Saturday, December 20, 2008

Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense!

Yea - French. It means: "Evil be to he who evil thinks..." It's a motto. There are some really great mottos around. This is probably the opposite of the one which exhorts: "Pay forward!"

Let's take a step back for a minute. You are probably thinking, "Wow! I bet he's going to tell me that there is so much evil in the world!" Well - you know. But just think what all the good in the world does too, huh?

There has been an increase in really beautiful, thought-provoking reality shows on American TV recently. I am a firm believer that they all really started with the fine example that Oprah Winfrey gives us all! Some of the shows that I have recently viewed are:
Secret Millionaire - a show where real life millionaires give away their own money to deserving people they meet who have fallen on hard times.  These people come from a real mixture background. We see those who have grown up against a backdrop of "old money" and those who started with nothing and built a multi-millionaire empire out of nothing. The common denominator is that they take time to visit folk who are literally on the breadline and in doing so, learn about how people who have next to nothing are living. It is a marvelous exposition of the human spirit and what it can achieve.
Molly Shattuck, wife of Mayo Shattuck III, CEO of Constellation Energy, was a recent participant in the show, and she actually gave away more than $100,000. She says (about the name, Secret Millionaire): “ I think it’s so obnoxious. But I absolutely am in love with the concept and in love with the show. I think it’s so important.” (quote courtesy of David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun) Molly drives around with her Mom, and we hear her Mom tell her that she has always thought that Molly was great just doing what she does, but that this had given her the opportunity to see the human side of Molly. We see her tearfully visiting a young widow with three boys who is living in a house which is literally falling apart. Aside from the angst which is obviously generated by the real danger of living somewhere where there are holes in the roof among other very real dangers, we are immediately aware of the sadness and emptiness generated by a recent loss of a life partner to some horrible deadly medical condition, in this case cardiac arrest.

So, everyone grows a little bit on the Secret Millionaire.

Another participant, Greg, in another show, comes from a different background, but nonetheless, is inspired by the really ordinary people, doing ordinary things to help their fellow human beings in need. The show starts with Greg being dumped off the bus in the harsh reality of this end of Vegas, and immediately we are seeing people being arrested and all the other aspects of the hard life on the streets! It is interesting to see that this is the North end of Las Vegas, a town which most of us see as being a magical land with fairytale lights and beauty. He starts off living in a "hotel" which he has a difficult time understanding to actually be a hotel, because he encounters cockroaches and other really filthy things in his room, for which he is working, because he doesn't have enough money to pay when he gets there. During the show, he visits a day center for teens in trouble, a lady who helps out people who have fallen on hard times with food and groceries, and he goes to a skateboard park, where a wheelchair-bound 16-year-old is doing tricks in his wheelchair! The kid's dream is to help others, so Greg helps that dream come true with a check. Greg also helps all the others with check donations from his own money.

In yet another show, we see a Los Angeles, self-made millionaire and his wife going to live in Watts, a depressed area of L.A., and we can sense the immediate danger felt by them as they drive into the area from the nearby area where they really live, which is so different. The amazing thing is that they are welcomed into the community just like anyone else, which proves the community spirit which exists in these places. Later on they too donate money to some really deserving people, one of whom is helping ex-convicts who are literally dumped off the bus, when they are released from jail.
Anyway - this is just an example of some of the truly wonderful things happening on TV in America. You can catch this on Fox  (I expect these will be mirrored around the world. But I live in the USA, so this is my primary focus.) Of course, we have been watching "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" for a while now on ABC, and this is another example of people doing stuff for other people who have fallen on hard times.  Ty Pennington and his crew of designers and builders take a week to rebuild houses that have fallen into disrepair and create mansions out of hovels for deserving families.

I think that there are too many really terrible sad stories on the news. It would be great if someone could come up with a good news station which broadcast only good news. I somehow think this would be a challenge though...

See y'all next time!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Taking Connectivism Out Into The World Of Life

Well the course is over. Students are still interconnecting. There will be a buzz of that going on for a long while...

What will I do now? My thoughts about this are: I will continue to blog. I will continue to bring you useful stuff. And I will continue to stimulate my brain and yours too. Talking of which, I have been acquainted with Alzheimer's Disease recently. A couple of people who are close to me, know exactly what it is to have someone suddenly deny knowledge of you right there and then... It is devastating, particularly if you love that person very much.

