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Essential Listening for anyone interest in what makes humans super-learners: it's our brains stupid

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Sometimes getting stuck in traffic and listening to Radio 4 after 9 O'Clock comes with a bonus. 

Brian Cox and Robin Ince on our brains with neuroscientists David Eagleman and Gina Ripon with steal-the-show Conan O’Brien.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08kn47j

Comedy can inform and makes it memorable. Look at me 9 hours after I caught it on the radio and listening to it over and taking notes. You should too. 



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Without tagging this is your blog

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:53
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. The contents of your learning journal, or e-portfolio or blog could look like this

As I'm prompted to do so, or is this just a MAC thing? I now tag documents downloaded to my desktop. They can be found wherever I or the operating system has buried them.

I tag religiously here (except, since a month ago, when writing from my iPad as it crashes the page and the iPad ?!).

I tag for a number of reasons:

I jot down ideas and thoughts, facts, even grab, cut and paste stuff that may be of use later so tag it so that I can tickle it out later as the mood or need fancies.

By tagging by module, and by activity you can then regularly go back and add a further tag as you plan a TMA (tutor marked assignment) or EMA (end of module assignment). For example, L120 is my current module. I will (or should) add L120A1 perhaps or L120S1 to identify an activity or session (NOT necessarily shared at all if I am giving away answers potentially or breaching copyright too blatantly by privately 'curating' content). Potentially L120TMA1 obviously helps me pull out content pertinent to this. That's the idea anyhow. The OU used to have an e-portfolio called MyStuff, a bit clunky, but it did this and then allowed you to re-shuffled the deck as it were, to give order to the things you picked. In theory you then have a running order for an assignment.

Tag clouds, number of tags or simply the weight and size of the font, indicates the strength and frequency of certain themes and ideas. When playing with the idea of an 'A-to-Z of e-learning' it was easier for me to see, under each letter, what I ought to select ... and then immediately have a load of examples, some academic, some anecdotal, all personal to me, at hand.

I come here to find things I've lost! Amongst 20,000 saved images I know I have a set from early training as a Games Volunteer for the London Olympics. I searched here, clicked on the image and thus found the album in Picasa Web (now Google Pics). Why can't I do that in my picture/photo pages? Because I never tagged the stuff. There is no reliable search based on a visual - yet.

No one can or should do this for you.

My blog and e-portfolio is fundamentally and absolutely of greatest value to me alone. So why allow or encourage others to rummage in the cupboards of my brain? Because it tickles and stimulates me to share views, find common or opposing views and to believe that others are getting something from it.

 

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Better out than in

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 18 Sep 2014, 07:26

No gadget or software or App will do your learning for you; you have to get the right content into you brain where it can be applied and added to. Garbage in, is garbage out and information you abandon will fester - not die, but transmogrify or lay dormant.

There are both techniques and Apps that that help you to get 'stuff' into your brain.

Take good notes from lectures and books, including TED lectures and Internet based 'linear' content, as well as eBooks and multimedia.

Use your notes for essays

Use your essays and notes from which to revise

The ONLY App I have come across that has been tested with a randomized controlled trial and had a dozen or more papers published on it is a platform developed at Harvard Medical School, now called QStream, though developed and tested as 'Spaced-Ed'.

I'm writing this after a THREE HOUR stint from the early hours extricating and sorting 'digital' information from the computer into a format that my head can deal with: sheets of paper, cards, lists ... 

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memory

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014, 04:11

My starting point if I am to think threw what I understand, misunderstand and don't know about memory is to flick through this blog. What I get therefore are triggers into previous ideas, notes, articles and thoughts. These are of far greater worth than simply doing a Google search or using wikipedia as there is already some association here. By going back to these pages a multitude of catalysts and sparked into action in my brain. All I then have to do is synthesise my ideas and form a new, or refined view. 

