Saturday, May 24, 2008

On Diversity

Tēnā koutou katoa

to you all

On day 1 of the 31-Day Comment Challenge I had my Carl Sagan’s baloney detector switched on. I was skeptical. I didn't want to participate. I didn’t think there was anything useful to be gained from it.

The devil's advocate

I even sent a comment to Michele Martin’s post saying that if anything was more likely to foster homophily (a topic of one of her posts) then the Comment Challenge was it. Some may have said that I was being negative. I didn’t think so. I thought I was being reflective and I had voiced my devil’s advocate opinion - on Michele’s blog. What’s more,
I was entitled to my opinion. Michele said so.

Broadens the mind

I took an active interest in debates when at school. I wasn’t great at English, but my teacher, Mr Butterfield, encouraged me to join the debating society. He was a great exponent of ‘the devil’s advocate’.
He said that whether you believed in the argument or not, it was good to participate by taking the opposite point of view. “Broadens the mind”, he would say. He taught me that there’s strength in diversity.

Every day of The Challenge confirms this. Just look at the variety of points of view one can find on one blog about whether comments should be sent to a post or somewhere else. Or the plethora of different ideas and opinion on what makes a good comment, let alone what makes a good post. And what do we get from all this? We learn - about things that we’d never heard of or thought of before. Diversity.

Mind bloggling

Have you ever counted the different looks that you see in blogs as you spend a while reading posts and writing a comment or two? It is mind bloggling the different colours and types of templates and formats you come across even from the same blog provider, never mind all the different blog site providers that are out there. That's sheer diversity.

I read a few posts recently written by people who had just started the Challenge. Here we are into week four and you read about what people, who have just started, are saying about the Challenge. Are they enthusiastic about what they see? Are they ever! For them, it’s a strength to have the opportunity to read about what others before them have or have not done. Did everybody do it the same way? Hmm? That’s diversity.

Is it okay to peek?

So the late starters are not short of opinion about how to do something. Sometimes I tend to work in a vacuum when given a task – often that method works but occasionally it wastes time while a wheel or two are invented. Some people look around to see what’s going on in other workshops. In one post I came across, Claire Thompson asked if it was cheating to look at what others did in writing a comment policy. Of course it's not cheating. If I'd done that I could have saved a lot of time! It's smart - it's benefiting from diversity.

Ka kite anō
Catch ya later


BK said...

Hi Ken,
I like reading your comments. You shake things up.
I like mind blogging too. It's so cool to see how different people create their blogs. I still though, return to my familiar "home" and like it the way it is, although I just created a new blog with word press( for images and words and that's fun.
I do agree, too that it's good to peak. Helped me with challenges I wasn't getting and I will continue to PEAK, how about you?

Andrea said...

The whole thing about working in a vacuum vs. "cheating" -- that is a big thing that I had to get over and that a lot of people still need to get over, when it comes to online access. The ability to "cheat" is there and some may take the opportunity to steal others' ideas word for word without giving proper credit. But, really it is the dawn of a whole new world in areas of learning and creativity. We are constantly being influenced by the thoughts, words, shared experiences and creations of others....isn't that what learning is?
In this age of information and mind bloggling diversity available online, we get the chance to experience more and faster. So, in a way, we get to be smarter. No use hoarding your thoughts anymore!

Illya said...

Hi Ken,
Your comment in my blog left me curious, especially because of the name. 'Hm,' I thought, 'is this a hobbit-lover who's landed in education?' So off I went to check out your blog.

I must say I was impressed. First, you give a very clear synopsis of what's going on in the comment challenge. I'm officially not taking part, (and don't like starting things half-way through), and yet I seem to have been caught in the flow of it.

But even more, I must say that your approach looks very familiar. In this post you write about your skepsis at the beginning and how it gradually developed into understanding. This is much the way I approached blogs in general a couple of years ago, and twitter just a short while ago. It was really the desire to find out what the hype was about.

And look here, the circle of people I follow has just been broadened!
Thanks again for your comment.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tena koutou.

Nobody cheats when they learn how to do something. Cheating in the context of this Challenge would be very difficult to do anyway, like spamming comments that were relevantly appropriate to the posts they were sent to – it simply can’t be done:-)

@Bonnie – Your 92nd Street Y Ladies of Rockland County certainly look as though they are enjoying the party. But like you say, east, west, home's best.

I learn from peeking – don’t we all? What’s wrong with that? I think the payoff for anyone who may have a conscience about it comes when they find they are able to pass on to others what they learnt when they peeked. That way the guilt (if there is any) can be relieved.

@Andrea – I like your phrase “no use hoarding your thoughts anymore”. It has a community feeling to it. The history of human development is bulging with examples of (true) progress that came as a result of the previous achievements of others. Wikipedia explains the phrase "dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants" as a western metaphor meaning "one who develops future intellectual pursuits by understanding the research and works created by notable thinkers of the past"; a metaphor similar to that first recorded in the 12th century attributed to Bernard of Chartres. The metaphor sticks in my head.

I have a hatred of patents that put a monetary lock on the development from achievement and discovery of humankind – probably the teacher in me – for I feel that skills, knowledge and practice should be entities that are freely accessible to everyone. NASA shares the same creed and for that reason I have nothing but respect for NASA.

@Illya - Middle-earth is of course only a fantasy land but Peter Jackson has renamed Wellington partly for fun but also since the heart of the work on his famous Lord Of The Rings films lies in Wellington. I would make a too tall hobbit and be detected right away as an impostor :-)

Part of my “skepsis” is my cussedness. I prefer to work at something, even if I’m skeptical of it. If I didn’t, I’d never know if I was right to be skeptical or not. I was skeptical of the Internet when it arrived in early 90’s. Also I recall being skeptical of mobile phones when they first came out. I carry mine next to my wallet now ;-)

Go with the flow Illya!

