New Media Faculty Dev. Seminar – FA2010

"Awakening the Digital Imagination" – a Networked Seminar

I was Augmented

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Post source: mccmktg

Woohoo!  How ’bout that new WebAdvisor system for drops?  That was the best example I’ve seen in a long time of augmenting human capability.  Imagine the collective hours saved of not having to locate the slips, look up the student ID, fill out the required info, sign them and either hand them to someone to deliver or deliver them yourself to the records office.  If we could aggregate the time saved, we could teach a couple of extra classes.  In the flurry of celebratory emails, I wanted to send one that said, “It’s about time.”  However, I’m so glad I did not.

Guess what I did?  In my exuberance to use the system, I deleted a student that should not have been deleted.  So, the new system augmented by capability, but not my thinking.  OOPS.

One additional comment about this system.  There was not a high price to pay for the augmentation. Engelbart refers to the time and energy required to learn and use the system this way.  Reading about his cards with notches and windows overwhelmed me with the price for that sort of augmentation.  I’m glad the new webadvisor system has no notches or needles!

Thinking or Filling time?

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Post source: mccmktg

“As We May Think” made it’s most powerful statement (for me) when it said that technology would enable us to expand the body of knowledge — “encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of the race experience.” The idea of sharing our learning and preventing others from “reinventing the wheel” is a powerful argument for technology. And, isn’t it amazing what people add to the public record just through YouTube that they are willing to share freely.

The caution of this knowledge is also presented in his phrase “the mass of the inconsequential.” I hate to think how much valuable time our students spend on mindless YouTube or Facebook pursuits. The “I don’t have time” excuse wears pretty thin considering how much time they spend daily with the inconsequential data they absorb!

Bush’s future-cast was amazing. It will be interesting to see how accurate he is for developments in the next 20 years. Will the computers be able t read our thoughts? I might simply have to place my fingers on the key pad and my thoughts spill out — hmmm — hope we can edit.

Post source: JoMama Meets the New Media

Engelbart’s example of an architect’s work was phenomenal – so close to what is being done right now. 

 I appreciated his recognition on p. 98, column 2, of the mitigating factors that would inevitably be at work in any conceptual framework.  He admits that “even if our conceptual framework did provide an accurate and complete basic analysis of the system from which stems a human’s intellectual effectiveness, [it] would be highly affected by … our understanding of the human being.”  It seems to me that the framework that he is suggesting is perfect for many (maybe most) kinds of research or indexing or analysis, but it breaks down in the face of subjective analysis and research.  The very immediacy, convenience and speed of the process works against the possibility (or probability) of careful thought and deep reflection, as we find to be necessary in an analysis of literature, for example.  I think that the speed of document delivery makes our students unwilling to sit with a piece of writing, to dig within a body of information and wrestle with it.  Engelbart was a prophet, and his warning that we would need to pay attention to “our understanding of the human being” has gone unheeded.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

I think one of the most profound ideas is “For years inventions have extended man’s physical powers rather than the powers of the mind”. Wisdom is not negotiable. It should be a requirement for use of new technology. You can look at the atomic bomb – yes it put an end to World War II – but at a cost no one could have imagined. The radioactive fallout is understood today but was not considered by most people in 1945.

Technology can provide us unlimited access to worldwide knowledge and if applied correctly the applications are unlimited.  In high school I use micro fish and index medicus (scientific indexing series of books). By my senior year in my undergraduate studies I could pay ten dollars a minute to do a computer search in Medline (index medicus on—line). We also flipped floppies to load word processing programs and spell check. By my masters program WordPerfect dominated the educational world and laser printers could do proportional spaced fonts. By the time I was working on my PhD searching on-line was common, transmission of protein structure and DNA structure was common place. We now used email. Near the end of my graduate school years we could type in a line of amino acids and the computer could fold them into the shape of an actual protein. And technology has continued to change exponentially.

