The Final Product (link)

Just in case anyone has trouble finding it on Twitter, I’m posting a link to my final inquiry project here.

I know I’m under the word count, but I had a difficult time fleshing out topics that seemed to be repeating themselves in multiple sources. I hope the writing I do have meets the rest of the expectations of the project guidelines (I’m aware of what they were, just saying this to be polite and not be self-righteous).

Some final thoughts on the course: I definitely enjoyed this more than the physical classroom versions of UNIV 200.  I liked the weekly task list as opposed to daily assignments; I found it considerate for those who aren’t on campus (like me) and have other things going on like work (also me…). It also was nice because it didn’t feel like any professors were hovering over my shoulder every other day as it would’ve been in the classroom. And all you professors were great and really diligent with your feedback when we needed it, especially for over the summer (I know I would have a hard time checking my email everyday on vacation).

My only concern is that because the course was online (that, and I’m two hours away from campus and in the comforts of my family’s home,) the class felt very distant at times. Not the feeling that I couldn’t get in touch with anyone, but it didn’t feel as serious. I think the informal layout of our blog posts also contributed to that, but then again, that was the part I enjoyed most.

Thank you Thought Vectors for a great experience!

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Ketchup with my Nugget

lame puns sm
(Get it? Catch-up, because this is over a week… late…)

“Every message is, in one sense or another, a simulation of some idea. It may be representational or abstract. The essence of a medium is very much dependent on the way messages are embedded, changed, and viewed” (Kay and Goldberg).

This quote is one of very few things that stood out to me in this reading; I found that after peers being “amazed” at some of our previous reading’s vision into the future and the fact I’m living in the age where the abilities of the Dynabook are a reality, I wasn’t impressed. The majority of the text I found useless (which I know sounds ignorant to say, but again, this already exists), so I paid more attention to the snippets before the detailed explanation of what the Dynabook would do if they could make that back in the 70’s.

The quote says a lot to me as a budding artist, but they’re things that have already been said to me a few dozen times. I think a lot of us art students are questioned about the feelings our art pieces give viewers, because they want us to be aware that what we produce is a kind of message. More so in our field I believe because people are more visually simulated than anything else. Art is supposed to elicit responses from people, to compose a strong enough feeling for people to see and feel. There are an infinite amount and types of materials with which to express meaningfulness, and like the quote says, some of the meaning is dependent on how we use the materials (i.e. a kinder message would most likely be expressed with brighter/friendlier colors, clean images, and well-made, while a sarcastic or negatie message would be displayed with darker colors, and would have a grungy feel- so unclean lines and unpolished). And over time art has changed to fit these unconstrained messages. Artists try to outdo each other in being more thought-provoking, they get more creative with how to make people see their opinions through their work, and this cycle of changing and improving is never going to end. It will forever be a thing in motion.
Speaking of motion, one of the great things about art is its fluidity in our messages (we can talk about whatever we want), the mediums at our disposal (anything we want) and the subject of art itself (What is art anyway? Please don’t answer that here). Art itself is a moving thing, it always changes to meet and surpass the standards of the present times yet reflects on the past. Introducing digital media and the internet to the subject of art made it widely view-able and more people could participate; it just added to the flexibility of art.

Other Sarah (who is also an art student judging by her post) also focused on the article’s artistic side and the idea of using art as a message medium. She did a better job talking about condensing messages into a piece than I did, and I think explaining the real life scenario of art critiques helps explain how others perceive one’s work is helpful.
This person talks about the Dynabook’s limited storage space, which he/she pointed out that they would quickly overcome as we’ve done so in our present time. They also mentioned Pinterest and it’s endless storage space, which is terrifict aspect of the site and why it goes hand in hand with art and its fluidity (so to make that relevant to my topic of Pinterest; the site would be great at curating art due to it’s endless storage, among other things of course).
Jamie discussed how the open-ended nature of the Dynabook and the article in explaining it frequently overwhelms people. I find this problem all the time as an art student (remember when I asked to not discuss “what is art?” earlier?). I agree with Jamie that there needs to be just enough fluidity in order to not hinder any creativity people wish to explore (both with the Dynabook and the subject of art), but there does need to be point where something is too complicated or just not okay. Duchamp’s infamous Fountain piece comes to mind as it created so much argument of the definition of art. Nowadays we’re a little more open-minded and accepting, but back in 1917 a urinal was not something you’d commonly see in a gallery (unless it was in the bathroom).

fountain

Project Prospectus: Pinterest and Curation

What am I doing?

