New Blog and Web Site

This blog was started in Barcelona in 2005 to explore different ways to share content with students in the classroom, and also to share pictures and short stories with friends living in far away places. It was used at the language center of the University of Cantabria in Santander, where I taught between 2006 and 2008. Students didn't bring laptops at the time, so we used an LDC projector on a white board and a "lab" with computers.

As an anecdote, a professional in communications who worked at UNICAN said sometime in 2007, that blogging was not appropriate in universities, where information should be one-way only. "Information is power", she said. Well, some things have changed and people learn faster now, self-organizing their own personal learning networks (PLNs), embarked in participatory learning by doing and also sharing on the internet. Digital literacy has extended quite a bit, even in traditional places like the Academia in Spain, where too many years of history, tenure and misuse of resources in many cases still are a heavy ballast. In my practice with in-company classes and private students, every participant is actually "hands-on" working with his or her own device, while we interact and blogs and wikis which are personalized.

It's been some time since I moved to Oviedo now ... and it was about time to integrate some of my different public digital patches here and there. So here is: the new mentalsys microweb and blog ...and also mentalsys in Facebook.


Information Graphics: is Information an Art?

Direct Link to the video: BBC Newsnight: Information Graphics
Via @dMultimedia - Blog dMultimedia

This BBC broadcast from August 9, 2010, looks into the art of making information beautiful, and poses the question: How do you make statistics look interesting? The writer and designer David McCandless replies:

..."you just need to apply the rules of visual design to information"...

Is information an art? And how does this affect the nature and evolution of science and knowledge?

The art historian Judith Wechsler engaged in interdisciplinary studies exploring some of this at MIT, and edited a book: On Aesthetics in Science, which we found very useful and informative when teaching epistemology of science. We were looking for creative original sources to approach the generation and processing of information, and how this triggered certain effects in social communication working with an interdisciplinary team in the late '80's. Encountering this book was mind blowing, as are many of the clips we encounter today.

The dawning of the internet and tools that enabled social learning and networking in business environments in the '90s, brought the means and resources that the University did not have at the time: processors, personal computers and of course, the net. Today you don't need to be sitting in a University nor working with a major corporation, to be able to acquire the means to develop your own learning paths of inquiry, and personal development. It's a matter of personal interest and professional responsibility.

What you may need is scaffolding, and coaching to recognize where you stand, and how to be able to learn and design your information and knowledge domains, how to distinguish what is relevant and what is useful to you, for your projects and teams.

Are you aware of the impact that a medium and a format can have, informing the interactional design in different settings? Likewise, your interactional design informs your chances to sustain successful communications, when engaging in conversation and negotiating or "sharing" information with others.

..."images are a powerful global language packed with emotional power"...

..."However even a bar chart can be misleading, if taken completely at face value"...

Are you aware?


Where good ideas come from

(a book by Steven Johnson)

With this new book, Steven Johnson re-connects with his previous bestseller: "Everything Bad is Good for You" and the more recent: "The Invention of Air" which we liked so much, and posted about quite a bit here and there.

We also love the way Riverhead Books is sharing this ...amazing visualization.


Project Based Learning

This group of teachers was able to take ownership and allow students to take ownership over their learning process.

"... the students would have a hard time telling you what subject they are learning, and not because they are not paying attention, but because they don't learn in segmented subjects. Three teachers have worked together to combine history, english and information processing, and embedded the principles of project based learning (PBL), to create a truly unique learning experience for students..."

"... we love this class and teaching this way ..."

"... beyond the curriculum... "

"... the student learning outcomes are all there... "

The video illustrates engaged pull motions and group collaboration, working together towards the integration of areas and skills, in order to achieve certain goals. Notice they mention that they had to approach their administration, cause they were running into all sorts of structural roadblocks.


A Brief History of Data Storage

The video below shows a progression of data storage (capacity) in terms of traditional formats such as texts and documents that can be organized into newspaper print editions, magazines, books and documents and libraries that can contain printed text and image files.

It not only illustrates changes in the design and dimensions of the information storage medium, it also gives good hints of the evolution we've seen (and will continue to see) in data portability aspects. By data portability we mean different things: "open standards" and/or "the possibility for people to reuse their data across interoperable applications." You can find many interesting projects on the internet, involving different market players and organizations, regarding data formats, policies and such.

We hope they may extend the clip in ulterior versions and mashups might show up later. We tend to say that the internet has changed many things and yes it has, but it's not the only thing changing our approach to and activities with information and knowledge.

Watch it on YouTube and read the credits and info generously provided by ihsabawagode.


Will they walk the talk?

We sure hope they do. These brief inputs (see clip) from the panel sound promising. They seem to be calling for a very different approach to knowledge, than the current institutionalized one, which continues to be reproduced via the usual channels. In Europe we need to walk the talk.

There seems to be an urgency to inform, revamp and disseminate quality stuff "bottom-up", fostering business and innovative learning communities. They underscore the need for quite a different "operating system" to approach knowledge as such, to prevent the historical protection of "status quo"... that we know so well.

Check their pledge: here is the transcript.


Where is the comma!

Let's look at the whole iPad buzz from another perspective: this or any other similar tool can allow a 99 year old woman, to enjoy reading and writing as she did, before suffering glaucoma.

The clip (it) shows how fast she learns how to interact and look for items on the touch screen, by just tapping. She's even started writing again, so she came up with this:
"To this technical-ninny it's clear
In my compromised 100th year,
That to read and to write
Are again within sight
Of this Apple iPad pioneer"
(Virginia Campbell; Lake Oswego, 99 yrs old)
The original video was posted on YouTube, one of Virginia's daughters told OregonLive.com and the rest is just well... viral story... (kudos to the apple marketing guys... )


Coolest teacher ever... yep

Imagine this setting and such a cool learning environment to study maths... or whatever?


Language, frames, stories

"we actually become the sum of our experiences and the stories we've told about them"
Tim O'Reilly on Ignite, (Nov. 10, 2009) commenting briefly and further elaborating on a quote many of us like so much and have found in so many places: Korzybski's "The map is not the territory". (Gee I went all the way to the Berkeley Library many years ago just to get a copy of it!, which I later donated to the FundaciĆ³n Inst. Gregory Bateson, where I'm sure Martin, Rosa et al have gleaned and further processed and shared... great historical memes).
YouTube link.

"... if you start thinking about how this process of perception works you start to be able to notice when you're out of track. When you're actually stuck in paying attention to the labels as opposed to the underlying reality. And you can take yourself back up in the chain and to the experience and maybe just to tune in."

"... When everybody was convinced that the web was over, the dot.com bust had happened, we were able to go back and say "no, there's something really important and new happening on the web". We called it Web2.0, we told a new story, built a new map of the world, and kicked off something as a result."


Symphony of Science

Beautifully inspiring...

Link to the post on YouTube, 3:06min clip posted February 25, 2010