Having survived turkey time and the visiting relatives, we offer you this week a little time-travel experience. You thought time travel to be impossible. Well, the human mind is a wonderful thing. In the arts we take you back to the future as we explore the steampunk phenomenon and its practical application as a social event, while in our cover story we look to the future as now, with new horizons in education.
Contributor Josh Wimmer takes on the steampunks, in the person of Eric Larson and his cohort of enthusiasts, as they prepare for TeslaCon, the themed gathering of steampunk aficionados in town this weekend. You probably already know what steampunk is, but in case you don't, think of the old Robert Conrad TV series (and movie) The Wild Wild West, which featured anachronistic gadgets in a frontier milieu. Attendees of TeslaCon will indeed party like it's 1899.
Our cover story, "Virtual Learning 2.0" by the ever-curious Dave Cieslewicz, surveys the present view on the future of education. The academicians are throwing around terms like "blended learning" and MOOCs. (Not characters who hang around the neighborhood, but an acronym for massive open online courses.)
Cieslewicz explains these terms in much greater detail and also tells you why various higher-education heavyweights such as Stanford, Harvard, Michigan and MIT are pursuing these innovations, if they really are such, and why the UW-Madison is not, so far. Along the way he encounters some interesting questions, begging answers, and has an enlightening conversation with UW professor Bill Cronon. Maybe we're getting the future all wrong.
One way to get the future right is to procure Isthmus Beer & Cheese tickets before they are all gone. The event is on Jan. 19, and tickets are available at a number of locations. Check the ad on page 33 for ticket locations and other important details.