Category Archives: PFP

thank you, it’s been an interesting, recursive, meta-journey

My journey with the Meta-team started out as a confused one. Confused as in “I have no idea what a “meta-team” is”. It was also a little horrifying when Dr. Campbell said he didn’t have a clear idea about it either. Essentially, we were told to be “participating observer”, which was a very interesting concept. In order to observe something, we must be “outside” of it looking in. However, in order to be participants, we must in “inside” the something, doing whatever it is.

Meta- (from Greek: μετά = “after”, “beyond”, “adjacent”, “self”).

So, the Meta-team is the team about the TEAM. Our project is ourselves. We are to be engaged and participatory, yet able to remove ourselves from the class and view ourselves and what is going on from the outside. This is daunting and comforting at the same time to me. To be honest, it is sometimes nice to be told what our project is, since I really didn’t have a clue what I would have done. Yet, this is daunting because even though we know (vaguely) what we aim to accomplished, we had so idea how to go about doing it.

Because of the nature of the class, each of the participants of the the class generates a lot of content. There are blog posts, tweets, links and so forth. So, the Meta-team must first not only archive these contents, but also make connections within, and hopefully makes some sense of it all. Our immediate thought was to utilize a website. The class was already about the internet, so have the meta-team’s meta-project on the internet seems extra meta. We were drawn to Jordan’s idea of using “Wordles”, which is a webapp that analyzes text for the most frequently appearing words. The Wordle itself is artistic arrangement of these frequently appearing words, with the most frequent word rendered to be the largest in the final product, and so on. The nice thing about these Wordles is that at one glance we are able to see what words are the most frequently used. For the input text, we plugged in the text of the blogs of our colleagues. Depending on the purpose of the Wordle, different blog entries were used. For example, we made a Wordle pertaining to Douglas Engelbart, where the input text were blog entries written by everyone during the week we read about him. On some other Wordles we made, we picked a broad theme related to the class, for example, “Learning”. We searched all blog posts and tweets that contained the word and compile those into the Wordle. At first I was a little afraid that there would be too much noise the resulting Wordle would not be representative to the theme we picked (Turns out that in a class titled “Cognition, Learning, and the Internet” we use the word “Learning” a lot in most of our blog posts, go figure, right?). However, the output Wordle are often very enlightening. For example, for the Wordle with the theme “Media”, the most often appearing word (minus common English words like articles and propositions) is “People”. How cool is that!

Once we have the Wordle idea settled, we needed a way build upon this representative framework of our thoughts during the course of the class. So the we bounced around the idea of making a website that is a bit non-traditional. Jordan was familiar with the website-making online platform called “Wix”, which makes attractive, modern-looking websites with a very easy to use online interface. How easy was it? Well, suffice to say that I’ve never made a website before and I was able to pick it up with literally no learning curve at all. Basically if you know how to use Microsoft Powerpoint to make slides, you can use Wix with ease. We spent a good amount of time thinking about the aesthetics of the website, but more importantly, how to made connections with all of the ideas and thoughts we (as in all of us in the class) generated during the past semester, on a very wide variety of subject areas.

The Wordles helped a lot in organizing out thoughts. Jake and I had the idea that to identify key words (that is, the big ones; the ones that appeared frequently for a particular set of texts), and link those to the content that we generated. For example, the word “Language” appeared very frequently in blogs pertaining to Brenda Laurel. We then link the word “Language” in the Laurel Wordle to a blog post specifically discussing language in the context of Laurel’s article. We repeat the process for a lot of the prominent words in each Wordle. Things become interesting once we start cross-linking within the webpage. “Media” is another word the appears frequently in several Wordle. In that case we link from one Wordle to the “Media” Wordle. The idea is that we can show how ideas are not exclusive to a subject. This is an notion that is especially prevalent in this class. The readings that we read are not strictly classified within an identified theme. While Illich talk more focused with the topic of education and learning, his discussion bleeds into the subject area of cognition and thoughts. We can see this especially in recurring words in several Wordles.

Another thing we tried to do is to link outside our generated content. There are videos and other web content that we discussed and tweeted about (and some we posted on Delicious), that we would link to as well. For example, the word “Education” appears a lot in the many Wordles. On some of these we would link to the TED talk the Ken Robinson gave on revolutionizing the education system. We would also link the word “Read” or “Reading” to Addison record of books related to the word. Sometimes, just to be devious (and recursive) we would link some words to other parts of the Website. The word “Thoughts” on some Wordle we would link back to the main page titled “Insert Cognition Here”. On the word “Comments” we would link to the page on which the visitor can leave a comment about the website to us. Overall, we are trying to achieve a very crazy (schizo, as some would say) criss-crossed network connecting our generated contents, both to each other, but also to outside content as well. All this is to show how interconnected the ideas we discussed so far is.

