New Media Faculty Dev. Seminar – FA2010

"Awakening the Digital Imagination" – a Networked Seminar

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

I find this article just as poorly written as the last for a general audience. I do not feel that an article like this helps in the learning process. Again if there were a larger summary of what was being said this would be helpful. His was a visionary. And I think we are farther than the public knows. I am not a conspiracy person, but I do know that we often save the back technology from the public to be used for the “greater good” – or so they think.

I was so happy when we developed wysiwyg and Engelbart brought us that – great use of computer application. I was a DOS word processor user and wysiwyg was all that I was missing. I still think my DOS word processor works better but I have to conform to the students I work with – so I switched to Office. I also remember as an undergraduate when we finally had the technology in journalism for there to be a network file that could be edited by everyone who accessed it. It was so efficient in reporting news. We do have some web applications that allow people to edit at the same time now, but I do not believe that the large software programs have even come close to this technology. I have had several students over the years who wanted to edit the yearbook at the same time but PageMaker would not allow this. This type of application is needed.

Engelbart allowed us to be where we are today with Web 2.0, intranet, internet, etc. I just wish someone would write an article about him that was easy to read.

Post source: publicintellectual

In reading Engelbart's reports laying out the research center, I had no problem engaging with the text. Perhaps it is my love of bureaucracy and reports, but I enjoy seeing a vision/idea laid out in such specific terms that they seem manageable.

In these not-too-lengthy pages, Engelbart lays out a plan that would lead to all sorts of amazing things: the mouse, Cloud computing, YouTube, and We Rule. What's not to like? What's not to admire?

Well, here you go:




Yup, the information for Pandora is blocked. It's exciting to have an iPad and look at ways that I might incorporate it into my teaching. I love audio and would love to find clips of NPR stories or better yet the C-SPAN app to discuss rhetoric and give us specific content to respond to, but as I go to the App Store....




You want to know why? Well, on the campus system and WiFi, iTunes, NPR, C-SPAN Radio, Pandora, etc are all blocked because Engelbart's dream of a Research Center is not really progressing to the sort of organized and informed opportunity for self-managed and designed computer systems.

As frustrating as it is, it's understandable to a degree. After all, the system is not the closed one of ARC. It is vulnerable. Those vulnerabilities cost money and leave information to be potentially stolen, altered, or destroyed. There are all sorts of reasons why a community college might want to protect their wired and wireless networks, but they all boil down to one thing:

PEOPLE

People are the problem. The people that design, the people that manage, the people that use, the people that misuse, and all the rest form a constantly fluctuating mass that is dangerous, powerful, and unwieldy. They are nowhere near the "skilled user" that Engelbart and English keep referring to being able to do things like "readjust his view to suit immediate needs very quickly and frequently."

Those managing and paying for our contemporary networks want as little "readjust"-ing as possible from the user's perspective. "Readjust"-ing costs money in fixing things when they go wrong. Allowing users, apparently even faculty in new media seminars, to actually use and test their abilities to integrate that technology is a cost without sufficient benefit.

Sure, having all the kids on campus with their phones and computers connected to Pandora constantly would probably eat up some bandwidth. That is a problem in need of a solution. However, this brings us back to Engelbart and English's "A Research Center for Augmenting".

The beauty in this plan is that they PLANNED for it to be manipulated and changed before they let people into it. Our current systems is not designed or planned, it's patched and stretched. It's the same as the difference between a tailored suit and one that's "adjusted" for your rental.

Darn it! I want technology to be tailored, and I want in on the consultation because whoever makes these decisions clearly does not think forward. They think backwards. It is not about using technology to make connections and explore possibilities on the campus now. It's about controlling access.

This is a fundamentally different process that is, sadly, a necessary evil to some at least.




Post source: publicintellectual

In reading Engelbart's reports laying out the research center, I had no problem engaging with the text. Perhaps it is my love of bureaucracy and reports, but I enjoy seeing a vision/idea laid out in such specific terms that they seem manageable.

In these not-too-lengthy pages, Engelbart lays out a plan that would lead to all sorts of amazing things: the mouse, Cloud computing, YouTube, and We Rule. What's not to like? What's not to admire?

Well, here you go:




Yup, the information for Pandora is blocked. It's exciting to have an iPad and look at ways that I might incorporate it into my teaching. I love audio and would love to find clips of NPR stories or better yet the C-SPAN app to discuss rhetoric and give us specific content to respond to, but as I go to the App Store....




You want to know why? Well, on the campus system and WiFi, iTunes, NPR, C-SPAN Radio, Pandora, etc are all blocked because Engelbart's dream of a Research Center is not really progressing to the sort of organized and informed opportunity for self-managed and designed computer systems.

