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Factors that led to the creation of the Web

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A neurobiologist would argue that all manifestations of human inventiveness stem from our ability to think in metaphors and therefore to be able to see beyond our current reality. The authors and thinkers who have imagined and tried to create a library of everything, an index of everything, a microfiche or computer of evrything are many: H G Wells and Douglas Adam, Vanevar Bush, Thomas Bodley …. Regarding the issue of the origins or history of the Web’s inception it is a complex and massive human story, indeed, like the roots of a growing tree as a mirror to what is going on above the ground, it has the potential to fill many volumes and to occupy many minds. Perspective is everything – education, culture, personal experience, personality and academic discipline – each would offer a different perspective. Pressing on with a biological metaphor perhaps like the origins of life on earth we can nonetheless start from a specific moment – the equivalent of those first cells that began to split and evolve?

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Paper and pencil surveys vs. online surveys … and the ghost of Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams would have enjoyed the conundrums and shifts and highlighted the potential for farce and inaccuracy, while throwing up some universal truths about us human beings – we are chaotic, unstable and include contrarians amongst us. In particular I wonder about the sense that we have multiple and shifting personalities and behaviours which are in constant flux and either stabilised or destabilised by who we are and circumstances.
In 2001 a diary platform I used introduced surveys and they become an entertainment form both in how questions were posed and what they revealed about the person. As they were public and discussed it was clear that for some these were a performance of sorts and a long, long way from being valid, but often great stories and insightful the way good fiction can be. Adam Joinson talks of people easing off the surveys   – indeed, they are far too easy to create and more often than not these days are for ‘data mining’ rather than research. You know the genuine survey because of the volume of legalese and the ‘boring’ (though accurate) format of the survey itself. And they take time to fill in, rather than survey ‘quickies’ which are likely to be the first stage in a sales pitch.
Completing Job specs online are a kind of survey – it was and is so much easier simply to attach a CV, but few institutions now permit this. How therefore do we, the respondees, maintain control over what we are saying and how this data may be shared, revealed or used. Even the OU’s OLDS MOOC, only now long after it is over, have I read the last couple of paragraphs saying that the MOOC will be used for research purposes and that they cannot even guarantee that identities might be revealed. This therefore leads to bias in the way people self–select – those who do the surveys having an agenda, or wanting to have a voice, while a significant percentage of others won’t go near them (or even have a social presence online). Just because someone isn’t on Facebook or Linkedin doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
As for context, courtesy of the iPad, if I complete a survey and it is ‘fun’ to do then I am likely to be in the bath or on the loo. Or half asleep and in bed with a few minutes to kill before my wife emerges from her study and we both give up for the day. Mood impacts results. People could just as well fit these in while commuting into work – all this has to impact on mood and attitude and therefore the kind and quality of responses. This from someone who will vote red, blue, green or yellow depending on my ‘feelings’ that week.
Do the problems get ‘ironed out’ with sample size? 10,000 online responses compared to ‘100’ off the street for example?
My experience with medical market research is that different interviewers – crabby, old, blunt and plain compared to jolly, eager journalistic and young has a knock on effect all the way down the line – the nature and quality if the interview to start with – but this translates, literally, into the person who analyses these interviews – say 30/40 each an hour long. The scope for bias and inaccuracy increases – and is then reduced to a summary as no one has time to read the full report. (And even where commercial sponsorship of surveys is announced audiences of professional ar conferences, it has been shown, tune this information out – like warnings on cigarette packets).
On time , or late. Location. Kind of recording device. ‘Payment’. Rather the same avatar, rather like a SatNav?
Questionable when feedback or desire to communicate is presented as a survey – so moments after posting I find I have the response, ‘oh, that’s an  interesting concern, I’ll copy in, or make sure they know’.
I have from time to time just ran through a survey I felt obliged to do and given everything the top mark. Just before posting I see that the Likert scale has been inverted or turned around from time to time so I may be saying I thought X or Y was dreadful. I post anyway on the basis that it’ll be marked as an invalid paper but at least I have had the satisfaction of doing the thing and in some instances ‘getting it off my back’ having volunteered to take surveys every quarter from the local council.
As for humanity or humour some of the surveys and results in Viz Magazine or Private Eye say more about the human psyche and British humour than any formal survey can manage.
If anyone fancies a 27 part ‘dream survey’ I’ve had online let me know.
I’ll leave the kinds of things created at the frontiers of blogland circa 2001 to your imagination.

