Why we should create digital library centres of learning…

Open data provides a platform to potentially link learning across concepts and dimensions.

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Every notable place has a public library. In exchange for a small fee, people can explore their local library filled with knowledge and information. There is a certain level of freedom in a private capacity to take notes, draw analogies, to compare works although there may be limitations in relation to reproducing works in a publication due to licensing and copyright laws. The digital has the potential to overcome these laws where permitted. You can allow your data to be ‘open’, certain rules govern such data but it can eliminate research barriers. Moving away from the authoritative role of information, that is, the idea that there is only one correct answer towards working with and improving knowledge. Seeing the world through an innovative lens instead of a static one. Think of it like a video versus a photo.

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Playing with ideas, for example, fan-fiction. There is more than one way to finish a story or tell it for that matter, the idea of open creativity, taking the familiar characters we love into the unfamiliar realms of our imaginations. The internet as we know it is great but it could be better. It needs to be categorised, organised and reformatted. Everyone loves the idea of redecorating their house when finances allow, why not reform the internet instead of depending on prompts from somewhere? There could be a general section of closed and open data and then a specialised section for each centre, an area of specialisation to break down the work needed to be organised. The world of metadata, data about data, terrifies some people but in my opinion it will become second nature to people in the near future. Right now sites like Wikipedia have constraints on what you may publish, imagine imposing this on all sites including blogs. Applying standards as required. Avoiding nasty comments and such which takes away from our enjoyment of the internet as a whole.

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My bone of contention would have to be personally identifiable information being published. Being able to go to a search engine and find out, for example, a person’s so-called criminal past, digitally haunting them ten years later. That is not right, in my opinion, people can be quite judgemental they do not need anything to add to this. Organising information in a professional manner albeit in a public way paves the way for the kind of internet that will enhance our lives. After all that’s what we desire to do, improve the lives we lead in every sense through technology encompassing the digital. We do not need to recreate episodes of Black Mirror! Some libraries are including a digital online section on their websites which is great to see. But we can take this much further if people are willing to go that extra dimension! You can get almost anything on the internet but on a temporary basis usually, there are no guarantees, why not make it permanent? Of course there are some objections, it’s not in the interest of businesses and such. However, right now we are paying for a service, we buy products and purchase internet connections under contract. A lot of this money probably goes on infrastructure. Soon enough however we will become more demanding for what we get in return particularly if prices increase and more sites become subscription based.

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The key is someone has to take charge of such a large-scale project. The question is who? Who will drive us ahead from the Age of Information to the Age of Superb Knowledge Creation? A polymath perhaps? We have so much information to hand, it would be a real shame to waste it. I read somewhere recently that data could be the next valuable commodity, in the same way as oil. And yes it has such capabilities and capacity in my opinion. But it needs one vital component, drivers of change, people who don’t see the world in only one way. People who are patient. People who have drive and ambition to bring us to the next step, the next dimension. People with integrity. People who can simplify and complicate. They just need to step forward and get down with the nitty gritty of data. Seek it, make sense of it, and finally share it with the world. The world is watching. Waiting for the next stop. Someone needs to get us there. Pronto.

 

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The Internet is a Lucrative Minefield

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Brenda Power has raised a number of interesting points in today’s Irish Times 20/09/2015 in relation to the role of technology in Ireland.

According to the article, tablet computers are due to be issued to those who have been long-term unemployed for over one year, to help them avail of online job opportunities. This is the problem with technology, there is no set time-frame. It is great that there is enormous flexibility but there is no button available to switch off from the world of technology even temporarily. The most effective method is a dead battery, which can cause many a tantrum, however, it is easily resolved.

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I think a far more effective method would be to make available the necessary job support information in a suitable booklet format including relevant but not a limited set of websites. The person could then go to their local library or Intreo office and at regular intervals check in and perhaps be provided with the help they need with application forms which can be an obstacle for some people. Losing face-to-face contact is perilous in this ever-changing world.

Intreo logo
Intreo logo

Too much exposure to technology and excessive use of it has a negative impact on a person’s physical and mental well-being, however, studies to support this view are far off in the distance. And with the amount of time that an unemployed person may have on their hands, it is not best practice to aid them with potentially excessive habits. Of course, it is important to note that work has moved from physical toil to mental toil, from old forms of technology to newer forms and that people need to be prepared for this overall.

