Pick a Keyword, Any Keyword…

When I began brainstorming for a final project topic, I was so overwhelmed by all my options and I couldn’t even begin to think about them in a creative way, let alone continuously; my ideas were so fragmented it was hard to create a big picture of all my half-processed ideas. We read so many intriguing essays about cognition, learning, and the internet. Upon meeting with Dr. C, my worries were silenced when he informed me that no student had ever chosen Clifford D. Simak’s essay, Immigrant, as a final project. I was shocked and excited simultaneously (how is it that we can experience more than one emotion at the same time?). Why wouldn’t a student pick a narrative on which to map another layer? A whole other narrative to further tap into the senses and further augment thinking. Already that makes two meta layers, without even considering the viewers of my narrative and the mental places to which my narrative takes them. I felt an obligation to take the challenge, an obligation to those half-processed nuggets that were jumping around in my head; I didn’t look back once. I was so eager at the prospect of  incorporating the ideas of all my favorite essayists. Even more, I couldn’t wait to just think, an emotion that I have never felt or thought about before. Yes, I was thinking about thinking. Why do we always come back to that? It must be an indication that all these concepts, all these bolded words are, need I say it, INTERTWINGLED!

Something I kept trying to do throughout the semester was relate the nuggets from my favorite essays to each other. How better to do this than through a narrative wherein I am able to govern the conversations between say for example, Nelson and McLuhan? I really had to engage my imagination and let establish the necessary connections. I knew if I attempted a webpage I would inadvertently start making unnecessary divisions. The movie-making forum of Xtranormal enabled me to incorporate my thoughts with the characters and conveyed a sort of individual reflection through my use of scenes, emotions, and character scripts. Although I didn’t incorporate a lot on the augmentation and education power of computers, the WWW, and the Internet, I think the mere fact that I, Erin Passaro, created a small movie of my own is an indirect ode to the influence of these mediums/messages.

I spent hours trying to determine a clever story but I wanted to make sure it was something my viewers were still somewhat familiar with, so I could better reach out to them with these complex thoughts…because after all, not all my viewers on YouTube will be accustomed to the ideas we discuss in #vtclis12 (well let’s hope not anyway). I found that the introduction style utilized by MTV producers in  the making of the Real World television show provided the proper stage to engage curiosity.

Going through my old blog posts and notes proved to be very beneficial. I stumbled across a Word document entitled “My Revelation” and it talked about McLuhan’s signature phrase “the medium is the message.” It only seemed appropriate then, for me to start with the point at which I felt revolutionized. In thinking about the medium, which is the channel through which an idea is communicated, I realized that WAIT a second…our minds can be channels right? Because when I think about something and then relay it to another part of my body, well that’s a channel right?! And then when that part of my body does something with it (whether it be my hand or my mouth), there’s another channel, and therefore, another medium! So where does the message part come in then, right? Well can’t an idea, which is the preconceived notion of a message, be a channel? Because can’t one idea lead you to another idea? Can’t one idea help a person gain insight into another idea? YES. So we’ve established that an idea, is obviously the message and less obviously the medium

Of course, that’s just my way of thinking about it…remember, we’re all our own individuals, with our own thought processes. My path of thinking might not lead you to the same idea but the two together could create something so complex and so much more advanced and meaningful, which is why I also talked about the holistic view, which Nelson emphasized a great deal. “THE UNIFYING VISION MATTERS A LOT MORE THAN THE LITTLE TECHNICAL PARTS.” Insert line about the unifying power of the WWW and Internet…here………………………..and here……………and…..right..about….HERE.

Did we just move in time and space simultaneously? Well of course not, it’s a continuous sentence, therefore a single instant in time, RIGHT? Not exactly, according to McCloud, “words introduce time by representing that which can only exist in time — SOUND” (p. 713). Our eyes have been trained well, huh? Speaking of our eyes, sometimes they play tricks us. Did my use of the grid-lined backdrop in scene three with McLuhan and McCloud do anything for your perception of time? Maybe a sense of “lingering timelessness” (p. 721)?  Since we’re on the topic of time, let me pose this question, the question of the semester: is time linear? Well, it must depend how you’re thinking about it…if you’re hopping around from past to present to future to fantasy…then where are you in time? It all depends on your first meta level, but good luck finding that!

