Monthly Archives: March 2007

Banality of Heroism

Wow! I’m speechless!

Open Source » Blog Archive » The Banality of Evil, Part II

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Social Networking and eLearning

Oops! I did it again. Launched on one of my long-winded ramblings about the convergence between learning management systems (in this case, Moodle) and social networking sites (in this case, Facebook).

Executive summary:

Facebook’s power’s in fluid, organic networks. Moodle’s power’s in structured but flexible learning-based groups. I personally see a marriage made in heaven.

Lounge: Moodle as New Facebook


Views and Feeds

Yep! One of those blogposts about blogging.

This is somewhat interesting. For some reason, I’m getting much fewer daily views on this blog but I’m getting a lot more feed views, a good proportion of which come from Google Feedfetcher. Maybe WordPress.com has changed its usage statistics to switch Feedfetcher to feeds instead of views or maybe it’s just a coincidence. But it’s fun to think about what happens with this blog.

Actually, I feel I’m getting more interaction with readers, which is what I’ve been missing. I still won’t constrain myself to writing very short blog entries, but I like what this blog is giving me, at this point.

OTOH, I have been posting just a bit more than I used to on some of my Blogger/Blogspot blogs:

Part of the reason I blog there more is because of ease of use. Since Google is so ubiquitous, some sites make it very easy to blog an item on Blogger. I mostly tend to use bookmarklets but I’ve been trying the “BlogThis!” buttons on some services, like Flickr and DailyMotion.

Of course, none of this should get in the way of the work I have to do (which is, in fact, quite a bit). And it still doesn’t.

I’ve also spent a bit more time on Facebook. Not much (maybe an hour a week) but it does shift my online activities a bit.

All of this relates to my notion that blogging and other participatory aspects of the online world should merge. In fact, I kind of like the fact that I can insert blog feeds in Facebook and Moodle


YMMV

Best use of the expression “Your mileage may vary.”

Boing Boing: Google’s driving direx from New York to Dublin, Ireland

LOL!


Humanistic Sociocentrism

There must be a common term for this and it is certainly well-known. A kind of wishful thinking of the trailblazer type. A combination of utopianism, humanism, naïveté, forward-thinking, and ethnocentrism. You wish for society to change in a given way, you predict that society will eventually switch to that direction, you wait patiently for social changes to happen, and you eventually notice that you’re in the minority.

Been thinking about “dreamers” («rêveurs», in Amélie), artists, idealists, intellectuals, marginals, elites, trend-setters. May even consider myself part of that group, somehow. A tiny minority. Running the gamut from hyper-specialist to Renaissance-type polymath. Getting jobs in different sectors but mostly in fields such as business, academia, expressive culture, or diplomacy.

Using the pattern of “ethnocentrism,” sociocentrism as social limits on thinking. Not necessarily thinking your social class to be better than others. But failing to notice that members of other social groups (in this case, the majority groups) may not think along the same lines as you do.

It might be what prevents some people to become successful politicians. Social life might be better that way.


Cell Phones and Emergency Contacts

‘ICE’ Cell Phone Plan Would Help Rescuers

Cell users are being urged to put the acronym ICE — “in case of emergency” — before the names of the people they want to designate as next of kin in their cell address book, creating entries such as “ICE — Dad” or “ICE — Alison.”

Seems like a great idea. Can’t think of a reason not to do it…


OLPC WiFi?

Intel modifies Wi-Fi to add mileage | CNET News.com

The system isn’t designed for the U.S. or Europe. Instead, it is part of the chip giant’s efforts to bring computing technologies to people in emerging markets. The communications infrastructure in most of these countries is fairly anemic and most of it is concentrated in cities. Villages, where a large portion of the population lives, are effectively cut off from the outside world except by car, bus or footpath.

Glad to see as much emphasis on “emerging markets” from tech sectors. Either the OLPC trailblazed for this to happen or it embedded itself in a broader process of acknowledging the needs of those societies with lesser GNPs…


Brikka Notes

Brikka

26/1/05 8:10

108g water

5g grounds

96g coffee

26/1/05 8:25

96g water

6g grounds

85g coffee(26/1/05 8:30)

28/1/05 8:43

98g water

6g grounds

89g coffee

Too strong!