The final hope for this project is for it to be sustainable. We hope the next Meta-team will be able to pick up where we left off and perhaps evolve the webpage into something more. The website is set up such that the template is there, and the content is easily changed. Also, attached to the webpage is a Gmail account, where comments left by visitors would be sent to. The Gmail account can also be passed on so that the next Meta-Team would have access to those information, and hopefully be able to use that information as another level of the meta-ness.

Well, it is my, Jake’s, and Jordan’s hope that all of you would be able to enjoy the website. The coolest thing is that YOU help made this website! So thank you, it’s been an interesting, recursive, meta-journey.

 

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we will be able to build bridges to anywhere we want, whenever we want

It’s hard to imagine the days when I was not connected. My home back in Hong Kong first got its 56k dial-up connection through my Mom’s work connection (my Mom works at a university, employee’s perk). I still remember that I had to unplug our phone cord to insert the computer cable into the phone jack, then the computer would dial the modem and make this awful noise… Wait, I’m pretty sure I talked about this in a blog post a long time ago! Full circle huh? The web had came a long way. We are passed the half-way point for web 2.0, where user-generated contents rules. There was such a time where both Google and Facebook did not exist, today most of us have difficulty imagining life without them. In “World Wide Web”, the internet was boiled down to its basic components. It is, at its heart, information that were generated in a very decentralized way, which are hyperlinked together. An important fact was raised that, the act of this “hyperlink” do not change the nature of the two piece of information that were linked. Internet today still boils down to essentially that. You can click on a link on Facebook and be transferred to a completely unrelated webpage. That link itself however, do not impart any changes between the two parties. So essentially, the internet is like a giant crazy bridge building process. Even if the content creators are expanding toward the users as well, the connection, and the accessibility of these contents and information is what make the internet so unique. In recent years, these links can now also be dynamically generated; we no longer have to wait for the content provider to put the link there, but we the users can dynamically create the links as well. Dr. Campbell mention the sharing feature of Kindles, which is a great example of this. Any phrases or words from a book can be generated as a link to social networks. Not long from now, we will be able to build bridges to anywhere we want, whenever we want. On the web that is. What does Web 3.0 hold for us?

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The medium is the message

Inevitably my time management all went to heck in April, so here’s a belated post regarding Turkell and video games. I feel that we have touched many interesting areas on Tuesday. My main concern about Turkell’s article is that I’m not sure I see video games as a unique media to achieve the altered state Turkell was implying. Now, I don’t think Turkell was claiming directly that video games were uniquely special in that regard, but I think the fact that she wrote a whole article about it makes me think that at the very least she thought about this uniqueness. She does, however, mentioned table-top role-playing game like Dungeons and Dragons. There is a good reason why table-top RPG like D&D hasn’t disappeared yet, it is because video games cannot come near to replicating the experience of playing such a game (or, so I’m told. I know I know, it’s surprising how I have not ever played this because it seems like it is right up my alley. But I grew up in China so reading 15 rule books written in English would be difficult for us given the language barrier). I feel like the altered state Turkel mentioned in the article can be interpreted broadly. She talks about how playing slightly less complex games like Asteroids or Pac-man lead to a state similar to transcendent meditation. That is one kind of altered state. However, immersing yourself in WWII via Call of Duty seemed to me to be another kind of altered state. Isn’t participating in a game of D&D another form of altered state as well? It is through this line of thought that I feel that the “altered state” described by Turkell is hardly unique to video games. Video games, after all, is really just a media. There is increasingly more video games that were created with less “game” in mind and more “art-piece” in mind (some good example include “The Shadow of the Colossus”, and “Journey”). The medium is the message. Video games is unique in its ability to create almost whatever kind of world (like a novel) the author wants in a very visual way (like a movie) but has the intrinsic characteristic that it is interactive (unlike a novel or a movie); players MUST participate in that game. It is this interactive aspect in a addition to the visual aspect that truly makes video games, as a media, unique.