Since McCloud is so willing to let his mind play tricks on himself (or so it seems in his comics), I thought it would be kind of funny to introduce him to Maxine. Not only did I want to see how that scene would play out, but I also wanted to snap viewers back into a semi-normal level of consciousness, to provide a sort of “comic” relief from all the complex thinking. Maxine represents the only person in this movie who is concrete and unyielding. By concrete and unyielding, I mean something that readers can hang onto for a second and be POSITIVE they know what she is saying for she doesn’t allow curiosity or uncertainty into her brain like the others do but do not fear, McCloud threw in the monkey wrench (does that surprise you?) when he started talking about teleportation, mass, and matter. I know we never talked about that in class but I thought it was relevant and when I thought about it while making my project, my brain was screaming “nugget” at me, so I just went with the flow.

Anyways, Maxine’s pride and defensiveness led me into my next frame with Viola and Illich. Maxine, to me, represents the typical student so I thought it would be a smooth and relevant transition. Also, as I’m sure most of you picked up on my casual mentions of Bishop. The characters touch on this progression through thinking about thinking and at the end of scene five, you will pick up on the strides the others see in him. That is because, Bishop to me, represents students like US, students who are willing to open ourselves up to randomness.

Viola and Illich make this whole episode recursive; Viola when he talks about the learning structures. The fact that schizo even exists clarifies to me that time/thought do not necessarily have to be linear, which is pretty cool. I want to have a day where it will be socially acceptable for me to voice aloud all my nonlinear thoughts. That would be cool, maybe we should start a petition for yet another national holiday. Off topic. Thanks Dr. C. Back to Illich and how recursive his thoughts were. He takes us back to the importance of individual-based education system, tailored to each and every learner’s needs. Funny how that works though, because when individual-level learning takes place, the sum of the parts (society as a whole) benefits exponentially more…than when we are educated in a “one size fits all” manner.

My last scene, the preview for “next week’s” episode recaps on the nuggets that truly interested me throughout this class and they convey the sincere hope I have for myself, for us, and for the future of a more meaningful education.

As I sat down to write one of my last blog posts for class I tried not to let myself approach the essay as I normally would when writing a final term paper. Although for a second, I did allow myself to get psyched out by the gravity of importance that always accompanies the word “final.” I found my mind reeling for a decisive or purposive point of From Memex to Youtube; a question for which my essay must provide a conclusive answer. I still couldn’t provide you with a concrete answer and I don’t think I ever will be able to, but I think that’s the very thing that has preserved my interest and pleasure in this class…the fact that there is never a right or wrong answer.

 

 

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Upacking the Idea Machine

For my final project I drew inspiration (much like Lissy and Julie) from the TimeFrames reading. I went a little different direction in that I wanted to use the medium that I was describing to describe the thing. The thing that I want to describe is the Graphical User Interface.

To start out I want to pose a set of questions…if you want to play along think for a minute about each question before you read…if you don’t want to play along just read ahead (and I have to admit that I would probably just read ahead too).

How do you communicate with a computer?

What came to your mind first…using the computer as a tool for communication or communicating with the computer to get the computer to do something?

Just to be explicit, how do you communicate what you want a computer to do with a computer?

I think that answering this question is difficult. If your answer is something like…I click buttons and type things and the computer does stuff as per my directions. That answer is not quite the way that I see it.

How does the computer know what clicking a button means?

The computer has no idea what clicking a button means.

You are really telling some developer(s) or designer(s) what you want the computer to do and they are telling the computer what to do on your behalf.

If your answer is something like…I write code and the computer executes those instructions. Well that answer is closer to the way that I see it. But what you are really saying is that you use an interface, which is the computer programming language.  This interface was designed by a human with the express intent of enabling you to interact with a lower level of the computer. This answer recurses down and exits at the machine level, which only a few people fully know and understand. Even then I would imagine that there is no one person that knows how all of the different assembler language gets compiled to 1′s and 0′s. God help them (and us) if there is one dude or dudette that does all that. By the way the way things compile down is all different for each piece of hardware each of which requires an interface and abstractions. So, we are again at telling some developer(s) or designer(s) what you want the computer to do and they are telling the computer what to do on your behalf.

But where are these developers and designers?