And so the most important form of training that should be made available to everyone is the management of technology in their daily professional and personal lives. Nearly every aspect of human knowledge, understanding, behaviour, habits are documented online and a person is a click away from being connected. This idea that the world is at our fingertips when in reality one can be very disconnected from the world around them.

Obviously people could purchase the tablets themselves but they are making that choice, it is not being made for them. A free tablet is essentially not free, particularly if wifi/internet has to be purchased in order to view the materials. The internet is a lucrative minefield. Giving someone social welfare aid in the form of a weekly payment that does not amount to much in the overall scheme of things and handing them devices in an attempt to push them into the workforce whereby they may not be willing or ready for. Training people with skills and building on their confidence is what will help people. The motivation has to come from within oneself. And this is especially so when it comes to holding down a job.

Some people will welcome this development with open arms. I would view it with scepticism on the other hand. Digital literacy is paramount just as literacy has played a vital role in the world of print. Identifying the difference between tabloid and broadsheet; between sensational and pragmatic; deciphering genres, themes, essential pieces of information, wisdom and knowledge; comparing and contextualising. Now apply that to the digital world. It is just not the same. The screen versus the page.

A spin has been put on the OECD report into the use of technology in schools and may be used in order to limit funding in this area as suggested by Brenda Power. There is no need to limit investment in classroom technology rather it is essential to ensure it is being used effectively and not unnecessarily excessively. Excessive usage can cause eye problems, and other problems may relate to posture etc. It comes back again to the idea of management. The teacher managing student’s online activity and behaviour. However, many teachers need to undergo further training to be equipped in this area.

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IPads are being used to replace books in schools and their use has not been extended to take into account the value of the IPad itself as its own entity, a learning tool in its own right. We have a long road to travel yet in our coming to terms with and our understanding of technology. One thing is for sure, the more we use technology the more we come to appreciate it, however, moderation has always held the key to success.

What Digital Humanities means to me?

Digital Humanities, DH, for short is a whole new way of looking at the world. It’s how we will get to the next dimensional level. Whatever that may be or may hold. In this first week I have read a few articles and watched some videos in relation to what DH is. By far the most interesting of these this particular week for me was Ken Robinson’s Ted talk on changing education paradigms.
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html
Education is the most important factor and will be the catalyst for change in the years ahead. Will we continue to teach children the alphanumeric system or will we upgrade this also to coding and binary?

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Children need to be equipped for the world that lies ahead of THEM not us. The easiest route to equip adults to teach the younger generation, that is, for the world of arts and humanities to encompass all things digital. The old world is quickly becoming obsolete, we are becoming far removed from the time of Enlightenment in exchange for an Age of Information. There are different types of information, the world over, but it usually boils down to: is this useful to me or not? This is the issue that many school going children have with the education system- they cannot see a time when they will find a use for complex mathematics and such.

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However, if you exchange seemingly irrelevant maths for relevant maths e.g. coding etc. children may start to make sense of the world around them as a result. Sometimes we may forget at our peril how children today may have the same ability and capability as adults, however, their literacy skills and such are probably lagging far behind due to less contact time. Now perhaps this may prove to be better in times ahead but right now I would say we will reach crisis point shortly when most people will rely on spellcheck as they have become overly reliant on text speak and such.

Divergent thinking holds the key as opposed to conventional thinking. Children today are growing up with IPads in one hand and IWatches are soon to be on the other. They watch 3-dimensional movies, videos are posted online of them doing everything imaginable, some are making more money than most adults such as cookery classes online. These children have serious potential. Some may argue that they are consumers whereas children from the 1980’s/90’s were producers. However, the world has come a long way in such a short space of time. Children today know the value of time and realise that they have no time to waste or spare unless they get something in return for it. They have become extremely demanding and this could be a good thing (not for the parents of course). This is what will drive us to the next level that hasn’t even been imagined yet.