‘Star Trek’ proposed nano technology over a decade ago – based in physic hypotheses. In fact much of what was seen in the different ‘Star Trek’ show was based in physics hypotheses. I just read about nanobots that can crawl around inside our bodies moving proteins – we would have insisted thirty years ago that this would only be seen in science fiction like the ‘Fantastic Voyage’. There have been some individuals through out history that could see where we would be someday: Louis Pasteur (said their were viruses – it took him ten years to convince anyone in the scientific community), Einstein (were E+MC2 was not understood to the point that this him most important contribution did not get him the Nobel Prize), Jules Verne (who wrote about atomic submarines and spaceships going to the moon), Tom Clancy (picked up by the US Military 3 days after the publication of ‘Hunt For Red October’), just to name a few.

Another point the author brought out was “…effort to bridge between disciplines is correspondingly superficial”.  This is so true technology has lead to more specialization and less cross discipline study. Neurologists refer you to nephrologists who refer you to cardiologist. The technology has yet to provide us a way to absorb and apply the massive amounts of accumulating information. Advancements in technology moves science forward but not society and/or communication. We have separate bodies of information that is not inter-connected because we do not have enough time in the day to read all that applies to what we are working on. But technology would have been beneficial for Mendel and Darwin. They would have been able to communicate with each other and their findings would have been applied half a century sooner.

Almost all of technology today is driven by the economy (and we could say that this had been true for a very long time). I believe that Socrates, Aristotle, Michelangelo, or Pasteur cared about economic gain but instead the more pure gain of knowledge. But in 2010 in the United States technology doesn’t even have to work correctly if there is strong economic market. The new iPhone had serious problem as did Windows Vista, but the people wanted it now and they were released with tremendous increase of revenue. I know several people who say they love their iPhone and had switched to AT&T so that they could purchase an iPhone. They also complain that their reception is not good. Not as good as it had been with Verizon. So they have an iPhone that they love even if it doesn’t give them the reception they need. What motivates us to purchase new technology that does not improve our functional quality of life? Is this technology a superficial status symbol? “I have the iPhone.” “I have Windows 7.” Look at ink jet printers; it is cheaper to buy a new printer than replacing the cartridges in many cases. As consumers we have allowed this to happen. Supply and demand applies and I believe a lot of it simply boils down to I have, I have, I have…

I hope I don’t sound like a pessimist or someone opposed to technology because that is not the case. I have been fortunate to be able to use some of the best scientific equipment and technology over the years. I have tried to stay current with the computer age. And today I am trying to decide if I am ready to join the Android age. But for me it has to be functional or I do not want it. I rely on technology to work and do what it is designed to do. I am a very “Type A” personality and I am not tolerant of technological failure. For instance, I don’t just buy my computer at the cheapest location. I pay for quality not quantity.

Post source: Gail'sNew MediaBlog

I’m glad I had the opportunity to read this excerpt from Douglas Englebart’s Augmenting Human Intellect, in order to learn more about the legendary Mr. Englebart. He had lofty goals, an organized mind, and  a clear vision, or “framework”, as he called it. He apparently was way ahead of his time in envisioning the possiblities of technology to augment the humand mind with it’s ability to store, manipulate, and recall information.  

His example of  writing a sentence with a pencil, and then fastening a pencil to a brick and writing the same sentence that way, was illustrative of the  “de-augmentation” process, and thus of the augmentation concept.

Inventing the Medium

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Post source: Robinson-Breidel

I found my mind wandering as I read Murray’s Inventing the Medium.  She referenced several articles of which I had no prior knowledge.  I think I finallay got the gist of what she was saying after I read the Bush article.    Technology can be a double edged sword, with the potential for both great good and great evil.  The determining factor is the unknown human element.  Will society choose to use techonology for good or evil?  Who defines what is good or evil?  Clearly, techonology is magnifying the differences between the classes.  The middle class is shrinking and poverty is on the rise.  With the technology curve rising so steeply, will the “have nots” ever be able to catch up, much less keep up, with the learning curve?

Bush-y, Bush-y, Bush!

