Efficient, searchable logging

I’ve been trying to find out what is the best way – for me – to keep a record of readings, meetings, seminars and the other stuff of studying to become a researcher. I begin a part time PhD in September and as I will have severe demands on my time for the day job, need to be sure that I work smart.

I thought about all kinds of tools for this. The first thing to realise is that I will probably be making use of pen and paper as the ultimate portable and immediate way to organise my thinking. I’ve done this since 1976 and have a wall full of diaries and notes back to that time. Despite being a technophile, I have tried and failed to like any of the web or tablet based services like Evernote. I want to capture images, probably like this photo of hand-written notes. I want what I record to be searchable.

So, what am I going to try? A combination of email and blogging. I already have the blog you’re reading and this post is made using the JetPack “post by email” feature. I wonder if it will work?

Backhander

Praise and appreciation are great motivators. It’s nice to be noticed and for your contributions to be valued. I got this in the mail:

whome

 

“Your sincere contributions and support makes this conference a great success”. I wasn’t there. Glad to have been of such service. I hope to make a similar contribution to the success of your conference this year.

 

Acts of Defiance in the Back Channel

Continuing an act of defiance by taking time out of my work schedule this week, I attended a second lecture by George Veletsianos at Edinburgh University, entitled “MOOCs, automation, artificial intelligence, and pedagogical agents”. This seminar was a special event put on by DICE – the Digital Cultures in Education research group.

The lecture and subsequent discussion was rich and well-informed, as there was a good range of expertise and engagement in the room and from the online participants accessing via the streaming feed. George’s lecture was stimulating and provocative: without overdoing the detail, he managed to tackle MOOCs as a socio-cultural phenomenon. He described the usual rationale for MOOCs of costs and the perceptions that drive their explosion onto the educational landscape but he also gave us new (to me) truths about their origin and the assumptions underpinning their popularity.

Moving on to the automation of teaching, George treated us to a quick history, again, touching the nerves of the implementation of human-computer interaction in education. There was much discussion of this with the final topic of pedagogical agents: perhaps misnamed “bots” in the debate that ensued in the question session and on the twitter back channel.

BqarSeVIcAEeBCg

I can’t do justice to the scope of the issues raised and picked over in today’s two-hour session, not least because of the richness of them. Also, perhaps, for fear of misrepresenting the nuances. I resorted to my comfort zone of scurrilous tweeting, suggesting first that rather than choosing a gender or cultural stereotype for my preferred pedagogical agent, I would choose Brian, the Family Guy dog. This got me followed by Peter Griffin. When I started another cartoon (above), Marshall Dozier outed me with a tweet.

Surgeons Tweeting

I was at a talk given by George Veletsianos today, under the title of “Acts of defiance and personal sharing when academics use social media”. This was a thought-provoking session and not the first of his I’ll be attending this week, hopefully. I’ll not report the details of the talk here, but I will point you towards George’s Networked Scholars open course and this little scribble I made as I thought about how pervasive the use of social media has become.

SurgeonsTweeting

CentOS 6.5 on MSWind

Rather than make a pig’s ear out of my live VPS by testing out new Ruby code I’m playing with, I thought it would be prudent to have a machine that I can break without upsetting users. I have an Atom-based Advent netbook which only ever gets played with occasionally and this afternoon, seems quite willing to volunteer for a rebuild as a CentOS server. The world loves a volunteer. Continue reading “CentOS 6.5 on MSWind”

Metamorphosis of Narcissus

MetaNarcissus was, according to legend, a hunter. Walking in the woods, he was seen by the nymph Echo, who falls in love with him. The nymph had been cursed by Hera, the wife of Zeus, such that she could only repeat the last words heard and not say anything of her own. Narcissus rejects Echo’s love. After praying to Aphrodite, she disappears, remaining only as a voice heard by all.

The goddess of revenge, Nemesis, punishes Narcissus by leading him to fall in love with his own image reflected in a spring. Different outcomes, none of them good, await Narcissus, depending on the version of the story you read. Continue reading “Metamorphosis of Narcissus”

How vampiric are you?

I picked up a little book on holiday this week and read the short biography of the editor. This revealed a career path from Grammar School to Cambridge to Public School to Eton housemaster which filled me with sadness and contempt for its utter lack of imagination.

Now, I know this is judgemental and probably wildly wrong but but this judgement seemed to be underlined when I read this editor’s introduction to the book. It was safe, unadventurous and deadly dull. Having read it, I wish I hadn’t wasted those precious minutes of my life doing so.

So, here is a stereotype of a man who was good enough as a child to secure a place at a Grammar School (I did, but the year they dropped the 11-plus). At Grammar School he was successful enough to go up to Cambridge. No doubt he was inspired by his role models, his teachers. Having read languages – with the whole wide world open right before him – he becomes as teacher. Straight back to the swamp from which he had just emerged. Continue reading “How vampiric are you?”

La vie d’Adèle

lVAI was loaned a DVD over the weekend as a distraction from an untidy pile of work which has been bugging me lately. The film seemed to be a bit long for a single sitting – 3 hours – so I kept the last hour for Saturday breakfast.

La Vie d’Adèle (Chapitres 1 et 2) is a Palme d’Or winning film written, produced and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche. The story is based upon a graphic novel by Julie Maroh, Le bleu est une couleur chaude (Blue is the warmest color, the name of the film in English). The story is one of growing up as the eponymous Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos, left in the picture) concludes her school career before embarking on teaching. The crucial role of the teacher in bringing alive literature in particular and interest in the world generally is played out as a sub theme to the synchronous plot of Adèle’s coming to terms with her sexuality. She makes mistakes – I thought her career choice was lazy – and suffers the consequences. The character presents as gauche and naïve despite her raw passion. Emma (Léa Seydoux, right) finds a muse for her art in Adèle but always remains the grown-up in their relationship.

The storytelling in the film is masterful, with Kechiche taking his time to bring out the nuances in each scene, never taking the procedural approach to capturing the moment, always letting it run. For some this may be irritating but if you can, watch this film and take your time to feel the moments as they unfold. If this film doesn’t make you sob, you haven’t been paying attention.