Several theories have been put forward for how the disease develops. However, the over-riding theory is that the brain starts to die because it is not getting enough exercise. Getting exercise to the brain can come in all kinds of ways. Now they are saying that one of the most widely used methods of brain exercise is surfing the Internet. In fact, scientists from UCLA have done a study on people aged 55 to 76, and have discovered that all of these "emerging computerized technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults."

Hmmm, what is middle-aged now? It is getting more confusing what with people living longer. Perhaps they mean 60?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Twitter-Connected, Interstitial Hyperbole Lives On....

So, who says I can't dream up fascinating titles?

I have done a bit of work on the layout... I hope you enjoy it. The CCK08 course concluded in a blaze of glory today. I was sadly absent. i don't know how I missed it. I was somewhere else taking care of something quite important in my life, so I came back to the Eluminate session about half an hour after people had said their pieces. I am trying not to be too cut up about it. As George said: "I think I'd like to offer a course without any content again..." So there is always going to be good input from that direction. Right now, the closed eLearning course is up on a wiki, so everyone can read anyway (here is the link to the course which I finally found: - I have no idea why it was so hard to find this page... but I bet you all have had an experience of looking for a needle in a haystack...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Into the Wide Blue Yonder...with Connectivism!

Well - twelve weeks flashed past. I have learned a lot about new technologies ( I have seen the direct results of social networking ( and I have been introduced to some amazing people (

It has been a fabulous experience and it is not going to stop here. I intend to go on and explore some more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stretching Out and Finding Roots in My Branches...

I have met an enormous amount of really interesting people during the CCK08 course. In fact, it is such a small world, that I now have a real problem trying to keep up with all the friends I have made all over the world. The problem is time!

Yes, time, is the grim reaper of my contact with other people. I never ever thought that this would ever be a problem. Now I find that to gather with other people who live all over the world, I have to plan the time zones... Happily, a regular weekly meeting which is held between people who live in Mexico, Israel, Turkey, Argentina and Germany, to name a few places, seems to be convenient at 11:00 am PST. But this is generally too late for people further West like those in Korea and other Asian places!

It is so strange that we should be coming up against these limitations now, when all the other technological problems of the world are rapidly dissolving, this is a problem that will probably never be resolved, until we become more virtual. This will mean a change to the virtual components of ourselves. I mean now, there is no feel or touch. Someone mentioned the absence of smell and touch in a conference on corporate learning I attended today. So, if you have been following my blog, you will have noticed that the first emphasis I made was on our proximity, and how, in some countries, people are quite comfortable to be inches away from each other, whereas in countries like Great Britain, USA, Canada, this would mean invasion of a "comfort zone."

So, will we become more and more androgynous as time wears on? Will we lose our sexuality, our individuality in favor of a more asexual existence? Will our immortality increase in deference to our longevity and lack of offspring? Will we really find it comfortable in a society where nobody questions the lack of contact and ordinary tenderness?

Give me your thoughts and ideas....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Swinging Along in the Mid-Term...

Well here we are. It's past eight weeks into the CCK08 Connectivism course. I have to admit that, although I was pushing hard to stay on top at the beginning, this has now been pushed aside in my struggle to find a job to pay the mortgage!

Isn't that sad? What I have been doing though, is spending some time with the SL Experiments group, run by Nergiz Kern. This has been enormously interesting to me and I can see how powerful education can be in an application like Second Life.

So I have spent a little time there, and I have also been doing what I do best on my own website and also on Nergiz's Second Life Experiments Wiki site. I can say quite unequivocally that I really love creating web pages! I could spend my entire life doing this. It is wonderful to know what I enjoy doing. It is entirely another matter to secure a job that pays enough for me to be able to sit back and really do this for the rest of my life!

I cannot say that I haven't noticed some stuff about Second Life in passing through the portal as it were... for one thing, they have some situations which they haven't managed to fix which are still happening after a long time period...

There is a lot of "unwritten" stuff going on. A "newbie" can enter SL with a lower than standard computer and have a miserable time with "lag." Also, there are little things like the following situation: if you teleport somewhere from a sitting position, you will look crippled somehow well after you have arrived at your destination, even though, you, the person it is all happening to, cannot see this! I am told that this has been a problem for some time. Another thing, I was in an area this afternoon and I was walking along a road. Before I could do anything about it, my legs and thighs were sunk down in the road and it looked like I was wading along!