It all began with the website I seem to spend the most time on and is now the subject of my investigation: Pinterest. It’s a huge time-sucker for me (I’ll admit to procrastinating a bit on some of these assignments while browsing through pins), but I’m also impressed with how well it’s brought together all these images I like to look and also websites and material I learn from and save for later– anything from t-shirt restorations to artists to use in future research for classes and ideas.
So far I’m finding many people who’ve written about the website share similar views; they admire how visually-enticing the website is as it’s composed mainly of images, and find great use in the images’ hyperlinks to original sites. And there’s something to be said of Pinterest as an online curation tool. It’s accessible by anyone with internet and an account (which is free!) and anyone can contribute, curate, and comment on other’s pins. Online curation has also made it friendlier (less competition as it’s not professional outside the digital world) and less concrete than say physical scrapbooks. They’re easy to update and have the capability to follow the same thinking paths as we do (as Chocano puts it, a “stream-of-conscious image blog”). Also, images are easier to react to than text, are more prone to people opening up and sharing, which is one of the many benefits of the image-based site of Pinterest.
The most important things so far I’m taking away from my sources are the importance of using images in curation and the accessibility the internet has created for the act of curating. However, these points are to be focused on the Pinterest website, but I plan to contrast it with the curating properties of other social media sites (so probably Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr). Ultimately, I’d like to show why Pinterest is a better online curating tool than other social media sites.

I’m still searching for sources, preferably ones that pertain to other social media sites and curation, but I feel better about the direction I’m going in than I did when first researching.

Aw yiss

Nugget Curation 1

Education
Not as relevant to my topic anymore, but the majority of the research I’ve done does focus on the topic of education. In my Bush nugget, I talked about the specialization of different fields and how there is only so much time and energy we have to dedicate to one subject to learn and be sufficient in. Being a “Jack of all trades” has the benefit of being handy in minor areas, but will not have the same usefulness as being a master. However, as said in the Licklider nugget I chose, computers are capable of being proficient in more than one subject and can assist us mere humans in learning these subjects and the. But can computers know too much; to the point where we can’t work together because one knows more than the other? It was brought to my attention in the comments section of the nugget that even though computers may know more than us, we have to feed that knowledge to it. A computer’s knowledge is a collection of the intelligence of everyone who contributes, very similar to a Pinterest board (whose website is a collaboration of pins others post).
In my Engelbart nugget, I focused on the use of taking notes and sketches in order for us to better retain information we learn and as a way to explain that information back at us (if you sketch a diagram you’re teaching yourself how that thing works by drawing in each part). Sketching also creates visual interest and might be the thing school systems need to become less standardized, a problem that Nelson saw when it came to students memorizing information  (more so on the computer) . His solution was to include creativity into the student’s curriculum in order to get students more involved and to actually learn the information rather than just memorize it (kind of what I already said).

Social Media
In regards to Bush’s specialization snippet, I think of social media as multi-talented.  Using Facebook as an example, we can instantly chat with friends, post pictures and video, write statuses about the most important and mundane things in life, view personal information and visual biographies of all these people. It’s an amazing space and the way it organizes everything is something I think Engelbart would approve. Everything has a place and is relatively easy to find (although I still find myself complaining every time Facebook has one of their updates). There are also visual cues that help guide us through the site or alert us; the red notifications number that appears in the upper right corner, green dots for people who are online and available to chat, etc.
A bit of a comedic stretch, but because of our use of smartphones, we seem to be on Facebook all the time; almost to the point where people and Facebook have become one. (Get it? Man-computer symbiosis?) While I’m sure Licklider wouldn’t laugh at that either, let me flesh out an actual thought: we post so much on Facebook (and other social media), give it so much information about ourselves that our profile pages do become our digital selves. We have personality and an image online, we interact with others and make decisions. It’s not a biological life form, but an extension of our physical selves in the digital world, and I guess could arguably be a form of metaphorical symbiosis between us and the computer.
My nugget from Nelson has to make an even further stretch, but I guess we could say that school systems could use social media to break away from standardization; basically what Engelbart would want to do.

