Thursday, October 28, 2004

Don't trust me: I make use of people

Slightly embarrassed to be writing a posting on trust… something I thought I knew a lot about, but was apparently wrong. But an assignment is an assignment, so here goes:


Title: Trust in online/face2face interaction, & Reputation Management Systems


Think about the popularity of fan fic, blogs, Usenet, forums, etc. for a minute. Why do you subscribe to certain writers, bloggers, Usenet newsgroups, forums? Like it or not, there is a certain level of ‘trust' you have in that medium that keeps you going back, even if you don't like that particular person's agenda (e.g. Bush or Michael More haters). So, ‘trust' in an online environment is something worthy of discussion.


Dealing with trust in an online (or in a face2face) environment boils down to past interactions with the other party. More accurately, it is the history of past interactions that gives you a better representation of that party's abilities and trust worthiness (Resnick, 2000, p2). It does not matter if we have never dealt with that person, so long as a clear history of transaction by others who had dealt with that person is made available to us.


Reputation management systems in an online environment give us this opportunity of a ‘third eye' to evaluate people based on the reviews of others who interacted with them. Resnick (2000) believes that for reputation systems to work there have to be 3 properties in place:



  1. longevity of entities

  2. current feedback is captured and distributed transparently

  3. Past feedback posted to guide buyer decisions


Longevity of entities ensures that future interaction will occur. This creates expectation and adds to the belief that the reputation system works. A transparent system of past and present feedback will help others who have never dealt with him/her before to paint a picture of that person, and better gauge their credibility.


In theory, Economists will point out that in eBay's system where feedback is overwhelmingly positive, that a potential ‘lemons market' could develop, whereby some sellers can take advantage of the system of predominantly trust and good relationships to sell some poor quality products.


In practice, this is not the case. So what prevents a lemons market from developing?


Kollock (1999) likens informal online markets to the financial exchanges that happen in wall street stock markets. Basically both environments offer conditions that promote trust among buyers and sellers. The environment has to have 1) matching service, to pair off buyers and sellers; 2) method of information exchange, where past and present transactions are recorded, and distributed; 3) a clearing service, (e.g. escrow) where by transactions can be completed safely.


Stop and think


Let's suddenly bring this whole discussion to a halt, and now put it in exclusively in a Face2Face environment. What changes? … essentially nothing. Resnick (2001) points out 8 factors that affects trust in traditional exchange of goods. Caixia's blog actually retyped out these 8 factors (thanks!), and I agree with her that Reputations are more important in facilitating cooperation online than offline.' Dave wade is another supporter of this belief. However, I still fail to see how these 8 factors are related in an online environment.


What my classmates had to say…


I liked Marion's post on trust where he quoted from his own experience with his class where there was no cooperation among students and ultimately did not obtain the highest payoffs possible. It got me thinking of the following scenario:


Think about a situation in a classroom (face2face or online, it does not matter) where students are asked to peer-review each other. For those who know Prisoner's dilemma or Game theory (call them bonnie & Clyde), they will rate everyone in the class low, on the assumption that everyone else will rate each other fairly. This will result in bonnie & Clyde scoring significantly higher scores than everyone else . When high assessment stakes are on the line, what's trust got to do with anything?


Deonne's post approached it from a different angle, and asked a series of good questions to evaluate reputations in both online and offline environments, namely:



  • Are good reputations necessary? Rewarded?

  • How are reputations established?

  • How does reciprocity fit into the cycle?

  • What are the benefits of having a good reputation?

  • Are people honest when talking about others?

  • Should censorship be allowed?


I like this particular posting, probably post of the week among those I read. I agree with Deonne that in setting up online reputations like in eBay, ‘Newcomers are typically distrusted until they “prove” themselves.' It goes along with the critical mass some sellers/buyers attain after sometime where feedback becomes a norm for them, and they don't even bother to respond to negative feedback anymore.


The biggest gripe I have with offline reputations is the tricky business of eliciting feedback. Because in face2face situations we do not have the protection of the anonymity of the web. Deonne's example of students filling out class evaluation forms in the U of U is an excellent example of avoiding possible repercussions of honest feedback. And we all know how valuable those information are!


I did not really think of censorship in depth until I read her post. To me, this brings a new equation to the game. Censorship can determine what kinds of comments get posted, and who gets to post. Same thing applies to blog post & comments too.


For example, if we housed a blog system in a school, then technically all those post & comments belong to the school. Any repercussions that result from controversial post/comments will be directed to the educational institution. Who then determines what types of religious, stereotyping, political, other sensitive issues are to be considered taboo subjects? What about countries without first amendment right protection or freedom of speech? How is censorship different in those context? I do not the answers either, but like the observation Deonne raised.


Edisoabi offered some possible tools ( blogdex and Daypop ) to start researching on trust in blogging communities. Lastly, Curtis' blog beautifully uses the ‘santa-claus-principle' analogy to illustrate why eBay's system works even when people don't know how it works.


Considerations of an internet-based reputation system


What are the incentives & disincentives of providing good & bad feedback in an online environment?


Talk about blogs. You are a blogger. You want traffic. So, you read others blogs and post positive comments hoping that it will make them like you enough to read your own blog. Would you curse and swear at their blog, and say they are posting garbage even if 90% (my own biased estimate) of blogs out there are? Will you be not afraid of the repercussions out there? It's the same thing with how sellers, buyers work on eBay.


Resnick (2001) coined ‘high-courtesy-equilibrium' to explain the lack of free riders and rarity of neutral or negative feedback on eBay. eBay has created an environment that promotes people to give positive feedback, and hence spurn more transactions. The commenting system on eBay is flawed due to this biasesness, but it works.


Is one good feedback = one bad feedback? I think the challenge now is to balance the weights of the rare (but sought-after genuine negative feedback) as opposed to the avalanche of good feedback that surrounds us. Same thing goes to the post and comments in blogs/forums, etc. Closest thing I see to balancing this now is probably Slashdot . But that is for another discussion.






In a nutshell : it's not how the system works, but that its participants believe it works – even if they don't know why (Resnick, P., Zeckhauser, R., 2001). In an extreme sense, ‘Blind faith'.

Cheers,

BH


Reference:


Kollock, P. (1999). The Production of Trust in Online Mark ets. Retrieved on October 24 th , 2004 from source: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/kollock/papers/online_trust.htm


Resnick, P. (Dec, 2000). Reputation Systems. Retrieved on October 24 th , 2004 from source: http://www.si.umich.edu/~presnick/papers/cacm00/index.html


Resnick, P., Zeckhauser, R. (2001). Trust Among Strangers in Internet Transactions: Empirical Analysis of eBay's Reputation System. Retrieved on October 24 th , 2004 from source: http://www.si.umich.edu/~presnick/papers/ebayNBER/index.html

Friday, October 22, 2004

IDEAS on sharing insights gathered at AECT@Chicago 2004

As I sat in Martindale's session with Dave Wiley on blogs, I talked to Preston parker and came up with an idea of collaboration and joint ‘make use' of resources when we send students for conferences.


