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Making meaning of complexity and change through metaphor

H800 wk23 a Activity 2

Stepping over the edge

‘A key characteristic of these new technologies is “learning by doing” – users need to be immersed in and “play with” the affordances that these new digital environments offer, and hence over time get a sense of how they can change practice.’ Conole (2011:403)

MY STUDENT BLOG AS A WORDLE

Whilst I may highlight and annotate, doing do on paper isn’t the easiest way to share; using a screen reader is worse because I find myself not enjoying having the obvious affordances, such as cut and paste, disabled.

I have an iPad to learn from it and to share what I discover.

It is both the angle and the devil on my shoulder.

Does it super-size my mind?

It thrills and engages it, indulges and expands, but also risks loosing me in its labarynthine tangles.

Saved for now by a To Do list that I refresh and follow.

But then I find an idea from Conole (see above) that is key.

The internet is a trip to the sea, it is somewhere to play and discover.

We may require Lifeguards and lane ropes but it remains largely an environment that can only be understood through engagement.

You will get you face wet,you may get bitten by a crab.

To share this thinking I must go online, and cannot help myself.  For the last three months I click through Linkedin, reading and responding.

For the next three it may be Stumbleupon, which through tricks and traits I find increasingly insightful, feeding me like a favourite aunt or uncle , the weirdness of the www.

Serendipity would be a better word for it.

I am rewarded by 25 minutes of browsing with ‘new finds’ that becomes stuff that I recommend which in turn obliges me to update my profile, might I even say ‘brand tag’ the finds as ‘mymindbursts’. (I need two days off to take stock and write up some ten on more blog entries.

Draft I know will do, from my experience as a diarist, just enough to trigger a more expansive and reflective entry)”.

To remind myself:

Monday 11th

Livestream on Social Media Metrics from IET. Five presenters. All to write up from my notes and screengrabs, cushioned or suffocated by the ‘official’ word and slides that have since gone up.

Tuesday 12th

Picklejar Social Media for HE in which Tracy Payle shares insights from a number of universities and through activities tips my thinking upside down and shakes it out onto the conference room table. I come away enlightened and as I had wanted, more confident if mot emboldened.

Thursday 20th

Faculty discussion on VLE and my experiences of The OU VLE to date. I take a look at the poster in the Post Room and discover a ‘common room’ I had been unaware of.

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Some thoughts on writing by Norman Mailer

From ‘The Spooky Art’

‘Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing.

It’s a simple rule

If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time.

Count on me

You are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.

The point is that you have to maintain trustworthy relations.

If you wake up in the morning with a hangover can cannot get to literary work, your unconscious, after a few such failures appear, will withdraw.’

He continues:

‘If you are ready to look upon your unconscious as a curious and semi alienated presence in yourself with whom you have to maintain decent relations – if you are able to see yourself as some sort of careless general and picture the unconscious as your often unruly cohort of troops – then, obviously, you wouldn’t dare to keep those troops out in the rain too long; certainly not at the commencement of any serious campaign. On the contrary, you make a pact: “work for me, fight for me, and I will honour and respect you.”’

He continues:

‘To repeat: The rule is that if you say to yourself you are going to write tomorrow, then it doesn’t matter how badly you’re hungover or how promising is a sudden invitation in the morning to do something more enjoyable. No, you go in dutifully, slavishly, and you work.

This injunction is wholly anti-romantic in spirit

But if you subject yourself to this impost upon yourself, this diktat to be dependable, then after a period of time – it an take weeks, or more – the unconscious, nursing its disappointments, may begin to trust you again.’

He continues:

‘On the other hand, you can sometimes say to yourself, “I’m not going to work tomorrow,” and the unconscious may even by now be close enough in accord not to flood your mind with brilliant and all-too-perishable material.

That is also important

Because in the course of going out and having the lively day and night you’re entitled too, you don’t want to keep having ideas about the book you’re on. Indeed, if you are able on your day off to avoid the unpleasant condition of being swarmed with thoughts about a work-in-progress when there is no pen in your hand, then you’ve arrived at one of the disciplines of a real writer. ‘

He wraps it up:

‘The rule in capsule

If you fail to show up in the morning after you vowed that you would be at your desk as you went to sleep last night, then you will walk around with ants in your brain.