It is obvious that there are several basic things which have to be learned, before anyone can really benefit from the experience in Second Life. Apart from the usual allurances which would entice anyone into the environment and perhaps make them stay in spite of the obvious problems with the experience they are having, it is a very exciting environment, where absolutely anything goes, but virtually! Having said that, there are two levels in the main "grid" - PG and Mature. Linden Research saw fit to create a Teen Second Life too, probably to siphon off any problems with underage membership. Be that as it may, it only serves as a separation point, the cut-off age being eighteen years of age.

But the really complex stuff must come later, like making your avatar move in a special way, growing wings or attaching objects. I saw a fascinating demo of a whiteboard, given by a software developer who is well-versed in JavaScript, which is fed by an external site off an iFrame. This is advanced manipulation of the Linden grid and very useful for education. I have to say that the simple things, like learning to make your avatar dance, is really very easy. What would be interesting would be to learn how to make the avatar interact physically with other avatars. And I know that this is possible. It's simple silly little things which I don't understand, like this: if you are dancing and want to IM someone at the same time, or even in Local Chat, how can you make the avatar carry on dancing as your keys leave the dance activation keys (F9 F10 F11 and F12) to type the message? Perhaps you have the avatar programmed to dance on a joystick gesture/mouse gesture and all of this is automated? Perhaps you have a speech-to-text programmed so that your fingers never have to touch the keyboard anyway... I don't believe this is what happens. Because I have heard people talking and using Local Chat and IM all at the same time as they are making their avatar do incredible things!

Apart from that, it is still a very interesting environment which I would still like to explore some more...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Still Slammed! So Slammed!

Nothing much to report this week. I attended the Elluminate session this morning. We discussed quite a lot of stuff, but it really seemed pretty inconclusive.

On the bright innovative side, I researched the Second Life and Teen Second Life Virtual worlds, and wrote an article about it on IT Toolbox (

So not a lot to tell you... Hopefully next week we'll see some changes take place!

If you read this - go out and vote!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Game of Virtual Pilot...

I wanted something new to do so I played Lufthansa Virtual Pilot here:
I did very well. Let's see how well you do.... OK?
Have a terrific day!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whew...! I'm Maxed Out...!!!

You know, I just don't have time for anything.

So I am just going to post this little short piece and then maybe things will change by Friday. Right now I am slammed with a massive writing project. If I don't complete this, I will have a major problem....

So, dear readers, be patient... I will be back! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Five-Week Wonder, or Discovering What I Have Learned So Far

You know, there are many things about this course which are not immediately apparent to the eye. One of these is the truly international flavor of the course... We come from all over, not just Canada, Australia, USA and the UK.

There are subgroups meeting in SL which belong to Spain, Argentina, Turkey, Israel and Korea. These subgroups are trying to do the impossible, have a class at all different time zones! This is the point. We relax in a beautiful area of SL surrounded by palm trees and gentle breezes, totally oblivious of the real FL environment which many of us may be in. This is what makes it so special! We set all of the reality aside to bask in the imaginary world, wherever physically we may be. And it is remarkably alluring. It is a magic environment, full of magic beings.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Getting Down to IT...

So much has happened since the last entry. I have entered the fifth week of Connectivism and Connective Knowledge CCK08. I had a wonderful SL experience on Friday. Here we were, educators sat around a balmy patio in a beautiful villa... What more could anyone want? We discussed methods and learned about each other. It was interesting to see that we had all been brought together: I had emerged from California, United States, and the others were from Argentina, Mexico, Israel and the United Kingdom, a meeting of world minds, but appearing in the same room in SL!

I will probably add to this later on today. Right now, I have rather too much to do...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Deeper Meaning of Networking

To align truly with this week's focus, that of the History of Networks, I thought I would add a few lines in my blog about how this strikes me...

We have seen how people interact and that a group of people or entities, who have an effect on each other constitutes a network. The networks of all time, over eons and ages, were formed by similarities of thinking and focused viewpoints. Let's take Socrates, for example. He had a network of friends, but because of his association with the local community, he was accused of corrupting the youth of that community with his ideologies.

I was led to think about networks of people who have lived and who have already passed on and who presumably belong to a different age, and I was struck particularly by a line or two from a historic novel about seventeenth century Venice. This quote comes from Barbara Quick's novel, "Vivaldi's Virgins" and tells a story about the agelessness of music even though by definition, the statement she makes paints a completely different picture!