Pinterest

All the connections I can make using this tag are very similar if not the same to the previous ones (seeing as Pinterest is a form of social media). But let’s give it a go.
Pinterest can specialize in many areas as people can pin many different things– in fact, we can go further and say that Pinterest organizes all these “specialties” into pin boards (but more on that in the next section). All these specialties tend to be related, for example a lot of people who have boards about clothes will also have boards about makeup, and the site makes searching for relatable things easier. Pinterest will display images and pins similar to yours on your homepage to help you find more boards to follow (it uses your interests to pair them up with someone else’s; a type of “thinking ahead”).
While all this talk about photos may make the site sound like a mess, the site is very well organized and visually guides its users through their pin feed. The images contour to each other to create a collage that still fits neatly on the screen. Plus the pin boards allow users to organize all their pins neatly, and can create as many boards as they want (from what I know, anyway). The organization of these pins are also great as they don’t make the site feel standardized and concrete. The hyperlinks are the easiest to access that I’ve ever come across,  and more approachable than the long blue/green urls like this one: http://www.marketingfirst.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/text-too-long.jpg.

Curation
Pinterest and other social medias are great because they’ve created curating (that is, the selecting, organizing, and presenting of items or things) much easier now that it can be digital. Granted, the majority of the curating that goes on within Pinterest isn’t on a professional level, but at the same time that means it doesn’t take one to be an expert at any subject on the site. People can pin whatever they want and learn about whatever they want on the internet. The combination of this self-teaching through interest and organizing these items on Pinterest visually makes it easier to memorize and learn the material. Social medias also aid in us finding material related to things we search and keep track of/pin (as stated earlier).

 

First Annual State of the Blog Address

MY FELLOW AMERICANS…
I’m terrible with time management! So much for posting this closer to the 4th (but here’s my chance for some cheesy comment like, “You can never be late to freedom”). I wasn’t even around my computer then since I was attending the parade in our Nation’s beautiful capital. Boyfriend’s older sister was on one of the floats, so we all went out to go see her and the other festivities they had around (and the boyfriend was actually home– I don’t get to see too much of him since he’s a Marine now, but anyway, excuses aside…).
Excuses excuses(The gal in the white dress in front is her. Photogenic beauty and a sweet person, too!)

I feel like my inquiry project is coming along, but it doesn’t have the meat I’m looking for. At the moment, my question is about what make Pinterest so useful as an organization tool compared to other online social media, but I feel like I already know all the answers (it’s got lots of pictures to look at, easy to use, the hyperlinks link back to original sources/useful content, etc.) so it’s been making researching a little frustrating. I was hoping to find sources similar to the ones we’ve been reading that discuss the curation of information online (the Dream Machines article was an excellent read for my topic in particular), but all I seem to be finding are Pinterest boards. (It seems I can’t Google “Pinterest” without the majority of the results being actual boards about whatever other search term I used. Thanks Google.)

After my meeting with Jason, I realized that my trouble with researching is that I’ve been looking for Pinterest-specific sources this entire time. In fact I’ve been doing this the past two times I’ve taken this course when the whole point of the class is to find research about relatable topics and discuss why they’re relevant to my question in my own essay/blog posts. Let me just say that that has never been clear to me in my previous classes, even after several meetings with the previous professors and having the same problem.It’s also frustrated me that it seemed the entire class was about finding something you’re intersted in, research about that thing, and then regurgitating the information found in your own words. It seemed pointless.  So thank you, Jason. This class now makes more sense and I know what I’m doing!

Also, after some more looking around, I think I’d like to focus on the curation qualities of Pinterest (possibly compared to other social media sites). Why do people enjoy looking at pictures of too-good-to-be-true houses and people? What is the satisfaction of grouping together images that aren’t you own?

