Monday, September 29, 2008

Learning and the Much Maligned Mistake

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
Guitar Front - artist Ken Allan.
For my last post in September, I write a tribute to the mistake. Having made several mistakes this month, I feel that I should extol the virtues of this much maligned, yet salutary indicator.

Of all the things that one does in a lifetime, the mistake deserves an accolade for being among the most unwanted deeds - deliberate or accidental. It is charged with bringing embarrassment, shame and criticism to its architect, and when recognised, can be looked upon with scorn even by young children.

Metaphors and euphemisms:

There is a mountain of expressions, metaphors and euphemisms that are used for the mistake:

blemish, bloomer, blot, blotch, blue, blunder, blur, boner, boob, boo-boo, bungle, clanger, error, fault, faux pas, flaw, folly, gaffe, gaucherie, glitch, gong, hitch, horlix, howler, impropriety, indiscretion, lapse, mark, miscue, misdeed,
miss, misstep, oversight, problem, slip, solecism, spot, stain, trip, typo, woopsy, wrong - the list goes on!

It is the doom of the skydiver, headache of the politician and the ruin of investors. But it does not deserve its reputation.

The mistake is the initiator of precision and perfection. Consider the supreme champions of archery and marksmanship. Who from these groups would achieve such keen accuracy and exactness without ever having made a single mistake?

Music to the ears:

Anyone who has just learnt to play even the easiest of musical instruments will be only too aware of the self-correcting quality that the mistake imparts to the custom and practice of the learner musician.

The fine ear of the soprano singer is tuned by practice in infinitesimal degrees, through which the delicate ability of the human ear picks up disharmony and imperfection, within a beat per second, in even the highest pitched musical notes.

If we were projected back in time to the days when Yasha Heifetz first scraped a tune on his violin, or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart plonked his opening ditty on the piano, what illuminating wonders might we hear of the first and subsequent mistakes made by these celebrated virtuosos?

Darren Roberts made a list of ten ways the mistake or its consequence, failure, can be of benefit to the learner:

Encourages lateral thinking
Gives us experience
Builds character
Encourages the strong and discourages the weak!
Makes you honest with yourself
Makes one more intangible and thick-skinned
Success too soon can give false confidence
Encourages improvement and planning
Reveals your weaknesses
Success is the attitude; failure is the lever

“The person who never made a mistake never made anything,” is a Scottish adage. It implies that the mistake is part of the fundamental nucleus that is at the core of any acquisition through learning.
It becomes the hallmark of excellence by its default.

Go easy on the exponents:


As a teacher, I go easy on those who commit mistakes. I try to take care over how I address them:

May I never misjudge in speech or print
The might of that trite word but. Far from slight,
This subtle linking word is no mere hint
Of denial, but is a halting light,
A fleeting signal found among others
Far less importunate; it makes its mark
Almost unwittingly, and being terse
Can pass unnoticed like a curt choked bark,
A harbinger of prejudice expressed.
It is the stamp that damns the accolade,
The debit to annul the funds imprest,
The contempt to denounce all plaudits made:
And if before I use it I think twice,
I could save cutting a most unkind slice.

So celebrate the mistake. It fetches music to the ears, brings home celebrated champions, gives us award-winning scholars, and it put men on the Moon. It is a lesson with a possibility worthy of an "A" (attributed to Benjamin Zander).


( 10 ) ( 9 ) ( 8 ) ( 7 ) ( 6 ) ( 5 ) << - related posts - >> ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Can Learning Infringe Copyright?

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Art by Hannah Christine Allan DearArt by Hannah Christine Allan Dear

Earlier this year, I wrote an elearning discussion paper on reusable learning resources for Futurelab. It was snapped up and published. Stephen Downes gave it
a brief thumbs up and correctly interpreted the paper as an introduction and a history of learning resources.

But a rattled blogger put a comment against Stephen’s post that was far from complimentary to Stephen, Futurelab or me. Presumably the writer thought that the comment would get wider exposure on Stephen’s blog than on the Futurelab site. The claim was that my paper was written on the strength of
“a few google searches”.

Research or copying

I suppose some papers are written on a few Google searches. Many may not necessarily cite any of the results. In my attempt, I cited a dozen or so
(I'd 26 citations) of the hundreds I had on my list, including some mention of my own findings in the field.