If we use just a blog for AECT@chicago or any other conference for that matter, it is instant news. The advantage is on the fly information updated to your Weblog. And if you are lucky, there might even be comments in your posts. The disadvantage is that readers might have to go through everything before they get the full picture.


What people want is a one page quick reference or manual on that selected topic.


Suggestion: a permanent wiki hosted by Dave, where students who attended the AECT @ Chicago conference are able to input sessions they attended. The advantage is that if you have 2 or more people attending different sessions, they are able to share the sessions they are interested, but otherwise unable to share. So the more, the merrier… Even if 2 people attended the same session, the wiki allows users to edit content they agree or disagree.


This wiki can also be scalable. One wiki titled ‘conferences'. And under that it could have ‘AECT@chicago 2004' or ‘AECT@anaheim 2003'. Or AERA ‘blah … blah…'


Would it not be cool to see the insights gathered from the USU student attendees at conferences? If you see obstacles and objections against such collaboration I am unaware of, please share your comments.






In a nutshell : it allows people (who want to share) to share insights.

Disclaimer: if you think that this is making use of people/intellectual capital of the group, it is not for you.


Cheers,

BH


actual event date: 22 October 2004

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Fan fic

This posting is in response to wiley's question on fan fic (see url) http://wiley.ed.usu.edu/courses/interaction-2004/week07.html


What's the big deal about fan fic?

Well for one, its spawn a movie ‘sky captain and the world of tomorrow'. You geeks know what I am talking about…


Fan fic sightings

Mark mason introduced a great article called the ‘zen art of teaching ' in his recent post. But for me, Curtis has the blog post ( link ) of the week on the topic of ‘fan fic'. Read it, it's worth your time. His post introduced ‘ hypergraphia ' and it opened my eyes on how writing can be a form of self-defense and stress reliever. I never considered this approach to writing before… Personal experience has taught me to voice out my inner thoughts through writing. There is no worse feeling that being cooped up with unanswered questions and thoughts. Putting them on paper or electronic form may never get them answered, but at least it's a way of letting go. ‘Dr. Merlin's guide to fan fic ' is a fun way to warm up to fan fiction. And don't ever get into a debate on fan fiction without knowing what a ‘ Mary sue ' or ‘creativity demon' is.


Why write on fan fic?


  1. free

  2. easy to post

  3. ability to get feedback (heaven forbid, fan mail?)

  4. anonymity of the web

  5. gathering of common interest (geeks)

  6. fun – for those who care

weizhai correctly identified that fan fic is an inherently motivated activity. If you are not interested, you won't get hooked (e.g. Bekir). Like John said, ‘If you start assigning students to participate (much like assigning someone to be a genuine "friend" to another), you can violate the whole experience/spirit of the medium itself.'( john, 2004 )


Homework (hate it!): * if you really want to read the reviews, check on 19th Oct 2004 (Tues)

Random Fan fics I read & commented:


  1. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2099363/1/ (Harry potter: harmonie x Ron)

  2. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2075418/1/ (hellsing: confused half-vampire Seras)

  3. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1549182/1/ (matrix: under the gun)

Fan fic I wrote [user name: ‘gicik']


  1. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2099535/1/ (‘dummies for vampires' self-help guide)

warning: its probably gibberish to non-fans of the hellsing anime/manga.


Fan fic & instructional technology?

Now, say your literature teacher/professor asks a female student (let's call her Shelly ) to write a story for a class assignment. E.g. ‘Charles dickens – the later years'. Shelly writes a 5000 word story and posts it on fanfic.net. Her story gets reviewed by 500 other readers, and starts to gather a following. Shelly gets intrigued in her fan base and continues to write more stories. The teacher thinks ‘what a godsend! She is writing on her own!' but at the same time she notices that shelly has stopped handing in homework assignments altogether. When asked why by the teacher, shelly responded: ‘Do I write to 500 readers or do I write for one teacher?'


When we can get students so motivated that they do work beyond the ‘call of duty' that is a good thing. Or is it? Do the 500 other 14 – 17 year old readers give equally good feedback on her literature writing and analysis than her 60 yr old professor who has a PhD in literature? This brings us to reputation management system which coincidently is our topic of discussion for week 7 at inst7150 .


Too often I see people lap up the wow factor of a few hundred reviews as a revolutionary approach to learning. Wader's blog suggested applying this fan fic approach to higher education institutions like MIT's open courseware , and have faculty peer review each other. But I don't think that works because of a variety of reasons. First, not all institutions are like MIT and openly share their content. The dirty little secret about most faculty in universities around the world is that their own course materials are probably made up of bits and pieces from other people's work. Yes, copyright and plagiarism even at the professor level. And even if there were faculty who were 100% original, would they be willing to put their work open to scrutiny to the world? there are only so many Dave wileys who don't care about image (flip-flops) and take criticisms like taking a snack… how would it look on their resume to see their course compared to another and have it look pathetically weak? How many brave faculty you know will want to take this risk? Things are never as simple as they seem.


But I am not one to say that a phenomenon like fan fic has no instructional value. Stop & think: ‘Would it not be ideal if we can leverage on the popularity of things like fan fic and apply it to learning?'


e.g. weizhai' s comment on how Fan fiction can help promote association, and prepare the students for real world problems. Although the virtual collaboration of working online is quite different from the subtleties of face to face friendship and collaboration, engaging in activities like ‘Through commenting on “plot, characterization, grammar, or spelling”, learners are engaging in a meaning exchanging and sharing process, which contributes the advancement of the community as a whole…' ( weizhai, 2004 ) is still a valuable learning experience.


Fan fic & personal development

At the end of Melissa Wilson's awesome article on ‘ Dr. Merlin's guide to fan fic ', she wrote: ‘When you receive negative feedback, don't automatically flame the sender. Read it, think about it, and decide if it has validity. Then make your own decision as to what you're going to do with your next story, because there will always be a next story. And it's going to be a great one.'( Wilson , 2004)

I find it eerie how something like fan fic can be associated to dealing with all issues pertaining to work, school and friendship? Next time, should you be so fortunate as to receive negative feedback on any of the above; don't get angry… but instead, stop and think! Only those really honest with you will be bothered to point out your problem. Decide if their criticisms have validity (they usually do), and make your own decisions as how to make amends for your mistakes.

Cheers,
BH

Mt_Naomi_overview_stitched

Mt_Naomi_overview_stitched
Mt_Naomi_overview_stitched,
originally uploaded by bhchia.
Trying out flickr...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

"Pig out'' at Roosters, Ogden

We had a nice dinner. Dave Wiley generously paid the bill. Thank you.