Rule of thumb

Restlessness of mind can be measured by the number of promises that remain unkempt.’

 

E-learning explained – Making meaning from metaphor

It isn’t for lack of overwhelming, immersive and engaging content online, especially ‘how to’ movies and ‘clips’ in YouTube, its how you as an individual cope with this inexhaustible choice. Armed with an 3G tablet and sim card will we find we are learning more on the fly, taking it with us, much of it free, some of it guided and paid for?

Taking advantage of participation (Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (Seely-Brown), vicarious learning (Cox) and if you can get your tongue around it ‘serendipitous learning.’ (me I think).

I’m finding that 18 months in, and having really started this gig in 1998 when from the agency end we were migrating interactive DVD based learning to the Web, that I of necessity must balance the tools I can play (musical instrument metaphor), compared to those I play with (sandpit, training pool metaphor) … and I suppose those I am obliged to master whether I like it or not (prescriptive tools for work and study – in at the deep end metaphor?!).

Conole (2011) invites us to use ‘metaphors for meaning making’. I always have, often visualising these metaphors. Just search this diary on ‘Metaphor’ to see what comes up. Also try words or phrases such as ‘traffic light’, ‘nurture’, ‘gardening’, ‘swimming’, ‘spheres of influence’, ‘hub’, ‘serendipity’ as well as ‘water’ and ‘water-cycle’.

I therefore offer the following:

Linkedin (For Forums, like this, in groups and networks)

WordPress (for blogging, sharing, wiki like affordances, training, updates)

iPad (or Tablet) (Whilst PCs and Laptops have considerable power and versatility

Twitter (only for niche/target live discussions or quasi-synchronous conversations.

The rest of it is ‘Twitter Twaddle’ – spam of the worst kind being pumped out by pre-assigned links as CoTweets or random disconnected thoughts. This is killing some forums where RSS feeds of this stuff overwhelms any chance of a conversation).

I’ve seen two Forums killed, temporarily I hope, by this stuff, the largest victim being the Oxford University Alumni group. I believe it is simply the case of a new moderator niavely permitting Twitter feeds in on a discussion, ie. having the conversations between 30 disrupted by the disconnected chattering of 300.

Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons – and the impact on blogging

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

4. Are we at some ‘transition’ point, and if we are, what does this mean?

My tutor in H808 asked me this on 12th September.

I feel far better able to reply now after four months of H808 and some fortuitous reading, though I did respond at the time. My forum thread exchange then and reflection on it today will form part of my ECA.

It surprises me that I have subscribed to a magazine at all, but I find the New Scientist offers plenty on our e-world upon which to reflect and insights to all kinds of other things that tickle my brain.

It matters that you read broadly.

The French Film Director Francois Truffaut was a firm believer of reading everything and anything that caught your attention. He’d have loved the web. It matters that you follow what the web offers, then browse the shelves for magazines at the newsagent on the forecourt of your station.

My favourite button that has been crucial to the longevity of my blog (elsewhere) for the last seven years is ‘Enter@Random.’

We don’t think in chronological order.

thinking is a mess, it selects ideas and makes things up sing different sides and corners and crooks and crannies of our brains. I unplugged the calendar on my diary in year one and replaced it with 12 themes that have now grown to 37. For a period there were 37 blogs, but try managing that, to say you end up with a split personality is an understatement.

My tutor put it to me (and us) the H808 Tutor Group:

1. Are we hard-wired to how we conceptualise ideas?

Dr Vilayanur S Ramachandran thinks so. We have a unique capacity to think in metaphors. This matters. It is this ability that makes us creative, allows us to be inventive, it is what makes us human beings.

Read all about in the New Scientist.

Quoted here within the 200 word count permission for a student quote.

Added as for student reading in a non-commercial academic context having read the copyright permissions.

Ramachandran is particularly interested in metaphor because it ties in neatly with his previous work on synaesthesia – a kind of sensory hijack, where, for example, people see numbers as colours or taste words. “Metaphor is our ability to link seemingly unrelated ideas, just like synaesthesia links the senses,” he says.