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But I didn’t experienced that at all

So being a nerd of course I wanted to be a game developer when I was little. I didn’t because I’ve decided I like chemistry better. Go figure. But I actually have several encounters with LOGO growing up. I don’t know if it still is, but LOGO was a very popular programming language to teach when I was a kid. It was taught to me on during two different summer school classes (it wasn’t as sinister as it sounded; it was really more of a “hobby class”, I also took classes in calligraphy and swimming, because I wanted to; I was a super nerd and my parents were cool like that). On both occasion I was UTTERLY bored by LOGO. Reading Papert’s vision with LOGO (which I learned, was partly created by him), and the fascinating simulated work of the two children in the end, I can really see the potential he was going with LOGO, but I didn’t experience that at all. I was given a set of instructions: type these commands in, and you’ll be able to draw a star. Okay.

So, obviously it wasn’t very engaging for me. Yes I could draw a star. Whoop-de-do. I can do the same thing on a piece of paper in less than 3 seconds. I didn’t see the point to it, nor do I saw what I did was “programming”. In eighth grade, we had a computer science class. My school then (it was a Canadian School located in Kowloon, Hong Kong, it’s complicated) was rather small and lacking in resource. So, in computer class, where we barely managed to have our own console (some less fortunate classes of other grades had to share). Here we are presented again with LOGO (along with BASIC, QBASIC to be exact), albeit with a better front end. I don’t remember the instruction I received from the teacher to be anymore engaging than the ones I’ve received previously, but because I was one of “those” student, I actually went to town on the help files and playing around with LOGO more so than I was required to do. This, however, I don’t think had anything to do with how LOGO as a programming language were differently structure than say, BASIC. Papert spent a good deal of time in his book chapter arguing that LOGO was fundamentally more encouraging to the “epistemological” development of the user than other languages like BASIC. But in my case, I was equally, and perhaps more engaged when I was using QBASIC than LOGO.

I don’t think Papert was wrong on anything, but perhaps he underestimate how the full spectrum of potential of LOGO can be quenched by teachers who didn’t understand the point of this particular programming language. I do find Papert’s faith in the abilities and creativities of children refreshing and hopeful. I don’t pretend to know a thing about human development or child psychology, so I will believe in Papert’s description of a child’s potential. I really like the simulation of the progress of two children using LOGO to draw flowers and birds. As this didn’t not happen to me I can’t speak for its plausibilities, but I am hopeful, with the hope that Papert has given me.

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It is because this has happened to me

Sort of.

The thing about science fiction is that “fiction” is still the operative word here. So in some ways the fantastical futuristic speculative science is really only there because it was necessary to tell the story the author wanted to tell. As in the case of Simak’s “Immigrant”, the imaginative backdrop of aliens and far away world is really just a tool for him to tells us the story of being human. Selden Bishop was human, like all of us. Through hard work and the intelligence he was born with, he was identified as the best of the best. In the world Simak described, a race of extraterrestrial aliens from the planet Kimon were known to mankind. Kimonians were speculated to have evolved well beyond human’s current development. They seem to have extraordinary psionic abilities; exhibit moral and social structures that is not based on profits; even in their “dumbed-down” physical manifestation they are more beautiful than any human. Bishop, being the best of the best, was qualified to be sent to Kimon, in a sort of one-way “cultural-exchange” program. Kimon has been described as “El-Dorado” multiple times in the story, a mythical promise land where everything was the best. It is, of course, no such thing.

In science fiction I often have doubts about the treatment of aliens. For example, in “Star Trek” almost all aliens are really just human with a different forehead. They are usually humanoid (to a point that they are not distinguishable from human), have two genders, and in a baffling twist, speaks perfect English. Here, Simak’s treatment of the Kimonians are different. We can see this especially in Bishop’s conversation with the “goddess”. She insists that most Kimonian concepts will simply be incomprehensible to Bishop. In a crucial exchange, it became apparent that all the training, all the hard work that Bishop endured to qualify him to come to Kimon had been for naught. Kimonian society and thoughts are so far evolved that human knowledge and Kimonian concepts are incompatible. Bishop had to accept that while on earth he was the best of the best, here on Kimon he is literally below the bottom tier.

This rung a chord with me. It is because this has happened to me. Multiple times. It happened when I went to college, and it happened when I went to grad school. I feel that we are all indoctrinated by our education institution that: “we are the best”. The secret that Bishop discovered in the end of the story is humility. It is when we admit that we don’t know that we can finally say I want to know, and I will work hard to learn. Grad school in particular is like that. The more I study, the more I am entrenched in my research work, the more I realized how much I really don’t know. It is from that unknown I am inflicted by the disease of curiosity. It is because I am not satisfied with what I DO know that I must work hard to know more.

