic develop demand that the industry become smarter. Energy and utility organizations around the world are making the necessary investments to transform energy infrastructures and integrate cleaner energy sources into the grid. With advanced analytics, wind power and other renewable sources are becoming dependable energy alternatives and with wind power estimated to generate 4.9 percent of the world’s electricity in 2017, the prospects seem bright.

Photo: George M. Groutas/Flickr

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The rise of people acting like businesses

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

sourcing journal

Earlier this year, NFL running back Arian Foster was planning on selling shares of himself. Under the terms of the deal he would earn $10 million in exchange for a 20 percent share of his future earnings. Foster’s initial public offering was postponed when Foster suffered a season-ending injury.But as New York shows in a fascinating piece, individuals acting like corporations — looking for an infusion of cash in exchange for a share of future profits — is becoming more common than you might expect.

There are now a handful of companies offering what are called “human capital contracts” or “income-share arrangements” to normal people. These contracts don’t involve actual stocks, but they have stocklike characteristics. People who sign up for these programs agree to give a percentage of their income to their financial backers for a period of several years, in exchange for a one-time cash infusion. It’s a sort of Kickstarter for people, a crowd-funding platform that provides backers with monthly royalty checks instead of signed T-shirts.

Take Upstart for example. Individuals share there story and experience on the site, along with their future goals and intended use of an investment — anything from starting a craft beer business to paying off student loans. Then Upstart uses a statistical model to predict the individual’s future earnings and determine a funding rate that the individual can raise for every 1 percent of income they share with backers. Individuals are then able to seek out cash infusions from backers in exchange for as much as seven percent of their annual income for five to 10 years.

Like any investment, these aren’t without their risk. Individuals must weigh the risk of receiving money upfront in exchange for handing over a cut of their check each month for the next decade, even if that craft beer business does poorly or becomes really successful. But for at least 101 people on Upstart, these are risks worth taking. 
Read more: New York
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Consumerization Impact on the College Campus in 2013

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Consumerization Impact on the College Campus in 2013


The consumerization of IT is a major trend that is at the forefront for many CIOs this year, according to the 2013 Survey of Chief Information Officers. Some of the biggest challenges include:

  • 92% report an increased need for greater security.
  • 71% agree it’s creating a demand for increased bandwidth.
  • 68% indicate that consumerization issues require more staff training.

Learn more about the impact of consumerization on the college campus and new ideas to help shape IT strategic direction in the future.

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