After spending years working with people who have synaesthesia, he believes “pruning genes” are responsible. In the fetal brain, all parts of the brain are interconnected, but as we age, the connections are pruned. If the pruning genes get it wrong, the connections are off. “If you think of ideas as being enshrined in neural populations in the brain, if you get greater cross-connectivity you’re going to create a propensity towards metaphorical thinking,” he says.

I don’t have synaesthesia, neither does Ramachandran, but he points out to me the strangeness of asking why, say, the cheddar cheese in your sandwich is “sharp”. It’s true, cheese isn’t sharp, it’s soft, so why do I use a tactile adjective to describe a gustatory sensation? “It means our brains are already replete with synaesthetic metaphors,” he says. “Your loud shirt isn’t making any noise, it’s because the same genes that can predispose you to synaesthesia also predispose you to make links between seemingly unrelated ideas, which is the basis of creativity.”

www.NewScientist.com.

Thomson (2010)

Of the 12 photographs in this issue as many as 8, I think, are from the Getty Image bank. I wonder if one day, especially if I’m reading this on an iPad the images will move, rather as the paints are alive in the background of a Harry Potter movie. It wouldn’t take much for a photography to video as well as, or instead of taking a photograph. Indeed, the BBC now permit directors to generate HD TV footage using digital SLR cameras … the lenses are better, the creative choices wider.

Interesting.

2. Does this help or hinder the way we use eLearning tools?

How we use the web, let alone e-learning tools is in its infancy. We are still putting old ways online, still making web-pages into slide shows and calling them immersive learning. Gaming may change this, with the budget. Better, faster tools will enabled more. Collaboration on world wide wikis with like minds, and great minds, contributing will speed up the rate of change.

We’ll think in the same metaphors though, share and reinforce new metaphors and then some Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century will come along and break it apart. Though we may not appreciate their insights at all.

Mobile learning, smart-phone learning on the move, or whatever you want to call it should shake things up. At first this will be, and is, the same old stuff sent to your phone, basic card to card Q&A even if it includes a bit if video or an animated graph.

I want learning projected onto the back of my scull, I want it in my head, not online or in a device. I want interactions with specific parts of my brain. I want my brain duplicated so that I can take more lessons at the same time, to learn multiple languages and to take several degrees simultaneously.

3. Will children, say, 50 years from now, look at paper and pen in the same way as a person does now when they take a first look at computer?

It is extraordinary the relationship between our minds and out limbs, or arms and finger tips. With training we can sight read a score and play complex musical pieces, we can scroll, cut, edit, fly and colourise images into a piece of drama that has us crying, or heads in our hands and we can type, like the clappers.

We can draw too, and sculpt, and swim and dance and do gymnastics.

Our relationship with the nerves in our body is a complex one. As for handwriting, our relationship with fountain pens, marker pens and pencils? It ought to be a skill still taught at school, there need to be handwriting competitions as there once were … even if they are tied into art classes and design.

How different is a stylus on a tablet to a piece of chalk on a slate?

I implore my children to write and draw. An illegible Christmas list is no list at all. They’d type, they do type. Yet how backwards is a QWERTY keyboard?

4. Are we at some ‘transition’ point, and if we are, what does this mean?

Yes. And I mean to be part of it.

We have reached the Tipping Point.

A book a read if I recall in 2001 when we thought we were approaching a tipping point, actually we were reaching the point at which the first e-bubble would burst. First and last? These things go in cycles, whatever the politicians do to stymie human nature. Greed and regret, progress, reflection, reinvention … then we do it all over.

We’re not even less violent than we were at the times of the Viking raids.

Meandering? A stream of consciousness? Reflection? Regurgitation?

All of this, and it all matters. You don’t have to read it, and you probably haven’t. This is here for me to find when I need it in seven months or seven years time.

It is remarkable how your views change; so it matters to have what you originally thought in front of you. There are memories I have that haven’t just been reworked over the decades, but have become different events. This isn’t simply age, though that has much to do with it, I view what I did as a child or teenager as I observe my own children today, the difference is, I can’t influence the behaviour and actions of my younger self, though I can, I hope listen to and guide my own children to actions and decisions they will feel comfortable with in the years to come

REFERENCE

Thomson, H (2010) V. S. Ramachandran: Mind, metaphor and mirror neurons 10 January 2011 by Helen Thomson Magazine issue 2794.

When does a diary become a blog and is it diminished as a result?