They are in the past…they have already done what you are asking them to do.  You can thank them later…

So how do you communicate with the computer…for the most part you are not communicating with the computer. You are communicating with the designers and developers that wrote or built the stuff on the computer. There is still a tiny problem…they are not present and have no idea who you are or what your desires are (feel comforted by the fact that they probably care about those desires and thought a great deal about them :D ).

So how do you get developers and designers to do something on the computer on your behalf from the annals of history?

Well that is really the wrong direction to ask that question…I think that the question should be posed as:

How do you, as a designer or developer, communicate what you can get the computer to do on behalf of your future users with your future users?  (this question is ignoring the fact that you have to think about what the users actually want you to enable them to do…but that is another problem all together)

In the case of either the GUI or the code my answer is that you communicate with your future users with metaphors and abstractions (metaphors usually are chosen because they afford something). The reason that computer code is so much more flexible than a GUI is due to the different restrictions of the metaphors and abstractions. The main metaphor for computer programming is language, which enables programmers to get the computer to do most anything they can dream up. The metaphors for user interfaces are more restrictive and (usually) more related to something physical in nature…a button for instance. GUIs get restricted by this because there are only so many operations that you can afford with a button…mostly just pressing the button to do something. Usually, there are many layers of abstractions that are needed to facilitate the metaphor of something like a button. Usually, the more abstractions the less flexible the user interface is.

In the case of the search button and text box in Google there are a ton of abstractions involved. First is what happens to the textual component of your query. There are a bunch of different little tricks that they pull to make your query more effective: synonyms (i.e. think and contemplate); removal of fluff words like ‘the’; insertion of boolean operators; location based results; social based results; historical based results; global based results; etc. etc. etc. This is all aside from the fact that they have a bunch of huge buildings housing a ton of computers and that these computers are always indexing new and updated data and on and on and on. I am also ignoring how everything is displayed on the computer, communicated between computers, and a million other things like the mouse and…well you get the idea. A lot goes into that little search interface made up of a textbox and a button.

Notice, however, that even though this is not a terribly flexible UI (you can only really execute queries against their database of what is on the internet) it does not lack power. On the conceptual level think about the awakened grains of sand that Jon Udell proposed and Lissy experimented with…this is sort of flexible, but it is still taking advantage of executing queries on the internet (albeit a bit more interestingly). On a sheer computational level the number of computers that are involved in executing a query and returning results is mind-boggling. On a social level think of all of the aspects of life that have changed because of this simple interface and it’s many abstractions.

How do you understand and uncover all of the metaphors and abstractions?

Unfortunately, you really have to have inside knowledge of how everything works.  I do not know how a google query works…but I have some idea based on educated guesses.

The purpose of my project is to change this a little bit.  I eventually intend to unpack the metaphors and abstractions that are used in important interfaces like Google and Facebook. The deliverable, or the thing that I made for this class, is a series of mockups of how I am thinking of implement such a system. Dioramas for interfaces, like the one that I am proposing, are becoming increasingly important.  This increased importance is mostly due to the very purpose of user interfaces…user interfaces are built to create an illusion of simplicity (which I think is necessary). Just because the interface is simple, does not mean that what is happening behind the interface is simple. Just because the interface is not flexible, does not mean that the tool is not extremely powerful. Think back to our discussion about conundrums in data space…for some reason many of us thought that Twitter was more flexible than Facebook…even though the interfaces do not suggest this at all. How powerful has Twitter been socially, even though the only thing you really do on it is publish short snippets of text. How many of us really have an understanding of the consequences of our actions on a computer? I am sure that I do not fully understand the consequences of using different interfaces.

So onto my system…well let’s wait till after class ;P

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Mindframes

After presenting today in class, Lissy and I wanted to post our comic on our class blog so that you all can dive deeper into the material similarly to how we did while completing the project. Enjoy :D

 

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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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Final META Team Project

When Dr. C mentioned a META Team, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was wondering what “meta” even meant and how it applied to me or this class or education in general, I was clueless. But, I enjoy a challenge and this class proved to be one of those challenges. Therefore, I took a leap of faith and joined with two other graduate students who I have come to respect very much. In the beginning, we were trying to find our footing. There was no previous data or projects go upon. There wasn’t even much of a mission statement or goal other than to be “participating observers”. The goal that we came up with was to be organizers. We would make sense out of material that has so many different avenues of explanation and opinions. It was a task that seemed daunting at the time, but looking back we embraced. We discussed at several of our biweekly meetings what we wanted to do and how we wanted to approach the project. We even met with our librarian, Rebecca Miller. She gave us some fascinating background about what angles the class had been taught at before, be it only undergraduates, only graduates, etc. She explained that there were class themes that each class would constantly go back to and how it was interesting that each group of people who took the class saw the material differently. This reassured us of our goal to make sense out of material that could be taken so many ways. However, we were still unsure as to what to make of it.

