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The new learning and upskilling is relentless

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 23 Jul 2020, 09:53

The Google Certification Academy by John Sowash

You have to embrace it. THIS is the new 'normal'. Resistance is futile and will result in your becoming and being made redundant. I struggle to sympathise with certain senior academics who want to be fast-tracked to retirement because they have no desire to learn how to change the font size on a PowerPoint Presentation. This is not the problem. It is the unwillingness and lack of interest in EVERYTHING that is teaching and learning in the 20th Century.

As some punter said the other day, Covid-19 has surely kicked the old way of doing things back into the last century. 21st Century learning required this: online and digital. It requires proficiency with G Suite for Education, or the Microsoft or Apple equivalents. 

It is no longer any good to have your Grade 8 in music theory, even a degree or Masters without having at least a Grade 3 in music practice, better still Grade 8 or above.

Embrace it now.

And whatever you learn, expect things to change over and over and over again. Sometimes quite radically. It has taken me a good three years to adapt to 'blocks' used by blogs, sites and newsletter platforms for assembling content. But being the equivalent of electronic Post It notes they are easy to learn. Easier to learn from scratch perhaps.

But there are choices to make. Can I be as proficient with G Suite for Education, as the Microsoft equivalents. I have always had Macs; could I be was fluent with Microsoft.

And if you don't already touch-type, then find an app and learn. Or get used to using Voice Notes and transcribers - they're good to. I know people who do everything, texts and emails, using their voice.

Check out The Google Certification Academy 

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'What's new about new media? Not much'

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Two decades ago I wrote a blog with this provocative title. I wasn't being a Luddite, rather I was playing devil's advocat and suggesting that for all that digital offered (in education) the fundamentals were the same: a teacher with knowledge passing it on to their students.

I need to revisit the topic with the same approach.

It is too easy to celebrate the headliners of digital education, not least at the Open Univerity with Open Learn and FutureLearn, and the myriad of learning management platforms and Apps, but when it comes to a student, especially in primary and secondary education, and in FE and vocational courses, how much is still, of necessity, knowledge and skills passed on by a subject matter expert? How can infectious enthusiasm be recreated in a digital experience? It can't? How do you develop loyalty and respect for a teacher and their subject through an App? 

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Learning from mistakes

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I don't know about you but I learn best by doing and making mistakes. I want to get stuck in, be guided, give it a go and try again and keep trying. These is harder to do in academia than in just about every other walk of life. We should be knocking out short essays every week in preparation for the longer, tutor marked assignments. 

As an OU student on the MAODE I went 'totally digital': no printing off, books on an iPad, type everything off. No more! It made my brain soft and inclined to lazy ineffective learning practices like highlighting passages or cutting and pasting text instead of taking notes the proper way.

I'm now all paper and pen. Handwritten notes in files like it was 1979. Once I've got a draft written THEN I will go the the computer to type it up, add footnotes, correct, share, fix, correct, adjust and eventually submit. 

What works for you?

 

 

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On keeping a notebook, diary or learning journal. On paper.

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Anything you might use. Think of yourself as an artist before the era of the portable camera. If you don’t sketch something now you’ll forget it. So with words and ways of expressing what you see, feel, do and think. Get those ideas and descriptions down as soon as you can.

Try to work them up that evening, that day. Within a couple of days. Think of this as nurturing a seedling that will have to be transplanted in a day, week, even in a year or five years time. It’ll wait for you, but only if you have made it robust.

Write, and rewrite, toy with it and layer it. Have you recreated a sense of the moment as it was experienced the first time? Maybe. This effort to recall the moment creates a multitude of connections in your brain, some logical, many not, some becoming fixed, some floating, all transformed every nanosecond more that you live. There is no stability in it, not on the page and never in your head.

Then use these ideas somewhere. In a short story, or in a character or context description. It’ll come in time. It’ll become easier.

No automatic recording device can do this for you. A gadget works in absolutes, in numbers. What it takes for you is fixed. Write it down.