In the Guardian Review, March 2003, William Boyd discussed the journal

‘There are many sort of journal: journals written with both eyes fixed firmly on posterity and other that were designed never to be read by anyone but the writer. There are journals content to tabulate the banal and humdrum details of ordinary lives and journals meant expressly to function as a witness to momentous events of history. There are journals that act as erotic stimulants or a psychoanalytic crutch and there are journals designed simply to function as an aide-memoire, perhaps as a rough draft for a later, more polished account of life and so on. But buried within these varying ambitions and motivations is a common factor that unites all these endeavours – the aspiration to be honest, to tell the truth. The implication being that in the privacy of this personal record, things will be said and observations made that couldn’t or wouldn’t be uttered in a more public forum. Hence the adjective “intimate” so often appended to the noun “journal”. The idea of secret diaries, of intimate journals, somehow goes to the core of this literary form: there is a default-setting of intimacy – of confession – in the private record of a life that not only encourages the writing of journals but also explains their fascination to the reader.’ William Boyd

I’ve written here often enough about why we blog.

I’d love to hear what you think. Why do we do it? The ‘we’ being the obsessive journal writers. I’m trying to gather ‘you’ (vous i.e. plural) into this debate.

William Boyd’s to Ten Journal Keepers

James Boswell http://www.jamesboswell.info/literature/boswells-london-journal-1762-1763

Keith Vaughan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Vaughan

Paul Klee. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Paul_Klee

Evelyn Waugh http://evelynwaughsociety.org/about-evelyn-waugh/diaries-letters/

Gilbert White http://www.infobritain.co.uk/gilbert_white_biography_and_visits.htm

Cyrical Connolly http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/cyril_connolly.html

Virginia Woof http://www.woolfonline.com/?q=diaries/vw/overview

Edmund Wilson http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/books/reviews/12446/

Valery Larbaud http://m.eb.com/topic/330472/Valery-Nicolas-Larbaud

Katherine Mansfield http://www.tusitala.org.uk/blog/katherine-mansfield-the-journal-and-the-collected-stories/

‘It mimics and reflects our own wayward passage through time like no other writing form.’

‘You have to be dead to escape the various charges of vanity, of special-pleading, of creeping amour-propre.’

My diary http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary

My record.

My journal.

My aide-memoire.

My lies.

My ties.

My deleterious exploits.

I’ve been at for thirty years; that isn’t a boast, it’s an confession. What Boyd says is true too, there’s no value in it until I die.

I wonder why? Often. But I do it anyway.

To save events in family life and to capture memories that may serve some literary purpose.

In the past I thought I might achieve something, it would become the record of a successful anything.

I can’t even do this properly.

What next?

I have details from estate agents (realtors) in France; I fancy a change. Different language, different culture, better weather – I should know. I’ve lived and loved there.

On vera. Il faut …

And the words fail me, I’ve not spoken French for five years and not written it for a decade.

The Secret Life of Words

Inspired by The History of English…in just a minute x10

I’ve got ‘The Secret Life of Words’ out again to enjoy a sustained romp through the WWW (weird world of words).

I think Dr Who with ADHD having to explain his preference for these Isles in a 60 second count down to the end of the universe.

Which words leave you discombobulated?

Which ones left you tickled pink?

My journey through the English language has been refreshed.

I have read his ‘The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English’ from cover to cover.

I’ll have to read his book on Dr Johnson’s Dictionary next. Or get my hands on Mencken’s book on ‘The American Language’ which the late Alistair Cook would often quote.

I’ve learnt about loan words, calques and coinage; words taken straight from a foreign language, expressions that are literal translations of a foreign language and invented words.

English is a language of constant invention.

I have a put down from the 16th century for any new fangled multiple-syllable techno babble I come across. I can call the author a ‘Controversialist’ – a writer who spurts out horrid polysyllables; and I might use the line, ‘such addicts of exotic terms would rarely use a short word where a long alternative could be found.’ From John Florio’s A Worlde of Wordes (1598)

I love the French loan word ‘Escargatoire’ which is ‘a nursery of snails’.

