Concept Experience #2: Thinking “with” the Computer:
A Tag-Team Adventure
The Associative Trails Concept Experience last week was focused on hindsight: you checked out your browser history and considered the connections in your thinking that had already occurred, trying to make sense of the associative trails recorded there.
The Concept Experience this week asks you to engage in man/woman – computer symbiosis, where you use the machine (the computer) to help you think through a potential Inquiry Topic. The assignment asks you to engage in formulative thinking and record your associative trails as you make them. (If none of this makes sense, you need to return to “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” our reading for this week, and read it again).
In this assignment you will record the choices you make in following links that the computer provides to you. Hence, you will work with the machine to “think,” and thereby experience the kind of symbiosis that Licklider alluded to.
Another goal of this assignment is to help you brainstorm your inquiry topic for this course and to begin to learn some of the key ideas associated with a potential topic.
1. Based on the interest inventory generated by the class, and based on the writing and reading you’ve done in this course, choose a topic related to digital media that interests/intrigues you.
2. Google and find a Wikipedia page that represents your area of interest. If you have no clear area of interest, I suggest you choose Wikipedia’s entry for “Digital Media.” You should check out and consider a handful of relevant Wikipedia pages, ultimately choosing one that best captures your specific area of interest. Be sure that the Wikipedia page is detailed and contains plenty of links.
3. Open up a Google Doc/Word Doc to use during this concept experience. Recording this experience as it happens is essential for the reflective writing you will do to illustrate it.
4. On the Google Doc/Word Doc, record the name of the Wikipedia page on which you decide to start and copy and paste the URL. (You may also want to take screenshots of the websites–or parts of the websites–so that you can include them in your reflective writing.) You do not have to take screenshots of all sites you visit, just the ones that you feel capture something essential to your “search.”
5. Read the Wikipedia page. Choose the link in the entry that most interests you and click it, bringing you to a new page. Record the link name in your Google Doc/Word Doc, as well as the URL.
6. Read this new page, again finding the link that most interests you, the one you feel most compelled to follow. Click on that link, record the name of the link and the new URL of the page the link takes you to. Read this page, and again, follow the link that most interests you to the next page.
7. Repeat this process of choosing a link, clicking on it, recording the name of the link and URL in your Google/Word doc, and reading the new page to find another link for a total of 10 times (10 clicks to new pages — more if you fall into a black hole!).
If you come to a dead end (a website with no links), click the back button and redo that step. HOWEVER, that dead end was part of your concept experience, so be sure to record it.
8. In your Concept Experiences #2 Blog Post: copy and paste your url trail with the name of the links into your post. Reflect on this process of following what the computer gave you (the links), and bouncing/stopping in different places. How did you choose the links you chose to follow? What do your links say about you? What are the feelings about the place at which your search ended (the 10th link followed)? How did the computer and you work together? Can you imagine getting to the last link without the augmentation of the computer? Who was in charge of this exploration – you, the computer? Why?