Memory 55 tags
Life logging 3 tags
Forgetting 5 tags
Forgetting curve 1 tag
Sensecam 2 tags
Memory making 1 tag
Neuroscience 36 tags
OII (Oxford Internet Institute) 36 tags
Journal 36 tags
Ebbinghaus 7 posts
Qstream 7 posts
Kerfoot 7 posts
Dementia 1 post
Parkinsons 1 post

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 29 Sep 2013, 07:02
I love to travel, not just on holiday with friends and family, but alone. Maybe this happens to you too, but I always find travel, especially new trips and destinations, is a catalyst to reflection.
 
All I did was take the first train out of Lewes to spend the day at the University of Birmingham. Two things that shook my brain: St. Pancras International ... and, sounding like a commercial, Virgin Trains. Although the train was quiet two people came through the train to collect rubbish ... as bubbly as buttons. Four times. The toilets were spotless. All in very sharp contrast to Southern Trains out of London where everything was overflowing ... 
 
I last studied 'lecture style' 31 years ago, yet I have signed up for one of these while I continue my learning journey here through all the MA ODE modules.
 
Learning is learning - it neither takes place online or off. It is in your head. It is what the brain is given a chance to do with it that counts.
 
I can now weigh up the two as I study in two very different ways in parallel.
 
There is of course 'blended learning' too that in a planned way mixes up both use of e-learning and face to face.
 
I met someone who, like me, has just completed a degree with the OU and we immediately began to share notes.
 
The OU is of ourse 'open' to anyone - online learning makes formal learning possible for any of us who either need to stay in one place, or are always on the move. People who need significant flexibility in how they manage their time ... and don't want the cost in time and money to get to a place for a tutorial, seminar, lecture conference. And people who 'don't get on with people' - not just agrophobia, you know what I mean. I switch constantly, sometimes very keen to be on my own ... 
 
Nothing beats getting to know your fellow students than spending a day with them, during coffee and comfort breaks, at lunch, walking through the campus, in seminar rooms before a talk begins ... and on the way home when you find part of your journey is shared.
 
Relationships formed here are akin to a long distance phone call, or letters to a stranger, even, oddly, having a chat with the postman or a builder ... you let them into your house.
 
And your head?
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Mind Change

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 Aug 2013, 08:46

My belligerent stance on the impact of computers to the brain - not much in my view, we're too complex, our brains too massive (94 billion neurons) has been tipped on its head courtesy of a short interview on good old BBC's Woman's Hour last Thursday. The interviewee was Susan Greenfield (Professor & Baroness). She invited listeners to get in touch if they wanted the facts on 'mind change' - as big as 'climate change' in her view, that as the brain is affected by everything that hours spent infront of a 2 dimensional world (sound and vision) our minds, especially younger, plastic brains, will form connections that make these people different.

I particularly liked the thought that all the time a child spends infront of a screen is time NOT spent 'climbing trees, interacting face to face and having hugs'. I may be adrift at the moment but have a reading list for the summer.

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H809 Activity 8.1-8.5 Teenagers do Physics with the intervention of a computer to prompt discussion

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013, 09:14

Mini+Marshmallows.JPG

In the abstract we are told that ‘Although ICT resources are commonly expected to produce uniform benefits’ Tolmie (2001) Are they? And that, ‘they are necessarily employed within pre-existing contexts of educational and social activity’. Tolmie (2001)

When and where could a context NOT be pre-existing?? Something is, or is not. Context is an absolute.

Rather, what is that specific context. Otherwise this is tautology. It is like saying that electricity pylons go into an existing landscape. Isn’t this stating the obvious so that a gullible audience nod in agreement?

Tolmie (2001) talks of ‘unexpectedly diverse effects’. Unexpectedly or diverse? Surely not both.

Is this not something of an exaggeration? And in any case, such diverse responses should be either expected, or not presumed either way to be likely or unlikely to happen. It is very dangerous to pre-empt findings.

I visualise the introduction of new technology such as this as drops of ink in a pool of water in a stream  - it has to compete with the mix that is already there, as well as its natural flow and other behaviours - leaking away into the land and evaporation for a start.