It amuses me that William Fox Talbot wanted to call photography ‘photogenic drawing’ while after Louis Daguerre we have ‘daguerreotype’ but pushed by Sir John Hersche ‘photography’ and ‘photo’ caught on. (Queen Victoria asked a grand-daughter for a ‘photo’ in a letter so that diminutive, the word not Herr Majesty, has older and loftier origins than we may have imagined).

I thought of ‘stakeholder’ as a word that had to be 1970s corporate speak, only to learn that it was first used in 1850, along with ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘capitalist.’

Etiquette has become ‘netiquette’ online

This is a Georgian notion and appears in Johnson’s dictionary of 1818. One piece of advice given regarding etiquette is to ‘be discreet and sparing of your words.’

Hitchings leaves mention of the Internet to the last pages of the final paragraph ‘Online communities, which are nothing if not eclectic, prove an especially rich breeding ground for new words.’

* extremes

* deliriously ludic (sic)

* personalised

* localised

‘The History of English…in ten minutes’

Voiced by Clive Anderson, Scripted by Jon Hunter (R4 Mock the Week/The News Quiz)

“When did English speaking scientists get round to naming the most intimate of the sexual body parts?

‘The History of English‘ squeezes 1600 years of history into 10 one-minute bites, uncovering the sources of English words and phrases from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to America and the Internet’.

Philip Sergeant (FELS) was the academic consultant.

The idea is based on the Open University course ‘Worlds of English’.

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

 

Two ways through the History of English – In Ten Minutes or Ten Days

Inspired by The History of English…in just a minute x10

I’ve got ‘The Secret Life of Words’ out again to enjoy a sustained romp through the WWW (weird world of words).

This History of English is a bite-sized comedic romp though academically sound-bite sized approach to learning – think “Just A Minute (BBC Radio 4) meets ‘The Reduced Shakespeare Company.’ I think Dr Who with ADHD having to explain his preference for these Isles in a 60 second count down to the end of the universe.

Which words leave you discombobulated?

Which ones left you tickled pink?

My journey through the English language has been refreshed.

I have read his ‘The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English’ from cover to cover. I’ll have to read his book on Dr Johnson’s Dictionary next. Or get my hands on Mencken’s book on ‘The American Language’ which the late Alistair Cook would often quote.

I’ve learnt about loan words, calques and coinage; words taken straight from a foreign language, expressions that are literal translations of a foreign language and invented words.

English is a language of constant invention.

I have a put down from the 16th century for any new fangled multiple-syllable techno babble I come across. I can call the author a ‘Controversialist’ – a writer who spurts out horrid polysyllables; and I might use the line, ‘such addicts of exotic terms would rarely use a short word where a long alternative could be found.’ From John Florio’s A Worlde of Wordes (1598)

I love the French loan word ‘Escargatoire’ which is ‘a nursery of snails’.

It amuses me that William Fox Talbot wanted to call photography ‘photogenic drawing’ while after Louis Daguerre we have ‘daguerreotype’ but pushed by Sir John Hersche ‘photography’ and ‘photo’ caught on. (Queen Victoria asked a grand-daughter for a ‘photo’ in a letter so that diminutive, the word not Herr Majesty, has older and loftier origins than we may have imagined).

I thought of ‘stakeholder’ as a word that had to be 1970s corporate speak, only to learn that it was first used in 1850, along with ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘capitalist.’

Etiquette has become ‘netiquette’ online

This is a Georgian notion and appears in Johnson’s dictionary of 1818. One piece of advice given regarding etiquette is to ‘be discreet and sparing of your words.’

Hitchings leaves mention of the Internet to the last pages of the final paragraph ‘Online communities, which are nothing if not eclectic, prove an especially rich breeding ground for new words.’

* extremes

* deliriously ludic (sic)

* personalised

* localised

‘The History of English…in ten minutes’

Voiced by Clive Anderson, Scripted by Jon Hunter (R4 Mock the Week/The News Quiz)

“When did English speaking scientists get round to naming the  most intimate of the sexual body parts? 

Voiced by Clive Anderson, this entertaining romp through ‘The History of English’ squeezes 1600 years of history into 10 one-minute bites, uncovering the sources of English words and phrases from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to America and the Internet.

Bursting with fascinating facts, the series looks at how English grew from a small tongue into a major global language before reflecting on the future of English in the 21st century. “

Philip Sergeant (FELS) was the academic consultant.