Recap of some ideas shared during ‘pig out' night:



“How the heck are we going to remember what we post a month, a week from today? Suppose you post something about jib jab ( http://www.jibjab.com/ ) & copyright. Would you remember it under a category called ‘copyright', or would you remember it as ‘oh, that post I did on sept 2007...”



Shared idea 1: RSS friend or foe?


John Delin & Dave (see comments) had this to say about blogs without RSS feeds ( http://johndehlin.blogspot.com/2004/10/10-04-04-assignment-blog-hopping-blogs.html ).



"...Couldn't agree more about blogs without RSS feeds. How the heck are we supposed to follow them?? Hit reload everyday? I don't think so. "



Sorry Dave & John, I don't totally agree. See my post on RSS at http://inst7150.motime.com/category/1483 and the problems associated with your savior ... RSS.


Shared idea 2 : Give me god damn categories!



Another response to that earlier post & comment of John & Dave was that without proper categories*, how useful can your post be a week, a month, or a year down the road? How are we supposed to follow them? Read every archived month/year? I don't think so...



*( blogger.com still does not support it. If you want to spend the time to find out how, check http://spide.blogspot.com/2004/09/tips-categorize-blogger-posts.html . I have not tested this hack, but you are lucky to even have this. When I was testing it, the hacks were way worse )


At least the serious bloggers out there are using movabletype, wordpress, etc. that is robust enough to capture and catalogue the content properly, and most importantly easily. But people who post using blogger.com (like myself), I don't see any long term value in posting. Things that are not reusable, including capturing great insights and ideas on blogs like yours, is just dead weight in the internet.






In a nutshell: There is already too much information on the internet. If its not reusable/retrievable, it should not be there.


So, now I offer to the class (and anyone out there on the internet reading this) again, free admin rights to http://inst7150.motime.com/ where categories is available and dead simple to use. Its idiot proof. Only drawback is that Howard & the rest of the motime gang does not have the support of rich boys like Google. But they are dedicated. Effort and unwillingness to give up is reason enough for me to support them. In time, they can only get better.


Wiley's blog made from plone is way prettier. But for sake of ownership and assessment purposes, he can't release the development of the blog to students. If we can't play with it, we can't learn as much. The blog site I originally created was just an empty page. There are tons more features you can add. But following Wiley's painful experience of slashlearn , you should only add as many features as needed and desired by the target users.


I added things like a search function, Syndication, etc. You can add anything else. I release all control. Or if you want to group blog just for the simple reason to be able to capture your cool ideas (its yours if you post with your own motime userid), and have others comment and share insights, all you have to do is email me at benchia@singnet.com.sg and I will set you up.


In addition, I already have a site that runs on wordpress. Its also called ‘understanding online interaction' (http://www.shummerville.com/blog ). Although registration is open to all, I will give admin rights if you want to play with it. It's the same blogging platform that mark is using at http://www.virtualtheology.org/ . I hope to have it up before AECT@chicago ( http://www.aect.org/ ). So, I suggest users who want to group blog post at the motime blog for warm up, and when you get really serious, the same offer stands for wordpress.


Cheers,
BH

Inst7150 class Blog impressions so far: Marion Jensen's chicken armpits

Once in a while, I get into a mood that allows me to sit through and really read through a number of blogs and play ‘catch up' with the past entries that I failed to read. So even with RSS, I still do not read all our class bloggers posts. No offence to the other class bloggers, I simply have too many in my RSS reader already.


It does not give you a good picture if you don't follow all of the blogger's post. So, I like to share with everyone, the more interesting blogs from our inst 7150 class that I try my best to follow. I will spotlight these class blogger once every few days, i.e. read all his/her earlier post and comment if applicable. Hopefully this gives you a better picture of the blogger. If I missed yours by end of the semester, there has to be a real good reason why I omitted yours. Then again, sometimes there is no reason.


I like to start with Marion Jensen's http://chickenarmpits.blogspot.com/ blog. The catchy name was an incentive. Tip: get a catchy URL.


Highlight posting: In Marion Jensen's blog entry ( http://chickenarmpits.blogspot.com/2004/10/for-what-its-worth.html ) “… I simply need more time.” highlighted how 5 hours is simply not enough to gain a broad understanding to post something of merit (I hear you matey!), especially those balancing school, family, work, and other activities. Steph en Downes ( http://www.downes.ca/ ) is an oddity (I mean it in a nice way) because he lives and dies by his blog. He is defined by his blog.


Even with technologies like RSS which brings news to me at my finger tips; it does not solve the problem of successfully joining community of bloggers under the constraints of a struggling PhD student working his way through his tuition. Thanks Marion for raising this concern.


Misc. posting:



On useful blogging technologies


A ‘recent comments' feature would really be useful. How many people are like me, who take a longer time to learn (I'm not smart, is that a crime?), and occasionally play ‘catch up', and still like to comment, but on posts that were done a week, or a month ago? This problem also goes both ways. If I can't read what comments appear in my blog (older posts), then why should I bother to post on other people's older blog posting if they too will never read it?


Blogging cannot be just for the super initiated bloggers. Blogging is supposed to be fun, easy and convenient. Wouldn't a ‘recent comments' function be useful? The motime blog I subscribe to is working on it, and I hope they pull it off. If anyone knows how to do this, let me know via email. If you post a comment to this post, I won't read it, because I am not accustomed to receiving comments, and don't bother to check anymore. See the problem?


Cheers,

BH

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Blogging ‘in theory vs. practice'; blogging = friendship

Actual Event Date: 10 Oct 2004 (Mon)


Reading Steph en Downe's Sept issue of Educause review ( link ) sparked a series of thoughts which will be the subject of this week's short article. I begin with discussing 3 key distinctions between educational blogging in theory and real life practice. Then share (with the world!) my personal new found perspective on blogging on a more human level. I.e. blogging is just like friendship.


Educational blogging: in theory



  1. Blogs let learners get valuable feedback from peers, teachers & whoever they open their blogs to. // [see personal comments in italics below]

  2. Blogs let students who otherwise have problems communicating in class, a common ground to voice their opinion. // [see personal comments in italics below]

  3. Blogs let learners communicate and participate in a community of self-directed learners // [see personal comments in italics below]


Educational blogging: in practice



  1. Blogs let learners get valuable feedback from peers, teachers & whoever they open their blogs to. // depends. Do students really post what they feel? Can they do so without fear of repercussion from other students or faculty? Grade Savvy students know exactly what values their instructor holds, and smartly posts exactly what their instructor wants to hear. Are all these ‘doctored' comments truly valuable in a student's learning experience?

  2. Blogs let students who otherwise have problems communicating in class, a common ground to voice their opinion. // depends. An international student who is weak in the use of English or timid in sharing his personal ideas and views may still choose not to contribute to the blog.