The commenter's criticism reminded me that research of this type could come across as bogus to someone who may never have done proper research before, or had not considered the usefulness of passing on accumulated knowledge to others. Bogus or not, clearly I was being painted as a copier, and an out of date one at that. Perhaps I am.

Authors, thoughts and plagiarism

In Dave Snowden's recent post on a keynote speech he attended about innovation in companies, he asks the question: how does imitating other cases constitute innovation? Dave was obviously uneasy about the assumption that copying may be an integral part of innovation.

Sandipan Roy discussed plagiarism in the context of innovation in design, from an ethical point of view, and is still looking for a definition of it. He cites Wikipedia: "Plagiarism is the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work". Presumably the operative word here is ‘author’, though I wonder about 'thoughts'.

A learning skill

For as much as note taking is a fundamental skill of an independent learner, it would appear that taking notes at university lectures could incur copyright issues. So far, such copying is seen as a protected infringement unless it is published, which is another form of copying.

Given the recent interest in so-called wiring of the brain and the associated metaphors,
in the context of learning, how long will it take before copyright is applied to the passing on of skills and knowledge by a teacher?

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Friday, September 26, 2008

Told You So

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
A child and a dragon.
Ever thought how useful it would be to be always right? Over time, one has the opportunity to make many mistakes and regrettably, a lesser number of successes. My track record is as chequered as a new weave of tartan.

When I look back at the things that I got right, I feel very humble. Rare though they may be, these are the things that most helped me get to where I am today. I know! Don’t remind me!

Self-esteem

It’s true for us all, though. Sometimes we do get things right – thank goodness. And serendipitous though these occurrences may appear to be, they are very important to our self-esteem.

There have been many occasions when I have looked back smugly on happenings that turned out just the way I’d expected. I may even have spoken to friends and acquaintances or work-mates about how I thought things may turn out and got some opposition to my opinion at the time.

But have you ever noticed how unpopular you can be when, through the passage of time, you are proved right and you crow, “I told you so”?

People’s reactions can be such a put down to a know-it-all who’s right. Even if it’s just the once. The fact is, people rarely want to hear that time honoured assertion.

No win situation


It’s been my experience with this that’s taught me to button up when these superior occasions arise. I find it difficult. Often, my attitude gives the game away, even if I don’t say a word. I get quite petulant. I feel it’s simply not fair - I just can’t win.

Dale Carnegie eloquently explains the social consequences of being proved right and saying so. It’s not exactly how to win friends and influence people - hence the title of his book, I guess.

So how does one cover for this? Is the answer to be always wrong? That could be just as problematic. In any case, the chances of being always wrong are probably similar to the chances of being always right. It’s never as consistent as you might like it to be.

But on the occasions when I just know I’m going to be proved right and I say as much, the words are often out before I have a chance to consider the long-term consequences of my utterances. Short of getting a tonguectomy, what is there that a bear of little brain can do?


Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Problems with a Private blog on Blogger

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
No authoring signA plea for help

I’ve just set up a private blog on Blogger with about 20 author invitees. Some of my invitees are having real problems getting in. I’ve checked all their email addresses – twice now. All valid and squeaky clean.

There are 12 people who can get in (one’s a dummy email/password I created for myself) and at least 4 people who cannot get their valid Google account IDs to permit them access – doh! It's really frustrating!

A couple more found that their already-created Google accounts worked but the new ones with their work email address did not.

Lack of Feed

Another thing I notice is that I can’t subscribe to the new blog.

At first I thought that this was because of the settings, but then when I checked, none of them mentioned anything about RSS Feed except for the one on Blog Feeds.

I have Allow Blog Feeds set to FULL, and the Permissions set to Only Blog Authors (all my invitees are invited as blog authors).

I've checked out the Help on Blogger and haven't been successful at finding anything relevant to my troubled invitees who have been very patient with me.

I’m setting this blog up for the start of next term (in just over 2 weeks time here in NZ) and I hoped to get all invitees started by the end of this term. I'd really like it to happen.

So if you have any suggestions, I’d be really grateful to hear from you.

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scan This

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Video console

We’ve had an avalanche of enthusiasm and opinion about podcasts and videocasts, audio comments and video comments on blogs. I don’t knock any of those. I’m all for innovation, and I like the idea of identifying with the person who is communicating with me.

