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Martin Weller, in ‘The Digital Scholar’ looks forward to the time when there will be such people – a decade hence. I suggested, in a review of his book in Amazon, that ’10 months’ was more likely given the pace of change, to which he replied that academia was rather slow to change. That was 18 months ago.
Are there any ‘digital scholars’ out there?
How do we spot them? Is there a field guide for such things?
I can think of a few candidates I have come across, people learning entirely online for a myriad of reasons and developing scholarly skills without, or only rarely, using a library, attending a tutorial or lecture, or sitting an exam. But can they ever be considered ‘scholarly’ without such things? They’ll need to collaborate with colleagues and conduct research.
Fig. 1. The latest expression of how I learn on line. February 2013
This has gone through various forms and ought to included learning across all platforms – I get books from Amazon where the eBook doesn’t exist, I use sheets of A1 paper on a drawing board to sketch out ideas and plans, I use the iPad as a digital camera and use a digital SLR too.
Fig. 2. How it was
The difference? Even more reading and writing.
Fig. 3. Earlier still. A year ago?
A more realistic expression of my learning environment or context i.e. taking on board multiple influences
Fig. 4. A difference expression of the same thing – centred on e-learning
Think of this as a leaf
We’ve gone through an era of learning as ‘trees of knowledge’; now all the leaves have blown off. With everything tagged and searchable you can still find what you need on the ground.
This is the idea
I buy this, more or less. I’d been thinking of it like this for some years, but today I’ve moved on – it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t work given that the leaves can be any asset that can be digitised. With the leaf analogy we have to set parameters and have types of leaf (even across plant species, or across the cycle of seasons in temperate climate, there isn’t scale or variety that is adequate).
I question digital data or aggregations of binary code being given an organic reference
I prefer to think of the Internet and the World Wide Web as an ocean and ‘stuff’ as water molecules.With this analogy we can throw in the water-cycle, icebergs and glaciers, clouds, rivers and tributaries … snow and storms.
Everything is random
It is until you give it value, until you file or tag it. If you neither file nor tag, then your digital ‘stuff’ may was well not exist, not for sharing at least. How will you find it?
‘Everything is miscellaneous’ (David Weinberger) is a worthwhile read: cover-to-cover.
‘The best digital strategy is to dump everything into one large miscellaneous pile and leave it to the machines to find exactly the table settings we need for tonight’s dinner’. p85
I was reading ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’ that includes a David Weinberger contribution too – I loathe it (for now). I’ll keep wondering why:
Because it reads like a collection of smalmy articles for ‘Esquire’ ?
Because it invites dialogue but in print form there is none – like going to a party and only being in a position to listen to the guys who have had too much to drink and think they know it all.
(This may be a love/hate relationship developing here … it challenges me to return to the text. Which reminds me, it was intriguing to find the OU Library copy of the book full of pencil mark highlights and notes. See, a reader couldn’t resist i.e. it isn’t content for print).
Weinberger imagined what it would be like to be sitting in a new home with 157 moving boxes all labelled ‘miscellaneous’ – (87) Sound like a great way to get out of a house, just box it up and go. I even like the random nature of what you then find yourself with.
Where is the role of serendipity in this searchable and tagged world of ours?
It pays to buy quality
22 years ago I bought a set of lenses for my Minolta SLR. Eight years ago I mothballed the camera and lenses.
Since Christmas I’ve been armed with a Sony Alpha digital SLR body: my favourite lenses have given a new lease of life. Here they are:
These are my favourite lenses
A fish eye for interiors that covers the space you inhabit, the warping of lines irrelevant to grabbing the space. A fun way too to get a bunch of people huggled around the lens. And a long lens to get close … without getting close. And not so massive that I look like the Paparazzi I am never.
Who needs words with a simple set up like this?
The next step will be a body that records Hi-Def video … and after that digital 35mm (Sony again).
- And an underwater housing.
- And a Steadicam.
- And, of course, a ‘Jonathan Jib.’
‘I’ve been a bad, bad, girl’, continues Pink from her song ‘dear, dear diary’.
There’s a piece in the New Scientist this last fortnight about the merits of not only keeping a diary, but digitizing every moment of your waking life. The piece opens with the suggestion that at this time of year everyone is buying a diary; they’re not. Most of us buy a diary in August as an academic diary if you have anything to do with education (student, teacher, academic or parent) is a much more logical thing to have to carry you through the school year. In any case, who cares where you start your diary if its digital or even a Filofax insert.
There’s criticism of the Five Year Diary format, those diaries with a few lines to cover the day’s events – where did Twitter get their idea from. A few lines every day is far easier to achieve than a page or more per day. I should know, I’ve been at it long enough.
Parameters, as any writer will know, matter.
They contain what might otherwise be a stream of never ending unconsciousness
Deadlines and word counts are helpful.
I wish I could do the research against the clock too. I have to give X hours to each topic, I would happily give x weeks and a some stage in that week I’d see I could press on for a month. I get this way when my curiosity is taking me off on a mental ramble.
The idea of keeping an objective, digitally record of everything you do does intrigue, not because of the data it captures, though I’ve had a few years that would be fun to re-live, but what it misses out. This is the idea of a researcher at Micrsoft who is recording his every action (and motion). However, the process misses out how you feel, and what you think.
And would have to be deactivated going through airports, going to the bank or Post Office, swimming with the kids in a public pool … there’s quite a list.
‘It’s a matter of love,’ wrote Nabakov, ‘the more you love a memory the stronger than memory becomes.’
How is such strength afforded a memory that remains on the surface of the mind, as there is no need to make the mental effort to embedded it, or to recall it, other than watching it over like a movie. A very bad, very dull, badly lit and performed movie.
‘By having everything in e-memory you don’t have to remember anymore.’
On the contrary by short-circuiting the implicit, instinctive natural memories making myelination process of the brain you are replacing something fluid and static, albeit it a multitude of snapshots.