  3. Blogs let learners communicate and participate in a community of self-directed learners. // depends. There are bloggers who choose to read a lot more than they write (E.g. Dan Appleman ). Does a lack of active blog participation prevent one from feeling part of a community of bloggers? Conversely, does reading and occasionally commenting on a number of power blogs, automatically create a sense of community to the group blog?


The problem with Enforced educational blogging


One common fear educators who have experimented with blogging is ‘ Do students drop their blogs the moment the semester is over?' Will Richardson ( weblogg-Ed blog )'s research over the years confirms this fear. And he notes that the inherent censorship of an institution served blog will never allow the student bloggers to write with passion. Downes sums up this problem best when he asked ‘What happens when a free-flowing medium such as blogging interacts with the more restrictive domains of the education system?'


Fear of controversies



  1. Some schools are using it, but many more are worried about the controversies that go along with blogging. Students & faculty who may be racist or stereotyping other races or religious groups can easily cause the institution they are at unnecessary bad publicity. Eric mussleman, of Indiana University Bloomington, & Harvard University and Slater's lawsuit with Diebold Election System are some of the many noted controversies. Use google if you need more examples.

  2. What then on the posting of copyrighted content? There are more blog entries in the web than anyone can read in their lifetime. Should blogging really take off, what is to stop a new form of plagiarism in the form of copying and intelligently modifying blog posts?


In short, even with the utopian idea that surrounds the educational impact of blogging, there are still enough pitfalls surrounding blogs that keep skeptical educators at bay. Some anti-blogging faculty describes blogs as ‘a white man's vanity page'. Speaks volumes of their views on the use of blogging in education.


Blogging = Friendship


I love Downe's description on the blogging practice as not just about posting cool articles and wonderful insights. ‘No, it's not about the writing…' as Downes pointed out, but the outcome that ultimately occurs if everything else is done right.


A crazy thought hit me as I was reading his article. That is, Blogging is just like friendship . Both activities require communication to be truly successful. Can one have a decent friendship without communication? How good is a blog without readership & comments? Blogging helps students reflect on what they are thinking and carry on a conversation about topics of interest over extended period of time, and bring in other readers of similar interest. How different is that from true friendship? You share insights, hopes and dreams with those whom you connect to at a personal level; you help further each other's interest in same topic, and rope in people who connect to your group interests. Under such a comparison, it is not hard to understand why blogging is so popular.


My insight on blogs this week can be summarized below:


In a nutshell: With greater ease of use, and better understanding of best practices in blogging, the gap between the theory and practice of ‘blogging in education' will narrow. In time, building upon the mistakes we learnt from the past, educational blogging could truly become the missing link in supporting lifelong learning.


My question for this week is:


“If blogging is like friendship, under what situation or circumstances do you decide to give it up? And why?”


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”


Misc. information:

Time Spent on this week's assignment



•  1 hour a day, 5 days a week.


•  Posting on edublogger


•  2 hour (rough total) thinking, collecting my thoughts to blog.


•  Grand Total = 7 hours

Blogs part the first: observation

Actual Event Date: 13 Sept 2004 (Mon)


Ever been in a situation where you were reading a magazine, newspaper, or even a webpage article that said something that was wrong, and you wished you could scream out to them the answer?


I have been in a few of these situations. My favorite example is the time I read a movie review written by an American about Hong Kong slapstick comedy movies ( Stephen Chow series), and gave it a bad rating simply because he/she did not understand the joke & the genius behind the movie. Every culture has its own distinct nuances, and taboos. For an American trying to understand and critique Asian cinema is equivalent to how Hollywood is swooning over movies like ‘crouching tiger, hidden dragon'; which to most Asian audiences is a piece of crap. Just pick any of the classic ‘kungfu' movies e.g. ‘once-upon-a-time-in-china' series, and you see a much better plot, better fight choreography (no strings!), realistic and authentic setting, dialogue, and the works.


Why am I ranting? Because with blogs, I noticed that such frustration and barriers to lack of knowledge can be removed.


This week's assignment f orc es us to look at some random blog at live Journal. So, I used some keywords and searched for Japanese Manga. Eventually I found myself introduced to a manga called ‘hellsing'. I am now part of a “hellsing" community on LiveJournal. URL: http://www.livejournal.com/community/hellsing/






Note : hellsing is a manga about vampires, monsters, filled with plots and conspiracy to destroy the world. It is a ‘bloody' (literally) cool manga. Definitely R(A), and not for the faint hearted.


banner


The blog community that surrounds ‘hellsing' is a hotbed of information sharing. Anything from plot summaries, character analysis, torrent downloads, fan doujinshi, and self-sustained FAQs, it keeps the fans coming back for more. Some merge the blogs with discussion group postings, others with simply a static website. But a growing number of these hybrid fan/blog sites devote themselves to collecting feedback from their users.


The pattern I observed from the fans/bloggers of this community, is that they are all motivated to sharing information, and finding the ‘truth'. They will post, repost, agree and disagree, before they come to a consensus on what is the acceptable ‘truth'. No one will ever have all the right answers to everything, if he/she did then they don't belong on this planet. Having a simple to use platform like blogs that allows mutual interaction and communication to come up with the best possible solution looks to me like a great resource.


Of course, disbelievers will say that putting ‘a bunch of monkeys' together will come up with nothing. But these ‘monkeys' that choose to participate in blogs are living, breathing, subject matter experts and enthusiasts who need no external motivation to research on their interest in that topic. When you gather such a pool of enthusiast, you will start a community of knowledge among those users.


Case study:

one particular blogger (mr_mitts) has such a following that he asks his fans on what he should write about next ( link ). He posted a lengthy but excellent article ( link ) that relates how the manga author used historical content from WW2 to enrich the story line of ‘hellsing'. Enthusiasts and history buffs quickly pointed out what was accurate and inaccurate. The discussion that followed from the comments was just plain cool.


Now, relating this to real life. How difficult would it be to duplicate this exchange of views and information? The fan base here spans 1149 fans from 77 countries. Without the ease and power of modern day social software, would we be able to replicate this form of collaboration?


banner


My insight on blogs this week can be summarized below:






In a nutshell: Blogs is such an easy way for readers to share about a topic they love, and allow feedback from others who know something that they don't yet know. Great tool for sharing information and knowledge, and building a community of learners.

My question for this week is:


“Has the culture of Blogs truly affected the culture of main stream society?”


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”


Misc. information: (Time Spent on this week's assignment)



•  1 hour a day, 5 days a week.


•  Live journal


•  2 hour (rough total) thinking, collecting my thoughts to blog.


•  Grand Total = 7 hours

Blogs part the first: observation

Actual Event Date: 13 Sept 2004 (Mon)


Ever been in a situation where you were reading a magazine, newspaper, or even a webpage article that said something that was wrong, and you wished you could scream out to them the answer?