Back in the bad old days, people got all enthusiastic about embedding a picture of themselves in a word file, and printing out the letter on a colour printer.

PDFs also became popular about the same time, though not as accessible. Embedding an audio file in those was a development. That showed promise – a bit of a veer to the side, since the PDF was originally intended to provide a portable printable format, but that's cool.

At that same time, we had webs with embedded audio files and streamed videos. Web 2.0 hit us and all of that burst in cascades of foam as things went wild with Twitter, Tumbler, Seesmic and lots of other goodies besides.

A put-down on text

There’s been a bit of put-down where blogs with text comments are concerned. And I wonder if any real thought has been put into why blogs should still be so popular, or indeed, of the real merits of text.

Here’s my take on reading a post or comments against it, compared to listening to podcasts or watching video comments – and I emphasise here that it’s not my intention to knock any of those technologies, for I truly believe they all have their place.

But . . .

When it comes to scanning for detail that may be useful, I find it difficult to do this with audio or video. Even if all of the comments are video comments in response to the original video casted post, there is no way I have a hope of scanning the page to see if there’s anything that interests me there. I have to doggedly play the files – one by one.

Frankly, there is no way I can get the feel of what the discussion is all about just by scanning the post. The same applies to audio files. In short, they actually slow me down and can make skimming for information exceedingly tedious, if not impossible.

When it comes to citing, or quoting from a video-post or video comment I have the same problem. I've yet to hear anything to the contrary. It seems that they’re not transmutable, for the ‘in’ way to respond or comment on a video-cast seems to be only acceptable in kind.

Yesterday, I listened to a 10 minute conversation-cast. I had some ideas that I’d like to comment on, and though the speakers were all introduced one by one, I’m damned if I could remember all their names.

Not an easy scan

D’you think I could easily scan across the vid to pick them out? Not a chance. I gave up in the end and submitted a bland comment with no appropriate reference to the speakers because I could not easily recall who they were.

As I said at the beginning of this soliloquy, I’m not knocking the audios or the vids. They have their place. Just don’t expect me to drum up enthusiasm to respond in kind when I know damn well it’s simpler to write a brief comment.

Ka kite anō – Catch ya later

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sit Back and Wait for the Learning to Happen

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
To Learn List
I was struck by the diversity of opinion to be found on The Learning Circuits Blog on To-Learn Lists. Clearly I'd been kidding myself all these years that everyone knew all about to-learn lists.

Yesterday I read Gina Minks' post on What’s a "To Learn" List, and wrote a comment:

Ah! The ‘to learn list’.

Many years ago I went on a course on manual writing. I’d just become a computer trainer and my boss sent me on this course - she thought I needed the skills. She wasn’t far wrong - but I found some of the course fascinating.

To cut another epic comment-post short, one of the key tips for starting writing a manual was:

Write the contents page - neatly.

No kidding. And y’know. It works. It’s the psychological effect it has on making that starting leap. Clearly, the manual almost wrote itself after that momentous task was done.

A ‘to learn list’ works the same way. Different from a not-written-down skills-I-need-to-get-list :-)

It’s the immediacy of the thing, like writing instructions on a work sheet for kids.

It’s not

See if you can write a poem on . . .

but,

Write a poem on . . .”.

There’s a whole Britannica difference between one approach and the other.


The “to learn list” will have a number of A1 tasks on it, for sure. Now an A1 task deserves to be written, if only to focus the mind.

But it’s more than that. It puts it firmly in the mind. How often has one written the shopping list and got to the supermarket to find it’s still lying on the kitchen table? I’ve done that so often, but, y’know, I race home after the shopping’s done to check the list. Most times I get the lot. I wonder how successful I might have been if I’d just not bothered to write the list at all.

So. Yep. The “to learn list” is one sure-fire way to make sure you’ll get it all done. And don’t just scribble it.

Take a clean lined sheet of refill. Sit at the writing desk, and in your best copperplate writing, draw up your list - with a pen. Pin it to the noticeboard when you’ve finished, sit back and wait for the learning to happen.
Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cry Me A River

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Crimea River - artist Ken Allan
A lot has been discussed recently in the blogosphere on so-called metaphors for learning. There’s been everything from the idea of neural connections - thinking in terms of models - to what I’d call analogies, where learning is described as building on established structures, the growth of a tree-like organism, or the flow of a stream or river over a terrain.

