I've observed before that Dave Pollard is prescient. This may be a further demonstration of his powers:
I think the next tipping point will be focused on wikis. We are close to the point where we will no longer have to pick an 'application' to create, open or change a document, any more than we have to pick a particular type of writing implement to do so in the physical world. What that will allow us to do is convert our entire hard drive -- every document -- and all the content we maintain on central servers -- every message and blog post, into a single 'virtual' wiki, a kind of giant tableau of all our stuff, everything we have created or contributed to, and everything created by others we have filed away or bookmarked or otherwise 'taken as our own'.
This would be useful, first of all, for personal navigation. Google Desktop is a big help, but it's still a hunt-and-peck kind of personal content management. A wiki of our 'universe of knowledge' with a mind-map-type navigator would allow us to explore and amplify what we know and share with others in a more holistic, powerful way than anything we can do now. It would allow us to 'get our head around' everything we know, and care about, everything that has meaning for us. It could literally allow us to 'expand our minds'.
But -- and here's the really exciting part -- it could also allow us to 'share our brain' with someone else, to allow someone else to see how we think, and what we think about, and get an idea of the frame of mind that organizes, filters and colours our thoughts. And, if memory becomes cheap enough, we could even 'subscribe to' the wikis of those whose thoughts, for whatever personal or professional reason, we care about, and we could then annotate that other person's 'brain', shared consciousness, with our own interpretations, understandings and amplifications, and, if we and that other person were so inclined, we could then share that 'feedback' with the person whose thoughts provoked it. A kind of digital, brain-to-brain, dialogue or conversation. What could come of all of this might be some shared spaces, some collective intelligence that two or more people agreed was a synthesis of information, agreement or shared understanding, that they owned in common. So your wiki would then have three 'flavours' of content:
- stuff that you created (more or less) yourself
- stuff that others created that you have taken for your own, your 'accepted wisdom'
- stuff that is 'shared wisdom' that you and others have inseparably created in common
We are presumably close to the point where transcriptions of conversations could also be indexed and added to this repository.
Quite a bit to wrap the mind around, and I don't really see how to get there from here, but this is a posting to put where I can revisit it in weeks or months, and it's certainly going to affect my scans of emergent wiki technologies and practise. It's a deal more humane than Ray Kurzweil's vision of the future in silico.
Gardner tossed me a nice one in his Oook’s on a roll posting:
I hope he won’t dawdle too long in his splendid New England otium.
The fundamental sense of otium is
leisure, ease, peace...and my Latin dictionary glosses otium as
leisure, free time, relaxation, freedom from public affairs, retirement, peace, quiet, ease, idleness, inactivity. But the fun really begins when one Googles the word: a glassblowing site says
“Otium”, which literally means “to be at ease”, reflects their desire to create environments that soothe, comfort, and nurture the soul.
As I've so often found in my role as a Reference Librarian, it's the hunt that's the real fun. You find gems like this:
Otium cum dignitatem
El ideal de "vida contemplativa" que proponían algunos de los filósofos antiguos se veía reflejado en lo que ellos denominaron "Otium cum dignitatem", una forma de emplear nuestro tiempo de ocio que nos permita desarrollar nuevas sensibilidades, ampliar nuestros conocimientos, entrar en contacto con otras culturas o contemplar la belleza en sus diferentes formas de expresión.
My Spanish is, well, vestigial, so I accepted Google's offer of translation and got this:
The ideal of "contemplativa life" which they proposed some of the old philosophers saw reflected in which they denominated "Otium cum dignitatem", a form to use our time of leisure that allows to develop the new sensitivities us, to extend our knowledge, to make contact with other cultures or to contemplate the beauty in its different forms from expression.
Yeah. Worth the price of admission.
And on a homeschool site I found a Latin phrase not entirely irrelevant to the present:
Otium bello saepe non conservamus
'We do not often preserve peace by war'
I see that the word has snuck into Scandinavian languages --in Swedish and Danish and Norwegian it seems to be a good solid word for 'vacation'
And I found (among the few Google hits in English) a Christian Science Monitor article from 2002, Richard O'Mara In praise of otium that offers this delicious nugget:
There is an archaic idea hardly ever discussed these days. The Romans had a word for it: otium, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "the aristocratic mode of leisure. Thinking," or "dignified leisure," "the otium of literary pursuits."