Like many of us, I'm sure, I wordpress and go online. I conceive and store ideas on these things. None yet gets close to offering the emotional power of what I said, and where I said it forty years ago: in a school kid diary, in a letter to my grandfather, even typed up with the portable typewriter I got one Christmas. Boxed up and stored I know have a way back into the child's head, that young teenager's hopes and observations. I even printed out filed and boxed stuff from the Amstrad in the 1980s and the various MACs I had in the 1990s and that originated on the Psion in 2000. Anything I thought would be safe on a floppy disc, or Zip drive is probably lost. I can't figure out to read them on a modern device. A box full of paper is another thing.

At 53 my life has been short. At 89 my father-in-law is going through his 'archive' - an academic and educator his house has over the years become a physical expression of the contents of his brain. There are books three columns deep to the ceiling, there are bedrooms stacked with boxes of papers and newspapers. As most of his faculties fail he now has a PhD student at his side to give some order to his archive, and to his life. Sharing it with one, on paper, at this stage, has to be more rewarding and effective than doing it digitally in a blog with wiki-like affordances. 

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Dreams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:15
From 2BlogI

I rarely write about these, though feel obliged when they are so telling. I had another double bill of movie like dreams. I won't bore you with the detail but I challenge any of these new 'memory' apps to account for them. What is my head up to? It's very probably because I am, after six or seven years of not having done so, thinking about storytelling: character, plot and narrative arcs. Where's that in a mini series such as 'The Borgias'. Some of these series, however often there is a murder or sex act after a while become as interesting as standing at a bus stop and starting to recognise the same faces every day. 

Nabakov said something about 'loving a memory to make it real'.

Can an App love something as abstract as a memory? It strikes me that memories can never be digitised, that as the construct, at that moment, of a chemical process, that they will be forever analogue. Can you digitise a chemical process?

Memory is not a photograph, or recording, not even something you have written down, rather a memory is what your brain at that moment chooses to construct for you drawing upon sources in various, and differing corners and recesses of your brain. It takes very little to alter this mix. Nothing you recall can ever be the way you remember it before, far from being frozen in time, as a digital form would do, it erupts like gas from a swamp.

In my early teens I had one of those 'Five Year Diaries' that offer four or five lines per day. After five years you have what you did on that day for five years. It took a long while for me to move on from these. What I did was try to write something about that day that would provide recall of some kind. I don't need the video of the day. Or an assortment of photographs. All it takes is a phrase, a place, person or event. Something you ate or saw on TV. Oh dear. I just saw that I thought my new girlfriend's breath was bad. She read this by chance a few years later. Together for five years we finally left each other in tatters a decade later. I can see where we were standing. Her Dad had come to pick her up. Neither of us could drive. She was 16, I was nearly 18. Do I need a gadget to replace my mind's eye?

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Curiosity Satisfied

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 24 Feb 2014, 14:57

It amazes me how when reading something and pointed to a footnote or reference that if I choose to do so a few clicks and the reference is before my eyes. Reading up on the First World War there are books from 1914-18 that are freely available in digital form - the additional insight is when you glance at such a reference is to wonder why an author chose that sentence or paragraph, often I find there is something far more interesting being said.

All of this has me reflecting on 'interpretation' and how increasingly, because we can, we should, because we can, check up on authors - certainly take them off their academic pedestals as their word is never absolute, is inevitably biased - and sometimes they get it wrong.

There are two kinds of connectedness here:

1) with references the author has used - how selected, why they thought them of relevance or interest (and the authority and credibility of these references)

2) with fellow readers - which, if you want a response, I increasingly find in Amazon of all places. There are always a few people who have picked  through the text, who are willing and able to other a response or to sleuth it out with you.

How does this change things?

The Web puts at anyone's fingertips resources that until recently were the exclusive domain of university libraries - the older, wealthier universities having the richest pickings and broadest range of references. To 'look something up' as we now do in a few moments could take a couple of days. 'Learning at the speed of need' is a phrase I like, used in the context of applied learning in business, but just as apt here.