At some point, Jake mentioned a pretty cool website that made these things called “wordles”. When he showed them to me I was instantly drawn to them. I’m a very visual learner and I was anxious to try them out. So, I used them in my seminar presentation of Alan Kay. Dr. C seemed to really enjoy them. At the time I thought they were just a cool visual aspect that would get the class talking since I had no previous notions of what a seminar presentation should be like. But, now I think that they can have much deeper meaning than just words in pretty colors, which I hope you all will witness with the launch of our META Team website.

After getting such a positive reaction from Dr. C in class, we met again. We weren’t sure how we would use them, but we thought that maybe it would be cool if we could do a web of hyperlinks within a wordle, allowing people to move from a wordle to our blogs and tweets. We were envisioning something so much smaller than what we will be presenting tomorrow; at least in my head it was not as intricate. But, it was an idea. So, we pressed on and continued to bounce ideas off each other throughout February, making progress in class by participating in group discussions, blogging, and tweeting as much as we could. Finally, we met and came up with something of substance, a physical project that we could present to the class.

I managed to connect my personal endeavors to the project. I had been vigorously working on my own personal/professional website, an attempt at branding myself for future employers as well as an eager family audience. It’s a place called Wix and it turned out to be the foundation of our project. I showed them my website and they seemed to like what I had done. They trusted my opinion and we decided that it would probably be easy enough to add wordless to a website. Also, we thought it only fitting to use the internet to explain how we learned about the internet while using the internet in a class with internet in the title. So much recursion. Therefore, our main structure was to combine the aspect of the wordles and the website. But, how to do that and do it well? Well, I’m not quite sure who came up with the idea- this entire project was so equally managed and collaborative- but we decided to divide the material up in to authors and themes. Our thought process centered around our main objective, which as I’ve stated before, is to be organizers and sense-makers. In a class with so many components over the internet and so many possibilities for human interaction, there was a lot of material to work through and organize. As participators, we wanted to use our experience to make more sense of a class that had a lot of information and grey area. So, authors and themes seemed to not only utilize the structure Dr. C prescribed by dividing the class in to very physical chapters but also utilized the natural connections made by our class throughout the semester.

So, we began the process of constructing a website out of nothing in the beginning of April. Our ongoing work had previously been divided between the three of us at one of our first meetings. Because we could not figure out a way to archive the blogs in one feed I simply copy and pasted them periodically throughout the semester. I would divide the blogs up by author and then make a wordle for them. These were all saved in word documents and were extremely useful when it came to creating the actual website. They also gave us visual confirmation of what we thought the class was thinking at the times that those authors were discussed. Jake created an archive for our tweets so that we could reference those later on in the semester as well. We continued to monitor that and it turns out we have all of them saved from when he began the process which I believe was in early February. Matt was to begin thinking about the themes. He was in charge of monitoring class discussions with his speaker and slowly breaking down the class in to subcategories that he would then later make in to wordles as well. So, throughout the semester when we met they were brief meetings. In mid- March we still did not have a full grasp of what we wanted to do in regards to details of the website.

As I said before, we began the process of picking out a layout and creating the website in early April. Because I had previous experience manipulating wix and using their templates, I took on the role of transforming the pre-made template in to a META Team website. But, before I go in to that let me give you some background. In order to have a website from wix you have to have an account. They’re free but you need one. I thought we could use mine since I already have one and you can make multiple sites from one account. But, the email on the account would be included in the url of the website. So, we actually had to make a separate gmail for our class. Vtclis12@gmail.com Although this was not planned in the beginning, it actually made for a really cool addition to our website because as you will see tomorrow, you can actually send us an e-mail directly from the website. We hope to give Dr. C access to this account so that he can get feedback from users of the site as well. Anyways, so we made the email account and picked out a template. That was hard because we basically had to design the website in our head as we were picking out a template because we had to make sure that each wordle had the ability to link specific words to various links instead of the whole wordle being one link. After searching, we found an auto car template that worked very well. I began to transform the auto car template to META Team.

