Animated, interactive digital books may help kids learn better – TechCrunch

Animated, interactive digital books may help kids learn better – TechCrunch

Digital books may have a few advantages over ordinary ones when it comes to kids remembering their contents, according to a new study. Animations, especially ones keyed to verbal interactions, can significantly improve recall of story details — but they have to be done right.

The research, from psychologist Erik Thiessen at Carnegie Mellon University, evaluated the recall of 30 kids aged 3-5 after being read either an ordinary story book or one with animations for each page.

When asked afterwards about what they remembered, the kids who had seen the animated book tended to remember 15-20% more. The best results were seen when the book was animated in response to the child saying or asking something about it (though this had to be done manually by the reading adult) rather than just automatically.

“Children learn best when they are more involved in the learning process,” explained Thiessen in a CMU news post. “Many digital interfaces are poorly suited to children’s learning capacities, but if we can make them better, children can learn better.”

This is not to say that all books for kids should be animated. Traditional books are always going to have their own advantages, and once you get past the picture-book stage these digital innovations don’t help much.

The point, rather, is to show that digital books can be useful and aren’t a pointless addition to a kid’s library. But it’s important that the digital features are created and tuned with an eye to improving learning,

The year of the French unicorns – TechCrunch

The year of the French unicorns – TechCrunch

In September 2019, President Emmanuel Macron was about to wrap up a speech on late-stage investment in France. According to a press briefing and some discussions with a source, everything that he was supposed to announce had been announced.

But he dropped an unexpected number. “I’ll leave you with a goal: there should be 25 French unicorns by 2025,” Macron said. A unicorn is a private company with a valuation of $1 billion or more.

When you mention France in a conversation with foreigners, they don’t immediately think about startups. In December 2018, I covered a two-day roadshow of the French tech ecosystem with 40 partners of international venture capital firms, as well as limited partners, from Andreessen Horowitz to Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures and more.

The same clichés came up again and again — taxes, labor law, long lunches… You name them. But it doesn’t matter if those clichés are true or not (hint: They aren’t), the French tech ecosystem has been thriving. And 2019 has been a remarkable year when it comes to reaching unicorn status and raising late-stage rounds of funding.

A new group of unicorns

According to a recent report from VC firm Atomico, there are 11 unicorns in France. Some of them have been around for years, such as BlaBlaCar (a ride-sharing marketplace for long distance rides), OVHcloud (a cloud hosting company), Deezer (a music streaming service) and Veepee (an e-commerce company formerly known as Vente-privee.com).

But in 2019 alone, a handful of companies

Bill Gates played Secret Santa to a Michigander, sending 81 pounds of goodies tailored just for her – TechCrunch

Bill Gates played Secret Santa to a Michigander, sending 81 pounds of goodies tailored just for her – TechCrunch

Since roughly 2012, billionaire Bill Gates has been participating in Reddit’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, which matches Reddit users with internet strangers who give them presents.

He seems to relish the role. For example, in 2017, he was matched with a cat lover, sending off a giant load of feline-themed gifts, including a large stuffed cartoon cat and $750 in donations to her favorite animal charities. Last year, his gift recipient was a self-described miniature horse owner who loves yarn, natural fibers, and card-making. Gates sent him a bounty of yarn, decorating tape, pencils, postcards, sketchbooks, a custom-made blanket for his horse, and a signed copy of a “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” by Hank Green, the man’s favorite author.

This year, the lucky Redditor who found herself on the receiving end of 81 pounds of gifts from Gates was a 33-year-old, Detroit-area marketer who told MarketWatch yesterday, “I always thought it would be super cool to be matched with him some day, but I never really would have expected this to happen to me.”

The woman — whose Reddit profile features a picture of her hugging the “Star Wars” character Chewbacca and that refers to Harry Potter and other books and video games — was also reportedly sent a Harry Potter Santa hat; Lego building sets that include a giant Hogwarts castle; a handmade quilt depicting scenes from Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda” game series; and “Twin Peaks” memorabilia, including an L.L. Bean jacket worn by one of the crew

What’s worse than Christmas music? Bitcoin Christmas music – TechCrunch

What’s worse than Christmas music? Bitcoin Christmas music – TechCrunch

The holiday season can be a lot. You might need something to make you feel better. This post doesn’t have it. But it does have some pretty terrible bitcoin Christmas music parodies that you can endure!

Enjoy:

In fact, the same account has made a bunch of similar pieces of musical fanfiction, proving the point that bitcoin fans are like other traders, but with fewer friends.

Take one for the road:

Now go get offline and spend time with someone you love.

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As DraftKings finds an exit, a reminder of what could have been – TechCrunch

As DraftKings finds an exit, a reminder of what could have been – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Today the big news that falls into our orbit is about DraftKings, a sports betting service focused on fantasy sports that will go public via a reverse merger. Not too long ago DraftKings and its erstwhile rival FanDuel were ubiquitous on television; now the two are fractions of what they once were.

Let’s chat about what went wrong and what’s next.

The ascent

Both DraftKings and FanDuel raised modest sums until the latter half of 2014.

FanDuel’s Series A was worth just $1.2 million back in 2009. Its $4 million Series B in 2011 almost sounds like a joke. An ensuing 2013 Series C just tipped the scales at just $11 million. Things picked up in Q3 2014.

DraftKing’s story is similar, if slightly more aggressive. A $9.8 million Series A in 2013 was followed by a $24 million Series B that same year. Then in Q3 2014 things started to go faster.

In the third quarter of 2014, FanDuel raised a $70 million Series D. In the same three-month period, DraftKings raised $41 million. The next year, FanDuel raised a $275 million round in July. That same month DraftKings raised $300 million. All of a sudden the companies were unicorns, worth a combined $2.2 billion, post-money.

FanDuel’s funding history (according to Crunchbase data) then slowed, while DraftKings raised another $150 million in 2016