These wonderfully graphic products of imagination indicate how vibrant our thinking is on something as abstract as learning.

My classical education does not permit me to see easily the bridges that may lie between things I recognise as models and metaphors or analogies, that are often used to explain how learning appears to happen. When it comes to using the terms, however, I often get them muddled.

Neural connections:


The neural connection description for learning is what I’d call a model. At the microscopic level, it is a particle model that explains how connections are made between cells in brain tissue, and is not unlike microscopic circuit connections within a computer chip. Though it explains how the complexity is established within the intricacy of the brain, it does not explain the feature or characteristic of learning.

As a teacher/educator/assessor of student learning, I’m more used to outcomes that are as a result of meeting learning objectives. These, of course, are what we call the assessable outcomes.

On the other hand, I see the river and tree-like ‘metaphors’ more as analogies, where the analogous, known features in a river or tree are used to explain how learning can be thought of as developing or growing through time.

When I read the writing of others on these topics, I am constantly aware that some are talking about models, while some are talking in metaphors, and others are drawing analogies. I get confused. I feel that there is a need to find a distinction between what’s a model, what’s a metaphor and what’s really just an analogy. They are not all the same.

What are models?

Models are the basis for assisting a raft of scientific thinking that has a history going back several hundreds of years. A model can be a physical thing and is often thought of as such. It can be held in the hand, such as a model for a molecule of matter, defined as the smallest particle of a substance, retaining all the known microscopic characteristics of the substance it represents.

It can also be a written thing, such as a mathematical formula or expression that, according to known and understandable parameters, explains how things are seen to behave. A model for how the volume of a cube relates to the length of one of its sides can be described by the equation, v = d x d x d, or v = d3. In general, the model leaves little to the imagination.

Metaphors:

Metaphors are different from models. They don’t necessarily need to be tangible artifacts, nor written expressions or relationships, such as equations. The word comes from its literal use, where something becomes something else.

A metaphor is thought of as having two parts, the target and source. The target is the subject to which attributes are ascribed. The source is the subject from which the attributes are borrowed. “He was a lion in the fight”, is a metaphor for a warrior (target) who was not just like a lion, but became the envisioned replacement - the lion (source).

Metaphors are slick. They permit the mind to think swiftly in terms of the source rather than more cumbersomely in terms of the target.

Metaphors tend to be borrowed from other disciplines. The particle/wave model for light, for instance, has been adopted as a way of describing knowledge, thought of as a thing and a flow. In this way, the model has become a metaphor.

An archaic metaphor for learning was filling jugs. Presumably the jugs were the minds of the students that were to be filled with liquid, which was knowledge. It is a two-in-one metaphor – jugs for minds, liquid for knowledge.

Analogies:

Analogies are quite different from the other two. Unlike the model, an analogy is not trying to depict, in any way, how the thing or concept exists. Nor is it like the metaphor, that tries to make the thing or concept be something else. An analogy is a direct mapping between one idea and another. There is no need for there to be any physical or ethereal resemblance between the thing or concept and its parallel.

So we may well think in terms of a model when joining popper beads to represent neural connections while learning occurs in the brain. We may also think of the metaphor for knowledge as a thing and a flow when considering knowledge management. But the analogy is the most involved of the three.

The metaphor is considered the core of cognition. It calls for the most use of our imagination for it is a parallelism that’s left mainly up to the ingenuity of the thinker, who considers the behaviour of one thing when thinking of the parallel behaviour of another.

( 10 ) ( 9 ) ( 8 ) ( 7 ) ( 6 ) ( 5 ) ( 4 ) << - related posts - >> ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ngā mihi nui

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Friendly Commentsphere

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
Wordle array of my commentsphere.

Michele Martin’s Web 2.0 Wednesday assignment - to uncover one’s personal brand - makes several assumptions. One of them is that a personal brand is, Michele quotes,
as Steve Woodruff defines it:
(amended 14/09 see comment)
When people see you, think of you, and relate to you, words and images and feelings come to mind. That is your personal brand.
Another is that I wish to uncover my personal brand.