For the last few days I've been exploring Schtuff, a free wiki environment. The current state takes off from here, and may continue to thrive as I explore the territory of Teaching and Learning. I'm hoping to get several co-conspirators to collaborate.
...and a nudge from Gardner Campbell projected me into creating a Nova Scotia Faces wiki as an extension of the conventional Web page... it's too much fun.
I keep finding gems that ought to be more widely appreciated, and I tuck them away in various Web pages, sometimes sending them on to others who will appreciate them. I resolve to put more of them into the blog, which I'm coming to think of as my very own Commonplace Book.
Today, a curious but eminently typical wandering amongst links took me to this wonderful bit of clarity from Gardner Campbell, balm to those wondering why they don't Get It, and what to do about it:
...it's very easy to grow babies in this business. On some level, I want a bit of that "I'm on my own" feeling among the faculty I serve because it helps them take constructive ownership of their use of the tools. In some respects, even a simple hammer in the hands of a single user becomes an occasion for support problems that (here's the point) anyone who picks up a hammer more than once learns to accept. Doesn't mean there's no support, but it does mean that there are no guarantees, and that an acceptable level of risk and an appropriate level of personal resourcefulness needs to be part of any strategic deployment of any tool.How did I get here? The passage is hidden away in a comment on one of Brian Lamb's postings from September 2005, linked in musings from the fog, which appeared yesterday ("...depending on third-party apps, even well-established ones like Technorati can cause its own form of pain..."). Gardner may not even remember that he wrote it, and Brian may not have been as cheered by it then as I am today.
Again, in some respects: "small pieces loosely joined" reveals the responsibility that's inherent in any kind of significant agency. That doesn't mean no end-user support. It does mean that this tool we call a "computer" is useful in direct proportion to the amount of learning and risk we're willing to accept.
I owe Rudy Rucker a lot for his instantiation of wetware, a concept I used as a Leitmotif in every class I taught in the last 6 years at W&L. In today's blog posting he links to his Writer's Toolkit, which looks like it's an education in itself. Just yesterday I was unpacking a box of scifi books and stumbled on Freeware, and thought how it would be worthwhile to reread the whole -ware series, and now I have a pony for that project. Here's a bit from what he calls "my ever-growing cumulative email interview":
Science fiction is writing that analyzes some fast-changing aspect of society by extrapolating current trends into the future or into an alternate world. Traditionally science fiction has certain standard tropes that it uses, but new ones are being developed all the time --- I'm thinking of things like blaster guns, spaceships, time machines, aliens, telepathy, flying saucers, warped space, faster-than-light travel, holograms, immersive virtual reality, robots, teleportation, endless shrinking, levitation, antigravity, generation starships, ecodisaster, blowing up Earth, pleasure-center zappers, mind viruses, the attack of the giant ants, and the fourth dimension. I call these our 'power chords,' analogous to the heavy chords that rock bands use.
When a writer uses an SF power chord, there's an implicit understanding with the informed readers that this is indeed familiar ground. And it's expected the writer will do something fresh with the trope.
In an email exchange with Bryan Alexander yesterday I confessed that I dispair of formal education --its short-sightedness, hide-boundness, bloated pomposities... a familiar litany. There's plenty of grist for that mill in recent postings to blogs I've been following.
Alex Halavais relates a sad tale of administrative mindlessness, all too common on campuses:
We have a new "mobile classroom" for the School of Informatics lab, consisting of a gaggle of tablet PCs for classroom use. However, unlike some mobile classrooms, we have neither a cart nor a wireless hub to allow for this to be wheeled into a classroom. Central computing won’t allow rogue wireless hubs.
The problem is that they also have decided not to provide access to the wireless network in the classrooms. The reason: they say that professors didn’t want students to have access. That they found email checking too distracting...
Cutting off wireless in the classroom is not a pedagogically-driven decision, it is an indication of how broken higher education is right now.
...classroom blogging is primarily about responding to texts and not producing them... blogging allows students to think through texts and ideas, that it enables them to use their own writing and that of their peers as a cognitive tool.