I have been in a few of these situations. My favorite example is the time I read a movie review written by an American about Hong Kong slapstick comedy movies ( Stephen Chow series), and gave it a bad rating simply because he/she did not understand the joke & the genius behind the movie. Every culture has its own distinct nuances, and taboos. For an American trying to understand and critique Asian cinema is equivalent to how Hollywood is swooning over movies like ‘crouching tiger, hidden dragon'; which to most Asian audiences is a piece of crap. Just pick any of the classic ‘kungfu' movies e.g. ‘once-upon-a-time-in-china' series, and you see a much better plot, better fight choreography (no strings!), realistic and authentic setting, dialogue, and the works.


Why am I ranting? Because with blogs, I noticed that such frustration and barriers to lack of knowledge can be removed.


This week's assignment f orc es us to look at some random blog at live Journal. So, I used some keywords and searched for Japanese Manga. Eventually I found myself introduced to a manga called ‘hellsing'. I am now part of a “hellsing" community on LiveJournal. URL: http://www.livejournal.com/community/hellsing/






Note : hellsing is a manga about vampires, monsters, filled with plots and conspiracy to destroy the world. It is a ‘bloody' (literally) cool manga. Definitely R(A), and not for the faint hearted.


banner


The blog community that surrounds ‘hellsing' is a hotbed of information sharing. Anything from plot summaries, character analysis, torrent downloads, fan doujinshi, and self-sustained FAQs, it keeps the fans coming back for more. Some merge the blogs with discussion group postings, others with simply a static website. But a growing number of these hybrid fan/blog sites devote themselves to collecting feedback from their users.


The pattern I observed from the fans/bloggers of this community, is that they are all motivated to sharing information, and finding the ‘truth'. They will post, repost, agree and disagree, before they come to a consensus on what is the acceptable ‘truth'. No one will ever have all the right answers to everything, if he/she did then they don't belong on this planet. Having a simple to use platform like blogs that allows mutual interaction and communication to come up with the best possible solution looks to me like a great resource.


Of course, disbelievers will say that putting ‘a bunch of monkeys' together will come up with nothing. But these ‘monkeys' that choose to participate in blogs are living, breathing, subject matter experts and enthusiasts who need no external motivation to research on their interest in that topic. When you gather such a pool of enthusiast, you will start a community of knowledge among those users.


Case study:

one particular blogger (mr_mitts) has such a following that he asks his fans on what he should write about next ( link ). He posted a lengthy but excellent article ( link ) that relates how the manga author used historical content from WW2 to enrich the story line of ‘hellsing'. Enthusiasts and history buffs quickly pointed out what was accurate and inaccurate. The discussion that followed from the comments was just plain cool.


Now, relating this to real life. How difficult would it be to duplicate this exchange of views and information? The fan base here spans 1149 fans from 77 countries. Without the ease and power of modern day social software, would we be able to replicate this form of collaboration?


banner


My insight on blogs this week can be summarized below:






In a nutshell: Blogs is such an easy way for readers to share about a topic they love, and allow feedback from others who know something that they don't yet know. Great tool for sharing information and knowledge, and building a community of learners.

My question for this week is:


“Has the culture of Blogs truly affected the culture of main stream society?”


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”


Misc. information: (Time Spent on this week's assignment)



•  1 hour a day, 5 days a week.


•  Live journal


•  2 hour (rough total) thinking, collecting my thoughts to blog.


•  Grand Total = 7 hours

Paradoxes of online congregation

Actual Event Date: 20 Sept 2004 (Mon)


Spent the week thinking about why do people congregate online, and it came to my attention that there are a number of paradoxes that exists. Decide to write a ‘brief' piece on this. Below are my observations and rantings.


Paradoxes of online congregation:



  1. Looking at NEWSNET, online forums, etc. we see that informal learning is certainly a powerful and unexplained phenomenon, but yet the bulk of the world's learning is still other-directed and other-controlled (traditional colleges, certification courses, etc.)

  2. The more popular a NEWSNET discussion topic, the more information (not referring to spam) it gets via postings, and the harder it is to find relevant information.

  3. The more knowledgeable you are, the less likely you will answer questions. // e.g. veteran Slashdot users will not answer those simple questions everyone can answer, but ‘reserve' themselves for those tough ones. Hence, the smarter one gets, the less likely he/she shares information.

  4. Freire's teaching tells us that perfect knowledge will allow people to change their perspective, transcend their social environment, and break free from the oppressed cycle. // Relating back to the uncensored online forums dealing with sensitive topics ( link ), this perfect information/knowledge is technically attainable, but ironically the validity of this knowledge is weak when the contributors themselves choose to remain anonymous. Slightly related to the fight between Wiki & the Register ( link )

  5. [follow up on above point] these people who have a lot to say in the public online forums choose to stay anonymous, while those brave enough to reveal their identity practice self-censorship.


Paradoxes of learning (at USU)


Research done by Long (1989) has shown that low degrees of pedagogical control actually aids self-directed learning. Tough (1979) followed up the research by showing that less than 1 percent of all self-directed learning projects he investigated were done for credit.


Relating this to our very own inst 7150 class ( link ), we see also such a paradox in place. Previous learning teaches us to write what our instructors want to see/hear – if you want the grade. This stifles our creativity and growth. Yes, even for a course as flexible as this one! Acting adventurous (e.g. by not following syllabus) allows us to acquire new knowledge, skills and attitude. However, this action comes at the cost of the grade. And it is the grade that ultimately reflects to the masses how well one has learnt, and is rewarded by society (e.g. scholarships, jobs, etc.). Face it, I'm screwed.


Paradoxes of learning (in Singapore )


The education system during my undergrad days required me to memorize and regurgitate information. I have a B.A. in economics and statistics, but have either forgotten what I learnt or rarely used it. The degree was just a stepping stone, or an entry prerequisite for a job interview. All that counts was that piece of paper. To make matters worse, your grades reflected on it determined if the elite company even calls you up for an interview. In government sector, those grades determine how much you get paid even. What an ugly truth.


There is a point as to why I brought up this issue. This market approach to education (at least in my country) rewards this accumulation of certificates and further promotes it. I am not all against certification. I just do not like the over emphasizing on obtaining the certificates to the point that it becomes detrimental to teaching and learning.


I cannot think of a better country that now rewards this system now than my own. Singapore students have always been teased as very exam smart, but not very good workers. Employers share stories of how young graduates (new workers to the company) who were asked to do things; requested for a text book with the model solution/answers. This group I am referring to excludes the small number of people in Kaa's law ( link ).


Do you know of people who have GPA of 4.0 but know nothing? I met a few. These are people deemed ‘scholars' by the education system, and Singapore's future rest heavily upon their shoulders. Not all scholars are bad; some are incredibly intelligent and capable. But it is when the society deems all ‘scholars' as saviors, that I see a problem. Just join any of the public forums (link) (un-moderated of course) run by Singaporeans and you see the resentment the average Singaporean student has towards the scholar reward system.


