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The digital ocean in which we swim
February 23, 2013 9:32 am / Leave a comment
I’ve described it as a digital ocean often enough so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found myself in it. That was a couple of nights ago. Writing to a colleague with a mixture of excitement and concern I told them why they had to take an interest in the impact Web 2.0 would have and was having on the Pharmaceutical Industry – she works in medical market research interviewing then analysing qualitative data and writing reports.
I had written the sentence, ‘do you want to get on your surface board or get washed out in the rip current when I visualised myself back in this dream. I can use lucid dreams deliberately to help me dwell on matters, or just for the fun of it.
I know that the dream, its location and events, are a projection of how I feel about an issue. After a couple of months of total immersion in Web 2.0 reading and coursework and trying to plan a long term future in this environment I started to find myself in the water.
I got a sense of both nerves and excitement at being under the breaking waves but preferred to get out beyond them. It as a shock to find myself heading down the coast and looking inland for all intense and purposes as if from a bus window that was on its way. My feelings and views on this is to be adequately prepared – for the water fit and with a surf board, even with something to wave to get the lifeguard’s attention. And that being in the breaking waves might be better still. This is my digital landscape visualised. The flotsam and jetsam of old practices get washed away or left on the shore.
The ‘players’ are on this breaking edge, where the ocean makes landfall.
Ideas are like ink drops in a digital ocean
January 23, 2013 9:37 am / Leave a comment
Fig. 1. Hands by Escher.
The danger is for it to become one’s modus operandi, that the act of gathering is what you become. I recall many decades ago, possibly when I started to keep a diary when I was 13, a documentary – that can no doubt now be found on the Internet – on a number of diarists. There were not the well-known authors or celebrity politicians, but the obscure keeper of the heart beat, those who would toil for two hours a day writing about what they had done, which was to edit what they’d written about the day before … if this starts to look like a drawing by Escher then perhaps this illustrates how life-logging could get out of hand, that it turns you inside out, that it causes implosion rather than explosion. It may harm, as well as do good. We are too complex for this to be a panacea or a solution for everybody. A myriad of book, TV and Film expressions of memory, its total recall, false recall, falsehoods and precisions abound. I think of the Leeloo in The Fifth Element learning about Human Kind flicking through TV Channels.
Fig. 2. Leeloo learns from TV what the human race is doing to itself
Always the shortcut for an alien to get into our collective heads and history. Daryl Hannah does it in Splash too. Digitisation of our existence, in part or total, implies that such a record can be stored (it can) and retrieved in an objective and viable way (doubtful). Bell (2009) offers his own recollections, sci-fi shorts and novels, films too that of course push the extremes of outcomes for the purposes of storytelling rather than seeking more mundane truth about what digitization of our life story may do for us.
Fig. 3. Swim Longer, Faster
There are valid and valuable alternatives – we do it anyway when we make a gallery of family photos – that is the selective archiving of digital memory, the choices over what to store, where to put it, how to share then exploit this data. I’m not personally interested in the vital signs of Gordon Bell’s heart-attack prone body, but were I a young athlete, a competitive swimmer, such a record during training and out of the pool is of value both to me and my coach. I am interested in Gordon Bell’s ideas – the value added, not a pictorial record of the 12-20 events that can be marked during a typical waking day, images grabbed as a digital camera hung around his neck snaps ever 20-30 seconds, or more so, if it senses ‘change’ – gets up, moves to another room, talks to someone, browses the web … and I assume defecates, eats a meal and lets his eyes linger on … whatever takes his human fancy.
How do we record what the mind’s eye sees?
How do we capture ideas and thoughts? How do we even edit from a digital grab in front of our eyes and pick out what the mind is concentrating on? A simple click of a digital camera doesn’t do this, indeed it does the opposite – it obscure the moment through failing to pick out what matters. Add sound and you add noise that the mind, sensibly filters out. So a digital record isn’t even what is being remembered. I hesitate as I write – I hear two clocks. No, the kitchen clock and the clicking of the transformer powering the laptop. And the wind. And the distant rumble of the fridge. This is why I get up at 4.00am. Fewer distractions. I’ve been a sound engineer and directed short films. I understand how and why we have to filter out extraneous noises to control what we understand the mind of the protagonist is registering. If the life-logger is in a trance, hypnotized, day dreaming or simply distracted the record from the device they are wearing is worse than an irrelevance, it is actually a false cue, a false record.