As a consequence, earlier in their careers, students will have a broader and stronger, personal perspective. And as a consequence there will be more people 'out there' to join an informed discussion. And as a consequence more new ideas will come to fruition sooner and faster. And as a consequence, collectively, or common understanding will grow and develop faster than before.

 

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Book or eBook?

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You’re missing a trick if you're ignoring eBooks.

My experience studying at postgraduate level over the last four years, first with the Open University and now with the University of Birmingham as well is that we need to consider and experience the affordances of both.

I will own the book and the eBook in some circumstances as they offer a different experience and options.

If you are studying a subject in a social context online it helps to be able to share what you find and think as you read. I did this with Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ and found he was reading along through Twitter and my blog. I find where I have the printed book that I take photos of pages, mash these up and then share online – or resort to pen, paper and note taking in the traditional, lonely way. Then there are the huge tomes, some of the history books I am getting through right now that run to 900 pages – it is so much easier to carry around on the iPad. Using an eBook I highlight by themes of my choosing, add notes, Tweet short passages, seek out threads on single characters, link directly to references and post mashups from screen-grabs rather than photos straight into a e-portfolio so that the idea or issues are tagged and ready for later use.

Non-fiction books will become like some LPs of the past – do you want all the tracks or just your choice?

If I can buy 12 chapters of a book for £8.99 on Kindle, when will I be able to buy for 99p that one chapter I need? Speaking to a senior engineer from Amazon over the summer (old friends who moved to Silicon Valley twenty years ago) he wondered if the ‘transformative’ period for books was about to occur, just as it has occurred with music.

There will be a better, personalised hybrid form in due course, several of which I have tried. So far they have been marred by only one thing – poor content, the clickable, multimedia, well linked experience is apt for the 21st century.

Nothing replaces scholarship though , it’s just going to take a while to make the transition.

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Learning tools and ASDA

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 23 Sep 2013, 14:43

 

Fig.1. Index Card Holder

An odd one this, but with my shift away from trying and expecting to do everything on an Internet connected device - nothing printed out, nothing written down, I have swung round to complimenting this 'screen work' with pads of paper, note books, a whiteboard and even index cards.

I'm currently sifting through all the possible causes of the First World War

I am collating notes from various books and having reduced these to eight themes in Google Docs I am now picking through these and putting them on index cards ... which in turn I want to develop as a series of carefully composed multiple-choice questions to put onto an online delivery platform such as Qstream and a mind-map.

I came across these in ASDA.

On special offer for £2, down from £4.50 I think. I may go and get some more as I like the idea of having a topic per Filofax-like binder. You might not have 60 key events/ideas or issues, but once in this wee binder they are, at low cost, portable and accessible - for me as I think through and prioritise a set of arguments, but for anyone with an exam, something to flick through repeatedly until the information sticks.

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The Digtal Scholar (2011) Martin Weller

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Mar 2013, 06:38

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Alerted by a Tweat, I bought the book in minutes.

There's never a better time than 'Now'.

Purchase your copy here.

Unwell, so having it read to me on the Kindle, while taking notes on an iPad.

When I wander off I pick up the thread on the iPhone.

It's surprising how much can be read while the kettle boils.

In due course and I'll have my very own 3,000 word interpretation of this 50,000+ worder, far more once I've added my notes, thoughts additional references and illustrations.

My web 2.0 sensibilities are for the online equivalent of the Illustrated, hardback coffee-table book, with video and podcasts, interactivity and links.

I'd have Dion Hinchcliffe's graphic designer do some colour diagrams, Steven Appleby provide some cartoons, while I would interview the author for YouTube and set it all to something suitably camp like Mike Oldfield with a Roger Dean poster decorating the set.

When do we get the webinar?

And I pre-emptivelly wrote a review in Amazon on the basis of the first two chapters, hearing the author debate and speak the subject and reading his blog (as well as his earlier book that he brings up as a way of looking at how things have changed since 2006).

P.S. Buy you e-book version now then return here to discuss, or find you in Linked in or Google+ ...