28/1/05 8:51

94g water

4g grounds

78g coffee

Still too strong!

29/1/05 10:21

77g water

7g grounds

35g additional water

100g coffee

29/1/05 12:46

109g water

6g grounds

42g added water

77g coffee, huge spill

29/1/05 12:57

29/1/05 15:17

95g water

6g grounds

36g added water

410-284g=124g coffee, small spill

29/1/05 15:29

31/1/05 8:10

112g water

8g grounds

42g added water

132g coffee plus small spill?

As if boiled

1/2/05 10:09

86g water

6g grounds

38g added water

97g coffee

1/2/05 10:19

1/2/05 18:43

92g water

8g grounds

23g added water

103g coffee

1/2/05 18:53

2/2/05 18:23

106g water

6g grounds

29g additional water

110g coffee

3/2/05 8:36

101g water

8g grounds

26g added

86g coffee +spill

3/2/05 8:50

3/2/05 12:18

105g water

6g grounds

31g add

huge spill

5/2/05 8:30

101g water

7g grounds

20g added

73g coffee spill

5/2/05 8:37

5/2/05 14:07

83g water

7g grounds

17g added

93g no spill

5/2/05 14:19

5/2/05 18:18

96g water

6g grounds

23g added

2g ginger

93g coffee

5/2/05 18:27

6/2/05 12:49

102g water

8g grounds

19g added

101g coffee (almost no spill when take right away)

6/2/05 13:01

6/2/05 17:12

96g water

5g grounds

13g added

91g coffee,took as was getting done

6/2/05 17:22

7/2/05 8:35

88g water

7g grounds

19g added

more heat

7/2/05 8:50 still more heat

7/2/05 8:51

90g coffee

no spill, off as ready

7/2/05 18:20

97g water

7g grounds

24g added

7/2/05 18:31

Comes up a bit

7/2/05 18:34

Taken off before

82g coffee

8/2/05 10:38

104g water

7g grounds

21g added

more heat,closed pot

102g coffee, some spill

8/2/05 10:46

10/2/05 9:06

90g water

7g grounds

17g added

+pot

285g water

10g grounds

31g added

12/2/05 12:19

100g water

8g grounds(coarse, mill weirdness, fresh batch)

20g added

100g coffee

12/2/05 12:32

good musky, some sweetness, bit “lighter roast” aroma/taste, some acidity, body fair

12/2/05 13:14

84g water

8g grounds(still coarse)

18g added

82g coffee

12/2/05 13:26

12/2/05 18:53

112g water

8g grounds(still coarse)

18g added

12/2/05 19:07

>heat

12/2/05 19:08

spill

13/2/05 11:56

85g water

9g grounds(fine)

13g added

bit > heat

13/2/05 12:08 turn up

76g coffee, right away

15/2/05 13:14

86g water

7g grounds

23g added

15/2/05 13:27

85g coffee

some spill

Moka Pot

30/1/05 16:41 (moka)

280g water

10g grounds

105g added water

327g coffee

full pot

30/1/05 16:59

31/1/05 8:37(moka)

288g water

11g grounds

79g added water

open pot

277g+(full cup)

full pot

31/1/05 8:53

1/2/05 10:27 (moka)

327g(?) water

9g grounds

56g added water

281g+ coffee(full cup)

50g remainder

5/2/05 8:52 (moka)

316g water

12g grounds

57g added

280g coffee plus(spills as pours)

34g more

kind of light but flavour

6/2/05 13:25

269g water

11g grounds

36g added

263g coffee. Long brew..

6/2/05 13:41

7/2/05 8:01(started before)

272g water

11g grounds

60g added

264g coffee

long brew

7/2/05 8:12

7/2/05 21:20 (moka)

308g water

10g grounds

35g added

>heat

7/2/05 21:30

267+25g coffee(full cup)

 
 


Getting Things Done: Messy Edition

Recent book (authors Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman) on the possible benefits of not maintaining a strictly organised working space.

Have a Messy Desk? Congrats, Youre More Productive

Yet messy people are often cast in a negative light. In one study cited by [National Association of Professional Organizers], two-thirds of respondents believed workers with messy desks were seen as less career-driven than their neater colleagues.

