One of the many benefits of living in the Pacific Northwest is the annual miracle of the salmon migration.  Right now, some of the largest salmon runs are coming back from the ocean and fighting their way hundreds of miles upriver to the streams of their birth to reproduce and continue the cycle.  

With “swimming upstream” in mind, here are a few suggestions for weekend reading from around the world, each an example of the good things that can happen when people are willing to buck convention.

  • Many teachers would consider a video game to be the last thing they’d want in their classroom.  But in Canterbury, New Zealand, teacher Jan Anderson has made the Xbox 360 a key learning tool. During lessons on science and forces in motion, she used an Xbox game called “Thrillville,” in which students make their own rollercoasters. Her students also write blogs about what they’re learning, and Anderson says her students have improved their reading levels by 1 ½ years in just 3 months.  Anderson's work at Methven Primary School earned her the Microsoft 2010 Innovative Teacher Award for New Zealand.  She will travel to South Africa later this year, to compare ideas and insights with winners from other countries.
  • Halfway around the world, in Dearborn, Michigan, one of America’s iconic auto manufacturers is reinventing itself by completely rethinking the connection between cars and technology.  We’re pleased to be playing a key role in helping Ford find its mojo by partnering with the company on Ford SYNC, which Fast Company says is helping Ford turn into “America’s most surprising consumer electronics company.” With SYNC, Ford is creating cars that are more responsive to drivers and even safer – and cars with SYNC are selling twice as fast as comparable Fords without the system!
  • And while we’re on the topic of bucking convention, Bing continues to make slow but steady progress in winning over consumers. This week at the Search Engine Strategies 2010 conference, the Bing team unveiled some fun new features the help further Bing’s goal of being a “decision engine,” not just a search engine.
  • Finally, for some really out-of-the-box thinking, check out this article about how researchers at Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University have turned a person’s skin into a control pad that can operate music players and other devices.

Well, that’s it for this week – the weather has turned nice, and all this talk about salmon has me thinking about throwing a little fish on the grill.  Have a good weekend!

Posted by Mark Murray
General Manager, Corporate Public Relations