Fig. 4. Part of the brain and the tiniest essence of what is needed to form a memory
Mind is the product of actions within a biological entity. To capture a memory you’d have to capture an electro-chemical instance
across hundreds of millions of synapses.
Fig. 5. Diving of Beadnell Harbour, 1949. My later mother in her teens.
An automatically harvested digital record must often camouflage what might have made the moment a memory. I smell old fish heads and I see the harbour at Beadnell where as a child fisherman brought in a handful of boats every early morning. What if I smell old fish as I take rubbish to recycle? Or by a bin down the road from a fish and chip shop. What do my eyes see, and what does my mind see?
I love the messiness of the human brain – did evolution see this coming?
In ‘Delete’ Mayer-Schönberger (2009. p. 1) suggests that forgetting, until recently was the norm, whereas today, courtesy of our digital existences, forgetting has become the exception. I think we still forget – we don’t try to remember phone numbers and addresses as we think we have them in our phone – until we wipe or lose the thing. In the past we’d write them down, even make the effort to remember the things. It is this need to ‘make an effort’ to construct a memory that I fear could be discombobulated. I’m disappointed though that Mayer-Schönberger stumbles for the false-conception ‘digital natives’ – this is the mistaken impression that there exists a generation that is more predisposed and able than any other when it comes to all things digital. Kids aren’t the only ones with times on their hands, or a passion for the new, or even the budget and will to be online. The empirical evidence shows that the concept of a digital native is unsound – there aren’t any. (Jones et al, 2010., Kennedy et al, 2009., Bennet and Maton, 2010., Ituma, 2011) The internet and digital possibilities have not created the perfect memory. (Mayer-Schönberger 2009. p. 3)
To start with how do we define ‘memory’ ?
A digital record is an artefact, it isn’t what is remembered at all. Indeed, the very nature of memory is that it is different every time you recall a fact or an event. It becomes nuanced, and coloured. It cannot help itself.
Fig. 6. Ink drops as ideas in a digital ocean
A memory like drops of ink in a pond touches different molecules every time you drip, drip, drip. When I hear a family story of what I did as a child, then see the film footage I create a false memory – I think I remember that I see, but the perspective might be from my adult father holding a camera, or my mother retelling the story through ‘rose tinted glasses’.
Fig. 7. Not the first attempt at a diary, that was when I was 11 ½ .
I kept a diary from March 1973 to 1992 or so. I learnt to write enough, a few bullet points in a five year diary in the first years – enough to recall other elements of that day. I don’t need the whole day. I could keep a record of what I read as I read so little – just text books and the odd novel. How might my mind treat my revisiting any of these texts? How well and quickly would it be recalled? Can this be measured? Do I want it cluttering the front of my brain?
The multiple uses of video in elearning
March 24, 2012 6:02 am / Leave a comment
What role does video play in elearning? What role does AV or video play in digital communications?
A simple question shared on Linkedin and picked up by a West End Production company led to my joining four producers for what became a two hour conversation yesterday. I based this conversation around a mindmap created in Bubbl.us, something a fellow MAODE student introduced me to over a year ago. (We were comparing tools, such as Compendium, for creating visualisations of learning designs).
I had thought about dripping ink into a glass of water to make a point: that digital content dripped into a digital ocean quickly dilutes, that binary code of text, images, video and sound can be melted down and mashed up in many ways. I wonder if an ice-cube in a G&T would have served the same purpose?
It is of course a metaphor, the suggestion that anything goes and anything can happen.
(I find these mind maps a far easier way to share ideas. It is non-linear. It is an aide-memoir. I’d put it online in Picasa and in a blog rather than printing off. I had expectations of calling it up on a huge boardroom screen, instead we struggled with a slow download in an edit suite. Sometimes only a print out would do. There wasn’t an iPad amongst them either).
We discussed the terms ‘e-learning’ and even ‘e-tivities‘ acknowledging that as digital activity is part of the new reality that online it is just ‘learning’ and that an ‘activity’ is best described as such.
Video online can be passive, like sitting back and watching a movie or TV. To become an activity requires engagement, sitting forward, and in most cases tapping away at a keyboard (though increasingly swiping across a touch screen).
‘Sit Back’ or ‘Sit Forward’ are phrases I recall from the era of ‘web-based learning’ a decade ago, even interactive learning on Laser Disc and DVD in the early 1990s.