Or for some blended learning if you live near Lewes, East Sussex, over at the Needlemakers for a coffee.

My 'take-aways' so far:

  • Digital, Networked, Open.
  • Fast, cheap and out of control.
  • Why students choose one university over another.
  • The 'good enough' revolution. Wired (2009)
  • The unpredicatable use of technology.
  • (and Martin Weller's daughter, he writes on page one, didn't think, based on his 'ellevator pitch' that the book would do very well. This, with a bit of 'airplay' on the blogosphere, need not be the case. Get to work tweeting, noting, sharing, putting into Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Xing and Viadeo. I can't see a movie in it though).

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Everything is miscellaneous

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 16:11

Think of this as a leaf

We've gone through an era of learning as 'trees of knowledge'; now all the leaves have blown off. With everything tagged and searchable you can still find what you need on the ground.

This is the idea

I buy this, more or less. I'd been thinking of it like this for some years, but today I've moved on - it doesn't work.

It doesn't work given that the leaves can be any asset that can be digitised. With the leaf analogy we have to set parameters and have types of leaf (even across plant species, or across the cycle of seasons in temperate climate, there isn't scale or variety that is adequate).

I question digital data or aggregations of binary code being given an organic reference

I prefer to think of the Internet and the World Wide Web as an ocean and 'stuff' as water molecules.With this analogy we can throw in the water-cycle, icebergs and glaciers, clouds, rivers and tributaries ... snow and storms.

Everything is random

It is until you give it value, until you file or tag it. If you neither file nor tag, then your digital 'stuff' may was well not exist, not for sharing at least. How will you find it?

'Everything is miscellaneous' (David Weinberger) is a worthwhile read: cover-to-cover.

'The best digital strategy is to dump everything into one large miscellaneous pile and leave it to the machines to find exactly the table settings we need for tonight's dinner'. p85

I was reading 'The Cluetrain Manifesto' that includes a David Weinberger contribution too - I loathe it (for now). I'll keep wondering why:

Because it reads like a collection of smalmy articles for 'Esquire' ?

Because it invites dialogue but in print form there is none - like going to a party and only being in a position to listen to the guys who have had too much to drink and think they know it all.

Harsh?

(This may be a love/hate relationship developing here ... it challenges me to return to the text. Which reminds me, it was intriguing to find the OU Library copy of the book full of pencil mark highlights and notes. See, a reader couldn't resist i.e. it isn't content for print).

Weinberger imagined what it would be like to be sitting in a new home with 157 moving boxes all labelled 'miscellaneous' - (87) Sound like a great way to get out of a house, just box it up and go. I even like the random nature of what you then find yourself with.

Where is the role of serendipity in this searchable and tagged world of ours?

Thinking allowed?

 

 

(50366)

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H800: 44 Week 8 Activity 2. An approach to learning activity design

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 06:08

Notes on Beetham Chapter 2 An approach to learning activity design.

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I've found this the chapter on ‘an approach to learning activity design’ from Helen Beetham profound and invaluable.

Helen Beetham is a Research Consultant to the JISC e-Learning Programme. Previously she was a Research Fellow in e-learning at the Open University.

The profound revelations I feel I have had concern three projects to 'reinvent learning' with interactive then web-based learning in the 1990s and 2000s that I am familiar with (I was in the production company or agency doing something else, or know the person and the project's history).

And the sense I wanted from MAODE of the history of education which I sum up as:

1 to 1 the governess and/or then tutor of the aristocracy. 17th century (and earlier, and well into the 20th)

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Samuel Daniel was a court poet and amongst others tutored Lady Anne Clifford. A copy of his miniature was inserted in Lady Annes 1646 'Great Picture' that told her life story/struggle.

1 to many in schools (both private and state maintained). (For wealthy families who couldn't afford the tutors ... the 'public' schools of Britain from the 16th century, followed by the Victorian & Edwardian schools for all).