Portable Engelbart

“A frequent use of this [substructure] is to append descriptive material–something like footnotes, only much more flexible. Or, special messages can be hung on that offer ideas such as simplifying an argument or circumventing a blocked path–to be uncovered and considered at some later date. These different appended substructures can remain invisible to the worker until such time as he wants to flush them into view. He can ask for the cue symbols that indicate their presence (identifying where they are linked and what their respective types are) to be shown on the network display any time he wishes, and then call up whichever of them he wishes If he is interested in only one type of appended substructure, he can request that only the cues associated with that type be displayed.”

Long quote posted by Huyen Nguyen; I took out the not-so-relevant half for the sake of sparing you from reading too much. To water it down even further, Engelbart is producing the idea of saving ideas or sources for a later time in a convenient way (very similar to what we’re doing with diigo). He also mentions incorporating visual cues to make them more attention-grabbing and a way to remember how they relate to a subject (similar to what pinterest does, but more on that later).

“My mind develops conscious sets of concepts, or recognizes and selects them from what it perceives in the work of others, and it directs the organization of an external symbol structure in which can be held and portrayed to the mind those concepts I cannot (reliably) remember or whose manipulations I cannot visualize. The price I pay for this augmentation shows up in the time and energy involved in manipulating artifacts to manipulate symbols to give me this artificial memory and visualization of concepts and their manipulation.”

This is the quote from Engelbart that I posted and used as a previous nugget, which is about a way of memorizing information (like note-taking, but I’m imagining with more symbol and picture use). I focused on this due to the relevancy it has with Pinterest and its use of images to guide users to information they’re looking for.

And for the sake of not writing the same thing twice, I’ll go into Huyen’s chosen quote. It’s a great explanation of Pinterest’s ability to save information to be viewed later; that being done by “pinning” an image/hyperlink and simply click on it later. Plenty of pinners do this (I know I do) and even have boards dedicated as “To Check Out Later”. Now Pinterest doesn’t have icons to remind users that they have unchecked content they saved, like what Engelbart envisions, but I think dedicating a board to things you’ll do further research in does just as well.

talking-heads-dance-o

 

(Completely unrelated, but I’m watching the Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” film while writing this post, and this was worth sharing)

Nugget 4: Standardized Tests

“The system of tensions and defenses it [testing] creates in the student’s personality are unrelated to the subject or the way people might relate to the subject. An exploitive (exploitative?) attitude is fostered. Not becoming involved with the subject, the student grabs for rote payoff rather than insight.”

I found a majority of the Dream Machines article to be engaging and made a lot of sense looking back at my elementary and high school years. This nugget reminded me of standardized testing in particular and how… well, inaccurate the system is.  They don’t measure real skill, only answers to multiple choice questions that don’t teach students much other than facts. Students many times don’t make the connection of how that information is applied. Moreover standardized tests don’t give students an opportunity to display their interests in more creative and hands-on subjects (music, fine arts, physical education to name a few).

testing comic1

 

(Also this Humans of New York portrait does an excellent job getting this point across)

While we can understand this information, what can we do with it? I’ve heard so many cases of the education system needing reformations, and who’s to blame, but I believe everyone is a bit at fault. No use in pointing fingers though, eh?

To address the main point of my nugget; tests also discourage the way students should be thinking about their education. We find it a chore instead of being eager to learn what we are interested in and would like to do later on in life (and even exploring possibilities of future careers).  In having to learn a sets of information we try taking the easy way out: we procrastinate, cheat, and only process and memorize the information enough for the tests.

EDIT

Treegirl used the same quote I used and similar ones to focus on the grading scale of American school systems and how the numbers and letters force students to believe in learning only the “necessary” facts instead of branching out to explore their creative side as well (long sentence there, sorry).
Another point I never thought of through this article is presented by FrisketMcBisket, that being that condescension (being talked down to, belittled) is a huge turn off for students to take in the information they’re being taught. Not understanding computers could be taken by anyone as a “you can’t possibly understand what I’m telling you”, and what agitates us even more is the fact the computer isn’t a living thing we can reason with. You have to learn the way the computer wants you to.
Anisa brings to the table of using technology to teach ourselves since our current schooling systems seem to make students lose interest in the subjects they’re learning.  I think that’s a plausible solution if students have the initiative to take education upon themselves (I feel most of us are too lazy to come up with our own learning strategy and throw ourselves at the curriculum of our teachers).