"What more can a mere musician possibly hope for?
Music cannot be kept or captured. It unfurls in one miraculous moment in time, and then it's gone. The glorious sound of Marietta's voice in a cantabile aria will be forever lost after she is dead and all of us who ever heard her are dead, too. No matter how well I manage to play, my playing will be forgotten when all those who have heard me have died." (Quick, Vivaldi's Virgins, 254)

This really rings false in this age of shared music, royalty hearings and other copyright legislation, doesn't it? But the network to which Anna Maria belonged had none of the instantaneousness of today's world. Life was indeed slower and possibly more predictable, but nonetheless a valid network of like-minded individuals, having an effect on those people who were around them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Networking, Connected to the Full-Blown Stream of Life...

Wow, I have such a lot to catch up on!

This is coming out two days late, because so many landmark things have been happening.

I am now a US citizen, having been "naturalized" in a ceremony at a sports stadium along with 5251 other former green card holders last Friday, September 26th, 2008 (!) However, to me the word, "naturalized," smacks of cowboy films and culture from a former era, not 2008! I can just hear John Wayne telling me: "You're a US citizen. And you're gonna be for the rest of your "natural" life!"

Yesterday I took part in a charity walk which collectively raised $60,000 for the local hospital. Two people's lives very dear to me were saved there, (one of which was mine!) And we all look on it as being a vital local resource.

Enough of this - what about Connectivism? Well, I am looking at two ways of producing my Concept Map. I have started both already and I shall decide which one looks best to me. So far, I have been actively involved in the Moodle Forums, posting whenever and wherever something grabs my attention and feels like something I just cannot let go without some sort of counter argument.

Overall I am finding that there is a very wide divide between some of the participants and others in terms of Web 2.0 awareness and knowledge of Web 2.0 tools and resources.

Before I began this study of Connectivism, I was actively engaged in creating a Wiki for a commercial company, along with tools to facilitate the jobs of engineers employed there. The wiki was solely to facilitate capture of tacit knowledge and apply its practical use to the day-to-day activities of those individuals who needed to learn a proprietary methodology very quickly. I firmly believe that I succeeded in my chosen objective. Wiki is something that was never really used much before ever in the arena of academia and never in companies, because the thought of individuals collaboratively editing a document was thought of as being very nonacademic and therefore not very reliable as a source. After examining methods of attaining information, Wikipedia is still thought of as being very flaky for the serious study of anything academic. If this is the case, why do millions of people go there for answers? I credit Wikipedia as being the stimulus for other really great learning tools like Wiki Answers, Yahoo Answers, and practically all of the forums and posting grounds all over the Internet which are dedicated to a specific subject and which offer instant solutions to technical problems. This is the start, but it is by no means the end!

I am getting ready to promulgate my own position on Connectivism, waiting only to simultaneously publish this and the Concept Map. (I'll be there by next weekend, George and Stephen! Honest!)

I have met many wonderful new people in this course from all over the world. I have had exciting stimulating contact with people in Italy, Australia, Spain, Hungary, UK, Mexico and of course, Canada. It would also be remiss of me to exclude the USA. If I have left out a nation, it is because I missed it in my analysis and there is no excuse for me. (Wow, what a boo-boo I hear you all say!) But I am getting to the point of telling you all that I have tried to be an active part in Connectivas too. I was truly excited to hear that George had spoken at Second Spain in SL for 20 seconds, followed by a translation, followed by further talk, and after each 20 second segment had been translated, he allowed time for questions. I have saved a 41 minute MP3 of this. The only problem I had was that the Spanish translation contrasted with George's English version in that it was pretty badly distorted. I hope they have better success next time (and I sincerely hope that there will be "a next time.") I know that there was lots to talk about after this and it has shown, strangely enough, that there seems to be a really powerful platform for SL in a Hispanic community, probably larger than in the English-speaking community in the participants - the one that seems to dominate.

I have to briefly touch on the very interesting Elluminate session we had on Wednesday, where Valdis Krebs presented on the Meaning of Networks. So much was covered, from the association of people in simple groups to the meaning of larger networks, and how a terrorist organization could not be distinguished from a business organization's network diagram. we viewed many different network charts all of which were given a special meaning by Valdis's exclusive experience working at

Rounding out the week, I feel I have a better understanding of Connectivism, but I am beginning to feel just a little overwhelmed by all the subject matter.