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1 to 1 or many to many (depending on how you look at it) which brings back a good deal of the 1 to 1 that the likes of Princess Elizabeth might have had in the 16th century, through peer-support you have your time with a subject matter expert (if they will indulge you) ... and time with people with very different experiences and insights that can be better at giving your thinking a jolt ... or if we will indulge each other through 'social educational networking'.

I appreciate the history of education goes back further to Greece, Mesopotamia and even hunter gatherer societies on the plains of Africa.From Marketing to the Social Web. Larry Webber.

My feeling is that technology isn't as novel as we think; in fact it is enabling what used to occur in closer nit learning groups embedded in society.

I wonder if I should be looking at learning patterns from the Bantu in the Congo and apply that to teenagers wishing to learn using mobile devices in the 21st century, the urban jungle and chase replacing the forests, bore hunts and multiple relationships.

There is a lot to think about. I see learning design as akin to designing and growing a maize maze. One this is in place you have choices regarding whether guide an individual around your labyrinth by calling out ‘left!’, ‘right!’ or just ‘hot!’ or ‘cold!’ while others you leave to figure out their own way through. There will be graded outcomes that require exiting the maze, others where they never leave and yet others where they exit where right they came in – all depending on the activities, the learners and the desired outcomes.

The emphasis, from Beetham’s point of view, is that with learning design should be on learners, the activities they do (not tasks) and the outcomes. Beetham (2007).

Activities, not the tools used or the supporting materials, matter the most.

Whatever way you plan, develop and scaffold learners will do the activities their own way - in different contexts people learn in different ways which raises issues for activity design Beetham (2007).

I ask myself:

· How prescriptive should you be?

· How confining should the parameters be?

· What degree of latitude is offered?

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The learning activities may be any combination of associative, constructive or situative. Learners will develop their understanding as a result of consolidation and practice, drawing on their strengths and preferences and a repertoire of approaches. Beetham (2007) e.g. an apprentice learns in an associative way be rehearsing skills and concepts.

REFERENCE

Beetham, H, and Sharpe, R (2007) Rethinking Pedagogy for the digital age.

 

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H800: 22 Reflecting on H800

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 00:26

How goes it?

Like a roller-coaster, merrily going along, like the C4 ident:through the loops of a roller-coaster though the shapes I see are 'H' and '800' and '807' and '808' as I pass by.

Then I switch track and venue and find myself on the Mouse-Trap. Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Here there is a rise and dip where you are convinced you will hit a girder. I just did, metaphorically speaking. (Diary entry, August 1980)

Ilness changes things

Nothing more than a rubbish cold made uncomfortable by asthma.

It is a set back of sorts. I can sleep and read. But the spark has gone (for now).

To use a different analogy, if I often think of my mind as a Catherine-wheel, this one has come off and landed in a muddy-puddle.

We're in the week of metaphors for learning.

I can draw on any notes I've taken on this here and in my eportfolio. This is more than an aide-memoire, it favours the choices I made before at the expense of anything new. So I widen my search. The OU Library offers hundreds of thousands of references in relation to 'Education' and 'Metaphor' going back to 1643.

Gathering my thoughts will take time.

There are 26 pages (nearly 12,000 words) to read (course intro, resources). Far, far more if I even start to consider ANY of the additional references or reading.

Give me three months. We have, or I have left, three days.

My approach is simple. Tackle it on the surface, drill into an author or topic that is of interest and expect to pick up on and pick through this again later this module, later this year ... or next existence. (I believe in multiple existences and flux. We are transitory and changing)

As well as tapping into the OU Blog and e-portfolio the blog I've kept since 1999 might have something to say on metaphor. If I care to I might even rummage through A'Level English Literature folders from the 1970s, just to trigger something. Engaged and enabled by Vygotsky and others in relation to memory and learning I value this ability to tap into past thoughts/studying with ease.

(Ought others to be sold the idea of a life-long blog?)

Otherwise I have gone from learn to swim in the training pool, to swimming lengths in the main pool ... to observer/coach who will participate, but has a towel over his shoulders and is looking around.

The next pool? Where is that?

I'm not the same person who set out on this journey 12 months ago.