This took several hours and all the while, Jake and Matt were continuing their ongoing efforts. Back when we decided that we would make a site with wordles on it that would be divided in to authors and themes, we decided Jake would be in charge of linking the author wordles to various content including but not limited to blogs, tweets, and delicious links. Matt would be in charge of making up the theme wordless as I previously stated, as well as linking those wordles to content that includes but is not limited to blogs, tweets, and delicious links as well. We wanted to incorporate the audio from Matt’s speakers but our efforts to obtain a transcription program did not work so well. Rebecca tried to get us one but it didn’t transcribe as well as we needed it to because there was so many hours of audio. It just wasn’t efficient. So, unfortunately that got edited out of our website.

Once I had the layout transformed, we put the wordles on the site and linked them all to each other and all of the rest of the content. We purposely kept the direction of the website vague because we want users to feel unrestricted in where they can go and what they can see. We hope that everyone will move throughout the site by that unknown motivation we keep talking about that seems to breed curiosity.

In the end, I’m so happy that I got on the META Team. I was nervous being the only undergraduate student, but they really surprised me. My thoughts seemed to be just as important to theirs and they really acknowledged that although I am younger, I had some cool ideas too. It was nice to be respected and put on the same playing field as two extremely intelligent individuals such as Jake and Matt. I really appreciated this respect and cannot say how much this boosted my confidence in this class. It really was a privilege to work with them on a project that none of us really had any idea what we were doing to begin with. It’s really cool to make something out of nothing when you’re working with people who also care about the end result and when we all appreciate each other’s ideas. I wish them both the best of luck in the future and would be honored to have the opportunity to work with them again.  

I hope you all enjoy our end project and can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts!

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Mindframes: A final project by Lissy and Julie

The setup for this class has been a new experience for us. It has been a rollercoaster of learning – we began with doubts of our abilities but have come to the realization that if we put our mind to it we succeed. After being seminar presenters, our interests were sparked in the topics we presented on. We were discussing the readings outside of class one day and realized that collaborating upon our two seminar pieces, Mindstorms  and Time Frames, could make for a great final project. While discussing, we felt that the way in which McCloud’s message of time was expressed through comics helped us to comprehend the information on a more complex level than we had in previous pieces. Mindstorms was a piece that we found interesting and relatable to our lives. By explaining this reading through comics, we thought that we would achieve a higher understanding like we experienced in Time Frames.

We chose to explain a nugget in Mindstorms  (pg. 416) that dealt with using programming to help children “think about thinking” and do away with “black and white” versions of success. In order to connect Papert and McCloud’s ideas, we decided to use the framework from McCloud but tweak his illustrations to portray Papert’s message of programming. Once recognizing how they could relate, we went through the nugget, analyzed each sentence and tried to pull out the full meaning that Papert was communicating. After discussing the nugget on a deeper level and considering both our views on the reading, we went through McCloud’s comic to find frames that could illustrate that message.

When we were reading McCloud’s comic, we began to see the hidden messages which made us realize that the meaning behind the frames isn’t always apparent. Although you can get a basic message the first time you read through the comic, you can gather more in-depth information if you re-read it. We wanted to incorporate this aspect into our comic so that our readers could have the option to question the ideas. We gathered that McCloud’s Time Frames is about how one thinks about time and how this affects time overall. After reading Papert’s Mindstorms, we saw parallels between the two author’s messages. We felt that Papert’s message was portraying that learning depends on how one thinks about thinking. Both these authors show how powerful the human mind is and how it can affect your perspective on life. In general, this class has made us realize that you should keep an open mind in learning and continue to be curious.

We followed our curiosity and, as writing our comic, we found that other pieces we read this semester related to the nugget from Mindstorms. We looked back on nuggets we highlighted throughout the semester and found some interesting connections to Mindstorms. Theodor H. Nelson was the first connection we made. In a nugget we found from Computer Lib/Dream Machines, he spoke of how computers are not only a tool of clarity and power, but should also be simple and easy to use. He writes, “If a system for thinking doesn’t make thinking simpler – allowing you to see farther and more deeply – it is useless…” (pg. 331). We included this in our comic because we felt like it related to Papert’s idea of how programming could help children learn.  Programming and computers are powerful because they teach children complex ideas, but they can do it in a simple way.

