Archive for June, 2006

Books, one up, one down

Thumbs up goes to Paul Graham for Hackers & Painters. He’s a hacker and a painter, and although most of his essays printed in the book are available online, I really recommend buying this book.

Sample essays:
1. Why Nerds Are Unpopular
Their minds are not on the game.
2. Hackers and Painters
Hackers are makers, like painters or architects or writers.
3. What You Can’t Say
How to think heretical thoughts and what to do with them.
4. Good Bad Attitude
Like Americans, hackers win by breaking rules.
5. The Other Road Ahead
Web-based software offers the biggest opportunity since the arrival of the microcomputer.
6. How to Make Wealth
The best way to get rich is to create wealth. And startups are the best way to do that.
7. Mind the Gap
Could “unequal income distribution” be less of a problem than we think?
8. A Plan for Spam
Till recently most experts thought spam filtering wouldn’t work. This proposal changed their minds.
9. Taste for Makers
How do you make great things?
10. Programming Languages Explained
What a programming language is and why they are a hot topic now.
11. The Hundred-Year Language
How will we program in a hundred years? Why not start now?
12. Beating the Averages
For web-based applications you can use whatever language you want. So can your competitors.
13. Revenge of the Nerds
In technology, “industry best practice” is a recipe for losing.
14. The Dream Language
A good programming language is one that lets hackers have their way with it.
15. Design and Research
Research has to be original. Design has to be good.

Thumbs down goes to Donald A. Norman for The Design of Everyday Things. Wanderings of a non-structured mind, does not live up to the hype, no wonder he works with Jakob Nielsen, same thinking “structures”, erm. Nice idea seeds, would fit into a four pager, even with examples.

book starts

“- Make everything visible, or at least try to. This is the part of the book that was somewhat vague, because although it might work on simple products it would fail on the more complex ones. It is considered a bad idea, from a design and usability perspective, to put every option of complex software in front of the user. Thankfully the author does describe two solutions; hiding and grouping. Hiding, while still making every option readily accessible.
– Use natural mapping. We naturally map certain actions; push means forward, while pull means backwards. The author urges designers to use natural mapping whenever possible, and avoid using some unnatural mappings.
– Accordance. The material of an object could convey the function of a product or how it should be used.
– Shape of objects. Shapes could convey the handling, purpose, or operation of a product.
– Constraints. Constraints could make users less likely to make errors
– Design for error and make everything reversible
– When all else fails try to adhere to a standard (or make your own)”

book ends

Don’t buy this book, the seven bullet items summarize all included. Much awrite about nothing. Congratulations for selling more than 100.000 copies of some pages of common sense.


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Re: Elgg, Drupal, and Moodle

Do I reside in the land of nowhere between the defenders of the status quo and the people with the hammer looking for each and every nail? An overtooled solution again. Non-working blog comments and forced registration is a big no-no even in the days of blogspamming, but get a spamfilter (Akismet is nice). Till then I have to rely on backtrack.

FunnyMonkey seems to be an IT-headed solution provider having nice thoughts, but a bit overstating the currently available pieces of the puzzle as a possible solution. Sorry, Drupal is one of the worst piece of software I’ve seen, it’s good intentioned, but bad metaphored – even for the IT heads. Perhaps it’s a personal bad taste in my mouth, but considering that together with my lead project manager colleague we could not manage to find out how should it be tweaked to get to any not-overcomplicated, understandable outcomes of the package, I would say it’s useless. (Yes, we’re technically savvy people, with a total of 40 years spent using computers.)

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Re: Constructivism vs. Connectivism

As commenting still does not work at George’s, I do it here.

“Idea without boundaries”, “philosophy without root”, these sound to me more like poetry. Constructivism is anything actually happened to root in my head opposed to the data loading before a university exam and unloading after the exam – this applies even to complex math, not just historical facts. The human mind is an efficient and flexible entity and all you want of me is measuring how efficiently can I load data in my head, I minimize my efforts and load for the needed time, but not much else happens in the “learning” sense.

“Context, need, intent”: sounds to me almost like sufi 🙂 I believe that learning happens in our head. Where else could it happen???

Re: subscribing to a magazine: I think the more active the involvement the deeper the scar becomes. Letters come and letters go. Action matters.

