Monthly Archives: January 2006

So magnificently preposterous that it has to be redistributed

This from WFMU FM’s Beware of the Blog:

…After freemasons and lumberjacks, the only logical next topic is Wittgenstein, like Mozart an Austrian native. During the first world war he wrote the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, in which he claimed to have solved all problems of philosophy. Here is the famous second paragraph of the introduction in English translation:

The book deals with the problems of philosophy and shows, as I believe, that the method of formulating these problems rests on the misunderstanding of the logic of our language. Its whole meaning could be summed up somewhat as follows: What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.

That last half sentence just asks to be set to music, and it is strange that it took a whole 46 years until Finnish troubadour M. A. Numminen did just that, accompanied by the Sohon Torwet brass band. You can hear the tune with the original German lyrics “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigenhere (MP3).

Instant Whuffie

43,000 Google hits today for Whuffie, Cory Doctorow’s brilliant creation (which I suppose began life as a sniglet, but by now has passed into more general currency). And I discover that adding a single tag in Flickr (it was ‘tintype’) applied to 25 or so images got an immediate response from five old photo enthusiasts, who added me as a Flickr Contact. That’s more (and more instantaneous) attention than any of my previous cyberspace efforts have ever garnered, and there’s a lesson or two in that.
On the one hand, vernacular photography is of broader (and maybe deeper) interest to more people than maunderings about coulda shoulda in Education, and on the other hand, tagging really works when one plunges into it as a medium of social exchange. Neither observation is really news…


George Siemens has had it with the term ‘2.0’ and the hype and ballyhoo that implies that learning has changed somehow:

Current talk and hype about learning 2.0 blurs the line between what has changed and what has not. We don’t have a new version of learning (i.e the act of learning itself). We do, however, have a new climate in which different approaches need to be taken to foster learning. Our old systems don’t work today. But the problem isn’t that we need to rethink the act of learning (30 years doesn’t result in much “evolution of the human brain”)…

Learning is all around – TV, newspapers, internet, conversations, etc. We can’t get away from learning. Yet we toil away in front of our computers, designing for this narrow space called “learning”. I think the learning specialist of tomorrow (as early as five years) will hold many positions not traditional to our field… Those who understand the new space of constant learning will play a key role in helping organizations and people achieve their potential… We simply think too small. We think we are trimming the hedges, when we have the potential to alter the entire landscape – to alter the very make up of the soil in which the hedges grow.

You can hear him via Odeo [8 minutes of conversational eloquence]. A few outtakes:

Learning today has more dimensions than what learning previously had… not confined to structured, static processes…
The most critical knowledge challenge for most people today is the ability to stay current…
Learning has fundamentally shifted on many levels from static learning to …complex, chaotic learning…
We now need current knowledge rather than static knowledge, so what happens then is that we need different tools in certain cases…
There is no learning of a next generation.
Learning is what learning has always been. What has changed is our need for learning, and some of the tools that we have access to in the learning process…

In the comments to George’s post, Jeremy Hiebert nails it well:

One important part of this shift is in people actively taking more responsibility for their learning — figuring out what they need to learn to achieve a goal (maybe to get things done in jobs where they’re empowered to solve problems rather than just being part of the assembly line), choosing when and how to learn, and seeking out the connections they require (resources, people, content, etc). Most of these decisions have traditionally been the responsibility of instructors, curriculum directors and instructional designers shaping courses and programs.

These days, it’s the proliferation of tools for personal active learning that interests me. The suite of blog and wiki and audio and video tools facilitates a great enrichment of communication to audiences, outside the confines of traditional teaching-learning spaces, and in the hands of people with something to say. The ambivalence and even hostility of established institutions (schools, colleges, academic disciplines) to self-directed learning is hardly surprising, but those dinosaurs have always been slow to embrace innovation. They do what they’ve always done (credentialing and branding, enculturation to the dominant mode) but they’re just not all that interesting anymore.

links for 2006-01-10