I’m not sure that a single personal brand exists. My impression is that people are so diverse in their personality, likes and dislikes, points of view, etc, that how someone may view me would certainly be quite different from how another may see me, even if it was just from an online perspective.


To average all these perceptions in some way, and come up with a categorisable description, strikes me as being similar to finding an average letter for the alphabet. Casting all ridiculousness aside, I approached this challenge from as wide a perspective as possible.

I didn't conduct a survey on my commentsphere. Surveys are difficult to devise, and their results are notoriously poor reflections of what they are meant to convey.


Acknowledgement

My choice is to acknowledge my commentsphere for who they are – a wonderful group of people who, over the past few months, have helped to shape the blogger I am becoming. The participants in my commentsphere around newmiddle-earth.blogspot.com have been patiently keeping me on track.

Over the period from early May 2008 until today they have provided me with much pleasurable discourse and I have learnt a lot from them. You may appreciate the pattern their names make in the Wordle blimp at the top of this post. Here they are in alphabetical order of first name:


List of contributers to my blog through comments.
Amazing comments

Word count of my commenters contributions.My precious commenters have provided me with an amazing 13, 833 words in comments! I sifted the comments, gathered in a single text file, removing all small words such as and and to, the and but, etc. The key words left behind were made prominent by their frequency, and are displayed in a Wordle blimp shown here:

Names of contributers in a Wordle blimp.
( 8 ) << - other Web2.0Wednesday posts - >> ( 6 ) ( 5 ) ( 4 ) ( 3 ) ( 2 ) ( 1 )

Ngā mihi nui - Best wishes

Friday, September 12, 2008

What I learnt from computer games

Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Photo of Auckland's Streets from the Sky Tower
My experience with computers goes back to the early 80s. An Ohio Scientific machine, with its huge floppy disk drive, CPU
and printer, occupied a whole table in my Physics lab because it happened to be the most secure room in the school.

I had no interest in computers in those days. But I was determined that if a computer was going to occupy valuable space in my teaching lab, It’d be better if I learnt how to use it.
The Challenger 4P looked like a mechanical calculator. It ran a fast basic program language, but had only 64k of ram. It had no software. So I learnt how to program in basic.

Getting a little white arrow to run up and down and round and about a dark grey screen, controlled only by the arrow-keys, was no moderate achievement. Once I’d mastered a few other basic programming routines, I quickly found out how to do similar movements with other shapes. Inventing computer games quickly became a useful way to learn how to program the computer.

ZX81


My son, Nick, who was 11 years old, had his own computer – a Sinclair ZX81, with a 16k ram pack. There was no software with the ZX81 either. We both learnt a lot from working with that simple device. Nick too found that making up computer games was a good way to learn how to program.

He and I made up a compendium of about 20 games that all ran from the same program that we saved on a cassette tape. But Nick was ahead of me, for he quickly learnt how to use machine code – an art that I never quite mastered.

Pentium


It wasn’t until about 20 years later that Nick’s younger brother, Jack, gave the family a Pentium computer for Christmas. It was a machine that Jack had used, but it was our family’s first ‘real’ computer, and we were proud of it.

Some of the games software that he’d ran was left on the hard drive.
One of the games was an early version of Sid Meier’s Civilization III, a sophisticated strategy game where players could build their own civilisations from a single tiny settlement.

My wife, Linda, insisted that we played a game together. So, turn by turn, we engaged in our very first commercial computer game and not only learnt how to play, but also won a cultural victory for Queen Elizabeth, the leader of our own civilization.


Pioneering

For almost a year we enjoyed pioneering with our civilizations in CIV. We learnt a bit about how technology developed through the ages – not so much of the technology itself, but more about the sequence of technological evolution.

Before my days of playing CIV, I was a total military ignoramus. I could no more explain what a stealth bomber was, than an Aegis cruiser can fly in the air. Yes, Sid Meier’s game taught me quite a bit, and I was soon to find out that
what I'd learnt wasn’t far from reality either.

What I learnt

I went off the idea of playing CIV. That was shortly after Afghanistan was invaded by UK and USA. Then there was the similar invasion of Iraq. Quite frankly, what the game had taught me was too much to bear at that time. I’d learnt that there would be repercussions from those two 21st-century invasions, that there would be rebellious uprising and revolt within those invaded countries, that there would be continuous disorder from the resistance.