Ka kite

Anonymous said...

Definitely is a case of benefiting from diversity. When we did the 31 Days Project we found collectively we all gained more working together as a team than if we did the tasks on our own. The more individuals, the greater diversity of thoughts, leading to greater innovation.

I also like to be approach everything as a Skeptic but open mind plus realising with some things you have to experience it first hand. However (don't tell anyone) mobile phone is flat and probably be that way until I can be bothered to charge it.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

@Sue - I had a flat mobile phone once. A bus ran over it. No kidding. I was running for a bus and it tumbled out of my pocket, hit the kerb and landed right under the tyre of the bus I was trying to catch.

I picked all the bits up in disgust and got on the bus. While I sat, I pieced the wretched thing back together. All the parts were there and seemingly nothing was damaged. When I put the (flattened) battery in, the phone came to life and the display asked me to set the clock!


BK said...

This rich conversation speaks to the power of shared minds and motivation from a challenge. So glad I'm in this community, don't you all agree????

Anonymous said...

Now I know Ken some people would be very emotional about their phone and the bus. Other than the thought of the lost money I would probably be dancing.

I'm seriously thinking I need therapy for my hatred of mobile phones and phones in general. Especially considering I'm well known for my work with mlearning. While I'm well known for my love of being connected I just don't want to be that connected (thinking I'm from the dark ages in my hatred).

BK said...

Sue and Ken,
I also have issues with the cell phone, but I admit that I am salivating for an upcoming G3 Iphone.

Mary H said...

Hi Ken, Thank you for commenting on my blog. Like Illya, I was intrigued by the name of your blog and had to click through to read more from you. I've spent a good deal of time now reading your reflections about the Comment Challenge, and you've given me some things to think about, especially diversity and enthusiasm!

Anonymous said...

Ken. I'm a bit of a fan of diversity too. And what about the diversity in the comments to this post: hobbits, mobile phones,skepticism, learning modes! BTW nice to see you translating your Maori greetings. More learning.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Nau mai, harere mai Welcome

@Sue @Bonnie – Well I for one have no emotional connection with my cell or any other phone. In fact, I’d just as soon see some mobiles dropped into a bucket of water. I recall sitting in a bus going to town when seated in front of me was a woman whose mobile went off in her handbag. She wrestled with her accoutrements to find the noisy thing that screeched like a klaxon, then yelled into it as if it was a speaking tube in a 19th century naval vessel.

Several people jumped at the volume of sound that shot from her voice as every word was compelled with high pressure into their eardrums. An elderly gent sitting several rows in front turned to scowl at her whereupon she snapped her handbag shut on the phone and shouted, "Are you alright sir?" The gent's eyes lit up with amazement and he replied "I didn't think you needed a phone with a voice like that!" The comment began a cascade of laughter round the bus.

@Mary – Nice you dropped in. I hope you understood some of my ramblings when you read through it.

When I start a new project or learning experience I always like to think of what it would be like to look into the future, not in a cheating sort of way, but in a nice to know sort of way. Of course I realise that some day in the future I will know what it’s all about and it is always nice to look back and recall what I was thinking about when I looked forward. There are times when I do get a deja vu feeling (I don’t truly believe in second sight) and, of course, there are times when I think, “Well I’d never thought that would have happened”. Learning is so much like that, because it is a journey into the future and one never knows what benefits (or disadvantages) will befall when the learning is done. The truth is, it’s never done.

@Kate @Bonnie @Sue – I so love diversity when it’s appropriate. I once wrote a poem in the 90’s about the variety I saw in gardens while walking around the local area where I live in Wellington City. They were reflection of the people who owned them and they were all so richly different! So it is with the Challenge –“it is the richness of bloggers and commenters that makes this so meaningful!”- Britt Watwood.

Herbaceous borders tidily trimmed,
Patterned pansies on ledges,
More mowed down, ground skimmed,
Clean cut green, cut hedges.

Feathery lawns untailored untethered
Tangles of knotgrass and wrackweed,
Daisies dandelion ragged leaf sprays
Tigergrass spills and phlox edges.

There's never a fill nor a scarcity
Of pretensions or implicit pardons,
So pick an eyeful of diversity
From the treasures in our City gardens.

Ka kite ano Catch ya later

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken
not sure if the CoComment gremlins are at it again, but I've noticed that your comments have been appearing either twice, or in the case of the last one here, three times in my CoComment page. Not sure how to eliminate this mildly spammy hiccup. Just FYI. Hope all's well in Wellington.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia Ora Kate - Wellington is real cool at the moment with temperatures in the range 5 to 8 degrees :-)

Dunno what the prob is in coComment - but do these hiccups matter at all? I'd be more interested if they didn't appear though I guess it's difficult to tell.

It could be that I've had some problems gettin comments to go up, and so a second of third attempt would necessarily be recorded in coComment though not necessarily mean two or three duplicate posts. I think the communications are distinctly different. Whatever.

I suppose you just delete them in coComment?

Ka kite

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken.
I was just curious as to why your posts kept popping up in multiples. I reckon you're right ... hitting the 'publish' button a couple of times even in an apparently unresponsive blog can do it. I've been surprised when a comment has turned up for me even when the spinning ball keeps turning and turning and turning... I just like blaming CoComment right now; it's so darn unpredictable!

No probs with deleting in CoComment. I was more interested in how to eliminate the multiples at source.

Cheers. Coolish up here too right now.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

@Kate - I'm not so sure that coComment is to blame. As I explained in a previous comment, coComment (I think) registers when submission is made.

There is no way that it can know that the submission was not successful on the post and it surely can't be held responsible for recording the attempts. After all, these attempts could well be two or three separate comments, and so they all should be recorded on coComment.

Ka kite