The idea is based on the Open University course ‘Worlds of English’.

The History of English
Jon Hunter

Dr Phil Searegeant

REFERENCE

The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008

 

Visualisation of the nurturing nature of education as expressed by Vygotsky

Whilst embracing ‘Activity Theory’ I cannot always use the argument lucidly.

Engestrom presents an idea of how people or communities/groups communicate and learn from each other; when two people start to agree with gushing enthusiasm I’d worry, something else is going on.

(Power play of some kind, or love?)

It is the very act of coming from a different stance that we as people begin to form ideas that are beyond our current understanding, literally at arm’s length like a glowing orb in the palm of our hands.

When such ‘objects’ of understanding collide (if I have understood Activity System’, fresh thinking for both parties occurs.

There is a reason in advertising (still I hope) why a copywriter sits with an art director; this is how ideas form.

Sitting in with ‘creatives’ and becoming one myself I came to appreciate such partnership … though it has taken me 30 years to understand what is going in.

It has taken the last year with The OU and a decade online to value the importance of letting go, to share , to collaborate, rather than being that lone author in a garret, hunched shoulders over my work.

Let your baby go … 

What I have always needed and thrive on are collaborators in the form of agents, producers, editors, publishers, fellow writers and directors, colleagues who help and enable, fellow bloggers too …

If a blogger blogs, what do you do if you are forever engaged in other social media such as Linkedin or Facebook?

‘e-Commentator’ already feels like a naff ‘noughties’ way to express it.

We’ve had our fill of ‘e-tivities’ and ‘e-learning’ haven’t we? It is just learning; they are just activities.

I return to Engestrom often.

My ability to trace my love hate acceptance path through his thinking attests to the value of doing this, my ‘learning journal’.

This is what initially had me befuddled and angry:

Two people are the easy part.

The interplay between SIX people because yet more complex.

At arm’s length, the objects, the ideas, views or knowledge that they have begins to take on its own identity. In advertising an idea, ‘belongs’ to the creative team of the copywriter and art director; it is they who nurture it through the production process NOT the Account Manager or Client. The creators need to see it through otherwise the idea is rapidly diluted. Think of a set of light bulbs in a row, the first bright, each in term a little more dim. This is a poster Winston Fletcher used on how ideas die; I experience it too often.

‘Expansive learning is based on Vygotsky, though three times removed; it implies that we learn within activity pockets as people and groups. The interplay between these groups are the consequential objects of learning that  transmogrify in the presence of other active objects. Solving problems, dealing with contradictions, may come about as these learning systems slide or shift’. Vernon (2011)

I like the way Vygotsky expresses it because it is how I visualised the education I received at the School of Communication Arts. It however lacks the dynamism of Engestrom and rather harks back to an approach to education that whilst admirable is fast being replaced.

As Vygotsky put it:

‘The gardener affects the germination of his flowers by increasing the temperature, regulating the moisture, varying the relative position of neighboring plants, and selecting and mixing soils and fertilizer, i.e. once again, indirectly, by making appropriate changed in the environment. Thus it is that the teacher educates the student by varying the environment’. Vygotsky 1926 (Kindle location 1129)

And further on he says:

‘The basic rule is that before imparting new knowledge to the child and before fostering a new reaction in him, we must be sure to prepare the ground for it i.e. arouse the appropriate interest. For an analogy, just think how we loosen the soil before planting seeds’. (Kindle location 1755, a page reference anyone? What are you supposed to do?)

The challenge when reading papers is how to make the subject matter comprehensible to the non-academic.

Some turn to diagrams, others to metaphors, yet others to cartoons.

I favour the lone speaker free of PowerPoint or even FlipChart.

If they can hold their argument and look into your eyes their conviction can be convincing.

Which has just convinced me of the important of the lecture. Expressed with poignancy by Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture (which has 14 million YouTube hits)

My goal as a communicator is to make complex comprehensible.

Academics have a tendency to tie themselves in knots. If they only talk to fellow academics no wonder. I recognise the value of visualising, of animated explanation, of the power of persuasive through discourse, of metaphors, and analogies, of ideas rising out of the confusion to present themselves.

The problem with all things WWW is that it is just trillions of binary Ones and Zeros in the cloud (which is why I like to use the water-cycle as an analogy).