But all is not lost. A nice move the Singapore education system is going towards is pushing for ‘project works' (link). I was fortunate during my stint with CEDto witness some of the bold moves towards project works from the cedar secondary girl school (K12 equivalent) in Singapore . This example ( link ) , albeit an older one, where they use project work shows how they now bring learning beyond classrooms. Their newest examples that were presented at CED, but not shown on the website were even more promising.


This departs from the traditional memorization test in high stakes assessment exams and allows the student to work on real world problems and solve them by doing real tasks that involves real skill like collaboration with others, working on a budget, time line, etc. Although this new movement is still in infancy, I think it's a step in the right direction.


But back to my main point. The more students gravitate towards such projects, the more their grades will suffer. The paradox is that lower levels of learning are rewarded, as opposed to higher levels of learning and development.


Peter Jarvis summed it up best when he said ‘This paradox (of learning) is summed up by the contradictions of living in society: there can be no freedom without constraint, no certainty without uncertainty, no truth without falsehood, no joy without sorrow, no sense of peace without the threat of war, and so on. Above all, there can be no learning without ignorance and no growth and development without learning'. (Jarvis, 1992)


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”


Reference:


Jarvis, P. (1992) Paradoxes of Learning: on becoming an individual in society. San Francisco , CA : Jossey-Bass, Inc.


Tough, A. (1979) The Adult's Learning Projects (2 nd Ed.) Toronto : Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 18-19


Long, H.B. (1989) Self-Directed Learning: Emerging Theory and Practice. Norman : Research Center for Continuing Professional and Higher Education, University of Oklahoma , 8-10

Wikipedia vs. The Register

Actual Event Date: 19 Sept 2004 (Sun)


Recently there has been a spade of attacks between wikipedia & the register . It got to the point where even David Wiley got sucked into the argument, and prompted him to write a letter ( link ) in response to it.


The claims & attacks from both sides ranges from immature (something I am very familiar with) to incoherent. From the onset, I am a fan of wikipedia, but I agree with detractors that it is not a panacea of all our problems. Two main points I like to make are:



  • Wikipedia will not make universities obsolete ( link )


Online libraries will always have an edge in ensuring validity of the content, and a superior category system in which users can find what they want. Wikipedia however serves a different purpose. It is a great ‘quick & dirty' resource tool for you to pick up information contributed from the masses (yes, that includes you too). Both have strengths and weaknesses, but both will not make each other obsolete.



  • “if you don't like it, fix it” ( link )


Andrew Orlowski compared wikipedia's war cry of “if you don't like it, fix it!” to being urged to liven up a boring stranger's very poorly-attended party by showing up. He added, “But why should anyone bother? There may be a good reason no one shows up in the first place”.


My response is, rather than just complain, do something about it. Be more mainstream, don't just sit there and whine. Personally, I like wikipedia's war cry of “if you don't like it, fix it!” better still, just don't use it. But don't try to undermine the work or others who basically just want to share and enjoy basic human rights ( link ).


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”

Do the affordances of the network actually change communication or, more broadly, sociality?

Actual Event Date: 13 Sept 2004 (Mon)


In a nutshell, yes. If you just want to read a direct answer, scroll to the bottom of this post. If you want the ‘whole picture' of how I came up with this conclusion, read the whole post! Yeah, it's long – deal with it (Wiley ©).


A quick review what I was tasked ( link ) to do this past week.


=== begin assignment ===


My overall impressions of the whole newsgroup archive


I spent a number of hours surfing google groups ( rec. & soc. , etc.). And the truth of the matter is, the newsgroup archive can be mildly interesting (‘ how to hack into paypal ') to incredibly boring to me. Even when I went to groups that were talking about issues that interest me like recent movies, e.g. ‘the incredibles' ( link ), the things people talked about were boring, so I did not participate there. So, sue me.


Bored to desperation, I retracted to my comfort zone and went to local (meaning Singaporean) forums that I regularly visit. Examples of local discussion boards I read include:



A lot of the discussions on these forums come from Singapore heart Landers. And in the privacy of cyber space, these forums offer views, news & insights on local issues that would otherwise be impossible to find in local online news papers like Straits Time Interactive ( link ).


Sensitive topics like government policies, use of public funds, resentment of foreign talent , etc. are almost non-existent in the local mainstream news, be it broadcast on TV, hardcopy newspaper or even online editions of newspapers. What do get across are heavily censored articles cleared by editors as ‘publishable' content. A lot of the discussions deal with those that are sensitive in context.


I do participate in the forums, but I would be a fool to reveal what my identity is on THOSE forum. However, not everything there is sensitive. An example of one thread I can talk about was started by someone who was born during ‘my time' (1974 – 1980). And all he wanted was to recall back fond memories of the 1980s, but he knew he could not do it alone. So, he opened up a discussion thread with a brief description of 10 items he remembered and it sparked a wave of replies. (See #3 below)


The URL of one discussion you participated in


http://forums.delphiforums.com/sammyboymod/messages?msg=36845.45

keywords: ' For those born in 1974 to 1980' (For more details see below)


A brief summary of the discussion you participated in, and


The discussion thread I participated in talked about memories of those who were born during ‘my time' (1974 – 1980). And all the author wanted was to recall back fond memories of the 1980s, but he knew he could not do it alone. So, he opened up a discussion thread with the following sentence (see below) and it sparked a wave of replies.


‘You grew up watching He-man, MASK, Transformers, Silverhawks and Visionaries. Not forgetting, Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony and Smurfs too.


Basically if the excerpt below intrigues you, you will like it. Personally, I am still a sucker for huge robots cartoons (e.g. transformers, Big-O, etc.).






It is available at URL: http://forums.delphiforums.com/sammyboymod/messages?msg=36845.45


Note: you have to sign in to be able to read. And also click through the irritating ads. But it is a small price to pay for the treasure trove of information behind it.


In summary, what one guys started with a list of 10 items he fondly recalled from the 1980s ended up adding to more than 1000+ items with 273 posting (as of this writing). The discussion brought tears to my eyes as old memories came flooding back. Nothing academic was learnt, but it was an additive 2 hours of reading. Key word: ‘addictive'


The number of hours you spent in the archive.


Spent 2 hours (hey, I am a slow learner, and yes, I am one of those freaks who read the instructional manual before using a product.) figuring how google groups work:



Spent another 2 hours reading mindlessly through boring content.


Spent 5 hours reading local (meaning Singaporean) discussion boards of interest. Local examples of discussion boards I read include:



Warning: content found might be offensive, especially if you are unfamilar with singapore local culture. 18+ & above only.


=== end of assignment ===


Back to the question of Do the affordances of the network actually change communication or, more broadly, sociality?'