On the other hand, having a Kindle makes me feel more like a teenager swotting for an Oxbridge examination; I like having several books on the go. I'll be through 'Educational Psychology (Vygotsky) by the end of the day and am already picking through and adding to copious notes.

Piaget next?

Then a little kite-boarding as I head away from the swimming pool that has been an MA with the OU?!

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Gobsmacked by Kindle and my first e-Book

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 9 Feb 2011, 12:51

In less than ten minutes I bought one of these.

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I then bought this.

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For now I'll read it on my laptop; the Kindle arrives tomorrow.

The world is changing, mine just has.

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Text Volume Control Slider Thingey

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 4 Feb 2013, 14:20

 

Once you have the definitive response to a fact, something composed as a wiki that has been thoroughly reviewed I'd then like to see this thinking, initially just in words, animated via a slider, the kind of volume control we're used to seeing, only this, instead of increasing the volume of sound, increases the number of words.

 

Text Volume Control drawn in Dia

 

In this way you choose your moment to read a bit, a bit more, or a lot, the whole thing, and or everything (in theory) that went through the author's mind when they wrote their chapter/boo/report in the first place by having not just the links, but the references open and ready to read in an instance.

Indulgent?

The expert mind does this anyway. By the time you've read so extensively on a subject that you hear its authors speaking, you tap into a form of this. You could at any moment offer a summary, or talk for hours on 'your' subject.

I would like this opportunity from the start, from the point of ignorance, to nudge back and forth, to 'rock n roll' as a soundengineer would put it, finding the point to cut a sound track, the 'sweet point' for where I was at, where enough was being said to engage me ... or, were I about to alight from a train, a bitsize thought on which I could chew 'til the opportunity arose to indulge and nudge this 'text volume control' along the scale.

Now think of this as a slice in a pie.

 

Asset%20Slider.JPG
From Drop Box


Open it out and you migrate away from text alone to include stills, video and sound. For example, the image-based expression of this concept, and a particular issue/idea/fact/report, begins with a single image, like a book cover, or TV title sequence ... as you run along our 'volume control' the number and range of images expands.

Just a thought.

 

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Dear,dear, e-diary ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 6 Nov 2011, 18:03

There's a piece in the New Scientist this last fortnight about the merits of not only keeping a diary, but digitising every moment of your waking life. The piece opens with the suggestion that at this time of year everyone is buying a diary; they're not. Most of us buy a diary in August as an academic diary if you have anything to do with educaiton (student, teacher, academic or parent) is a much more logical thing to have to carry you through the shool year. In any case, who cares where you start your diary if its digital or even a Filofax insert.

There's criticism of the Five Year Diary format, those diaries with a few lines to cover the day's events - where did Twitter get their idea from. A few lines every day is far easier to achieve than a page or more per day. I should know, I've been at it long enough.

Parameters, as any writer will know, matter.

They contain what might otherwise be a stream of never ending unconsciousness

Deadlines and word counts are helpful.

I wish I could do the research against the clock too. I have to give X hours to each topic, I would happily give x weeks and a some stage in that week I'd see I could press on for a month. I get this way when my curiosity is taking me off on a mental ramble.

The idea of keeping an objective, digitally record of everything you do does intrigue, not because of the data it captures, though I've had a few years that would be fun to re-live, but what it misses out. This is the idea of a researcher at Micrsoft who is recording his every action (and motion). However, the process misses out how you feel, and what you think.

And would have to be deactivated going through airports, going to the bank or Post Office, swimming with the kids in a public pool ... there's quite a list.

'It's a matter of love,' wrote Nabakov, 'the more you love a memory the stronger than memory becomes.'

How is such strength afforded a memory that remains on the surface of the mind, as there is no need to make the mental effort to embedded it, or to recall it, other than watching it over like a movie. A very bad, very dull, badly lit and performed movie.

'By having everything in e-memory you don't have to remember anymore.'

On the contrary by short-circuiting the implicit, instinctive natural memories making myelination process of the brain you are replacing something fluid and static, albeit it a multitude of snapshots.

 

 

 

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