This approach is very new. Our students are used to the transmission model of education and have never been told that writing helps process and synthesize ideas or that we learn best when we write and have to defend, reorganize, refine, and further develop our thoughts. They have never been told that interacting with texts composed by others can be a very effective way of thinking through a problem. George Siemens is right: "Our most limiting challenge is our existing views of learning."
Last night's Antique Phonograph Music Program from WFMU included the 1925 recording of The John T. Scopes Case (3:00), which ought to be more accessible in these parlous times. I also happened upon Noah Adams' NPR Timeline program, Remembering the Scopes Monkey Trial.
In any given day I read and listen to a lot of different things, many of which turn out to interdigitate in unexpected ways. Today's cases in point: I read a blog posting at Savage Minds pointing to STSWiki, which got me started thinking about History of Technology again (I taught a course on that subject in 1999). If I was setting out to teach a History of Technology course in 2005, I'd do it differently: I'd surely use the Wikipedia page as a springboard --and have the students do projects which would extend the page and pages it links to. And I'd also use STSWiki as an adjunct, following how the site develops as members of the conversation elaborate on the beginning.
That's just obvious, but how did we get there/here?
That question was uppermost in Stephen Downes' recent opening keynote "On Being Radical" at the Saskatchewan Association for Computers in Education --PowerPoints also available... This from one of the last slides:
To be radical is to grasp empowerment and define a vision based on that empowerment for a better, freer society…The whole presentation, like everything I've heard Stephen Downes do, is continuously and consistently interesting and fresh --not just the same ideas over and over.
“…a society where knowledge and learning are public goods, freely created and shared, not hoarded or withheld in order to extract wealth or influence.”
I'm taking the plunge into a project to scan and annotate the best of my collections of Nova Scotia Faces, something I've been meaning to do for many years. I'm not sure just what the overall structure of the enterprise will be, and I'm in no hurry.
I've listened to r0ml Lefkowitz' OSCON 2005 keynote (The Semasiology of Open Source [Part 2]) several times, and grokked more with each hearing. It's a tour de force of allusion and connection, and I decided to snip out some bits that really should have a wider listenership. They pretty much stand alone, though the ones I've chosen aren't mostly about the nominal subject of the changing meanings of Open Source.
He makes repeated use of a favorite bit from Princess Bride: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." (Inigo Montoya [Mandy Patinkin]). This gets across the essence of semasiology very memorably.
He discusses Don Knuth's development of the language APL, and as an aside, mentions Knuth's instantiation of the term "Web" (0:27)
He really gets going with the example of the history of reading (5:15) --the percentage literate refers to the ability to read the code of programs. He ends with a farrago on reading aloud, and silently (8:13), citing Saints Isidore, Augustine, and Ambrose ...and Charlemagne and Alcuin of York too.
Now that's a Keynote!
Alan Levine has a nice piece on using blog citations, from which this is an excerpt:
There is a lot to be said by looking at the patterns of communication on the Web- seeing who responds to a specific posting is a neat way of taking the highway of serendipity to finding new blog voices, of taking a pulse on the sphere, of increasing our connectedness.
www.bloglines.com/citations?url=[insert URL here]&submit=Search
Point is, this feature/capability allows us to make the echoes of an article or a posting into a subject for analysis, and offers a constructive answer to the question ?Why would I want to mess with blogging? Alan Levine addresses this in terms that should appeal to faculty members dubious about the medium:
What new ideas emerge? What modes of argument are used? Abused? There are all kinds of social learning activities nestled in this one thin slice of web activity.
I happened upon a wonderful quotation from Thucydides, in Donald J. Boudreaux' posting to the History News Network Group Blog, to which I've added some emphasis:
Practically the whole of the Hellenic world was convulsed, with rival parties in every state – democratic leaders trying to bring in the Athenians, and oligarchs trying to bring in the Spartans.... To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their usual meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect.... As a result...there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The plain way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist. Society became divided into camps in which no man trusted his fellow.
this is surely the Queen of Sentences:
She begun to talk in the morning and to be friends, believing all this while that I had read her letter, which I perceive by her discourse was full of good counsel, and relating the reason of her desiring a woman, and how little charge she did intend it to be to me, so I begun and argued it as full and plain to her, and she to reason it highly to me, to put her away, and take one of the Bowyers if I did dislike her, that I did resolve when the house is ready she shall try her for a while; the truth is, I having a mind to have her come for her musique and dancing.