As frustrating as it is, it's understandable to a degree. After all, the system is not the closed one of ARC. It is vulnerable. Those vulnerabilities cost money and leave information to be potentially stolen, altered, or destroyed. There are all sorts of reasons why a community college might want to protect their wired and wireless networks, but they all boil down to one thing:

PEOPLE

People are the problem. The people that design, the people that manage, the people that use, the people that misuse, and all the rest form a constantly fluctuating mass that is dangerous, powerful, and unwieldy. They are nowhere near the "skilled user" that Engelbart and English keep referring to being able to do things like "readjust his view to suit immediate needs very quickly and frequently."

Those managing and paying for our contemporary networks want as little "readjust"-ing as possible from the user's perspective. "Readjust"-ing costs money in fixing things when they go wrong. Allowing users, apparently even faculty in new media seminars, to actually use and test their abilities to integrate that technology is a cost without sufficient benefit.

Sure, having all the kids on campus with their phones and computers connected to Pandora constantly would probably eat up some bandwidth. That is a problem in need of a solution. However, this brings us back to Engelbart and English's "A Research Center for Augmenting".

The beauty in this plan is that they PLANNED for it to be manipulated and changed before they let people into it. Our current systems is not designed or planned, it's patched and stretched. It's the same as the difference between a tailored suit and one that's "adjusted" for your rental.

Darn it! I want technology to be tailored, and I want in on the consultation because whoever makes these decisions clearly does not think forward. They think backwards. It is not about using technology to make connections and explore possibilities on the campus now. It's about controlling access.

This is a fundamentally different process that is, sadly, a necessary evil to some at least.




Augment… really?!?

No comments

Post source: Robinson-Breidel

I had a hard time focusing on Engelbart’s writing this week.  I don’t know if it was just a particularly stressful week that led to a lack of focus on my part, or Engelbart’s writing.  I did get more out of the group discussion than the reading.  I find face-to-face interaction more stimulating and productive that reading technical writing alone in my office.  Perhaps part of the problem is that I really have a low level of interest in this particular article.  Hopefully the readings and my attention span will improve over the semester… now I know how my students feel! 

grrr

Keep moving forward!!!

As We May Think

No comments

Post source: Robinson-Breidel

 It’s clear to me that Bush was a visionary.  One of the problems Bush pointed out, the “increased evidenc that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends”, is a real challenge for many today.  The volume of information has increased so rapidly that one has difficulty staying current across disciplines and specializations.  I believe this has the potential of limiting technological breakthroughs and innovations. 

I remember whining to my parents that they were lucky because there wasn’t as much history or other “stuff” for them to learn when they were kids.  Now I hear my kids bemoaning the same fate.  Back when I was a kid, at least we had time for recess.

A little knowledge can be …

No comments

Post source: JoMama Meets the New Media

On reading this week’s selection from Engelbart and English, I had only one comment.

WHAT?????

As I plowed through it, I wondered why I persisted, and knew that the only reason was because I hoped that sooner or later, I would come upon something that made sense to me.  It didn’t happen.

So I returned to the reading of other participants’ postings in our blog, which were both interesting and instructive.  A comment from publicintellectual struck me as both true and important.  He/she said “… what is lost is the knowledge of how it works…”  (apologies for pulling it out of context).  As we have departed so drastically from Engelbart’s notion that what he was creating was for those who could understand how it works, we have had created for ourselves devices and systems that are so user-friendly that 8 year-old street children in India can figure them out without any instruction.  When we are evaluating new technology for student learning, what I most often hear is how this new technology will make it easier for the students – NEVER do I hear anyone saying with excitement that this will make students understand complexities or work harder or think more deeply.   I have a problem with this.  I believe that this is not only changing the way our students think (not for the better), but it is also increasing the risk of confidential information being shared in unsafe ways.  It is so easy and so much fun to get out there and chat, without any notion of how this “magical” thing is happening and without any understanding of the vulnerability that results.

Then there is the “powerful pull” – dare I say “addiction”?

A recent report from the CQ Researcher had some intriguing quotes from yesteryear:

The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct knowledge by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful lumber.

— Edgar Allan Poe, author, 1845

[New technologies are] pretty toys, which distract us from serious things … We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.