My conclusion based on reading the abstract is to: Think people above all else. Internal and external contexts are fluid and based on responses too and feelings.

It is all complex, and more to do with the brains of the individuals than simply their context . Everything can and should be measured in some way, from an agreed benchmark, to monitor, track then analyse. It is far more complex.

Take any class, habituated by the classroom, the people around us and the pattern and behaviour of the teacher … especially on a warm Friday afternoon, no wonder the mind wanders. Just because a person is physically in a classroom, even participating in a task, does not mean that much is going in if they are dreaming of the weekend or Fiona Henderson from the girl’s school down the road …

The expression ‘oversimplified’ used by Tolmie (2001)  is a) hyperbole b) a value judgment.

Better ‘simplified’, preferably qualification of the term - simplified as in ‘clipped or contained’ that parameters are created because of the remit of the funding process. You are not able to ‘look outside the box’ as only that which takes place in the box is funded. There needs to be some of one and some of the other - research based on ‘tackling circumscribed needs’ while at the same time research that has an open brief and is open ended - that stands back to see the wood for the trees, rather than, to continue the metaphor, to examine only one kind of tree in the woods in order to avert the ‘mentality of one-stop resources’ mentioned by Oliver & Conole (1998)

How else do you address improving a situation other than by identifying the problems?

Anything else is misguided (literally), or indulgent. Far worse, in the NHS, and Post Office and Banking System have been wholesale computing systems that really were alien and universal.

Change management. Everyone has a point. Time to listen and involves matters most. The psychology of innovation. Resistance is despised. (Robinson et al., 1998)

Making the wrong assumptions that blame the teachers rather than the technology - which is a catalyst for complexity, rather than a tool for conformity.

Evaluation work also rarely does more than examine the explicitly intended effects of ICT, and so fails to identify unintended or serendipitous repercussions that may actually be a critical aspect of its impact (Jones, 1998).

But the entire point and context of an exam is to remove such context in the surroundings by placing the student in ‘exam conditions’ in a neutral space, where parameters of time and context are controlled and aim to be common to other students and impartial.

Surroundings mean different things to different people. It is naive and deterministic to think that people are so easily governed by their context. The individual over the surroundings. Unless we think students are like a uniform tribal grouping.

I'm through the reading and taking it further - reading the original paper to see if my concerns and amusement are justified.

I find the gender difference uninsightful and unhelpful - we know this anyway. Men and woman are different physiologically - which includes the brain where there are various documented differences especially between the differing amount of grey and white matter and the concentration of neurones and close connections in women compared to men. But the differences between men and women are not black and white (and their are not racial differences whatsoever) ... within these differences there is considerable variety.

Now add each person's context - which for me starts a few months after conception and every possible influence since - the same chaos theory that says that when a butterfly beats its wings in the Brazilian Jungle there is a typhoon in Malaysia will suggest that that marshmallow your grandmother gave you on Christmas day when you were six while watching Jimmy Saville introduce the Chart Show will influence how you respond to the 14 year old boy you have been paired up with in a physics class who offers you a handful of mini-marshmallows by way of 'making friends' who in turn is nervous about this strange but beautiful creature who he hasn't noticed all year but rather fancies even though his older brother has his eye on her - what was that the teacher said checking the trajectory of your balls on the computer ?????

The wrong approach was taken, though the theory throws up some interesting questions

I will change my opinion as I go through my notes but my current stance is that a quantitative before and after study requires many hundreds of participants in a randomised controlled trial and the gender differences are a distraction - far better to have administered questionnaires before and after and drawn upon each students SATS results or some such to get some sense of where they were coming from in relation to physics.

More interesting pairings would be like-minds and enemies - really. A couple of buddies having a laugh might learn less than a pair who can't stand each other, or another pair who are rivals.

Have I been watching too many teen movies? Probably.