We also found connections between Mindstorms and Bill Viola’s piece Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?. We found the sections about “carving out our own realities” and how “the whole is the sum of its parts” relatable to Papert’s nugget. Both portray that discoveries can be found when you look deeper into the material. You find that many things are interrelated, “fitting into an interlocking whole.” We illustrated learning as a puzzle in our comic, because everything we learn can be interrelated and every step is important. Papert distinguished this message of learning through his programming techniques for children.

After completing this project our own knowledge of these readings increased dramatically. We feel that the idea of  “thinking about thinking” can increase anyone’s understanding on a certain topic.  We think this idea could be great resource for education. We loved doing this comic because it forced us to learn and think about the information in a new, visual way. The format of comics does not explicitly layout information, which causes the reader to think about the subject matter in order to really understand it. This can link back to McLuhan’s idea “the medium is the message.” We used the words of Papert and expressed them in a new way. Changing the medium that the information is given in can drastically change the way it is perceived by the learner.  Learning all depends on the way you think about it…

Since everyone thinks about thinking differently, our individual thoughts are written below.

 

 

As I began this project with Lissy, I really had no idea what we were getting into. Since I had done my seminar presentation on Scott McCloud’s Time Frames, I wanted to incorporate his visual way of sharing the message into my final project. I loved his way of expressing time in a comical/spooky/intriguing way. When Lissy presented on “Mindstorms” it clicked that the reading would be perfect to incorporate into our final presentation.

When we started the project we were not sure exactly where it would take us. As we discussed it further and further, analyzing Papert’s “Mindstorms,” I realized that even if our comic didn’t turn out the way we had envisioned it, it didn’t even matter. Lissy and I talked about the readings and the class on a deeper level than we ever had. By backtracking, re-reading, and asking each other, “what does it all mean?,” we learned an immense amount. We thought about our thought process. We thought about what Papert was thinking, what McCloud was thinking, etc.  These realizations made me begin to consider how this type of project could be used in education to stimulate children’s creativity while getting them to understand material on a more comprehensive level.

Now as presentation day quickly approaches, I am nervous whether you all will see our connections to other authors and understand “Mindstorms” in a more complex way. I really feel like creating a visual component has helped me learn so maybe it can help you all learn too. Thinking of ways to be creative and incorporate ideas into the comic proved difficult, but we did it! I hope you all enjoy our in-depth look at Papert’s “Mindstorms” tomorrow!

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MindFrames

The setup for this class has been a new experience for us. It has been a rollercoaster of learning – we began with doubts of our abilities but have come to the realization that if we put our mind to it we succeed. After being seminar presenters, our interests were sparked in the topics we presented on. We were discussing the readings outside of class one day and realized that collaborating upon our two seminar pieces, Mindstorms  and Time Frames, could make for a great final project. While discussing, we felt that the way in which McCloud’s message of time was expressed through comics helped us to comprehend the information on a more complex level than we had in previous pieces. Mindstorms was a piece that we found interesting and relatable to our lives. By explaining this reading through comics, we thought that we would achieve a higher understanding like we experienced in Time Frames.

We chose to explain a nugget in Mindstorms  (pg. 416) that dealt with using programming to help children “think about thinking” and do away with “black and white” versions of success. In order to connect Papert and McCloud’s ideas, we decided to use the framework from McCloud but tweak his illustrations to portray Papert’s message of programming. Once recognizing how they could relate, we went through the nugget, analyzed each sentence and tried to pull out the full meaning that Papert was communicating. After discussing the nugget on a deeper level and considering both our views on the reading, we went through McCloud’s comic to find frames that could illustrate that message.

When we were reading McCloud’s comic, we began to see the hidden messages which made us realize that the meaning behind the frames isn’t always apparent. Although you can get a basic message the first time you read through the comic, you can gather more in-depth information if you re-read it. We wanted to incorporate this aspect into our comic so that our readers could have the option to question the ideas. We gathered that McCloud’s Time Frames is about how one thinks about time and how this affects time overall. After reading Papert’s Mindstorms, we saw parallels between the two author’s messages. We felt that Papert’s message was portraying that learning depends on how one thinks about thinking. Both these authors show how powerful the human mind is and how it can affect your perspective on life. In general, this class has made us realize that you should keep an open mind in learning and continue to be curious.