I can't say enough in praise of r0ml Lefkowitz' talks on Semasiology of Open Source (this year's and last year's, from the O'Reilly Open Source Convention). Now that kind of thing OUGHT to enliven a meeting of librarians, but doesn't. The atmosphere of library meetings is tainted by the fact that the participants are mostly fixated on an Institution that I love in the abstract, but find a lot to be pessimistic and critical about in the particular and concrete. Part of the problem is the attitude of most or at least many librarians: all too many are fraidy-cats, cringingly grateful for the crumbs that Academe bestows, and (with precious few exceptions) very much disinclined to rock even the boats that most NEED rocking. Another irritant for me is that many librarians just aren't very curious about the territory outside the Profession. Few would see why they should listen to a keynote from an Open Source convention, let alone a couple of hours on Semasiology.
I must confess that Semasiology was not in my lexicon until I heard these sessions, though attention to the shifting meanings of words has been one of my lifelong playgrounds. (A Google Scholar search vouchsafes that "Carnap divided the study of language into syntactics, semasiology, and sematology..." ...and Carita Paradis' Reinforcing adjectives: a cognitive semantic perspective on grammaticalization reminds me that I've always been interested in the linguist's perspectives on language).
Says Bob Stein, at if:book:
Google Print really is shaping up to be a library, that is, of the world pre-1923 -- the current line of demarcation between copyright and the public domain.
Google Print is also a killer example of an edge competence based strategy. Like core competences in the 80s and 90s, edge competences are going to dominate the post-network economy of the 21st century. By making info about books more liquid and plastic, Google atomizes upstream and downstream segments in the value chains. For example, it dilutes Amazon’s market power directly, by massively reducing switching costs – and, in general, the market power of anyone on either side of its value chain segment. Value shifts away from the core, and towards the edges.
Google has become the new ground zero for the "other" culture war. Not the one between Ralph Reed and Timothy Leary, but the war between Silicon Valley and Hollywood; California's cultural civil war. At stake are two different visions of what might best promote authorship in this country. One side trumpets the culture of authorial exposure, the other urges the culture of authorial control. The relevant questions, respectively, are: Do we think the law should help authors maximize their control over their work? Or are authors best served by exposure—making it easier to find their work? Authors and their advocates have long favored maximal control—but we undergoing a sea-change in our understanding of the author's interests in both exposure and control. Unlike, perhaps, the other culture war, this war has real win-win potential, and I hope that years from now we will be shocked to remember that Google's offline searches were once considered controversial.
I did a Google search for the phrase stuff sent to others and sort of found myself whacking my own thumb, or something. It is interesting that it's pretty up to date, including the OPML and SuprGlu things I've been working on for only a few days.
I've been tracking Avian Influenza since January 2004, though in the last 10 months I haven't made any additions to my extracts from the slipstream of media coverage. In November 2005 there's just too much on "bird flu" --a subject that was really obscure in January 2004. A Yahoo news search for H5N1 (sorted by date) gives a picture of the press gabble, and a finger on the Technorati pulse monitors the blogosphere's rising hysteria. Most of these sources are just too noisy and repetitive (and ill-informed) to be of much real use in understanding the unfolding global process. Many are fixated upon magic bullet "solutions" that governments or Big Pharma are expected to produce --medicaments, vaccines, quarantines...
It's a real challenge to filter the spate of online news and rumor, and extract what's really worth paying attention to. Others (better placed and better informed than I) have taken up the tracking and commentary, and I follow them via their RSS feeds. Another continuously updated digest source is The Coming Influenza Pandemic?.
The most thoughtful writers view H5N1 as a public health challenge, and are pretty unanimous in their comments on the sorry state of national and international systems that should be better supported. Here's a nice clear example from a posting today:
An influenza pandemic will essentially be a local affair and depend on the leadership, resources and ingenuity at that level to cope with the consequences of a possible 30% to 40% absenteeism rate over an extended period. That is a community planning problem that takes time and resources. Our communities have neither. And with no effective public health infrastructure, even the vaccine (which doesn't exist) wouldn't save us. This sad predicament is the result of the social policies of the last twenty years.