— Henry David Thoreau, author, 1854

Augmenting Human Intellect

No comments

Post source: New Media Seminar A Petree

I really liked how this article is being to have some relevance to the way I see computers have changed the way we work. Events and information are not always linear and the idea that computers can help log events and see relationships between information is amazing. I couldn’t help but think of programs such as Google Docs or other programs that help people share information in order to allow networking. It was interesting to think about the discovery of the mouse and all of the computer interactions that seem so common place now days such as “what you see is what you get” word processing.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Although I was very impressed with Engelbart’s accomplishments, talking to a general audience is not one of them. It would have been better to read an essay written at a more general level explaining the accomplishments of Engelbart. The video did help. I do truly appreciate the amazing things he was able to do in the 1950′s and 60′s. We do forget sometimes where we came from and the video did illustrate that. I did not really get much of anything out of his text. I am not convinced that his written works should even be published. Maybe there is an audience that can follow his narrative and not get bored. I am not sure. I hope this week is much better.

Post source: publicintellectual

Problems:
The main problems with getting excited with Douglas Engelbart's visions and plans for us reading today are two-fold:

1) We are not NACA engineers:
2) We have the expectation of the technology that we've always had.

The combination of these factors leaves us underwhelmed by the descriptions and details of the process by which Engelbart performs what is essentially an amazing feat of combining vision with engineering and programming.

In short, we are not impressed because many of us have lived with this level of technology for 20+ years. Our students and younger colleagues have even greater difficulties in imagining the amazement at being able to coordinate data in the ways suggested.

However, I do not want to stay on why it is difficult to engage with Engelbart. I want to engage with his vision and ideas. As the former winner of the Delaware BASIC team programming challenge in 6th grade, I am fascinated by the level of detail and attention needed to get a machine to coordinate these different categories of information that lead to the invention of the personal computer (even as Engelbart does not really intend to envision a personal, consumer computer).

Engelbart v. Engelbart
In reading the first Engelbart/vision essay and comparing that with the second (Engelbart/English proposal) and the video of his presentation, I'm really seeing two different ideas.

On one hand, Engelbart/English propose a work terminal system to analyze and support research into ways of analyzing and supporting research, but in the renowned live presentation, Engelbart introduces the potentialities of the technology in word processing and mapping, interestingly combined with the narrative of his wife calling and asking for him to do the shopping. The development of handheld organizers in the late 1980s, PDAs in the mid-late 1990s with devices like the Newton & Palm Pilot, and continuing with advertising for smartphones and tablets also often confronts the consumer with the ability of this hand-held device to help with....gasp...shopping, maps, and relationships.

Palm ads here and here. (Interesting history of Palm Pilot here from the Computer History Museum)

The Case of Newton
Apple's Newton Intro Video here shows that a direct connection exists between Engelbart's vision and this kind of device. Watch the video and be amazed as the Newton users are excited about being able to get down and manipulate their thoughts on the device in a variety of ways, including drawing/design/handwriting, etc.

But, there's an interesting addition about a minute in. Now, the Newton will do things for the user, not just be an augmentation. Don't know how to put text and images together well? Don't worry. Newton will do it for you. Newton will not only assist you. It knows enough about what you are doing to do it for you.

This sort of personification and extension of technology beyond being an extension is even clearer in this Newton TV ad. Newton is now not just a thing or an assistant, an adjunct. It is a separate being who is friendly and worldly and intelligent.

While this might appear to be a minor shift from helper to friend used to achieve a marketing goal, it also reflects a vital shift rhetorically that has real consequences. Engelbart envisions a device that works on a hierarchy of symbols that he and his team devise and program into the system.

In fact, he envisions that these sorts of machines will always comes as a product of a team that analyzes needs and wants and develops a system that serves to allow users to manipulate those symbols in meaningful ways to achieve their goal. In essence the technology becomes a product of individual/small-group's needs and wants.

However, as we see the evolution to the PDA world, we realize that what has happened is that devices have been produced on the large scale where the individuals need to now be assimilated into the system of symbols developed by the engineers and programmers. In effect, the augmentation has taken over.

It is not just a tool to be used and shaped at will. Jobs, actions, wants, and needs must be shaped to fit into the use of the tool, as shown by the instructional videos on how to use a PDA.

And while the Newton perhaps tried to do too much and cost too much, the iPad and other augmentations of today seem to be facing less resistance. Built on an iPhone UI, the iPad seems "instinctive" and "responsive". No, it's more than that.

Apple wants it to be "magical"

And it is, but what is lost is the knowledge of how it works and the ability to shape the technology to the standards and hierarchies or OUR symbols. The process of learning about how we learn has been sublimated to make invisible what might be better made visible: the construction and sharing of symbolic systems.

Without an understanding of the logic behind the systems of symbols, students and users become consumers of symbols and leave their creation and manipulation to "magic."

