iPad Hand

iPad HandIt was only hours before the “New iPad” had virtually replaced my hand.  I now have no need for the “real hand” because my iPad Hand can do anything imaginable – and more!  This new hand will help me think things I never thought possible, take me places that weren’t previously places, and provide me with years (at least until the upgraded version comes out that I can wear like a glove) of distraction.  Depending on my frame of mind, frame of reference, picture frame, bowling frame, or if I just get framed – I might forget what the old hand was good for.  I believe my new frame – I mean hand – has taken the place of Scott McCloud‘s frame.  Mine will not tease you, taunt you, challenge you, and make you guess how many circles, gears, and frames there are.  Instead, my frame (there I go again), will tell me everything in living, moving, color.  Besides, my new hand can easily transform into a calculator, a phone, a camera (still and motion), a chessboard, a book shelf – hell, the whole damn library.  It just can’t get any better than that.

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“Learning Webs,” from Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society

The solution

Is this the question or the answer?

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Engagement Pt. II

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I witnessed a wonderful example of classroom/student/technology engagement.  I was sitting among the students because we had a guest presentation, on Arts and Culture in Community Development by Scott Tate.  As Scott was giving his presentation, I could see over the shoulder of one of the students, that she was Googling topics as he presented them, and was then posting comments directly to her group/required blog for the class.  It was great to see.

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Video Games and Computer Holding Power

TEDxUIUC – Sherry Turkle – Alone Together

A very stimulating discussion today on Sherry Turkle’s Video Games and Computer Holding Power in the New Media Seminar today.  I come away each Wednesday having felt like I learned so much from people who have encountered and considered these topics far more than I have.  What I experience is the type of engagement that would be utterly fantastic if/when it occurs in any of my classes.  This is what I’m learning most from my fellow seminarians.  Especially today’s discussion.

But what is the essence of intellectual engagement?  How does it happen?  When does it happen? Where does it happen?  Why does it happen?  I know that for me that I just get interested in stuff and want to more about it.  But naturally the things that interest me don’t necessarily interest the next person.  Fortunately I’ve encountered several people in my life who have shared their interests with me and at the same time, stimulated and engaged me.  The most important is Chris Olsen (friend and non-academic) who taught me the meaning of “who says?” and “why not?” Also, Paul Wack, Steve French, and Bill Drummond (academic mentors).  And also a catholic nun (whose name I can’t recall) who allowed me to learn Basic Programming in 1974 (or so) on what I think was a TI Tymshare 100 (with an acoustic coupler modem).  How they did it I’m not sure.  A combination of shared interests, encouragement, inspiration, and willingness to take the time. And I’m pretty sure they didn’t intend to.

Which finally brings me around to Sherry Turkle, technology, and video games.  Yes, games and technology have structure, rules, and can be distracting.  But as mentioned in the discussion today, they can also be used for a source of communication, inspiration, entertainment, and engagement.  I’m not sure we know the meaning of much of this yet, but in the mean time we will continue to explore.

 

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Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?

I’m very fascinated by the use of video as a means to create, communicate, and archive, and remember.  This is probably because my memory and imagination (sometimes not sure which is which) play more like streaming video than like words in a diary.  As Viola mentions in this piece, portions can be edited and rearranged, again, like memories seem to be.  The concept of video as memory is interesting too.  While it can act as a archive (which I think of more as storage), remembering feels like a different process.  With an archive I feel like I need to have an index, so that I can find what I’m looking for – but I first need to know what I’m looking for.  With memories, there seem to be fuzzy connections between seemingly unrelated events that can spawn new or different connections that I didn’t remember having in the first place.  Is this imagination?  This is all completely outside of what I’ve thought about before, but I’m guessing experts have examined the intersection of memory and imagination.

So I Googled it.  “Memory & Imagination” came up as a page from Michael Lawrence Films, coincidentally with a tribute to Steve Jobs at the top and a quote from Ted Koppel:

“We record everything. Everything. The impact of that becomes totally numbing. I mean, future generations are going to be looking at literally billions of pictures and reams of videotape and film; and I’m not sure that they’ll be able to make any sense out of it.

“I fear that we in the mass media are creating such a market for mediocrity that we are losing our ability to manage ideas, to contemplate, to think. We are becoming a nation of electronic voyeurs whose capacity for informed dialogue is a fading memory.”

The second link I clicked was for “Imagination and Memory” – which is apparently advertising a book called, “Secrets of Mental Suprememacy”.  The word supremacy is like a stop sign for me, so I didn’t read any further.

I just realized now how automatic this process was.  I had two terms in mind, memory and imagination, and wondered how these had been put together so far (at least as indexed by Google).  Not not I couldn’t rely on my own, but wanted to explore how others had made meaning of these.  Instantly I had access to nearly infinite sums of both memories and imagination (indexed? archived?) on the Web.  What did we do before all of this was at our finger tips?  It wasn’t that long ago, but it’s very hard to remember. I have no idea what this has to do with condos.

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McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan

 

Watch this: Sunshine

… the medium is the message.

And this: Helvetica

 

Any questions?

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Personal Dynamic Media

Alan Kay and the Dynabook While the Dynabook doesn’t seem so revolutionary today, this was certainly not the case in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Your own computer?  That you program?  How wild and futuristic considering that Thomas Watson had predicted worldwide demand of 5 computers.  Interesting how these visionaries, like Kay and Goldberg, realized that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”  Many of us simply experience technology happening to us.