We followed our curiosity and, as writing our comic, we found that other pieces we read this semester related to the nugget from Mindstorms. We looked back on nuggets we highlighted throughout the semester and found some interesting connections to Mindstorms. Theodor H. Nelson was the first connection we made. In a nugget we found from Computer Lib/Dream Machines, he spoke of how computers are not only a tool of clarity and power, but should also be simple and easy to use. He writes, “If a system for thinking doesn’t make thinking simpler – allowing you to see farther and more deeply – it is useless…” (pg. 331). We included this in our comic because we felt like it related to Papert’s idea of how programming could help children learn.  Programming and computers are powerful because they teach children complex ideas, but they can do it in a simple way.

We also found connections between Mindstorms and Bill Viola’s piece Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?. We found the sections about “carving out our own realities” and how “the whole is the sum of its parts” relatable to Papert’s nugget. Both portray that discoveries can be found when you look deeper into the material. You find that many things are interrelated, “fitting into an interlocking whole.” We illustrated learning as a puzzle in our comic, because everything we learn can be interrelated and every step is important. Papert distinguished this message of learning through his programming techniques for children.

After completing this project our own knowledge of these readings increased dramatically. We feel that the idea of  “thinking about thinking” can increase anyone’s understanding on a certain topic.  We think this idea could be great resource for education. We loved doing this comic because it forced us to learn and think about the information in a new, visual way. The format of comics does not explicitly layout information, which causes the reader to think about the subject matter in order to really understand it. This can link back to McLuhan’s idea “the medium is the message.” We used the words of Papert and expressed them in a new way. Changing the medium that the information is given in can drastically change the way it is perceived by the learner.  Learning all depends on the way you think about it…

Since everyone thinks about thinking differently, our individual thoughts are written below.

 

Lissy:

As we said above, this class has definitely not always been the easiest for me. At the beginning of the semester the material was exceedingly hard for me to comprehend and the idea of coming up with a final project on the material, without many concrete guidelines, seemed undoable. Throughout the semester I started to feel more comfortable with the material, with my understanding and with stating my opinion. I could tell there was a difference, however I could not pin point what had made the difference. Now that I look back, I realize that at the beginning I was not looking at the material in the right way. I was simply skimming the words and waiting for the message to pop out at me. If the understanding that that was not going to happen was clear then, it is extraordinarily clear to me now after our final project. To complete our project we had to really think about what messages we were trying to portray we had to dig way deeper than we had before. We had to go through trial and error in order to find exactly how we wanted to say something and what actually made sense. When we chose the project, we definitely thought it would be a lot simpler than it actually was. We had to look at the material in ways that we had not before and use both of our mind powers to not only take information from the text, but also create it. For example, when you first look at Time Frames you might assume that McCloud is simply talking about how you show the passage of time in comics, when really it is all about the perception of time and how time is really dependent on an individual’s frame of mind. Or in Mindstorms, at first glance it may just be another computer guy talking about the technical way in which children can learn how to program. But at second glance, it is really how computer programming is just one way (a powerful one) for children to learn how to solve problems by “thinking about thinking” and learning how to learn.

What is crazy, and recursive, is the way we had to go about our final project in order to find success, was exactly the idea we were trying to explain in our project. And we didn’t even realize it. We just portrayed our message by creating our message. Just like Papert explains in Mindstorms, we had to think about thinking. We had to think about what we were doing and go through steps of “debugging” to get to a solution. The reason we may have thought this project seemed so impossible to begin with was because we thought there was an exact solution that Dr. C was looking for. But there are many ways to get the product that is required; it all depends on how you think about the material. Which I think is sort of the point, the point of the project is to show a true and deep understanding, and the only way to do this is to think about it on a much deeper level. The point is to make connections from throughout the class and realize that the whole of the class is a sum of all of its parts (the readings, discussions, blogs).

So it turns out that the reason I started feeling more successful in this class was because I was thinking about thinking, learning about learning and also thinking about learning. I become more comfortable with sharing my opinions because I found that there is not always a concrete “right” or “wrong” answer. And if there is a concrete answer, getting it wrong the first time does not mean you are a failure, it means you have to try again. You have to “debug”, like in programming. When we learned the word recursion at the beginning of the semester and were told we would see it everywhere, I was a little skeptical. But through our final project, I am finally now seeing how completely true it is. Our final project may not have included all of the pieces and authors we read, but it somehow managed to bring it all together for me to really “get it”. What you get out of this project, this class and learning as a whole all depends on your MindFrame.