From the examples we see, affordances in network has increase communication beyond traditional means. Through all these new social software easily available on the web, people are able to reach out to a pool of other users to solve problems, and improve communication.






Questions that creep up my mind as I thought about this week's assignment are:


What is it about a public unmoderated discussion forum that makes these people (me included) participate? What is it that makes people want to share? What is it that drives them to spend hours reading and contributing to this archive of information?'


To me, if only we figure out a way in which this incredible motivation to share information and insights could be channeled into our academic learning. I learnt more about politics, economics, etc. in these informal forum setting than I would in classrooms and textbooks. E.g. I was interested in buying a certain property, so I searched via keyword for that property in mind and found hours of discussion on why it was good or bad. Replies spanned from one liners to full economic analysis (this guy probably had no life), but the point is that informal learning exists and if properly tapped can be an invaluable resource.


During the recent ITI conference at USU, an audience member asked David Wiley on his work with informal online learning community at MITOCW. The question asked was in response to Dave's proposal on replacing teacher access with a thousand other students.






Q:' Why do people want to contribute? What's the incentive you have found that these people participate ?'


A: [Wiley replies] "dunno. It's stable, it happens." *shrug*


[My opinion] Dave notices this phenomenon has been going on for ages. And does not have a reason for it. And he says this without a tinge of guilt. For all the research he pumped into creating this online community, he does not even give a summary of his findings. Worse, he does not seem to care. Very un-Wiley like, and disappointing. It is something I find worthy of researching. Be it surveys, interviews, etc. finding out what makes these people ‘tick' and why they want to help when there are no clear payoffs is important. If one solves this ‘Pandora's box' then one certainly is on the way to creating great instruction riding on the motivational drive of informal learning.


End of this week's rant.


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”

Blogs (tech issues)

Actual Event Date: 13 Sept 2004 (Mon)


This post is to help share knowledge on how to do the following blog features on systems that by default do not have them. Each week, I will address one of the following questions, and give leads on how best to tackle each of them:



  1. importance of RSS feeds

  2. importance of categories

  3. importance of search function

  4. importance of permalinks

  5. importance of a ‘newest comments' feature

  6. importance of a ‘recent posts' feature

  7. etc. (to be determined)


The list is not exhaustive, and will continually evolve to meet today's blogging needs.


1. Adding RSS Feed


Problem: This article on ‘RSS traffic burdens publishers servers ' explains why RSS isn't so hot despite its usefulness. I picked this motime blogging service instead of blogger because it loads way faster, and codes cleaner. So, the tradeoff is less stability & power, but usability and speed is more important to me now. Still Not convinced? Read ‘ Full text RSS on MSDN gets turned off '.


But for anyone who wants to subscribe to my blog, they can either click on the cute XML icon, or add the following URL: http://feeds.blogstreet.com/pub/975.rss into their RSS reader.


Solution: How did I do this? I went to blogstreet.com's RSS generator ( link ) and made my page an RSS feed in 2 clicks. Literally.


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”

About Myself (Bing-Howe)

Actual Event Date: 10 Sept 2004


I started blogging about 6 months ago. Was first introduced to it by Dave Wiley in one of his Inst7150 class. Absolutely hated it... at first. There are many reasons why I disliked it then, but that's a different issue. However many months later, I found myself writing a paper on it (link) and to my amazement, it was not as bad as I thought. One thing led to the next, and before I knew it, I was teaching others on how to blog in educational settings (link).


Blogging was not only fun, but educational, if done the right way. So, here I am looking back at Blogging and giving it, and myself a second chance to further understand how blogging works, and find out what best practices there are in blogging.


I hope readers who find this interesting enough will join in the group blog and lend me your insights via posts and comments. I only maintain 2 blogs at present, but its quality and quantity that counts, isn't it? Look forward to seeing your posts!


cheers,

BH

Personal History on the use of Internet, & social software

Actual Event Date: 13 Sept 2004


Interview session in the Dave Wiley's office






D: David Wiley [typing away on his mac, while listening to Metallica]


B: Bing-Howe [sitting crossed legs, with cigar in one hand, booze in the other]


D: So, let's begin. Tell me when did you first start using the internet?


A: back in 1994. But I stopped soon after I used it. Simply because I thought it was not cool to be following the crowd. And I did not want to be seen as a geek back then at university. I was pretty silly then.


D: Who introduced you to it?


A: actually no one. I overheard some people talk about it, and got curious to try it out. I was reading traditional newspapers then, and survived very well without computers and internet for 17 years. None of my friends were techno geeks, so I was on my own. I read about how the internet started with ARPANET, and that one of the 4 original nodes were in Utah . Little did I expect to be here 10 years later.


In USU, I learnt about blogs & wikis and ended up teaching that same topic to faculty, staff, students back home at NTU [ link to workshops@CED ]. I was surprised how far ahead in US blogging scene was compared to back home.


D: How did your skills develop after learning the existence of the Internet & social software?


A: Lots of informal learning. I took many formal training courses on web design for example, and ended up learning less than I would if I were sourcing out information myself.


I take ‘Social software' to mean any digital medium that allows people to interact with each other via the internet, regardless if they are using voice, video, text, smell, mind control, etc.


When I found email, it was just the right time in my life. Because it became a more efficient way in which I could communicate with my friends from overseas. The internet for me was 99% social. The ease of using email & MSN made staying in contact easy. But I miss receiving snail mail like post cards, and love letters. :)


Through MSN, I keep myself in contact with my closer friends. Until they find me so bothersome that they put me on their ‘block' list. It still excites me to see a familiar face through a webcam knowing that the recipient is on the other side of the globe!


D: How has the internet impacted your life, professionally and socially?


A: I learnt so much from the internet. It has become a form of addiction really. Everyday I have to check my emails, and read news through the internet.


Professionally, the internet has allowed me to work with people from different parts of the world. Even as I do my post grad at USU in Logan , I am working with people in Singapore , New York , etc. They help pay my rent, and give me invaluable working experience. Through the use of blogs, I get to read (via RSS) what my peers are doing and the latest happenings in the field. However, I maintain my own blog, not for the purpose of discussion and discourse with peers, but mostly as a self-reflection medium. But I keep comments open should anyone want to comment.


Socially, the people I know have expanded. [ See pic link ]. That pic shows my e-mail contact list sorted out according to country folders. Due to my past travel experiences, I got to know many people from different cultures, and the internet was the ‘glue' that kept us in contact. My fav story: I once received a request to help someone (whom I never knew before) from overseas via email. That person simply needed housing at Utah State University , and I did what I could to help. From there, I would never expect that person to slowly become one of my most trusted friends in life. So, the internet is pretty cool.


D: You know you are copying my style don't you? And it will cost you a grade.