I find reflection spiralling out of control into an extra-terrestrial maelstrom of thought that has nothing to do with the ‘job at hand.’

At the macro level reflection for me is on the scale, and of equal significance to Douglas Adams and ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and the Meaning of Life and Everything.’

I find reflection spiralling out of control into an extra-terrestrial maelstrom of thought that has nothing to do with the ‘job at hand.’

At the micro level, the job at hand is a tiny part (10%) of a TMA in a unit, of a module of an OU Course.

My mindset has to be of a myopic jeweller with some gems and a gold band.

I don’t mean to trivialise it. On the contrary. I worry how in my life reflection has never imposed itself. I see, I feel, I do. If I reflect it is to look in a mirror and accept what I see, not try to change it.

Reflection has been hijacked by educational institutions. Don’t have time to mark a student’s work, get them to mark it themselves  … and then judge their ability to reflect on what they have done.

I think you can take from this that I don’t value reflection as a tool to assess a student. As a tool to gauge a person’s position, as a coach or facilitator to build on that person’s personal view of themselves – brilliant. But to give it a mark, pants.

Given that for the seventh or eighth time in the last two decades I have been advised that I am skewed towards action and visualisation I have to wonder how I can, or do, generate this amount of verbiage.

I am transcribing a dialogue between characters. I have a scene in my mind’s eyes as I type. I even see people, from the OU course, tutors, others … friends, as if attending a garden party.

For me reflection has to be, as it has been taken twenty years to engrain itself, the kind of introspection, sharing and reflection, fictionalisation and admonition, of Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Virginia Woolf and Proust. I favour, absolutely, the indulgence of a Proustian ‘Involuntary Rush’ and its relevance to the person in this state. Serendipity. Where is there space for it if we are shunted down a dead track, into a Waste Land.

I go with Kolb and Cowan, their cycles and spirals. I favour the hurricane, the tornado over the spinning top. Which is what this is, spinning a top through a set of questions: what happened? What next? So what?! And then, I suppose, not a lot, or a lot, you defend your position, you stick, you retreat or move forward. Is this reflection.

Stopped by a Police Motorcycle on the A1 South of Gateshead my mother turned to her children and said, ‘cry,’ look uspet.’ And in due course, the traffic cop, seing three miserable children and a harassed Mum let her off the speeding fine.

Was that micro reflection on her behalf? Is this a Proustian ‘involuntary rush’ on mine.

Where lies this in education? Everywhere, especially in education social networking, which I have hated and now smile at. Reflecting on the whiffs of conversation I dared pick up as my daughter typed into Facebook with the speed of criminal law court copyist. The bulk of what her generation are learning is being done this way – socialising, homework, the entire mess of life a 21st century melange which says to me the OU is not right to say I am wrong, when I may be proved right and ‘they’ haven’t a clue.

I suggested to someone today that I would like to do one MA after another, five years a time, ’til the day I day. The OU can have my money and my mind. This is a little boy in a sweet shop.

Next up History of Art … with the OU, while doing an MA in Fine Art.

Then a return to History, 1066 to the Restoration for starters. Or Modern or Contemporary History? I fancy the First World War and have trunks (literally) a libary of books and other resources and artifacts on that one.

Geography, and all that it embraces.

English Literature and creative writing.

And French, once I’ve mastered the written language.

and kite surfing, and paragliding …

In your dreams mate, in your dreams.

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