Already I have a script in my head based on Tolmie in which far from being the less talkative, the FM pairs are chatting away to themselves (in their heads, written and delivered as stream of consciousness voice over), communicating in subtle ways through body language and as a result actually communicating more, not less than the ones who won't shut up - and who may be playing up to the research conditions.

This is the other fundamental humdinger of a problem - these students are being tested under 'lab conditions'.

My memories of teenager physics classes are more akin to St.Trinian's with boys. I even have a diary to call upon which I may look at just to get me into the role. I have a household of teenagers and another five nephews and nieces in this age bracket if I need to be reminded of what it is (and was) like.

Oddly enough, work is often the last thing on their minds. Which is why homework is so important - fewer potential distractions.

This will be less than hearsay in due course - I am also refreshing what it was and is like to be a teenager through some additional reading. Problem is my daughter senses that I am observing her from time to time.

I'm just asking myself the same question I asked when she was born, 'what is going on in there?' - but in a quasi-academic rather than father-daughter way.

Researchers make the mistake of believing that their intervention - in this case using a computer to support a physics class by trying to prompt discussion - is going to make some measurable difference.

Can they not see the bigger picture, and how vast it is?

If each human brain has as many neurons in it as the visible galaxy - 98 billion, and each brain though similar, is connected in different ways, by gender but essentially by genetics, with every remembered moment of waking and sleeping life in between. This is why, to have something measurable, researchers taken to the lab and until recently would have stuck with sea-snails, rats and in the past cats and primates … while gradually observation and measurement of electro-chemical activity in the human brain has become possible.

When it comes to exams surely examiners know that the response to a unique set of questions in an exam, certainly at undergraduate level, if not at post compulsory level, will test the student’s ability to construct a response both from what they know, and what they have to surmise.

REFERENCE

Jones, C. 1998 Evaluating a collaborative online learning environment Active Learning

Oliver, M. & Conole, G. (1998) Evaluating communication and information technologies: a toolkit for practitioners. Active Learning, 8,3–8.

Robinson, H., Smith, M., Galpin, F., Birchall, D., Turner, I. (1998) As good as IT gets: have we reached the limits of what technology can do for us? Active Learning, 9, 50–53.

Tolmie, A. (2001), Examining learning in relation to the contexts of use of ICT. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17: 235–241. doi: 10.1046/j.0266-4909.2001.00178.

 

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How insight and creativity works - towards a theory of creativity

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 4 May 2014, 10:32

Why are we insightful? What is going on in the brain when we have a flash of insight?

Horizon on the Brain looks at:

  • Insight
  • Divergent thinking
  • Improvisation
  • Unusual and unexpected experiences
  • Schema violation

Based on this I'm going to take up something mindless to do between the gaps - doing the dishes surely counts?

Reading does not?

Watching TV does not?

  • Walking the dog
  • Falling asleep in the bath
  • Pruning bushes
  • Mow the lawn

When and where do people have moments of creativity?

The neuroscience of electromangentic and fMRI scans.

Human advancement is dependent on creativity.

You will hear from:

  • Prof Jonathan Schooler
  • Dr Mark Beeman
  • Dr Charles Limb
  • Dr Simone Ritter
  • Dr Jon Kounios
  • Dr Rex Young

You will hear about:

  • The neural correlate of creativity
  • The anterior superior antilial giros
  • Look for unexpected experiences Scehema violation
  • Breaking cognitive pedants

Breaking any routine – switching steps Change your routines Well trodden neural pathways are abandoned.

  • Mind wandering helps the creative process Engaging in a non–demanding task
  • Don't just do nothing, do something undemanding instead ...

If you're stumped, take a break e.g. walk, shower, gardening ... walk the dog.

  • Down regulate your frontal lobes.
  • Some people are hypofrontal. Losing your inhibitions when you improvise.
  • Releasing your mental handcuffs.
  • Science to explain.

Towards a theory of creativity.

REFERENCE 

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Why are we insightful?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 22 Mar 2013, 23:15

Why are we insightful? What is going on in the brain when we have a flash of insight?