 

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Our Expierence of WWW

I’m going to completely admit that before this class I knew absolutely nothing about the WWW and Internet infrastructure. And honestly, it still confuses me. Who knew that the web and the Internet were different things? I thought they were simply interchangeable words, synonyms that could be looked up on Microsoft word. But they are different and when to my surprise when I click on Internet, there are no synonyms for it. It is it’s own thing. Which brings us to what John Udell was saying in class. When it comes to the World Wide Web, our imagination is our only limit. We decide what we want to make. Who we want to share it with and what we want it to mean. Take words for example.  Dackolupatoni: when you Google that, nothing comes up. But here is our experiment. Let’s search it in a few hours and probably this will come up. Which is recursion. And then that person can be linked to this. And it goes on and on. Now isn’t that cool?

In the book Berners-Lee states that “If you haven’t yet experienced the web, the best way to find out about it is to try it” Now isn’t that true (and also for pretty much everything). But it would nearly impossible to understand the web if you have never used it, never experienced the networks and seen its power. Which is why I think that there is still a problem as John said with realizing the difference between things in the physical world versus things in the virtual world. Maybe it is a generation thing. Maybe when the Clickerati are one of the other generations alive and everyone below them was born into a world fully immersed in the WWW, this distinction won’t be a problem. Like Julie said it is impossible to try to explain to our grandparents, sometimes-even parents, the purpose behind what we are doing on the web. Why we would possibly fb chat a friend instead of calling them. But I feel like once you truly discover the web, you can’t turn your back on it. So it will be interesting to see what happens when every generation has a knowledge of the web to some degree. Although there will probably be something new by then…

Another piece of our discussion that really caught my attention was the idea of ownership on the web. When you purchase a domain name you are essentially renting a url. I think that is interesting considering how every tweet has it’s own url. Why do we have to “rent” a url in some cases, but when it comes to twitter every single time we tweet, we create a new url. It comes down to advertsing. If the site uses advertising, you don’t need to buy it. But why would a site use advertising so that we get a free product? Because we are the product. What would facebook or twitter be without its users? Nothing. It needs us. We are facebook and twitter.

So maybe this reading wasn’t the most exciting for me, but without fail #vtclis12 developed an intriguing discussion from it that broaden my horizons and made me think.

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W3: A Tool for Associational Thinking and Augmenting Intellect

“The World-Wide Web” was on the technical side for me which normally gets a little fuzzy for me but I was surprised by the understanding this essay provided in respect to  the relevance of all the letters in the URL bar, which is mentioned in “W3 Broken Down.”  It was a fairly followable breakdown and for that I was appreciative.

However, as I was looking for nuggets I thought WAY back to the beginning of the semester when we read Bush, “As We May Think,” Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” and also a little Engelbart, just because W3 aided so much in augmenting human intellect.  The authors hoped through the use of W3 that knowledge would be able to extend across “boundaries of nations and disciplines.”  If I recall correctly, Bush called for this very same idea; in class I remember talking about taxonomies and the way the Library of Congress was indexed in a way that made searching for something specific so difficult.  Why was it so difficult?  This organization did reflect the way humans think, which is highly “associational.”  It seems like W3 kind of wanted to aide in automating this humanistic way of thinking through hyperlinks and such.  By providing more sensible ways of navigating such a vast and rich pool of knowledge, has the World-Wide Web enabled us to have “unfettered thought?”  To think “creatively, continuously?”

The authors talked about future developments in information technology such as a “name service” that will allow internet users to discover information not based on a specific location but on the name.  This screams Google to me, or simply search engine for that matter.  They called for an integration with teleconferencing…Skype, Facebook video.  The authors also wanted to facilitate commercial uses, such as online charging and virtual clothing stores (Paypal, any online store).  These advances do not necessarily indicate a complete augmentation of human intellect but they sure do make things more efficient.  In being more efficient, W3 eliminates all the processing which enables constant thinking and decision-making.  I think that’s a sure sign of augmentation and associational thinking.

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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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