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Post source: publicintellectual

The Good:
Bush's article clearly articulates that technology holds vast potential beyond the ability of engineers and scientists to develop ways to kill more people more quickly or more efficiently. In fact, it can help fellow researchers more readily share information about how past peoples have used technologies to kill more people more quickly and/or more efficiently.

All joking aside, Bush's attempt to look towards a future of connection and relative interaction is fantastic and exciting. What hipster would not want a memex? It's got a cross between Mad Men and steampunk aesthetic and does all the work of a mid-90s Palm.

Ok, I wasn't quite done with being sarcastic yet. I'll admit it. I love technology. I love being able to take pictures, like the one below, on the fly and not have to worry about getting it developed.




It is truly amazing to be able to follow my college acquaintance as he drove across America on a Craftsman lawnmower this summer.

The Bad:
One might immediately notice the potentials for abuse (or at least not positive use) of tiny cameras that people can take anywhere. A surveillance culture, every success or failure living on indeterminately, pornography, and cats, lots of cats, appear to be the products of the tiny cell-phone camera.

This remains to be the problem with almost any advance in technology. The technology always precedes the abilities of the culture to incorporate the possibilities in primarily positive ways, at least to the status quo.

And to some degree, that is a good thing. It allows technology to even the field between the oppressor and oppressed, a la the use by Iranians of twitter to subvert media blackouts and connect to the rest of the world. We love to hear this. It's exciting and hopeful. It turns our attentions away from the fears that technologies bring with them and that technologies distribute even more quickly and constantly than before.

However, it is this technology that allows for our attentions to be diverted so quickly. Recently, I listened to a Fresh Air where Terry Gross interviewed Matt Richtel, a writer for the New York Times, who has been working on investigating issues of technology, society, and the science of the brain for the past year or so ("Your Brain on Computers" articles: here and here). In short, he has discovered that the research is beginning to show that our brains cannot take the quantity and diversity of information being presented to it on a near constant basis. The pleasure potential of a new e-mail coming in keeps us constantly checking the inbox like a rat with a randomly distribution of food from a slot. I find it fascinating that technology is beginning to have the equivalent effect of allowing, nee forcing, us to carry little slot machines with us (Yes, there is an app for that.)

I see it in both myself and my students. I check my e-mail right when I leave my office, and 20 minutes later, when I get home, I feel a strong urge to open up my laptop and check again. I know, intellectually, that nothing of significance has come in during the last 20 minutes. I know, emotionally, that I should sit on the floor and read or play with my son rather than reconnect to the screen, but the "pull" is powerful.

The Dangers:
What's amazing to me is that so many seem willing to plow headlong into more reliance on technology that increasingly proves to be dangerous or detrimental when used on a broad basis. I can't drive anywhere in this city without nearly getting plowed into by someone on their cell phone or texting. At Baylor's campus, I've repeatedly heard of students nearly being hit as they are walking, absorbed in their phones or iPods, and not noticing that they are going into traffic.

Would these people engage in dangerous or distracting behavior of one kind or another anyway? Sure, why not? But, the point is not that technology presents the only danger of violence, distraction, or incipience of whole levels of intelligence or thought vanishing, but rather, that technology makes those problems easier to develop and harder to resist. Furthermore, the culture places a negative value on those places or people that choose to not use those technologies.

I think that E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" gives a highly astute and prophetic view of the dangers of these kinds of connections of knowledge and thinking to machines. It is not so much the problem of storage that Bush's plan helps to solve. The danger lies in losing the ability and inclination to train the mind and body to work together through diverse media to obtain information and synthesize it.

It's precisely because it IS so easy to "Google It" that renders to desire and pursuit of knowledge as a process only the tiniest of realms within society, pushed back into the Ivory Dungeon, only to be let out to service the cry that a populace with more "higher" education will fix fundamental problems in the economy.

Forster's story describes technologies and interactions not to far afield of Bush's, only with an oppositional perspective and thirty-six years before. Forster describes the use of machines to encode knowledge, making actual research unnecessary and accessible at the touch of a button. Forster's dystopia does not end well (like any do), and human beings die in droves in the dark as the machines run down with no one to understand their processes after generations of efficiency.