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The reason why we can’t define DH is because we cannot condense it down and quantify it in any way. We have not discovered many of the areas of study yet to be carried out and so we cannot categorise it. It is ever changing, the world we live in, and just when we believe we have something figured out we are surprised over and over again. DH reminds me of kinetic energy. It is dynamic in nature. Energy can only be created but never destroyed. However, business allows for the concept of creative destruction, a term coined by Schumpeter, whereby when something becomes obsolete it loses value and is replaced by something else. The digital is different in this regard. The possibilities and potential are endless. There need not be waste. With the right tools and know-how, and the freedom to explore and experiment, the world will become unrecognisable fifty years from now. And that is probably a good thing.

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Putting the ‘P'(People) into V.I.P.

untitled hqdefaultSeth Godin makes some interesting points on TED Talks – The Tribes We Lead

To summarise he points out

1. How people want to connect with those of similar minds, for example, mascots, balloon makers etc.,

2. How people wish to improve things, for example the origins of the SPCA versus the later model

3. The importance of the creation and spreading of ideas

4. Different models/cycles of ideas- factories, television/mass marketing, etc.

5. Tribes and the internet segregation movements spreading ideas ‘the true believers’

challenge status quo/develop culture/develop curiosity, connecting, leading

However, something struck me while watching this video, I remembered a reading I had come across some time ago ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell, I have noticed in recent times this particular book has become quite popular. And therefore some people may be familiar with the book. Moving on..Gladwell describes three types of people who have important roles as follows in the spreading of an idea: connectors, mavens and salesmen

http://malcolmgladwelltippingpoint.wikispaces.com/The+Law+of+the+Few

http://gladwell.com/the-tipping-point/the-tipping-point-reading-guide-chapter-two/

Connectors – people with a special gift for bringing the world together, ability to span many different worlds

Mavens- someone who wants to solve other people’s problems, generally by solving their own, wanting to help because they like to help. They are data banks. They provide the message.

Salesmen- persuasion factorà the subtle, the hidden, the unspoken

p.14 ‘These three people play a critical role in word-of-mouth epidemics that dictate our tastes, our trends and fashions.’
Gladwell illustrates his idea using the anecdote of Paul Revere and the midnight ride to Lexington, the beginnings of the American Revolution. And how this piece of news mobilised an entire region to arms (which sometimes reminds me of social networks, internet in both a positive and negative light).
P33. ‘Revere’s news tipped and Dawe’s news didn’t because of the differences between the two men.’
And continues later p.36 ‘in the six degrees of separation, not all degrees are equal.’
p.56 ‘Paul Revere was a connector’ , and p.58 ‘Dawes was in all likelihood a man with a normal social circle, which means that – like most of us- once he left his hometown he probably wouldn’t have known whose door to knock on’.

My Questions:
Is the internet breaking down this traditional need for connectors, mavens and salesmen?

Or are these roles still required in the formation of tribes? I would think so.

In my opinion, I would disagree with Seth Godin you could pluck 1000 true believers but your idea may not necessarily be a success as a result, it could be more successful if you have the three roles of connectors, mavens and salesmen.

Perhaps the word-of-mouth tradition differs from the social networking internet tradition? Or does one rely on the other nowadays? But word-of-mouth can probably still stand alone and is mutually exclusive..
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT, AGREE OR DISAGREE ETC.

Fall, fight or flight? You decide..

Dare to Dream
Dare to Dream

I found myself watching a programme last week that dealt with recruitment in the Irish Army on RTE and one phrase still resonates with me. ‘To make them you got to break them.’ Now this was of course the mentality that prevails in the army but it got me thinking. You never truly master anything in life unless you reach the pitfalls, grovel through the nitty gritty, fight the boredom and monotony, rise up to the challenges until finally reaching a crescendo. You can only reach the heights for so long before some upstart comes along and finds a quicker way of doing something that you have had to slog through your whole life.

Well that’s how I view this course (Digital Humanities) that others and I are about to embark on. There’s a journey ahead like the Irish Army recruits tasked overseas. It’s mind boggling yet exciting at first glance. The fight’s in you but will it remain after your first fall? Will you go AWOL or defend when attacked with assignments? Fight or flight syndrome is to be found EVERYWHERE. We got to break ourselves before we make ourselves. It’s a desert as well as a snowstorm out there and we have to learn to cope in all elements. This time twelve months, hopefully we will look back proudly and say to ourselves WE DID IT!