Horizon on the Brain

  • Insight
  • Divergent thinking
  • Improvisation

 

 

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H817 Visualizing Open Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 23 Oct 2014, 07:17
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. This IMHO is what learning has become in the 21st century - and how it got there

There's more going on here than you may realise!

From E-Learning V

Fig.2. Traditional top down learning

Two triangles, one above the other and linked with a downward arrow suggests traditional top down learning ... or simply knowledge transfer from someone who knows something to someone who does not.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 3 By someone's side

Two triangles, one facing the other, may represent a shift towards collaborative or horizontal learning in a formal setting, though for me it represents the learning you do away from the institution - with friends, with family 'on the same level' as it were.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 4. Participatory and situated, networked learning on the periphery

From E-Learning V

Fig.5 The thinking starts with Vigotsky and his research into behaviourist learning

It then progressed to the study and analysis of learning in communities

From E-Learning V

Fig. 6. Activity Theory as conceived of and developed by Yrjo Engeström. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.7 The interplay between two entities or communities coming together to solve a problem and thus producing something unique to them both (object 3) - a fresh idea.

From E-Learning V

Fig.8. Activity Theory re-connected - breaking out

Though developed over some thirty years the structure of 'Activity Theory' as a model is breaking down because of the quality, speed and way in which we now connect overrides barriers and invades silos making communication more direct and immediate.

From E-Learning V

 Fig. 9 Activity Theory in a connected world

Everyone and everything is just a click away.

From E-Learning V

Fig.10 Visualizing the maelström of original ideas generated by people sharing their thoughts and ideas as they form

The maelström of new ideas where people and groups collide and interact. Historically this had been in grounded 'communities of practice', whether a London coffee shop or the senior common room of a prestigious university, the lab, the studio, the rehearsal room ... today some gatherings online are frequent, enabled by the Internet and no less vibrant as like-minds and joiners contribute to the generation of new ideas. 

This, drawing on Engestrom via Vygotsky, might be a more academic expression of Open Learning. Here a host of systems, expressed in model form, interpose their drive to achieve certain objectives into the common whole. That mess in the middle is the creation of the collective powers and inputs of individuals, groups, departments or institutions. The Open bit are the connections between any node in one system, and any other node from any othe one of the systems ... which blows apart the actions within a single system, making them more open, though not random. 

From E-Learning V

Fig. 11 It's going on inside your head.

fMRI scans reveal the complex way in which ideas form and memories are recalled and mixed-up, challenged and re-imagined. We are our very own 'community of practice' of conflicting and shared viewpoints. 

From E-Learning V

Fig.11. Perceiving brain activity as the interplay between distinct, interacting zones

From E-Learning V

Fig. 12 Ideas enter your system, your brain and are given a fresh spin

From E-Learning V

Fig.13 Ideas coalesce until you reach a point of understanding. The penny doesn't so much as 'drop' as to form.

Where would we be without one of these. 98 billion neurons. A uniquely connected mass of opportunity and potential. This is where, of course, memories are formed and thoughts had. Increasingly we are able to share ideas and thoughts as we have them, typically through the tips of our fingers by sharing our thinking online, especially where it comes to the attention of like-minds, and troubled-minds - anyone in fact or strongly agrees or strongly disagrees enough to contribute by adding their thinking and revealing their presence.

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Can a popular book sit on the fence? Academic vs. popularist

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013, 18:43

I wonder if the difference between the book selling 'voices' of e-learning are to academics what pop music is to classical music.

They make a great fuss, sing and dance, but lack substance. They are popular and sometimes wrong. Marc Prensky and the Digital Natives compared to Martin Weller's Ring Cycle?!

In 'The Shallows' Nicholas Carr goes out of his way to select anecdotes and references to prop up his thesis that Google is making us stupid. The wise, though less popular and academic approach would have been to make the case both ways with equal effort, to argue that Google is making is smart.

The two propostions would make for a reasonable and reasoned debate. There are two books in it.