It’s pity that we will not be discussing this piece face to face. I was originally scheduled to moderate the now cancelled seminar on Tuesday. I am very interested to what everyone think, as it is rare that we study a fictional work in this class. I also was able to read most of the extra-reading (pro-tip: Google the title of the reading, plus the word “pdf” for online versions for most reading) for this seminar which I highly recommend that you do so if you have the time. They are similarly themed Sci-Fi short story, and a thoroughly good read.

 

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It appears I am far too indoctrinated

VTCLIS12ers, I am in San Diego CA for a conference, so I’m currently  in Pacific time. Did you guys know that there’s only one time zone for the entire country of China? Totalitarianism FTW.

I would like to spend some time to talk about Ivan Illich’s book chapter “Deschooling Society: Learning Webs”. This composition was written in the 70s, which make it quite prophetic in its description about the internet. The overall theme of the book chapter however, concerns the total replacement of the school systems with its proposed new system. The feeling I got when reading this is a sense of confusion. Perhaps I am too blind and indoctrinated by the school system, but I didn’t know the school system was as bad as Illich described. In fact, Illich proposed the “inverse” of school.

Illich does raised an interesting point of how all schools are fundamentally the same (in the 70s). I don’t pretend to know everything school system that exists on the world, but those that I have experienced (Chinese and American) do seem to have some fundamental similarities. One thing I do want to point out is that Illich did referenced China’s Cultural Revolution. I know the revolution was actually happening when Illich was writing the book chapter, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt citing the revolution as a possible “successful” attempt at dechooling the society. The Cultural Revolution was responsible for hundreds of thousands of death; people were murdered BECAUSE they were educated. Millions were relocated and forced to abandon their profession to work in farms. Because of the Cultural Revolution, China had lost generations of educated people, and to this day, the moral standards of the Chinese society still have not recovered. This is a heart-breaking subject that is also fascinated to read about, so I do encourage everyone to at least start at the Wikipedia article. If something akin to the Cultural Revolution is needed to “deschool” society, then I will not wish it upon anyone.

There seems to be a lot of claims in the book chapter about schools that I don’t know if I agree with. For example, Illich claimed that “schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life”. I’m not sure that this is true, at least not all the time. Most knowledge taught in school is readily available elsewhere, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a class where the teacher claimed that the way he/she teaches is the ONLY way for us to learn. (There may be misguided radical teachers that would say that, but I would hazard to say that they are in the minority). He also claimed that the public is “indoctrinated to believe that skills are valuable and reliable only if they are result of formal schooling”. I also don’t think that is completely true. I believe the public DO value skills and knowledge that did not stemmed from formal education, however, I would tend to agree that there may not be enough appreciation for it. But Illich seems to imply that the entire schooling system is a conspiracy to keep knowledge and skill scarce to general profit. That is a rather cynical outlook that is entirely possible, but I don’t think is true. I don’t think people are as sinister as we like them to be.

There are some very good ideas here, I especially like the uplifting of games (as described by Illich) in the educational setting. Like many other methods described by Illich, this relies heavily on the self-motivation of the learners. In fact, the entire system Illich described only works under the assumption that people WANTED to be learners. I would love to believe that is true, but I am dubious. However, I agree that in an ideal society where all social elements encourages the population to emerge as learners (which is not what we have right now), this is possible. Another idea that Illich proposed (one that even he agreed was radical) was a “bank” for skill exchange. This is a truly fascinating idea, but seems monumental in its implementation. Essentially, we would be creating a whole new economy that is based on the exchange of skill. Like any economy, there will be ways where it can be abused and manipulated. Illich freely admitted that such a system would “promote an elit of those who earned their education by sharing it”. I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.

The entire discussion about the short-coming of sequential education is familiar to me. We have had heated discussions about the fallacy of such a system. I am very conflicted on this subject. On one hand, I can see the amazing appeal of non-linear education, a system where the learners to see the big picture and work their way to the nitty-gritty details of knowledge and skills they wanted to learn. On the other hand, coming from a STEM background, I don’t know how this can be realistically accomplished. Some knowledge in STEM makes the most sense in a sequential manner. It would be a difficult for a learner to appreciate calculus before he/she has a good understanding of algebra. Illich envisioned a system where learners would be able to specify specifically what they want to learn. This seems great, but very idealistic, and again hinges on the assumption that all participants are motivated learners.