Haven’t read the book and, as academics, we should probably be wary of “research findings” by NAPO or by Abrahamson and Freedman. But that Reuters piece does make some insightful points about people, like me, who find alternative ways to organise their lives.

As per the quote above, there is a stigma about us. At least, there is a stigma in the “general population.” There is plenty of stigmatisation of “messy people” in advertisement, among office workers, and in popular books. The whole “reflection of your inner self” ideology. “You can’t organise your life if your desk is cluttered.” “Clear your mind by putting things in neatly labeled boxes.” “You’ll never be able to finish any project if you have such a mess on your hands.”

But such a stigma is much less prevalent among academics or, even, among many members of the “geek crowd.” Those of us who handle most of our work-related material through computers (either on hard drives or online) know that it’s extremely easy to find information very quickly without the need of folder hierarchies. Hence Spotlight in Mac OS X and Google Desktop Search on Windows XP and Vista.

In my case, a messy desktop has often been my “workspace” while folders were mostly meant as archives. The same applies to my online accounts these days. Gmail as a centralised location for some of my important data. Browser tabs as “modes.” Search replacing “filing cabinets.” Outlining as a second step after note-taking/brainstorming.

Like many others, I have “a lot of things going on at the same time” and am solely responsible for all of these “projects.” Project management strategies typically make little sense to my individual work though they can work really well for collaboration with others. In other words, I need my “desk” to be messy so that I can do the kind of work I do well.

This all relates to Jess’s points about social bookmarking, of course. I’m also reminded of Edward T. Hall’s ideas about “polychronic time” in Dance of Life. As it so happens, DoL is one of the first books I have read that was written by an anthropologist. Hall has been known for a few things in the field of cultural anthropology (mostly to do with gestural behaviour) but he has always been something of a maverick. Not that I want to rehabilitate his work but I do think there’s some valuable insight to be found in this specific book. Hall has been one of relatively few anthropologists of the time to think about the perception of time, something which many people are doing now using Schutz has their basis. It might well be that a “polychronic time” may be quite compatible with the current tendency for a “multi-tasking mode,” among human beings. In such a mode, neat organisation may be less desirable.


Wake

A stranger tore off her low-cut dress.

Red and White.

She screamed.

Not now, no!

But in the past, she did scream.

Where are my friends?

Reading.


Small World? More Than an Experiment

Should have known this would happen eventually. One of my wife’s good friends’ ex-boyfriend had been on my mind for diverse reasons. Had pretty assumed that he might be blogging as he’s a technical writer and had been at the Montreal Mirror for a while. As Montrealers might know, the Mirror is a good source of bloggers (and fiber). Turns out, he’s not only a cool blogger (putting words into The Tinman’s Thoughts) but he also knows Blogmeister Blork quite well (despite some hiatus in the 1990s, it seems).

Also spent time talking with, among others, open-minded music educator Prof malgré tout, intriguing Cameroonian political scientist Waffo, enthusiastic and rational environmental geographer Benoit, outgoing and friendly Houssein, as well as a bunch of people I had already met (and blogrolled 😉 ).

Possibly the funniest interaction for me, during this blogparty, was when I went to talk with someone who was just leaning at the back of the room. The usual introduction to a new blogger is “So… Where do you blog?” (in French, «C’est quoi ton blogue?»). I do use it fairly often during blogging events but it’s the first time I get “Yup!” as an answer. Turns out Robert blogs at the equivalent of a site which would be called “Where Do You Blog!” Of course, “CKOI” is both the name of a local radio station and an IM-like way to say “What is it?,” in French.

Speaking of languages. There was probably a higher proportion of French-speakers at tonight’s party than at the usual Yulblog event. This was the 7th anniversary celebration of this local blogging community.

Again: bloggers have more fun. Than whom? Erm, I don’t know. But they have fun. Good, extrovert, talkative fun.

Shan’t we all be on Facebook, now?


Idées jaunes

Vous avez certainement déjà vécu ça. Si si!