That’s exactly what Linda and I had discovered happened when we invaded enemy civilisations in CIV and attempted to take over their cities. Even our own people rose to anarchy under circumstances of war, especially if they felt that we had gone to war unjustly. It was a year or so before I could play the game without being constantly reminded of the repercussions of war.

What else I learnt

There was something else that CIV brought home to me. Civilisations haven’t got to where they are today without a cost. That cost took human lives, either through disease, economic hardship or through the vagaries of war.

I don’t play CIV any more. I still have a lot of respect for the game and its creator, Sid Meier. Having seen his (now not so) new CIV IV in action, I think it is a wonderfully animated teaching tool. It has the potential to educate those who recognise and understand the profound and fundamental lesson it brings forward to its players.

Haere rā – Farewell

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who Dares to Dream Beyond the Paradigm?

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you all
hadron
The Large Hadron Collider is a gigantic particle accelerator beneath the ground, near Geneva. Very soon it may provide information that could throw light on the fundamental structure of matter.

The project aims to provide colliding particles with huge amounts of energy never before observed on earth. Information gathered may explain some of the unanswered questions surrounding the so-called Big Bang Theory of the origin and evolution of the Universe.


Fermi's paradox

Enrico Fermi was a famous Italian physicist who lived in the first half of the 20th century. He built the first nuclear reactor. Known for his contribution to Quantum Theory, Nuclear and Particle Physics and Statistical Mechanics, he was awarded a Noble Prize in 1938.

At a luncheon in 1950, Fermi asked the question, "Where is everybody?" when considering the compelling evidence, available at that time, that intelligent life was likely to exist throughout the Universe.

Fermi had already deduced that millions of civilisations could be far in advance of those on Earth. Some of them could have found solutions to many problems we have not yet solved, such as intergalactic communication and intergalactic travel.


Despite the SETI projects, conceived in 1971, and pursued even to this day, the ubiquitous absence of evidence for civilization, other than those on our planet, remains a mystery. It posed a conundrum known as the Fermi Paradox, that is still being debated.

Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Technology Good Or Bad - Who Decides In Future?

Tēnā koutou katoa Greetings to you all
Two teenage girls having fun with technology. Secondary Futures, New Zealand is writing a paper on how will we decide, in future, what technology is good or bad for kids. YOUR opinion is important.

Check out the video. Then go to the
Secondary Futures Post to leave your opinion there in a comment.




Comments are turned off on this announcement post.
Click the Secondary Futures link to leave a comment.


Ka kite anō Catch ya later

Updated Comment Guidelines

Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Scene of Middle-earth
I'm still new to blogging. Recently I’ve had a thing about comment guidelines. In my last post, I was lucky and grateful to receive some useful opinion from Britt Watwood and Sue Waters. So I’ve reviewed my set of guidelines again and given it a new look.

I’d be delighted if you’d check it out. My aim is to make the guidelines as inviting to commenters as possible. So your opinion is very valuable to me. Please let me know what you think. If there is anything that you feel I should change – pitch, use of words, issues listed etc – just put a comment beneath this post and let me know.

I really appreciate your opinion.


related posts - >> ( 2 ) (1)

Haere rā – Farewell

Friday, September 5, 2008

What is it about comment policies?

Tēnā koutou katoa - Welcome to you all
An empty circus arena

When Michele Martin challenged bloggers to write a blog comment policy in May this year, I got the distinct impression I heard the squeals of a thousand mandrakes being wrenched from the ground. I had this virtual impression that in many parts of the blogosphere, little shelled creatures, that had popped out their soft and tender bloggling eyes, were retreating smartly into the protection of their hard dark shells - I swore I could hear the sound of a hundred vacuum cleaners all sucking at once. When it had passed, it was some time before my ears got used to the silence.

What is it about blog comment policy that people seem to detest? Is it a pomo reaction to something people feel should be relegated to the history books on the early 1900s?

Holocaustic emotion

I was reminded of these chilling, holocaustic emotions recently when I came across Peter Turney’s June post about a change he had made to his blog comment policy. As it happens, I didn’t totally agree with his point of view. That wasn’t entirely why I decided to leave a comment. His post had sat, without a comment, among his other popular posts, for two clear months. I just had to put it out of its misery!