The peer-matching network Illich described is very interesting, as it is essentially a more narrow, focused form of the internet we have today. Illich described in this manner, we “abolish the power of one person to oblige another person to attend a meeting”. Googling/wiki-ing is the same way; I am not obligated to provide and/or obtain knowledge and skills from the internet, yet I maintain the agency to do so, and I DO choose to do so with a clear motivation.

Illich vision of a deschooled society have some very appealing aspects to me, yet the entire system just seem way too radical for me. Illich predicts “the disestablishment of schools will inevitably happen–and it will happen surprisingly fast”. It’s been 30 years and it hasn’t happened yet. I supposed then I am part of the problem, as it appears I am far too indoctrinated to believe Illich. They say “Who dares, wins”. Well, I guess I’m a loser then.

 

 

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Why hasn’t this happened yet?

I would like to express to you some of my thoughts as I read Viola’s article. First of all, is the whole “early Greeks’ mnemonic walks through temple” the exact thing Jake mentioned the other day? You know, when had that whole argument about “embodiment”? Turns out this is a huge deal. I particularly liked how Viola interpreted this as an “artificial memory system”. In this way we create new connection between “key points” to locations, and the new connection takes on meaning that previously did not exist.

The fascinating thing is that, this connection (with its “new” meaning) is part of a big picture Viola called the “data space”. The thing about connection is that, it bears no meaning without the things it connects together. “There is always a whole space…” When the Greeks created the the mnemonic connection in their temple walks, the connection was made for a greater purpose, NOT for the sake of the connection alone. This seems to be an intuitive notion, but I don’t think I have thought about this before it was expressed to me by Viola. The analogy he then used, by comparing how our memory works to how computer generates 3D images is very telling. The image cannot be created without its reference space. This “space” itself bears little meaning without the created image, because it is a reference to the image. But the image itself CANNOT exist without the space. Quite a twist on the whole chicken and egg problem.

We are all in agreement that the message is always sculpted by the medium. Some of argue that the medium IS the message. But here Viola exemplify the notion that nature of the message itself is highly correlated to the nature of the medium. A video is by nature extremely sequential. Only one frame is shown to us at one time. This is a limitation we don’t often think about, mostly because we expected it. Poetry, as Viola described is completely opposite. The entire work is shown to us at once. We may interpret poetry sequentially, but even then it was not required that we do so. It seems to me that the video media have not overcome this limitation today (30 years after Viola has written this article), but I think my question is, how would we even try to overcome this limitation?

Viola also touched on his displeasure on the sequential nature of education. We have touched on this subject heavily during the GEDI class, generating much heated discussion. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this subject here because I am conflicted about this issue. Coming from a STEM background I believe that some of the sequential nature of education is unavoidable. I think for someone to comprehend calculus before he or she has a firm handle on algebra would be very difficult. But, I can certainly appreciate that if we were to offer up the “data space” – that is, the big picture – of mathematics to a student first, they would be more motivated to learn. I am skeptical on the idea of non-linear learning, but I shall remain cautiously optimistic, because I think it is a noble and novel notion.

I don’t pretend to have much knowledge on Indian Tantric doctrines, but Viola’s comparison of it to the nature of electronic systems is interesting to me. We may see television, radio, and oscilloscope has vastly different electronic “media”, but they essentially interprets this same information, albeit into very different forms. This analogy reinforce my believe that there really is very little fundamentally “new” things. As Viola has shown ideas like “artificial memory systems” exist long before the term was coined, as ancient Greeks had been doing that exact thing in their temple walks.

If we expend the linear progression of information and data, into a grid (matrix) as Viola suggested, the resulted product would be vastly different from most media we enjoy today. One of the biggest paradigm shift I see in non-linear information is that is doesn’t, shouldn’t, and couldn’t matter where you started. In linear expression of information, there is a purposeful start, and it ends up somewhere. Any deviation from that would probably result in incoherent understanding. But in the non-linear array of information Viola suggested, it seems that the intention is that we could start at a different place, go a different path, and end up at a different terminus, the information should STILL be coherently expressed to us, and we would be able to coherently interpret it. Assuming that I did not misinterpret what Viola meant, this would be monumental. It would be like a two dimensional being realizing that there is such a thing as thickness.

Such ideas are not stranger to human, as again, Viola has written about is more tan 30 years ago. Have we not worked on this? Why hasn’t this happened yet?