(Effect Measure 12 Nov 2005)
I don't usually remember dreams, or accord them much significance. This morning I awoke around 4:30 with one pretty clearly in mind. The dream had to do with drawing, which is something I've never done and feel that I have no talent for, though I greatly admire it in others. I was drawing cats, but via drawing pieces: a paw, a shoulder, the catenary (!) curve of a tail. Somehow these pieces (and there were many) were arrayed in 3-space so that one could walk around them, and from different perspectives on the collection one could derive a sense of CAT that was more complete and compelling than if one had seen a single complete drawing of a cat. So an aggregation of gestures (the single bits) allows the observer to construct a whole in a novel and hologrammatical way.
As I gradually transitioned to waking reality, the Cat morphed into an assemblage of the Web 2.x bits I've been messing with, and became a collage of my own watching, listening, reading, writing, searching... seen as a temporally ordered kaleidoscope which stands for and manages to communicate the flow of my attention. The rudimentary form of the default stylesheet for my oook.suprglu.com page is the barest beginning of the imagined cyberproduct, but it is a beginning. Like all such imaginings, the practicalities of execution are pretty elusive, and/or would tie me up in technicalities that are beyond my powers, and keep me from the pleasures of the hunt that I so enjoy.
I'm still searching for effective ways to verbalize my sense that personal connectivism is the direction I need to follow --that it's the essence of lifelong learning to articulate the learning process in communications ...but to whom, and for what, is still pretty problematic. And there's still the problem of the requisite management and composition and delivery tools...
...to discover that Whitman's "barbaric yawp" is alive 111,000 times over in cyberspace, and continues to propagate outwards and onwards. Perhaps also worth noting that Google Scholar has only about 100 instances. Take a look also at gada.be's array.
And the OED has this for first use:
1824 MACTAGGART Gallovid. Encycl., Yawp, the cry of a sickly bird; or one in distress.
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me.
He complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed. I too am untranslatable.
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
I have a long fascination with cultural identities, among them the essence of Englishness and the peculiarities of New Englanders (e.g., this from Donald Junkins), so I was delighted to find this quotation in a Language Log posting on Word rage outside the Anglosphere? (emphasis added):
The English aren’t people who strive for greatness, they’re driven to it by a flaming irritation. It was anger that built the Industrial Age, which forged expeditions of discovery. It was the need for self-control that found an outlet in cataloguing, litigating and ordering the natural world. It was the blind fury with imprecise and stubborn inanimate objects that created generations of engineers and inventors. The anger at sin and unfairness that forged their particular earth-bound, pedantic spirituality and their puce-faced, finger-jabbing, spittle-flecked politics. ...
Anger has driven the English to achievement and greatness in a bewildering pantheon of disciplines. At the core of that anger is the knowledge that they could go absolutely berserk with an axe if they didn’t bind themselves with all sorts of restraints, of manners, embarrassment and awkwardness and garden sheds.
(AA Gill, in The Times, 30 Oct 2005)
I've been resistant to OPML, feeling that "outlining" wasn't a comfortable format for things I do. Fact is, I think I didn't quite get it, but I'm perhaps a bit closer now thanks to a problem I wanted to solve.
I have spent a lot of time forwarding stuff to other people, and indeed I think finding-and-forwarding is probably a pretty good summary of my specialty as a librarian. This morning I started hand-coding a table of things I've sent to people in the last couple of weeks. How very Web 1.0. And then OPML Manager fortuitously crossed my path, and I decided to give it a whirl as a more grownup way of solving the problem. I'm pretty pleased with what resulted, at least for starters.
I'm not sure just where this leads, but it's been a couple of months since last I was so involved in emerging technologies, and it feels pretty good to be at it again.
I've been experimenting with Suprglu as a means to put together what I'm paying attention to, but I'm not sure that it's helpful to add a lot of sources --especially ones that update frequently. Sort of like having a braided stream of RSS feeds, all in one place... but one doesn't know how effective something will be until one tries it out.