There is science behind it, that learning requires engagement if stuff is to stick: watching a video, or a teacher/lecture is likely to be too passive for much to meaningful. The crudest activity is to take notes (and subsequently to write essays and be examined of course).
Here I am saying ‘anything goes’ that a piece of video used in learning may be short or long, with limited production values or ‘the full monty’, the kind of conference opener or commercial that are cinematic with production values and costs to match. We differentiated between ‘User Generated Content’ and ‘DIY’, between the amateur working alone and someone being guided through the craft skills of narrative story telling using video. I cited various examples and our our plans to bring alumni together over a weekend, to introduce TV production skills, hand out cameras and a sound kit (though some would bring their own), then based on responses to a creative brief, a synopsis and treatment, even a simple script, they would go away and shot then edit something. These pieces should have a credibility and authenticity as a result.
The kind of outputs include the video diary and the ‘collective’ montage with contributions from around the world linked with some device. A recording (with permission) of a web conference may meet the same criteria, embedded on a dashboard to allow for stop, stop, replay. A couple of other forms of ‘user generated content’ were mentioned, but neither taking notes nor recording the meeting I have forgotten. I use the negative expression ‘corporate wedding video’ for the clips that can be generated by teams who haven’t had the training, or lack the craft skills.
For the presentation I had spun through a dozen video pieces and grabbed screens as I went along, key moments in the presentation or some trick or approach that I liked to illustrate a point: text on screen, humour, slip-ups denoting authenticity and so on. Put online and embedded in a blog these images were a form or mashup. The images could be collated on Flickr. Whilst a piece of video on YouTube can be embedded anywhere a person wants it, this content in various ways can be reincorporated. Not a bad thing if links of some kind are retained. Providing a transcript and stills are ways to facilitate quoting from the piece, for getting the conversation going on a social platform. This depends of course on the client brief, whether there is a wish, let alone permission, supported by the right Creative Commons choices, to see content shared.
We discussed external and internal communications, the difference between content for the Internet or an Intranet.
We also discussed the likelihood of people to participate in this way. I like the simple split between ‘Digital Visitors’ and ‘Digital Residents’, between those who look and those who touch, those who observe from time to time, compared to those who take an active role. I quoted Jakob Neilsen and his 95:4:1 ratios between those online who simple browse or observer (what used to be pejoratively called lurking), those who rate, like or comment and the 1% who create the content.
Forrester Research have taken this further though this isn’t something I took them through:
Salmon, G (2002) The key to active learning online. (accessed 24th March 2012) https://tojde.anadolu.edu.tr/tojde8/reviews/etivities.htm
(This is one part of a larger mindmap. Things missed out here might be included elsewhere. Do please offer your thoughts. I have webcasts and webinars elsewhere. Then of course there is PowerPoint with voice, animations and ‘movies’ and many ways of presenting linear video in a non-linear dashboard).
Digital brain or digital ocean?
October 21, 2011 11:51 pm / Leave a comment
Does your e-portfolio get in the way or support what you do?
Whoever you are?
Whoever has a stake in it.
I recommend the use of e-portfolios, whether or not they are packaged as such.
Often the affordances are there either way. An assemblage of tools and services to store, collate, elaborate upon, develop, select and share all that can be digitised. Text for the most part, but images too, still and moving. And numbers, as stats or formulae. Assets in polite society, ‘stuff’; for a Saxon word and something in Latin for anyone trying to pull rank.
Whatever definition we come up with for ‘e-portfolios’, someone else has another one.
And why not, this is but functional flotsam-and-jetsam on the Digital Ocean?
Forget ‘clouds’, for me this is a ‘digital ocean’; an ocean that is nothing more than binary code, but forms into ‘bits’ that do things and ‘bits and bites’ that have things done to them. My first blog in September 1999 covered this.
Perhaps I should shift my thinking and take in ideas of both oceans and clouds, the binary code the water molecules that form the water cycle? (Google this for a trillion images)
Now there’s an idea. Fluid, changing, responsive … predictable to a degree … other times chaotic anre not so.
All e-portfolios are squirts of ink into this ocean. All content is drips, drops and an occasional multi-coloured deluge.
Though pre-empting bespoke consultative decision making on behalf of a client, real or imaginary, my simple advice regarding e-portfolios is – do it all.