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Expressing time vs. experiencing time

I don’t think I spend enough time thinking about how weird reading a book is. You see, I read these sheets of paper, with words on it. I read those words, and they tell me things I didn’t *know* before. Say I read “Lord of the Rings”. Voila. I’m in Middle Earth. Just by reading those words I create for myself a new world. This new world was expressed to me and now I am experiencing it. Think about it. It’s just words. On sheets of paper! Incredible.

I believe this is true not only for books but for all media. In a movie, this new world is more explicitly expressed to us. We see, frame by frame, the world the film maker wants us to see. When I watch the movie “Lord of the Rings” (say, the first one), I see Frodo’s house in the Shire. The visage of that house is explicitly communicated to me. Yet I still have to fill in the blanks on what the rest of the Shire looks like (piece and pieces were show here and there).

It seems to me that a medium expresses a world to me, in which I experience it. Let’s say a world is comprised of space and time (and a whole bunch of other stuff). The passage of time that is expressed to us through a medium seems to suffer from the same limitation I mentioned above. We experience “real time” in a way that is not unlike the way we experience “time that was expressed” to us. However, how accurate is the transfer between the expression and the experience? McCloud shows that because of the unique limitation of each medium (in his case, the comic), the accuracy is not very great. In class today we had very interesting discussions regarding how time was expressed to us on McCloud’s comic, specifically on the circular loop of frames. The transfer between the McCloud’s expression of time and our experience in it was not immediately accurate, and it constantly evolved.

I don’t think this ambiguity is a bad thing. We like mysteries. And it allows for the author to tease with what he wants to say, and what he wants us to think he is saying. I don’t think those two things are always the same.

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Timespace

Hello. Long time no see. Things had been hectic and I have neglected you for far too long. Would you forgive me? No? Welp.

The subject of time is always fascinating and controversial. It is a force of nature that is ubiquitous yet infinitely mysterious to us. Our intuition tells us that the flow of time is constant. We may be in different time zones, but a second in Blacksburg VA has the same length as a second in Hong Kong. Einstein, through his theory of Special Relativity, proclaim that this is false. Time is relative; it is not constant. You know how in Physics 101, we have to calculate the relative velocity of a train and the ground, the a train to another train running alongside with it? Well, if the ground is at rest, and the train is traveling at 50 mi/hr, then the RELATIVE to the ground (that is at rest) the train IS traveling at 50 mi/hr. However, relative to another train that is traveling along side at 49 mi/hr, it would seem that the original train is only traveling at 1 mi/hr. Intuitively, this make sense because we have ridden on a train and the above mentioned scenario seems plausible in our mind.

The kicker comes when we consider a beam of light. The speed of light is constant, NO MATTER how fast you are traveling. The speed of light is always 3.0 x 10^8 m/s regardless if we are travelling at 1 mi/hr, or 100000000000 mi/hr. How can this be? According to Einstein’s Special Relativity, time itself warps in such away to preserve the consistency of the speed of light. Confused? This is because I’m not Brian Greene. Go pick up his book “The Elegant Universe”, which is one of the best popular science book I’ve ever read.

McCloud faces another challenge. Here we are trying to project time, a messing concept, onto a two-dimensional medium. In a book, time passes by in a very ambiguous way; we are either explicitly told of how much time has passed, or we have to “fill in blanks” ourselves. In a comic, this is even more confusing because of the explicit nature of pictures and cartoons (they are, in my mind, more explicit than mere words). The western society often frown upon comic as a medium for art, but as McCloud has show us here, the medium expresses plot and messages in ways that are completely unique from other media. If you think about it, what are comics if not a series of paintings? If Mona Lisa can be art, why couldn’t “The Sandman” be?

Okay, maybe I’m just a big nerd. But you all know about that already.

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Lectures and technologies

Lectures without any visual aids are difficult to follow. Different teachers have a different preference of what this visual aid might be. Some prefer the old school way about it with chalk and blackboard. While I was in high school, as well as some time in college certain teachers prefer to teach from transparencies. In one of my current class the professor is fond of using the document scanner. In a lot of my other classes though, the teachers like to use computer presentation software such as Microsoft Powerpoint or Apple Keynote. I must say that although I do not dispute these software’s effectiveness in aiding a presentation, I find them not very not very good well used in a class setting, at least for me. Often times professor will make slides that are very wordy, or that they simply read word for word from the slide. Other times professors may go through the slides too fast for me to take my notes on. I also find that the fact the my “notes” were already given to me as a set of slide print outs makes it harder for me to focus. Perhaps I am just too conditioned to the old ways of board and chalk; that’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I respond the best to.

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