Can a popular book sit on the fence?

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Do we use more than 20% of our brains?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 9 Dec 2012, 15:02

Asked this by my 14 year old son. He was a captive audience as I drove him 45 minutes to a footie march - I hope he didn't regret asking. I questioned any statistic that ended in zero and wondered if out of 100 billion neurons we ever used more than 2% of our brains - I doubted that we'd use all our brain if we lived a thousand years, in any case what we remember and how we remember it always changes. Earlier I'd told him how we'd 'wing it' in terms of finding the location for his match saying I'd remember how to get there once we got close - which is exactly how it played out.

I mentioned the App 'One Second a Day' and Microsoft Research into digitising everything. He's now warming up; I am left to reflect.

Recall in 3d is easier that a map or the written word - how would I have given someone else directions through the minor roads of West Sussex? Had I used a Google Self-Drive car last week - or been a passenger, my memory would have been different too. Is this the mistake 'we' are making in e-learning? Believing that a self-drive learning journey is better? Can something be too easy? I've done mandatory health and safety training as a part of compliance, clicking through video, animations and mutlichoice on a laptop 'til I passed. A manager could tick a box, and they would be covered for insurance but how in reality might I perform as a consequence of this 'learning' - surely that depends on how my perceptions and understanding of the learning translates into a real situation. Can you prepare customers for the evacuation of a sinking ship by getting them to do some e-learning - however immersive?

My son has seen a film called 'Limitless' in which the protagonist takes a pill and can then access 100% of their mind - he uses this in a bit of detective work by all accounts. My son said that someone who could or did remember everything committed suicide.

It's about time I revisted 'The Contents if My Brain' - a 90 minute screenplay effort on the subject, but like 'limitless' give it the one word catchy title and Hollywood treatment. US President stores the contents of his brain in case of all eventualities - assasinated this version of him continues to govern ... whith consequences etc: Title 'Back Up' or some such.

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Out of control?

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You don't do what you think you're doing. New series on the brain tonight on the BBC. Makes you think.
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The Contents of my Brain

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013, 12:41

The current generation will be able to begin to achieve a fraction of this if they please; all I have to go on are diaries I stared in March 1975 and efforts since then to recall all the events, feelings and dreams of my life to that point.

This alongside photoalbums, scrapbooks and sketch books, with lists of books read and films seen, maps of places visited and a complete extended family tree ought to offer a perspective of who or what I am.

Does any of it impact on how I think and behave?

Without my mind is it not simply a repository of typical memories and learning experiences of a boy growing up in the North East of England?

Blogging since 1999 there are like minds out there, though none have come back with an approximation of the same experiences (its been an odd, if not in some people's eyes, bizarre, even extraordinary roller-coaster of a ride).

It's value? To me, or others?

I could analyse it 'til the day I die. My goal is no longer to understand me, but to understand human kind. And to better understand the value of exercises such as this, not simply hoarding everything, but of consciously chosing to keep or record certain things.

For now I will exploit the tools that are offered. In theory anything already digitised on computers going back to the 1980s could now be put online and potentially shared. Can I extract material from a Floppy-disc, from an Amstrad Disc, from a zip-drive? Should I add super8mm cine-flim already digistised on betacam masters? And the books Iv'e read, beyond listing them do I add links even re-read some of them? And a handful of school exercise books (geography and maths) A'Level folders on Modern History. I kept nothing from three years of university, yet this is where the learning experience ought to have been the most intense. But I had no plans to take that forward had I?

My university learning was spent on the stage or behind a video camera.

Should I undertake such an exercise without a purpose in mind?

Do I draw on it to write fiction?

There is a TV screenplay 'The Contents of My Mind' that could be stripped down and re-written, even shared.

And all the fictoin, the millions of words.

Will this have a life if put online?

Is it not the storyteller's sole desire to be heard? To have an attentive audience?

 

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The honest image - who are you or were you?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Feb 2013, 09:32

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What image should we use to portray ourselves?

