Thursday, September 25, 2008

Don't Go Changing :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, Views and Jobs

The rhetoric of change. eg Educational leadership and change is the ostensible goal and aim of the program of study in which I am enrolled. There is every indication that just saying it doesn't make it so and often if you have to say it you can't do it" It is like the word change is being held up as a shield against anyone that might be critical of a demonstrated lack of change and reverencing of the status quo.

Don't Go Changing :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, Views and Jobs

Excellent onward links in this article including some that discuss the Transformative focus of education. eg the University of Michigan's Workgroup on Transformative change in educational leadership.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Social Network Analysis

Listened to Valdis Krebs pres to CCK08 this AM. Interesting concepts but it left me with more questions and a distinct creepy feeling that somebody was pushing an agenda. This guy supposedly did some analysis after Saudi nationals guided commercial airplanes into the World trade center buildings in NY in 2001.

In his presentation today he showed two networks maps and asked us to identify the terrorist network. I correctly identified the map on the right. The other map was as IBM project work group and he was trying make the point ( I think) that it is impossible to distinguish terrorist networks from any other kind of network and that you had to identify specific nodes as having at least some remote link to somebody who knows somebody who may know a terrorist. By the description of degrees of separation in networks offered earlier in the presentation, that would be everybody. He went so far as to talk about those who actively support terrorists and those who passively support terrorism by not reporting suspicious activity. Not much information on what qualified as links between nodes, the directions or strengths of the linkages. If you ever looked a middle eastern news source did you ring the gong?

The guy struck me as a bit of a fear mongering cold warrior operative working out a plausible case for greater scrutiny of networks. There is lots of bucks in fear especially for network analysts that can say just about anything.

Someone suggested that the recent Wall street situation be subjected to Krebs network analysis and the whiff of something started to arise for me. The clench, spidy senses started tingling.

The collapse of Wall St was the result of evildoers and terrorists infiltrating US commerce and bringing the economy to collapse thus furthering the terrorist aim.... Ergo the US is justified in spending $700 billion without oversight or scrutiny to "oppose the evildoers" and "make the world safe for freedom and democracy". It is the American public's sacred duty to shut up, bend over and make the world safe for truth, democracy and the American way.

There maybe evildoers at work but it is an inside job and you can bet they are scrambling their little rat like claws to get out of accepting responsibility for a major hurt that they have inflicted and are trying everything they can to shift blame and get a bailout.

Too blatant an manipulation?

Then of course what do I know.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What strange machine man is. You fill him with bread, wine, fishes, and radishes and out comes sighs, laughter and dreams.

Reading this very interesting book.

Kurtzweil, R. (1999). The age of spiritual machines: When computers exceed human intelligence. New York: Penguin Groups. Retrieved September 18, 2008, from

Lovely quote from Nikos Kazantzakis "What a strange machine man is. You fill him with bread, wine, fish and radishes, and out come sighs, laughter and dreams."

Kurtzweil describes the difference between parallel computing and quantum computing. Analogy it is like comparing a firecracker to a hydrogen bomb.

Neat description of quantum mechanics and the action of light striking a mirror. Photons have many possible paths available to them and they take them all at once. Each photon actually bounces off each possible point of the surface, trying out every possible path. Most of these trials cancel out leaving the ones predicted by classical physics. This process is dependent on an observer to resolve ambiguity amongst the particles a process called disambiguation or quantum decoherence.

A bit of a discussion in the CCL08 Elluminate session today about connectivism and knowledge generally. The discussion is abandoning epistemology but is looking at ontologies. Part of the discussion seemed to support a typical positivist longing for objective reality.

Reading Kurtzwiel and listening to the CCK08 discussion put me in mind of two other authors, De Chardin and the Future of man, where he discusses the noosphere, the sphere of collective consciousness that surrounds the earth like the biosphere. When we are born our spirit is drawn from this sphere, we live and improve the spiritual energy and when we die it is returned to the noosphere. Mankind advances the state of the noosphere until it reaches the Omega point or Godhead. (That's the kinna stuff that gets you kicked out of the RC church)

Anyway, Teilhard anticipated the Internet and speculated that the mechanism of the noosphere may be electromagnetic computational machines.

Another guy I like is Gary Zukav and the dancing Wu Li Masters. Again an comparison of quantum physics and oriental mysticism.

When I started talking about such things as the noosphere of Gaia hypothesis. Downes shouted in big block letters NO NO NO. Put me off a bit but the guy seems to be a bit of a nutter, not quite as cleaver as he thinks he is. Although way way smarter that me for sure. Him and George have been getting their things pulled by Catherine Fitzpatrick who is a very prolific writer and unapologeticly challenges the basic precepts of connectivism. She make a lot of sense and I must admit that she expresses a few of the reservations that I have had about connectivism and the whole CCK08 show. It has a huge number of subscribers and I like the format but it also seems to be a bit of an ego proposition for the organizers, there is sure to be a book or two,

Anyway following some of the discussion on the CCK08 moodle and Twitter and listening to Catherine Fitzpatrick is quite refreshing although many of the other participants seem to be a bit freaked out about the very uncompromising views and opinions. She has a pretty low opinion of academics and theory making institutions and rightly calls into question some of the basic assumptions of connectivisim. One of the main issues for her is the reverence and awe and the start maker machinery and the fact that George and Stephen are apparently managing the flow of conversation inspite of the rhetoric of openness and mutual creativity. I see tonight she responded very sharply to Alec Courous of U of R. She doesn't hesitate to call a spade, a f**king shovel. These guys are so use to fawning and deference and an environment of enforced intellectual orthodoxy that it rattles them. I'm getting a kick out of it I must admit and I'm inspired by Catherine's tenacity. I suspect she would have my guts for garters if I ever tried to dialog.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Students, exam both come up short | Portland Press Herald

Students, exam both come up short | Portland Press Herald

Who designed the prompt? "Television may have a negative impact on learning? support or refute. Maybe a few preconceived notions at work.
Grade 8's may have passed with flying colours on the essential skill of detecting manipulative BS and giving it it's due respect and attention.

Unfinished Work: From Cyborg to Cognisphere -- Hayles 23 (78): 159 -- Theory, Culture & Society

Reading this article referenced by Alex Reid of Digital Digs and putting a few things together.
Unfinished Work: From Cyborg to Cognisphere -- Hayles 23 (78): 159 -- Theory, Culture & Society

First I wish I would have found this while the Fielding Critical Pedagogy Class was underway. In theory the conversation should be still going there but I'm afraid it is deader that a doornail.

Second, it is an excellent example of the Pedagogy of Propinquity. The Connectivism course is officially kicking off today and this article falls into my field of view. As I understand connectivism at this point it is advancing a very similar POV as Hayles proposed, that we have entered a post human era in our understanding of our species and that the connections are as important as the individual. Humanity maybe a fairly nebulous concept after-all give the recent experimental work with cloning human organs in pigs for transplant purposes (pig to human that is ;>) )

This has always been a position of some spiritual philosophies, Zen, NDN, etc that we are all a part of a greater and intricately connected whole and that individualism is an illusion. Nodes on a network.