Well, this is a longer blog than the ones I have been writing up to now, but so much has happened in the last few days... I hope that it continues in this way. Please note that I abandoned my use of the abstract because it seemed the right thing to do, and what is a blog if it is not completely ad-hoc?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gathering, Tethering, Collating and Beginning to Understand...

Well, the FeedRaider turned up some rare stuff today. Having signed into Second Life for a walk around Second Spain and Virtual Atlantis, I gathered up enough strength to create a new face for myself, complete with a rock musician's hairdo and my favorite skin and eyes... Boy did that feel good wearing my Versace torn blue jeans and suede leather jacket! I took a good look around. I could almost smell the fresh clean air and balmy fragrance of a Mediterranean and mid-Atlantic shore wash my feet, as the warmth of the sun seemed to kiss my face. Yes this did feel like Final Fantasy, but without the magic and weird creatures. The girls actually looked like girls (I mean they didn't have a cat's face or a big long tail...) And I saw the massive projector screens and whiteboards. Wow, you could build a dream of a classroom here...! Just paint the sky right, no sun looking like a messy runny fried egg. Definitely over easy, lending a calm, almost artificial pleasance to the surroundings.

Some days I just don't feel like Twittering. I guess my Twitter has turned to Twoot. And George had some great stuff to tell us all on that TV station thing about the year 2050. They should have David Bowie on this class as a lecturer. He'd have a thing or two to tell... "In the year 2525...."

I am getting a lot of criticism for my views, not a lot of support and strange silence from people who were once vociferous. I wonder what it all means?

Well - I have been just a couple of weeks on the Connectivism course at Winnipeg in Canada and I can see some really nifty stuff now where before I was pretty much unaware of it.

So in real terms, I wonder what will be down the road from here? I always liked the WWW. Now I love it for its storehouse of goodies and delightful experiences, along with the knowledge that we are all learning here, very rapidly!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Paradox of Ambient Awareness

by Steve Tuffill - Tuesday, 9 September 2008, 04:05 PM

We stride down the pathway of life, looking straight ahead and glancing through the facility of our electronic peripheral vision, at Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and MySpace, to observe our transitory contacts (we don't dare call them "friends" do we?)

Another email pops up, glancing at it, I carry on valiantly with the dissertation I am writing on the meaning of life, thinking that it is all pretty meaningless without some form of physical contact.

However, that contact is "tissue-thin" and just as fragile. Have you noticed how close people can get to each other in Asia? It is way closer than my North American comfort zone... Try Alaska, it's far safer.

Going to work, I am wired to my Blackberry, typing with one hand as I listen to the tele-conference with one ear and take technical support calls with my free hand jammed over the other, while whichever spare finger I have makes last-minute configuration changes on a light-sensitive keyboard to a distant server.

My brain hurts with the abuse. Where were the banks of green willow, I find myself asking? What happened to the autumn days where the weather was cool and the sky was blue? Where were the hours that were uncountable? Everything has been captured in a little box, for later retrieval. When? I hear you ask? Whenever...

Getting a Feel for Connectivism in the Abstract

by Steve Tuffill - Saturday, 13 September 2008, 04:42 PM

Continuing the abstract theme, I am going to explore the central theme of connectivism. What is it?

Calling upon the tools of collective awareness, we plunge into the sea of collective unconsciousness, feeling others all around us. The thrill of participation is intense. We sense the urgency of some of our colleagues' thoughts and dreams, hopes and fears.

We are all very literate, in many different ways. Some of us choose to alliterate. Others choose to presume. And others would prefer to look it all up in some learned tome. (But the tome is fast becoming the Internet!) Again, some would care to argue for whatever reason, intellectual, political or for fun. Yet others may choose to claim ownership of each others' intellect, (but who would be wise to read the piece by Stephen Downes on copyright, ethics and theft!) Most of us are literate in one way or another. (P.S. I really liked the video of Ken Robinson on Ted with regard to schools killing creativity as did the video produced by the Kansas State University which took a much more down-to-earth approach to the theme of Students today, and how they spend their time in class! Last but not least, I was entertained by the simple shout from our young people: Youth for Human Rights #18 Freedom of Thought Now back to my abstract ponderings...)

Many of us have produced mind-maps. These are in apposition to our twemes pages, our Twitter connections, and our PageFlakes, and work wonders in hooking up our understanding of what is being said...

This is an awesome and wonderful time, a golden age, where we have everything we could possibly want to go where we want to go.