Quand une idée négative vous turlupine, vous vous mettez à tout voir en teintes sombres. C’est ce qu’on appelle: «avoir les idées noires». C’est très simple à comprendre puisqu’on a tendance à mettre tous nos problèmes dans le même paquet. On tourne en rond. «Rien ne va plus», mais pas comme au casino.

Maintenant, le contraire, vous connaissez surement, non? Vous réglez un problème puis tout l’édifice d’idées noires que vous aviez tissé s’effondre. Poum!

Eh bien, d’après moi, ça devrait s’appeler «idées jaunes». Pas spécialement parce que la couleur jaune a une connotation particulière. Mais puisque jaune et noir est le contraste le plus marqué, parait-il. De toutes façons, appeler ça «idées blanches», ça me convient pas trop.

Sais pas trop pourquoi… 😉


What to Rethink?

Prepared a proposal for an upcoming Spirit of Inquiry conference at Concordia University.

In a recent video ethnography of the “Web 2.0” concept, anthropologist Michael Wesch invited the online audience to rethink a wide array of concepts, from copyright and authorship to identity and commerce. My session, if accepted, should follow these ideas along with specific emphasis on academic freedom, open access,  and flexible strategies for learning and teaching.

Here is my proposal:

Presenter Biography: An ethnographer as well as a blogger, Alexandre Enkerli has taught at diverse universities in the United States and in Canada. He currently teaches cultural anthropology and the anthropology of music at Concordia University. An avid Internet user since 1993, Alexandre has participated intensively in a large array of online activities, from mailing-list discussions in informal groups to creative uses of learning management systems such as Moodle, Sakai, Oncourse, Blackboard, and WebCT.
Title Of Session: Free, Open, Flexible: Rethinking Learning Materials Online
Session Learning Objective: This session seeks to help participants rethink the use of learning materials (such as textbooks and lecture notes) in view of opportunities for freedom, openness, and flexibility afforded recent information and communication technologies.
Session Approach: Facilitated discussion (45 minutes)
Abstract: Considered as a whole, learning materials such as textbooks and lecture notes constitute the “shoulders of giants” on which learners and teachers stand.

In this session, academic publishers, instructors, librarians, and administrators are all invited to rethink learning materials through their own experiences with online technologies.

A short, informal report on the principal presenter’s experience with podcasting and other online applications will be followed by a facilitated discussion.

This session will pay special attention to issues of open access, academic freedom, and flexible strategies for learning and teaching.

Together, session participants will construct a new understanding of the implications linking technological changes to the use of learning materials online.
Additional Room Needs: Preferred but not required: podcasting equipment.

Digital Ethnography » Blog Archive » The Machine is Us/ing Us Transcription

We’ll need to rethink copyrightWe’ll need to rethink authorship

We’ll need to rethink identity

We’ll need to rethink ethics

We’ll need to rethink aesthetics

We’ll need to rethink rhetorics

We’ll need to rethink governance

We’ll need to rethink privacy

We’ll need to rethink commerce

We’ll need to rethink love

We’ll need to rethink family

We’ll need to rethink ourselves.


Advice to Forum Posters

Related to a thread about Moodle which veered into something of a flame war.

Lounge: How open source projects survive poisonous people

  • don’t start a discussion with an “I HATE…” list
  • respond sincerely and respectfully even if you suspect a possible trolly-conversation (Martin D.)
  • give concrete practical suggestions for action (Martin L.)
  • respond with light-hearted humor (Paul and his asbestos underpants) big grin
  • it is OK to be passionate (Tim)
  • take a step back and reflect on the process (Nicholas: “…can’t separate the code from the community…”)
  • and there no need to be defensive about Moodle and its history–warts and all, we are who we are

These pieces of advice can work in many online contexts, IMHO.

(Comments closed because of unsollicited and inappropriate submissions…)


Future of eLearning

Extended quote from  John Battelle’s Searchblog: A Brief Interview with Michael Wesch (The Creator of That Wonderful Video…)

As a university professor I have also found Facebook to be useful. I was inspired to use Facebook for teaching by something I saw while visiting George Mason University. Like many universities, they were concerned that the library stacks were rarely being accessed by students. Instead of trying to bring students to the stacks, they brought the stacks to the students, placing a small library right in the middle of the food court where students hang out. We can do the same with popular social networking tools like Facebook. Facebook is not only great for expressing your identity, sharing with friends, and planning parties, it also has all the tools necessary to create an online learning community. Students are already frequently visiting Facebook, so we can bring our class discussions to them in a place where they have already invested significant effort in building up their identity, rather than asking them to login to Blackboard or some other course management system where they feel “faceless” and out of place.