The problem, from a cultural studies POV, is that these systems of meanings and symbols are not segregated from reality in an ether of pure entertainment. They are heavily ensconced in the networks of economics/class, culture, language, race, ethnicity, politics, gender, sexuality, and differences of all kinds. The order and preferences that are given to some symbols over others carry with them ideological values and meanings beyond the symbol and its meaning alone. Pure data connection is not possible.

Therefore, shouldn't we be aware of how, why, and when these sorts of decisions get made and by whom?






Post source: publicintellectual

Problems:
The main problems with getting excited with Douglas Engelbart's visions and plans for us reading today are two-fold:

1) We are not NACA engineers:
2) We have the expectation of the technology that we've always had.

The combination of these factors leaves us underwhelmed by the descriptions and details of the process by which Engelbart performs what is essentially an amazing feat of combining vision with engineering and programming.

In short, we are not impressed because many of us have lived with this level of technology for 20+ years. Our students and younger colleagues have even greater difficulties in imagining the amazement at being able to coordinate data in the ways suggested.

However, I do not want to stay on why it is difficult to engage with Engelbart. I want to engage with his vision and ideas. As the former winner of the Delaware BASIC team programming challenge in 6th grade, I am fascinated by the level of detail and attention needed to get a machine to coordinate these different categories of information that lead to the invention of the personal computer (even as Engelbart does not really intend to envision a personal, consumer computer).

Engelbart v. Engelbart
In reading the first Engelbart/vision essay and comparing that with the second (Engelbart/English proposal) and the video of his presentation, I'm really seeing two different ideas.

On one hand, Engelbart/English propose a work terminal system to analyze and support research into ways of analyzing and supporting research, but in the renowned live presentation, Engelbart introduces the potentialities of the technology in word processing and mapping, interestingly combined with the narrative of his wife calling and asking for him to do the shopping. The development of handheld organizers in the late 1980s, PDAs in the mid-late 1990s with devices like the Newton & Palm Pilot, and continuing with advertising for smartphones and tablets also often confronts the consumer with the ability of this hand-held device to help with....gasp...shopping, maps, and relationships.

Palm ads here and here. (Interesting history of Palm Pilot here from the Computer History Museum)

The Case of Newton
Apple's Newton Intro Video here shows that a direct connection exists between Engelbart's vision and this kind of device. Watch the video and be amazed as the Newton users are excited about being able to get down and manipulate their thoughts on the device in a variety of ways, including drawing/design/handwriting, etc.

But, there's an interesting addition about a minute in. Now, the Newton will do things for the user, not just be an augmentation. Don't know how to put text and images together well? Don't worry. Newton will do it for you. Newton will not only assist you. It knows enough about what you are doing to do it for you.

This sort of personification and extension of technology beyond being an extension is even clearer in this Newton TV ad. Newton is now not just a thing or an assistant, an adjunct. It is a separate being who is friendly and worldly and intelligent.

While this might appear to be a minor shift from helper to friend used to achieve a marketing goal, it also reflects a vital shift rhetorically that has real consequences. Engelbart envisions a device that works on a hierarchy of symbols that he and his team devise and program into the system.

In fact, he envisions that these sorts of machines will always comes as a product of a team that analyzes needs and wants and develops a system that serves to allow users to manipulate those symbols in meaningful ways to achieve their goal. In essence the technology becomes a product of individual/small-group's needs and wants.

However, as we see the evolution to the PDA world, we realize that what has happened is that devices have been produced on the large scale where the individuals need to now be assimilated into the system of symbols developed by the engineers and programmers. In effect, the augmentation has taken over.

It is not just a tool to be used and shaped at will. Jobs, actions, wants, and needs must be shaped to fit into the use of the tool, as shown by the instructional videos on how to use a PDA.

And while the Newton perhaps tried to do too much and cost too much, the iPad and other augmentations of today seem to be facing less resistance. Built on an iPhone UI, the iPad seems "instinctive" and "responsive". No, it's more than that.

Apple wants it to be "magical"

And it is, but what is lost is the knowledge of how it works and the ability to shape the technology to the standards and hierarchies or OUR symbols. The process of learning about how we learn has been sublimated to make invisible what might be better made visible: the construction and sharing of symbolic systems.

Without an understanding of the logic behind the systems of symbols, students and users become consumers of symbols and leave their creation and manipulation to "magic."

The problem, from a cultural studies POV, is that these systems of meanings and symbols are not segregated from reality in an ether of pure entertainment. They are heavily ensconced in the networks of economics/class, culture, language, race, ethnicity, politics, gender, sexuality, and differences of all kinds. The order and preferences that are given to some symbols over others carry with them ideological values and meanings beyond the symbol and its meaning alone. Pure data connection is not possible.

Therefore, shouldn't we be aware of how, why, and when these sorts of decisions get made and by whom?