Is there such as thing as best practice? Ought it to be like joining a gym, we have a snapshot taken on a webcam and this current image, no matter how it comes out, becomes who we are?

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Do so few of us dislike or distrust what we see when we look at our faces in the mirror each morning?

It has been the subject of research, role play in online education; I'd like to do some of my own. I began a year ago with this.

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I liked the picture, felt it was healthy, robust and confident and confident.

I should have looked at the date on it. August 2004. Happy and sunny days. You age under stress and from the mid-40s it doesn't take much to add ten years -all that sun in the past, being unwell. As I write below, his spirit, like mine (I hope) remains that of an enthusiastic twenty-something. The same occurred with the Elluminate session we had in H800 the other day, the tutor on the webcam (initially in a scratchy black and white image) is not the person who goes by in the General Forum. Are we all guilty of this. Men included? We go with something in our late thirties or early to mid-forties?

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I then went with this.

An image I long ago used in my eleven year old blog. I wanted something that was indicative of the content and would last. I'm still inclined to run with this. It is indicative of what I think blogging is all about - the contents of your mind, what you think i.e. you 'mind bursts' as I call them on numerous blogs.

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Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

While on Skype I use a image taken with the webcam on the day of an online interview - this is a month ago, so as contemporary as it gets.

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I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

In moments of euphoria having just successfully negotiated a 15m pond of slush on a pair of skis in front of a crowd of early May skiers below the Tignes Glacier, France. The day I proposed to my wife. We'd be 'going out together' for three days ... we've now been together, well 21 years. In my original diary we could create banner ads to publicise what we had to say to fellow writers. One of these has a spread as long as the contents of my diaries and blog: they run from a 13 year old Head Chorister in cassock and ruffs, though gap, undergrad, to add exec, video director, with four woman I didn't marry.

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Increasingly, I am thinking of using a self-portrait, that this attempt to capture myself through my minds eye

is more telling that a photograph.

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I could use the drawing I did of a 14 year old

What amuses me most here is how I superimpose these attachments as if I were in a school play, the beard is clearly on the soft face of a pubescent boy - I should have looked at my grandfather for the face I'd get, with the more bulbous nose and pronounced chin. Talking of which, I find it intriguing that I am the spitting image of my grandfather, that my own children see images of him age 20 and think it has to be me. All that changes as he ages into a 40 and 50 year old is he goes bald, whereas I am thus far limited to a thinning of the crown.

This I'm afraid, if the age of my children in the rest of the picture is something to go by, is some seven years ago sad

My only reason for picking it is that I haven't renewed my contact lenses and am inclined, after twenty years wearing them to give up. Maybe laser surgery when I have the cash? This is contemporary. It doesn't say who I am, just 'what' I am. Wearing a child's hat (he's a dad), the headset to record notes onto a digital recorder (for a podcast), a coat he bought for honeymooning in the Alps (we went skiing) 18 years ago …

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I have of course not changed much since 1977

It takes me back to the original point - who are we? how do we representative ourselves online in a single image when we are all a sum of a complex of parts? Is it any wonder that we present multiple selves online, the more so the longer we've lived? I don't remember my father being around to take this picture. though clearly he did. I do remember the great-big wellies though and the joy of water spilling over the top if I could find a puddle or pond deep enough. And the jumpers knitted by my granny (sleeves always too long). And the trees in the garden I climbed behind. And my sister and brother … How set in were the learning process by then?

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The Dracula Spectacula, People's Theatre, Newcastle.

The teeth were made from dentine and fitted by an orthodontist.I rather foolishly sharpened the fangs and bit through my own lip on the last night. I had to sing while gargling my own blood. The joy of memories.

  • Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that 'era' of your life?
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Use your brian ... We all need a Brian in our lives.

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'The digital revolution has allowed thousands of people not only to conceive great ideas but also to execute, produce them. With digital technologies, you don’t need raw materials, factories, distribution centres, stores… you can reach a worldwide audience quickly and cheaply just by using your brian.'