I hope the community of Moodlers are listening. I keep seeing the potential for Moodle (or another Open Source course management system) to become more like Facebook or to integrate Facebook-like features.  As it stands, Moodle and other CMS tend to force the idea of individual “courses” with subgroups of people with stable roles. Though Facebook could use more role-/status-differentiation, there’s something to be said about user communities going beyond labeled roles in a specific course.

(I’ve discussed some aspects of “that wonderful video” elsewhere, and also here.)


Academics, Gender, and Beer Cred

Psychology professor Diane Catanzaro has been named Beer Drinker of the Year by the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, CO. Dr. Catanzaro’s comments about beer culture are in itself quite interesting and, personally, I’m quite glad that this year’s winner is both an academic and a woman.

Still looking forward to investigate beer culture further, as an academic pursuit. One important dimension of beer culture, as observed by some participants in the North American craft beer scene, is that beer tends to become a gender-specific beverage in North America. Similarly, wine is often seen as more sophisticated than beer (even though, in terms of biochemistry, beer is arguably more complex than wine). Catanzaro’s victory might help dispel some preconceptions about beer.

Catanzaro isn’t the first woman to win the Beerdrinker of the Year award. Cornelia Corey won it in 2001.  Craft beer has probably become more prominent in the last six years. At the time, Corey had linked to an article about beer marketing and gender. Not sure things have changed much since then, but beer marketing itself has slowly but surely been changing.

Good things may come.


Friday, It Is

2Spare – You have two cows…

You have two aardvarks. The government paints one green and requires you to take harmonica lessons.


Let Us All Celebrate Together!

Time to honour rhe majority of the world population. Of course, if things were equitable, there’d be 186 days like March 8. As things stand, it’s the day when machismo disguises itself into respect.

Are there trees left to shake?


A Good Cup

This is more of a typical blog entry, I guess.

Went to bed at 9 p.m., last night. Was exhausted, after teaching (2:45 to  5:30 p.m.). Usually go to bad at 1 a.m. or later but, last night, I was just out.

Woke up at 4. Yes, 4 a.m.! That’s not really me. But seven hours of sleep is rather decent so, I eventually decided to stay up.

Did a few things such as respond to emails, manage some class-related matters, responded to Jess about social bookmarking, looked at some observation reports from my “intro to culture” class…

And, eventually, made myself a cup of coffee.

Now, coffee really is a passion, for me. Like beer and music (which are, to me, all related). I’m quite intense about coffee. It’s not that I need caffeine. It’s that coffee is a major part of my sensory experience.

One of my posts on CoffeeGeek has generated hundreds of replies. In fact, I was going to post a new message in that thread to revive it, yet again. But the coffee I’m having was not brewed in a Brikka, so it’s somewhat off-topic for that specific thread.

Three days ago, I roasted some Javan Domaine, some Ugandan Bugisu, and some Ethiopian Sidamo. About 105g each. All the green beans were bought at Terra. All roasted to some point during second crack. None of them really dark but some were pretty much at the silk level.

That blend was ok but not yet to my liking. Something was missing to give it depth, balance, roundness. Can’t remember the specifics (I forget my less-favourable experiences, which does make me happier). But it wasn’t doing it for me.

So, yesterday, I roasted some Costa Rican Spring Mountain to blend with the rest. The Brikka cup I got soon after that was quite good. Very complex aroma. Wild.

This morning, I got some of the same aromas in my moka pot cup. Oh, it’s nowhere near the best cup I’ve had. It’s even flawed, in some ways. But it fits. Ideal for today. The first whiff I took was a very pleasing experience and the memory of that whiff remains with me. It changes everything.

Well, ok, not quite. But, at least, it motivates me to post a coffee-related blog entry.

As luck would have it, someone will probably reply with their own coffee experiences.

That’d be nice! 🙂