Final Thoughts:
Rather than end on a negative note of complete ruin, I want to propose a solution or a potential solution. In recent years, STEM education has represented a significant push for American education at all levels of schooling. However, in reviewing much of the literature, little is done to pair discussions of technology's abilities with the potential ethical issues of that technology and science. The focus has been on the question, "Can we do X?" not "Should we? How should we? What are the social/cultural costs of X?"

No, it's been left largely to specialists within fields, secondary/tertiary debates at conferences, or, more likely, those crazy "humanities" people who keep saying, "Umm...remember this other time that we did something like that? It didn't turn out well."

If we could institute education of STEM that includes the implications of these actions and ideas, from the earliest of levels, then we might have a population more prepared to adapt to new technologies in healthier ways, rather than getting bloated on the processed/technological "food" that Bush praises in his article.

Bush-y, Bush-y, Bush!

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Post source: publicintellectual

The Good:
Bush's article clearly articulates that technology holds vast potential beyond the ability of engineers and scientists to develop ways to kill more people more quickly or more efficiently. In fact, it can help fellow researchers more readily share information about how past peoples have used technologies to kill more people more quickly and/or more efficiently.

All joking aside, Bush's attempt to look towards a future of connection and relative interaction is fantastic and exciting. What hipster would not want a memex? It's got a cross between Mad Men and steampunk aesthetic and does all the work of a mid-90s Palm.

Ok, I wasn't quite done with being sarcastic yet. I'll admit it. I love technology. I love being able to take pictures, like the one below, on the fly and not have to worry about getting it developed.




It is truly amazing to be able to follow my college acquaintance as he drove across America on a Craftsman lawnmower this summer.

The Bad:
One might immediately notice the potentials for abuse (or at least not positive use) of tiny cameras that people can take anywhere. A surveillance culture, every success or failure living on indeterminately, pornography, and cats, lots of cats, appear to be the products of the tiny cell-phone camera.

This remains to be the problem with almost any advance in technology. The technology always precedes the abilities of the culture to incorporate the possibilities in primarily positive ways, at least to the status quo.

And to some degree, that is a good thing. It allows technology to even the field between the oppressor and oppressed, a la the use by Iranians of twitter to subvert media blackouts and connect to the rest of the world. We love to hear this. It's exciting and hopeful. It turns our attentions away from the fears that technologies bring with them and that technologies distribute even more quickly and constantly than before.

However, it is this technology that allows for our attentions to be diverted so quickly. Recently, I listened to a Fresh Air where Terry Gross interviewed Matt Richtel, a writer for the New York Times, who has been working on investigating issues of technology, society, and the science of the brain for the past year or so ("Your Brain on Computers" articles: here and here). In short, he has discovered that the research is beginning to show that our brains cannot take the quantity and diversity of information being presented to it on a near constant basis. The pleasure potential of a new e-mail coming in keeps us constantly checking the inbox like a rat with a randomly distribution of food from a slot. I find it fascinating that technology is beginning to have the equivalent effect of allowing, nee forcing, us to carry little slot machines with us (Yes, there is an app for that.)

I see it in both myself and my students. I check my e-mail right when I leave my office, and 20 minutes later, when I get home, I feel a strong urge to open up my laptop and check again. I know, intellectually, that nothing of significance has come in during the last 20 minutes. I know, emotionally, that I should sit on the floor and read or play with my son rather than reconnect to the screen, but the "pull" is powerful.

The Dangers:
What's amazing to me is that so many seem willing to plow headlong into more reliance on technology that increasingly proves to be dangerous or detrimental when used on a broad basis. I can't drive anywhere in this city without nearly getting plowed into by someone on their cell phone or texting. At Baylor's campus, I've repeatedly heard of students nearly being hit as they are walking, absorbed in their phones or iPods, and not noticing that they are going into traffic.