But it was only on reflection that I recalled I’d left a comment, somewhere in the dim past, on another post on a related topic. I could only assume Alzheimer’s had set in, for I’d no idea where I’d left it.

Until . . . yes . . . I realised that it must have been on one of Peter’s earlier posts on the same topic! I flicked swiftly back to my RSS Reader to check it out. Sure enough, there it sat, and almost completely forgotten about. A solitary comment, congratulating Peter on his common sense
blog comment policy - almost hilarious in parts.

What is it about comment policy that drives people away? In their droves!

( 3 ) <<- related posts - >> ( 1 )

Nga mihi nui - Best wishes

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How do I manage my online time?

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allA clock face

Michel Martin’s Web2.0Wednesday assignment this week is:

“How do you manage your online time”.

I’ve given this some 24 hours of my thought, both in careful inspection and in aimless reflection, and come up with, “It varies”.

Today, for instance, I did my usual morning at work, attending the bevy of meetings before I eventually ended up in front of my PC. I’d just been given a new laptop. But I didn’t have much time to play around with it, for I was already behind with much of my student study-assignments for today. But because I had been hassled over sorting out all the settings and defaults on the machine, I thought I might as well have a look at Google Chrome, since I hadn’t set up my browser the way I’d like it on the lap-top anyway. I then took the liberty to skite about using Chrome in a comment on Christy Tucker's post.

Chrome was really easy to download and install. Though I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at all the features, those that did show themselves indicated that this browser showed promise. All else that I can report at this stage is that I liked the ‘new tab’, how it put the most visited pages in a default display. Maybe it was just because it was the manila Chrome, but it gave me the impression of being uncluttered
(BTW Chrome doesn't like Windows 2000).

Surprise visit

I didn’t spend much time online with students today, but I did get a surprise visit from Nancy White, almost immediately after I’d browsed to my blog on Chrome, as she’d left a comment - I’d met up with Nancy recently at the DEANZ Conference.

As you can tell, there is a lot of serendipity associated with what I do online at work – there certainly was today.

Nothing like a cup of tea

First thing in the morning, over a cup of tea, I check my email and if I have time I might check my blog for comments - then it's off to work in the City. Nearly all of the time I spend on blogs, including my own blog, is in the evening at home. Sometimes I do a bit more at weekends, though I’m weaning myself off that, as the better weather creeps in. Tonight, for instance, I checked my Reader for new posts on my favourite sites (there was one on Andrea Hernandez’s blog for instance) and responses to comments I’d left on older posts (one on Kate Foy’s). And I checked my blog (again) for comments.

I would usually spend about an hour reading what takes my interest from Reader and leaving comments where appropriate. If I feel a post coming on, or I’ve got one broiling in draft, I’ll set to and get it ready for publishing. Posts don’t usually take that long. This one has taken about 10 minutes so far, between the phone ringing and a new email arriving that I’ll re-read more carefully later. I’m just parking this as I got called for dinner . . .


. . . but time online? Most of the time I spend writing a post I’m not online. In fact, I tend to go offline to get the draft done, then go back on from time to time to check things, perhaps a previous post here, maybe another’s post or comment that I recalled there, or to do a Google for other required information.

I find being online is a distraction when I’m writing a post. Now that’s strange, since that doesn’t affect me when I’m writing a comment on another’s post, or replying to one on my own blog. When I write a post it’s usually in Word. When I’ve got the rough draft ready, I’ll copy it into Notepad and paste it from there into a draft post, and that’s when I go back online again, of course.

Stuffing a mushroom

I check the draft in preview, prepare an image in Photoshop if I need one, and bang the whole lot up on the Net once I’ve checked it as best I can. I will probably spend as much time pottering around with the look of the post online after it’s published as I spent writing the thing. I know! Stuffing a mushroom Shirley Conran would call it. Yes, I’m showing my age again!

Then I might do a bit more reading in Reader at the new posts that have arrived since the last time I checked (it’s amazing what time people publish their posts round the world!) I may also do a last check on email, have another cup of tea, and retire to sleep on it all.

Have you noticed that all the bloggers mentioned in this post, apart from me, are women? I assure you that it's sheer coincidence.

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Ka kite anō - Catch ya later