Universities had better not assume this posture.  Momentum already appears that the university/college as institutions of higher education are being undermined by entrepreneurs who are seizing upon technology and opportunities availed by economic conditions to create change – i.e., invent the future (hey! I thought WE were supposed to do that!)  See: A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Gardner Campbell spoke to my students today on emerging trends that I suspect they hadn’t quite considered.  I felt like they expected me to defend the role of the university in it’s current form, which I was not about to do.  Given the role of personal “computers” as tools/devices with infinite applications – only limited by what we can imagine – our conception of “computer” as a box, portable, or tablet should already be changing.  We have “smart” roads, smart cities, cloud-connected thermostats, smart bombs(?), etc. all with the ability to collect information and react to specific commands.  In essence, the Dynabook is miniaturized and distributed throughout our environment in one form or another.

The fear is that humans will lose personal skills to deal with other humans and discontinue building relationships.  I already witness this and it doesn’t involve computers.  Religion and politics are very effective at dividing and dissolving human interaction.  In my opinion, religions that preach discrimination, intolerance, and hate, are far more destructive to human relations.

 

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A Modest Proposal

“Let the student control the sequence, put him in control of interesting and clear material, and make him feel good – comfortable, interested, and autonomous.”  – Theodor H. Nelson

 

 

I think this can/should be the future of education – with the assistance of ICT.  Most (if not all) of the professor’s knowledge is available from other sources and in different modes.  These include excerpts from text books, articles, web pages, videos, other instructor’s materials, etc.  Why not conduct class sessions that are scavenger hunts for information about topics or the topics themselves?  Students can be responsible for finding images, presentations, blog entries, research, etc. on concepts that then need to be stitched together in meaningful ways.  Isn’t this what the instructor does?  And doesn’t the instructor learn from the experience?  I know that I’ve had this experience time and again.  No better way to learn something than to be charged with helping someone else undertsand it.  Instructors already create learning environments to do this, but what then is the role of the instructor?  Tour guide?  However, tour guides have predefined paths or tours – so what if the tourists/students want to go off the path?  What if the tour guide/instructor does not have a prepared script to dexribe places encountered?  The instructor then becomes a tourist also, but hopefully with a bit more experience or wisdom to help navigate and avoid dead-ends.  This calls into question the traditional classroom role of the instructor as sage or guru for which they are compensated(?)  But we should encourage “personal learning networks” because they are a more natural way of learning.

Can this become a more accepted model in the future?  Students taking more self-guided tours without prescribed destinations?  Perhaps suitable for certain course types but not all.  How then do these experiences connect with professional expectations and career “needs”?  Maybe more creativity or just less understanding of the terrain?  I think we will find out.

 

 

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Can You Imagine?

Hard to imagine watching Doug Englebart in 1968 talking about what we consider to be so basic and taken for granted. See: http://youtu.be/X4kp9Ciy1nE.  I have to stop and wonder what human/computer relations will be 20, 30, 40, or more years into the future.  Designing an external intelligence that is very mechanical – display, mouse, chord keyset, etc. will likely be replaced by something internal and biological.  But how?  What could it be?

A first step will be something like this “thought-controlled” Siri application: http://youtu.be/xFIRmnRHNUM.  Just as with voice activation, the interface involves training to recognize prompts and converting them to machine readable commands.  The headsets seem a bit awkward presently, but I’m sure they will shrink and disappear by being affixed to the skin (or embedded underneath).  Better than having to ‘clap on’ and ‘clap off’ the lights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not so stylish now, but you know that will certainly change.  Just think how much work you can get done in a meeting since you won’t have to talk or type to compose or communicate.  You’ll look like you’re actually paying attention.  So what will be the advantage?  Seems simple enough, just think of commands or statements and they will be executed the same way keystrokes or mouse clicks are today.  So efficient! (slight sarcasm).  But what happens if I fall asleep with it on and it streams some of my very strange dreams into text or audio?  Just don’t fall asleep with it on if you don’t want to be found out.

Just when we got kids off the couch with Kinect, they’ll be back on their butts with some new headgear.  What happens if the communications is reversed?  And the applications for surveillance, control and interrogation, a la MK-ULTRA? Hmm…  I’m going to stop thinking about it now just in case I’ve already been implanted with one of these things.

 

 

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As We May Think

As We May Think

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often cited in the bibliometrics literature, Vannevar Bush provided a vision for how scholars can think about scholarship.  Instead of our narrow, disciplinary perspectives, his vision was about the “science of science” – keeping track of what we (and others) do for the purposes of better understanding what we (and others) do.  “Science has provided the swiftest communication between individuals; it has provided a record of ideas and has enabled man to manipulate and to make extracts from that record so hat knowledge evolves and endures throughout the life of a race rather than that of an individual.”  We may not give it much thought at the time, but the references we cite in our publications then becomes part of the record, establishing a pathway of connected ideas and influences.  We are obligated to do so and we have a range of motivations for doing so (a topic for another day).

Later he states, “He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory.” Information, artifacts of knowledge, and other such transactions are gaining speed in how quickly they are generated and it’s not often that we step back to examine these networks and patterns – yet more information.  We have the technology, but do we have the time?

As Herbert Simon said in 1971, “In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes.  What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”  This becomes the challenge – in 140 characters or less – with a half-life of 2.5 hours.

 

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