1) Your own – that does the business and ought to be the final repository for e-materials that are being shared or assessed, that is easy-peasy to link or upload for those who are expert in these things or have a system that they play well and with which they can ‘sing.’
2) A smorgasbord of off the shelf e-portfolios that people may get free, or as part of their trade or other association, or be happy to subscribe for (after all, there’s a good deal that can be done with them that is personal, off-campus and away from work).
3) Their own. The end result, the content and where and how it is finally presented is all that matters. In any case, there is every chance that your students are more e-literate than you are, speak the code like their Mother Tongue and will do what so many students have done before them and re-invent the digital wheel. The content is its own subject matter expert – it is out there being freely exchanged and wikified to the ‘nth’ degree of finality.
4) With institutional, administrative, management and support from academics and tutors that alsos encourages peer support and so enables 1, 2 & 3.
And miraculously for me … under 500 words.
Though the first edit pushed this to 800. And if I care to reference and quote the dozen shoulders I’ve stood on to get here …
I’ll ruin it.
Perhaps I will. (Perhaps I have?)
I keep dipping my toe in and changing stuff. Then losing the sense of it. Give me a real-time conversation in a tutor group any day.
As I child I was taught to draw; my mother gave us all kinds of advice, a key moment being knowing when to stop. I can do this with a drawing or painting, with words, they just keep spilling into consciousness. You over draw or paint and you end up with mud and no way back. We were not allowed to use a rubber. We had to commit, make a linear journey (literally) and know went to stop.
Wherein lies the skill of the editor, the skill and advice of the agent and the commercial nose of a publisher.
Email is a snowball fight, a wiki is a snowman … I guess a blog is an ice-sculpture
May 17, 2011 11:08 am / 2 Comments on Email is a snowball fight, a wiki is a snowman … I guess a blog is an ice-sculpture
Fig. 1. A massive snowball fight
I’m taking copious notes from Collaborative Learning in a Wiki Environment: Experiences from a software engineering course. Minocha and Thomas (2007)
I made this note at the bottom of the third page:
- Email = snowball fight
- Wiki = building a snow man.
- Blog= ice-sculpture
What do you think?
Requires a cold climate. I like any metaphor to do with working online to the water cycle … oceans, currents, clouds, precipitation and so on. Why not snowballs and showmen?
I’ll share my notes in due course. I consider this to be a significant paper for H800, indeed for the Masters in Open and Distance Education.
I does a great deal more than study wiki best practice, its strengths and weaknesses, blogs get a look in (a wiki, and an e-portfolio are after all variations of the same thing).
New media, old thinking …
January 7, 2011 7:18 am / Leave a comment
Courtesy of Google and on the hunt for a quote that goes something along the lines of ‘analogies taught the world to think,’ I stumbled across the Quote Garden.
What strikes me is my feeling that the time engaged with the medium of the Internet is not a boast that it is wise to make, that it is counter-intuitive, that the best ideas are more likely to come from someone who got access to a computer with a broadband connection for the first time a few months ago and is bouncing out ideas like a sparkling Catherine-wheel that’s come un-nailed.
Wherein lies the dilemma for every creative working in this field – or pond, or my favourite analogy … in this ‘digital ocean.’
If the likes of Google and Facebook have gone from minnows to sharks, to leviathans worthy of the era of the dinosaurs, when does something new come along like a water-born virus and kill them off?
Or are Google, Facebook, Amazon an eBay vast shoals, even a branded variety of species now that are less vulnerable to such attack?
Faced with three deadlines over the next ten days what do I do? Something else.
I like something else, these sparks.
Where was I?
Working on a piece about wikis. I wish this were a wiki. I like them. They suit me. I will be an engaged participant, a catalyst, a stirrer-upper … though not necessarily an initiator or completer, because serendipity engages me and distraction takes me off again.
What does that make me in this digital ocean?
One of these?
Who are you?
Go fishing and post your fishy-self image in the comment box!
Cybserspace is an ocean
October 8, 2010 8:20 am / Leave a comment
My abiding image of cyberspace is of an ocean.
A product, a collection of tools and services, such as an e-portfolio, is but a few drops in such a digital ocean.
There are no barriers, except artificial ones … the movement between desk-top, smart-phone, VLE, e-portfolio, picture album, music gallery or whatever else should be seamless.