A: Hey, when has grade gotten control over me? I may need credits, but knock yourself out with grading. :) Like Merrill said, ‘don't let education get in the way of your learning'


Summary


Dave asked a series of simple but intriguing questions to start off this course:



  1. When did you first start using the internet?

  2. Who introduced you to it?

  3. How did your skills develop after learning the existence of the Internet & social software?

  4. How has the internet impacted your life, professionally and socially?


As I read through this week's recommended readings on ‘ history of internet & social software ', I tried to think about how the internet affected me over the last few years. It was surprisingly difficult. The problem was that I had grown so comfortable with this internet medium that I almost forgot when it was when I started using it. Dwelling deep into my memories, I recall my junior college days (I was 17 yrs old then) back in 1994. The internet had already made a brash entrance into many of my friends' lives. But I stupidly took great pride in resisting the trend of joining the internet bandwagon. I actually thought that it was quite an achievement for me to get through university without much of internet, and relying solely on a few computer programs like MS Excel, Word, and SPSS.


Fast forward to 2000. I hit the work force, and suddenly I was thrust into a scenario where I was expected to know all the stuff on the internet. I was the young guy in the company, so they all came to me on technology issues – which were not even in my job description! Not wanting to look incompetent to my colleagues and bosses, I embarked on a crash course in IT, internet was just one of many other sub-topics.


The nature of my job allowed me to sign up for technology courses, and I took full advantage of the opportunity. However, in looking back, I see now how most of my learning was done informally. I learnt more from ‘playing around' with programs, and looking for information from the web, and asking more knowledgeable friends than any of the IT courses I attended. Maybe it was because the IT instructors were just reading from a textbook and could not answer questions beyond the scope of the text. But that was the seed from which I wanted to learn more about ‘effective instruction'.


The story of how researchers from ARPA were using ARPANET to collaborate on projects, trade notes, gossip & schmooze was the first sign of a Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP) at work. During my brief internship with CED I too noticed how colleagues were using emails and instant messaging via MSN or even hand phone sms to communicate. And they were just next door to one another!


During that time, I was also approached by a bunch of librarians to start a project to build online communities who visit their library at SP . One for professional librarians, another exclusively for students. So, I went down to SP and gave a workshop of blogs and wikis as the social software that will help them build their VCoP. Workshop went great, everyone loved it. Set up the blog for them. 1 week later, zero adoption rate. What went wrong? That's for another post later on….


But I want to close by saying that having easy to use social software does not guarantee that communication and building of a community will result. I learnt it the hard way.


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”

Gadamer's Truth and Method.

Actual Event Date: 6 September 2004 (Mon)


I agree with Gadamer that ‘we cannot have experiences without asking questions. And that asking the ‘right' questions is more difficult that to answer them' Gadamer further describes ‘ someone who wants to know something cannot just leave it a matter of opinion, which is to say that he cannot hold himself aloof from the opinions that are in question… until the truth of what is under discussion finally emerges.' In other words, the person who seeks to understand the real truth will not accept the ‘truth' gathered from the masses, ala doxa. But instead he will seek to discuss the issue until the real truth finally emerges and accepts it.


Relating this to social software


Should one be able to follow the model proposed by Gadamer, he may be able to ask the right questions, and post it on his blog, mailing list, webpage, etc. However, I do not see any of those social software as a way to uncover such ‘truths'. Wikis on the other hand seem to be heading in the right direction. The nature in which no one has absolute control, and in which doxa has little or no bias gives the wiki a platform in which such Socratic dialogue can occur.


The majority of blogs out there on the web (check out randomly selected blogs from LiveJournal or Blogger ) are those that pose questions that ‘ engage in dialogue only to prove himself right and not to gain insight… ' We see it in the form of kitty blogs(link), where people just rant about their cats all day. I felt guilty at this point of writing, because as hard as it was for me to embrace blogging, majority of my posting ( link ) were just a self-reflection of what I did and observed. Although comments were available, I wrote the pieces without knowing what I did not know. I do not wait for a decisive answer, I just putting my thoughts on paper and post it on-line. Does that mean that blogging in terms of self-reflection is fundamentally flawed?


Time lapse between sending a letter & receiving an answer was forever changed with the introduction of email and the internet. Gadamer believes that speeding up this form of communication has led to a decline in the art of letter writing. We only have to look at oldaily site ( link ) to see the number of misspellings in his posts. So, we agree that letter writing form has deteriorated over the years, but have the ‘quality of responses' gotten better as a result of this new advancement in communication?


Dave asks, ‘ Many online classes have a mandatory comment posting requirement. This course has a mandatory question posting requirement. Just what does that mean?'


The prior inst 7150 class I attended had mandatory blog postings & commentary. It started out bad for me. Reasons on why I choose not to blog are succinctly summarized by Dan Appleman ( link ). However, since then I have learnt to blog, in fact I blog more often now without rules enforcing me, then I did during Wiley's prior inst 7150 class.


Some researchers belief that the quickest way to kill a discussion posting is to make it mandatory. They believe that compulsory posting are adverse in promoting online interaction through discussion boards. But is it really such a bad thing to have a mandatory posting requirement?


I now look to blogging as a personal reflection medium in which I can express & review my thoughts. I don't write for a specific audience (although some blogging gurus will violently oppose that belief). I do not ask questions that are undetermined, awaiting for a decisive answer. I believe that there is no one ‘right' solution to every question. Hence, I like to reflect by writing open-ended questions. From what I read in Gadamer's article, I follow none of his ‘right' way of asking questions. Does that make all my questions on self-reflection ‘weak' ones?


According to Gadamer's article, it is always ‘ more difficult to ask questions than to answer them '. What has this got to do with INST 7150's mandatory posting of blogs? Well, if Wiley still firmly believes in what Gadamer says, then he probably assumes that ‘commenting' on a blog (responding to questions) is easier than ‘posting on a blog', i.e. asking the tough questions. And that at the end of the semester there will be more comments than blog postings.


As Gulfidan ( link ) rightly pointed out, ‘Commenting' is not a course requirement of this inst 7150 course, but blog entries are. I too am curious to see the course blogging & commenting output at the end of this semester. The devil's advocate in me is going to guess that despite all of Gadamer's questioning being taught in this class, that the total number of comments in this entire 7150 course will be less than the number of blog entries (questions asked). Any takers?


Cheers,

BH


“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”

About this Blog

Actual Event Date: 31 Aug 2004

They are three main purposes as to why this INST 7150 Blog was set up, namely:

First purpose is for personal self-absorbtion reflection, and try to deepen understand by writing and asking the right questions.

Second purpose is for students of the INST7150 class to participate as a Group Blogger

Third purpose is that this blog aims to be a repository of insights on the following topics (see categories), even after the class has ended, in the hopes that it will serve as a quick online-learning resource.



I hope you have fun using this blog as much as I had in creating it.

Cheers,
BH

“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”