This from Dion Hinchcliffe.

 

 

Whereas I would express it, if visualised at all, like this:

REFERENCE

Engeström (2001) article, Expansive learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualisation

Vygotsky, L (1926) Educational Psychology

Who decides on whether to cut off the fingers of those who create and disseminate user generated content?

From Wikipedia with commentary. 

Aggregated here though shared for the value of thinking about the myriad of ways we now generate content and the way user generated content has value that is different from content produced or published by institutions or corporations.

You see a programme and talk about it at a party. Or you talk about an event which a writer picks up and puts into a novel that is made into a film. Where does the conversational like disembodiment of the idea from a person’s head ‘find legs’ and get a life of its own. How should we use and value all of this ‘stuff?’ Perhaps in exactly the same way that we differentiate between journalism and scholarly writing, between chat (even if on topic) around the ‘water-cooler’ compared to a more formal teasing out of ideas in a tutorial.

It all matters, you just have to navigate around the choices with some sense of their different meanings and values.

What I favour about user generated content is how authentic and immediate it is. Think of the footage from smartphone of the Tsunami in Japan this March. The user generated content not only trumped the TV networks, but is already being applied in academic reseach by placing scholars at the point the footage was shot so that further analysis can be undertaken on what happened and the lessons to be learnt.

We live in interesting times.

For other uses, see UGC (disambiguation). User generated content (UGC) covers a range of media content available in a range of modern communications technologies.

It entered mainstream usage during 2005 having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles.

Its use for a wide range of applications, including problem processing, news, gossip and research, reflects the expansion of media production through new technologies that are accessible and affordable to the general public.

All digital media technologies are included, such as question-answer databases, digital video, blogging, podcasting, forums, review-sites, social networking, mobile phone photography and wikis.

In addition to these technologies, user generated content may also employ a combination of open source, free software, and flexible licensing or related agreements to further reduce the barriers to collaboration, skill-building and discovery.

Sometimes UGC can constitute only a portion of a website.

For example on Amazon.com the majority of content is prepared by administrators, but numerous user reviews of the products being sold are submitted by regular users of the site.

Often UGC is partially or totally monitored by website administrators to avoid offensive content or language, copyright infringement issues, or simply to determine if the content posted is relevant to the site’s general theme.

Just because you ‘generate’ stuff doesn’t mean it will be permitted. How does a business or institution manage often valuable input from stakeholders? Do you ‘cut your face off to spite yourself’by disallowing such stuff? An organisation that shuts down the voices that sing its praises are surely shooting themselves in the foot.

The very nature of the networked, online, switched-on world in which we now leave favours those, like Cisco Systems with its 1300 employee blogs, that embrace what is going on. Indeed, this number of activity would and does quickly drown out the detractors. Use the power of the crowd to police your message, because you never can.

Think of it as having an Open Day every day. People come and go. But the crowds swell. Do you issue edicts then send trained staff off to tell people they can or annot talk about x or y, or talk at all? And if they are going to talk, it can only be in a specific location where everything you say will be recorded, delayed for moderation, and only then shared with a myriad of additional tags attached ot it that are not of your choice. Might this be like talking through a gas-mask.

I do wonder.

To fail to engage is to disappear. Institutions will be noticeable for their absence. The advantage the OU has are the numbers of students and alumni. If research suggests that only 1% of those active online blog, then the OU should expect 3,000 to be out there. If we add in alumni groups this figure might rise to 30,000?

(And don’t give me the generational thing … research, take that by Richardson 2003,2005,2007,2011 at the OU knocks that nonsense on the head). IT has nothing to do with when you were born, and everything to do with personality, education, having the kit and making the time.

Here’s a thought, if you want to police content who should do so? The publisher, editor or print unions? Does it not have to come down to the audience deciding what they consider acceptable or of interest to them or not?

Just let ’em have it.

There’s enough out there for the dross to get lost and enough like-minded people on your side to drown out the miscreants or the negativity as it inevitably, occasionally, occurs.

Trust them.

If someone is proud of who they are and where they work and what they do, let them sing its praises, let them create supportive content. Encourage, enable, even reward and from time to time offer additional resources if they are on a roll and readers are flocking to their banner.

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