Would these people engage in dangerous or distracting behavior of one kind or another anyway? Sure, why not? But, the point is not that technology presents the only danger of violence, distraction, or incipience of whole levels of intelligence or thought vanishing, but rather, that technology makes those problems easier to develop and harder to resist. Furthermore, the culture places a negative value on those places or people that choose to not use those technologies.

I think that E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" gives a highly astute and prophetic view of the dangers of these kinds of connections of knowledge and thinking to machines. It is not so much the problem of storage that Bush's plan helps to solve. The danger lies in losing the ability and inclination to train the mind and body to work together through diverse media to obtain information and synthesize it.

It's precisely because it IS so easy to "Google It" that renders to desire and pursuit of knowledge as a process only the tiniest of realms within society, pushed back into the Ivory Dungeon, only to be let out to service the cry that a populace with more "higher" education will fix fundamental problems in the economy.

Forster's story describes technologies and interactions not to far afield of Bush's, only with an oppositional perspective and thirty-six years before. Forster describes the use of machines to encode knowledge, making actual research unnecessary and accessible at the touch of a button. Forster's dystopia does not end well (like any do), and human beings die in droves in the dark as the machines run down with no one to understand their processes after generations of efficiency.

Final Thoughts:
Rather than end on a negative note of complete ruin, I want to propose a solution or a potential solution. In recent years, STEM education has represented a significant push for American education at all levels of schooling. However, in reviewing much of the literature, little is done to pair discussions of technology's abilities with the potential ethical issues of that technology and science. The focus has been on the question, "Can we do X?" not "Should we? How should we? What are the social/cultural costs of X?"

No, it's been left largely to specialists within fields, secondary/tertiary debates at conferences, or, more likely, those crazy "humanities" people who keep saying, "Umm...remember this other time that we did something like that? It didn't turn out well."

If we could institute education of STEM that includes the implications of these actions and ideas, from the earliest of levels, then we might have a population more prepared to adapt to new technologies in healthier ways, rather than getting bloated on the processed/technological "food" that Bush praises in his article.

Bush-y, Bush-y, Bush!

No comments

Post source: publicintellectual

The Good:
Bush's article clearly articulates that technology holds vast potential beyond the ability of engineers and scientists to develop ways to kill more people more quickly or more efficiently. In fact, it can help fellow researchers more readily share information about how past peoples have used technologies to kill more people more quickly and/or more efficiently.

All joking aside, Bush's attempt to look towards a future of connection and relative interaction is fantastic and exciting. What hipster would not want a memex? It's got a cross between Mad Men and steampunk aesthetic and does all the work of a mid-90s Palm.

Ok, I wasn't quite done with being sarcastic yet. I'll admit it. I love technology. I love being able to take pictures, like the one below, on the fly and not have to worry about getting it developed.




It is truly amazing to be able to follow my college acquaintance as he drove across America on a Craftsman lawnmower this summer.

The Bad:
One might immediately notice the potentials for abuse (or at least not positive use) of tiny cameras that people can take anywhere. A surveillance culture, every success or failure living on indeterminately, pornography, and cats, lots of cats, appear to be the products of the tiny cell-phone camera.

This remains to be the problem with almost any advance in technology. The technology always precedes the abilities of the culture to incorporate the possibilities in primarily positive ways, at least to the status quo.

And to some degree, that is a good thing. It allows technology to even the field between the oppressor and oppressed, a la the use by Iranians of twitter to subvert media blackouts and connect to the rest of the world. We love to hear this. It's exciting and hopeful. It turns our attentions away from the fears that technologies bring with them and that technologies distribute even more quickly and constantly than before.

However, it is this technology that allows for our attentions to be diverted so quickly. Recently, I listened to a Fresh Air where Terry Gross interviewed Matt Richtel, a writer for the New York Times, who has been working on investigating issues of technology, society, and the science of the brain for the past year or so ("Your Brain on Computers" articles: here and here). In short, he has discovered that the research is beginning to show that our brains cannot take the quantity and diversity of information being presented to it on a near constant basis. The pleasure potential of a new e-mail coming in keeps us constantly checking the inbox like a rat with a randomly distribution of food from a slot. I find it fascinating that technology is beginning to have the equivalent effect of allowing, nee forcing, us to carry little slot machines with us (Yes, there is an app for that.)