ChristopheCauvy, Director of McCann Group Worldwide in London,

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 11 Feb 2011, 05:01)
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Time stretches if you keep busy

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 3 Nov 2012, 21:47

This may be a good or bad thing, depending on what is keeping you busy.

I need to find the perceptive Stephen Appleby cartoon that expresses this very well. It shows a guy riding an escalator which represents life and getting older; this character moans about life going too fast and immediately the escalator turns into a ramp. Of course, faced with this greater struggle our character bemoans his lot even more vosciferously.

(I liked it so much I cut it out and put in a portfolio - the physical kind. Today I would photograph and upload ... I'd digitised it).

I think this New Scientist article is saying take up Kite-surfing or rock-climbing.

Or gymnastics for the mind.

I feel for one year doing an MA course with the OU I have experienced three.

'People with busy lives don't necessarily live longer, but they might feel as if they do.'

All this is from a New Scientist news story 29 Jan 2011.

So how does someone gaoled for 25 years feel?

'Our brains use the world around us to keep track of time, and the more there is going on, the slower time feels.'

I'd hardly say I felt that time was grinding to a halt, but this last 12 months, with the OU MAODE in the vanguard, I've packed in a good deal. It's starting to feel like 'Groundhog Day' at the point where Bill Murray (Phil Connors) has gone positive.

People with busy lives are happier, so long as the degree of business is something that they control.

“If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.”

Find out more in 'Current Biology'

I relish phrases such as 'adaptive use of stochastically evolving dynamic stimuli' and 'a process of Bayesian inference based on expectations of change in the natural environment.' These phrases are food for the brain, like eating gizzards for the first timne, as I recall doing at the Auberge Les Allouettes age 15. I had this habit of always trying something I'd had not tried before; this I never attempted again. I did take to steak tartar

Neuroscience interests me; my steak tartare.

Which is another way, I am sure, to stretch time - keep a diary, blog, do an OU course, and so live in the past, present and the future.

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 7 Feb 2011, 03:17)
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Rubbish fonts are more memorable, ditch usability and make the brain work for the information.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012, 20:46

From BBC Radio 4 Today New scientific research reveals that students learn better when learning is made harder, specifically when using a font that is more challenging to read. Neuroscience blogger Jonah Lehrer discusses his own gut feeling that we remember ugly fonts much more easily.

 

Comically ugly fonts are the best.

 

So perhaps I should blog like this?

 

Ugly%20Fonts%20make%20it%20memorable.JPG

Try these:

 

Anglo%20Zulu%20Wars%20FONT%20GRAB.JPG

 

And what about handwriting?

 

DSC00372.JPG

 

'It’s a really interesting way to convey information', says Jonah Lehrer, 'as it can take a lot of work to decipher handwriting'.

 

How about these for examples if you’ve forgotten what handwriting looks like?


 

Diary%20Grab%20%20JAN%205%20FIVES%20FLIP%20GRAB.JPG

 

or this?

 

Dodgey%20Handwriting%20example.JPG

 

Let's get back to handwriting.

Or find a way to handwrite here. With a stylus and tablet?

The handwritten note, letter, or journal entry tells you something about the writer' mood, gender, age, level of education (or intoxication), even their occupation.

I've collected hand-written letters between 1969 and 1993 from family members and friends, including my grandfather whose 1918 RAF Log Book I feature above. If ever published, these artefacts will be best read in their original form rather than transcribed.

 

Permalink 4 comments (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 16 Jan 2011, 15:06)
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The Contents of my Brain

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 22 Apr 2010, 14:47

What matters is what I have in my head and how I use it. If through background, experience and training I can express a thought and do so in a variety of ways: text, voice, video, presentation in the flesh ... then so be it.

All efforts I have made over three decades to keep diaries, letters, books and videos has been funnelled into this experience. My conclusion is that all that matters is what I take with me in my head as I step away from this keyboard ... and that when I die the contents of my brain and its way of connecting things goes with me.

 

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