Open on the Edges and in the Middle

Kerstin (aka Ella T.) "Open Hexagon Twist Only"
Kerstin (aka Ella T.) “Open Hexagon Twist Only”

Yesterday Steve Greenlaw  ( @stevegreenla ) asked me  why a “typical faculty member” who teaches and pursues their own research might get involved in Open Education.  His question was a tad disingenuous, of course.  We know that the “typical” faculty member is as much a fiction as the typical student.  But his invitation to explain why I continue to explore and embrace various modalities of open learning is one I am happy to accept.

Continue reading “Open on the Edges and in the Middle”

Timeline vs. Webs

“Both the readings (McCloud & Berners-Lee, et al.) consider how interfaces shape user experience. For this week’s make, do a brief analysis of time (like McCloud did for comics) as encoded in a digital interface of your choice. For instance, how is time represented on your web browser, smart phone, Apple Watch, Mac or Windows interface, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, Scholar, or some other digital interface? And what are the implications for how users use the system/object/technology?”    — NMS, Week 12 Make

Even though most of the digital interfaces I use leverage webs of layered data, linear chronology remains central.  Your Twitter timeline, Firefox browsing history, Nike+ activity record — all present a reverse chronology of what has happened and where you have been.

I am not complaining. I believe that sequence matters.  Indeed it is essential to understanding change over time, which is what historians are all about. But the promise and magic of web-based interfaces comes from the explicitly non-linear nature of a web — the linked, infinitely expanding nodes of related material and meaning that add dimension to a sequence (or chronology, or linear narrative, etc.).  The multidimensional crowd-sourced canvas of the web allows us to customize just about anything on a timeline. It gives our chronologies depth and uniqueness, and infuses them with meaning.  But despite the “infinite canvas” potential and foundation of the web, we remain attached to linear chronologies as a first-line ordering of experience and meaning. So when we think about how interfaces shape user experience, we also have to think about how users condition the organization of the interface.  How much do we need that timeline? What are its advantages and costs? Continue reading “Timeline vs. Webs”

Skill Exchange

I loved the proposed makes for this week, so of course I did something different.  In my own defense, I posted in the theme of Sara’s suggestion here, and I still think the connected learning model is 100% Illich inspired.  I also blogged about a physical representation of my de-schooled work when I took the New Media Seminar, and I still love my space-dog egg-ship.

But for this week, I’m offering the following memory of a time when a skill-exchange helped me see the world, a cross-country plane flight, and a purple sweater in a whole new way Continue reading “Skill Exchange”

Reality Fix

I don’t really care if Brenda Laurel got Attic drama “right,” because thinking about networked human-computer interaction as drama (“to do or act”) and “enactment” (to represent through action) opens up so many creative and important possibilities.  Our “make” for today was to identify a current  example of human-computer interaction that has most or  all of the six elements (action, character, thought, language, pattern (melody) and enactment), and I had a hard time finding an example of computers as theater that surpassed the power and creativity of the David Bowie exhibit I exerienced in Chicago last fall. Continue reading “Reality Fix”

Porcupine Condos – What is that Thing?

“Viola’s essay is enigmatic,” says Zzzz. Absolutely. And compelling, and haunting. And not just for porcupines. I know my favorite reading comes up every week, but “Will there be Condominiums in Data Space” really (really) makes the thinking juices flow.  To paraphrase one of my grad school mentors, “anything worth blogging once is worth blogging again.”  So my earlier thoughts on the porcupine and the condominiums are below.  I highly recommend the two videos of Viola: the first interrogates the intertwining of big “why” with big “how” and suggests how easily diverted we are by the little how. The second addresses the “What is data space” question (start about 4′ 15″ in if you are in a hurry).
Continue reading “Porcupine Condos – What is that Thing?”

New Galaxy, New Horizons

Our “make” for the week was to reflect on which communication medium has had the biggest impact on our world, and I’m sure no one is surprised that I’m jumping on the social media aka the internet bandwagon.
I just finished Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction. An Unnatural History” (2014), which makes a compelling case for humans as the biggest change agents in the Earth’s long history. Check out Al Gore’s review of the book here:

Kolbert’s assessment of anthropogenic climate change is pretty sobering: We are definitely the cause and could be casualties of the sixth extinction. But she also suggests that our evolutionary history, particularly our communicative capacities and restlessness, have been our greatest strengths. I’ve got to think that the metamedium of the internet / “social media” will be an essential transformative tool going forward.
For further thoughts on how to assess change while it is happening, I’m re-posting these thoughts on McLuhan from an earlier New Media Seminar.

Metamedium Nugget

NMR Ch. 26: Personal Dynamic Media

Jordan asked us to think about a nugget or app that best represented Kay and Goldberg’s vision of the Dynabook.  I’ve worked with the flute / pizza / Theremin metaphor before, and also thought about the dialogic qualities of personal dynamic media and their value in the classroom.  So this time I’m going with a nugget that speaks for itself:

What would happen in a world in which everyone had a Dynabook?  If such a machine were designed in a way that any owner could mold and channel its power to his own needs, then a new kind of medium would have been created: a metamedium, whose content would be a wide range of already-existing and not-yet-invented media.

Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, NMR, p. 403