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Semantic wikis

Although I believe that no Ontology do exist and also shouldn’t exist (thank you, Mr. Orwell), but there are several semantic wiki projects are listed here with an active Semantic Wiki Community.

I personally do like the IkeWiki approach based on Mediawiki. The paper A Semantic Wiki for collaborative knowledge formation (pdf) summarizes nicely knowledge models, while the paper IkeWiki: A Semantic Wiki for Collaborative Knowledge Management (pdf) explains the actual IkeWiki itself.

MediaWiki can become a de facto standard as its learning curve can be painless:
editing Wikipedia -> own MediaWiki -> Mediawiki w/ integrated WP -> IkeWiki

(Worth noting again that the only knowledge management application I know that actually works is System One.)

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Microlearning 2006 – Best presentations

Prizes go to:

Plus I’ve missed George Siemens on Learning and Knowledge.

Update: included three ppts.

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Microlearning 2006 – Speed-geeking

As we have to leave Friday early afternoon my presentation was moved to the speedgeeking session. I was happy to be moved as I really loved these kind of elevator speeches even at Online Educa where they had the first live and parallel software presentations of competing products with 3 minute timeslots for each vendor for each task to complete.

Now we had groups of people rotating each 5-10 minutes at different stations, I was one of the stations. I made a short explanation of my paper then I tried to confabulate with the “audience” on how they can imagine a day in the life of a teenager, namely a baby just born in 2006 when she’ll be 14. (Just to have an easy comparison possibility with Tuomi – opens PDF -, and my reflections.)

Here follows how we interviewed each other and prototyped the ideas. Names withheld to protect the innocent – if you participated in the speed-geeking and think that I missed some points or misspelled your name, let me know!

  • flexible class, you’re in 2nd grade physics while 3rd grade in math, teachers come from not an existing faculty (humanities, science, even medical goes to case-based), teacher has to be holistical, “bilder”, mother, authority in ethics and moral, kulturfahrplan, competence up, it’s more than skills (skills are more manual, competence is using skills in an appropriate way), knowledge down, learn from experience, more expensive, good quality, American way (Andrea, Alexander)
  • learning is life, learning is change (reminds to the Kruder remix of Koop – me), family and local community-based, there’s gonna be a unit instead of a class, mobile access to the web, like myspace, there will be leaders, wishfully there could be alternate options, accreditation outside school system (I think it’s likely that the basic services of a ‘school’: discipline, socialization, access to knowledge and acknowledging knowledge will be separated, these functions regrouped and perhaps it’s gonna come top-down from adult education thru higher to the basic levels. update: Stephen Downes just said that someone will be multimillionaire doing this – me), new teachers will be crossbred, it’s already hard and unattractive to be a teacher, teachers have to teach literacy, symbol systems, a bit of math, takes time and trained people, an educator, erziehung, social codes and hygiene, families do not fulfill (Monika, Sebastian, Martin)
  • class and classroom is a sticky structure, same metaphors for old structure, bad compromises, strange effects, children will be texting under the desk, there will be a hidden structure (there is already a hidden structure of xeroxing notes, tutoring each other and sharing cheat sheets – me), strength of peer will stay, system is likely to crack, who lag behind are more likely to jump the divide without cracking, can “muslim countries” in Europe evolve their own system? (islam is more cell-based, application of sharia is think global act local for a thousand year – me) those who lag behind are faster to change and adopt. the crack will be a bad crack (two Martins)
  • big gap in knowledge, shattered process, no narrative, classroom till K12, universities also have houses, no sitting, more active, engaged and emotional, nature of learning experience, storytelling, learning space for knowledge sharing, efficient use of classroom, Diana Oblinger @ Educause (George, David, Mario)
  • classroom still there, learning will be blended, classroom is not the only place where learning takes place, open, experience, mobile devices, activity-based, teacher will become a sports coach (closest metaphor), competition, group-based activities, being part of a group, and not just winner takes all, but participation is the key (objectives, measurement, feedback could be important – me), sport spirit (David)

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Models of infocycles

Just enlisting some infocycles looking for the Holy Grail:

  • collecting -> reflecting -> connecting -> publishing (Scott Wilson quoting Jeremy Hiebert)
  • seek -> recognize -> retain/store -> use/create (Tom Wan Derval @ Microlearning 2006)
  • (publish=) collect -> rate -> organize -> synthesize -> publish (=collect) (me @ Microlearning 2006)

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