I see it in both myself and my students. I check my e-mail right when I leave my office, and 20 minutes later, when I get home, I feel a strong urge to open up my laptop and check again. I know, intellectually, that nothing of significance has come in during the last 20 minutes. I know, emotionally, that I should sit on the floor and read or play with my son rather than reconnect to the screen, but the "pull" is powerful.

The Dangers:
What's amazing to me is that so many seem willing to plow headlong into more reliance on technology that increasingly proves to be dangerous or detrimental when used on a broad basis. I can't drive anywhere in this city without nearly getting plowed into by someone on their cell phone or texting. At Baylor's campus, I've repeatedly heard of students nearly being hit as they are walking, absorbed in their phones or iPods, and not noticing that they are going into traffic.

Would these people engage in dangerous or distracting behavior of one kind or another anyway? Sure, why not? But, the point is not that technology presents the only danger of violence, distraction, or incipience of whole levels of intelligence or thought vanishing, but rather, that technology makes those problems easier to develop and harder to resist. Furthermore, the culture places a negative value on those places or people that choose to not use those technologies.

I think that E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" gives a highly astute and prophetic view of the dangers of these kinds of connections of knowledge and thinking to machines. It is not so much the problem of storage that Bush's plan helps to solve. The danger lies in losing the ability and inclination to train the mind and body to work together through diverse media to obtain information and synthesize it.

It's precisely because it IS so easy to "Google It" that renders to desire and pursuit of knowledge as a process only the tiniest of realms within society, pushed back into the Ivory Dungeon, only to be let out to service the cry that a populace with more "higher" education will fix fundamental problems in the economy.

Forster's story describes technologies and interactions not to far afield of Bush's, only with an oppositional perspective and thirty-six years before. Forster describes the use of machines to encode knowledge, making actual research unnecessary and accessible at the touch of a button. Forster's dystopia does not end well (like any do), and human beings die in droves in the dark as the machines run down with no one to understand their processes after generations of efficiency.

Final Thoughts:
Rather than end on a negative note of complete ruin, I want to propose a solution or a potential solution. In recent years, STEM education has represented a significant push for American education at all levels of schooling. However, in reviewing much of the literature, little is done to pair discussions of technology's abilities with the potential ethical issues of that technology and science. The focus has been on the question, "Can we do X?" not "Should we? How should we? What are the social/cultural costs of X?"

No, it's been left largely to specialists within fields, secondary/tertiary debates at conferences, or, more likely, those crazy "humanities" people who keep saying, "Umm...remember this other time that we did something like that? It didn't turn out well."

If we could institute education of STEM that includes the implications of these actions and ideas, from the earliest of levels, then we might have a population more prepared to adapt to new technologies in healthier ways, rather than getting bloated on the processed/technological "food" that Bush praises in his article.

A Step Closer to "Public"

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Post source: publicintellectual

Hey, happy, happy-ish news! I'm beginning to live my "public" part of intellectual a bit more than in conferences and classrooms (stupid article publishing being so hard and long). I was contacted a while ago by Anna David (I thought it was a joke/spam at first) to talk about my use of reality TV in the classroom, something that I've blogged about at times and been trying to publish here and there.

Well, the article is finally here. I think that it does a fairly good job of giving an overview of the approaches to reality TV including, but not limited to, it's study as a genre in media studies. Since I've shifted my teaching and research to be more of using popular culture in order to get to other academic points, I've felt a bit of the outcast. This did a fairly good job of bring these odd threads together. Maybe I'll propose that TWOP needs a "higher ed" column or Chronicle needs a "Reality TV" column.

Thanks, Anna. I'm sorry that I thought you were porn spam initially.