CCK08: Week 6 Chaos Ramblings

The title says it all. In a week we are looking at Chaos, I am going to wander all over the place so here are my highlights:

  • The utility of Journal publishing versus open-source publishing/blogging
  • New Book review: iBrain
  • Just Received Book: On intelligence
  • My own Chaos This week

Journal Publishing

During the live Wednesday session, Stephen Downes had a negative criticism about Journals. While I agree I dislike having to pay for articles, and that the articles often have to go through a stifling anonymous peer review process, there are some journals that are useful.  For example, some journals only charge for the cost of the printing and distribution. The editing and peer review process is done on a volunteer basis. Many of these types of journals only charge for the current issue and will post the issue for free when the next comes out. For example, the Journal of Canadian Military History published by Sir Wilfred University. This Journal gives a voice to undergraduate and graduate students for term paper or thesis research that may not make it into the bigger and more exclusive History Journals that tend to publish only post doctoral work. These journals often serve a demographic that prefers off-line reading. For the online readers, the article is made available on a regular basis (quarterly). With blogging becoming popular, I expect more historical pieces to be published, but often hard-copy/online journals have a more polished appearance because there are volunteer staffs to create maps, enhance pictures etc. Is it asking a lot of an student author to also be very conversant in graphics tools, photo-manipulation tools, effective layout etc? Isn’t that a kind of exclusivity? And to partially answer my own question, yes, some online publishing is powerful because of the animation, audio, or video clips that can add so much context that words fail to do. In 10 years, when all the undergraduates and grad students now in the system have become “experts” at web 2.0 publishing, I will eat my words because that will be the new norm (with no need for editing staff and instead use their network) and I will likely no longer receive any journal by Canada Post.

New Book Review: iBrain

I was actually reading my delivered-to-the-door copy of the Fredericton Daily Gleaner and serendipitously saw a book review for iBrain by Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan. The review notes this is an interesting study that studies neurological growth in the brain due to Internet usage. They do MRI scans of non-users with users, and users that increase their Internet use. While the sample size was small, the authors not that even 1 hour of internet searching over a week can bring their neurological activity level up to that of Internet savvy users.

Brain scans showing brain activity of Internet naïve group (blue) while performing the reading task (left) and the Internet task (right). Below: Brain activity of Internet savvy group (red) while performing the reading task (left) and the Internet task (right). THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

New Book: On Intelligence

While I was ordering The Numerati that George Siemens recommended to me several weeks ago, Chapters.ca recommend On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. I bought it because I am a sucker for any book starting with “On…” (I own On War by Clauswitz, On Killing by Dave Grossman, and On Infantry by John English). Anyways, Jeff Hawkins has a commentary website located here that has some interesting resources.

My Own Chaos

I found I helped create my own chaos this week. After 3 weeks of 60-65 hours of work (day job 37.5 hours), teaching two undergrad course part-time (12 hours a week) and taking this course (8-14 hours a week), having a 3.5 and 6 year old, my body said enough (and my wife, I thought, was hinting something needed to change). So my only solution was to drop the course. So I told U of Manitoba I was dropping. My wife expressed surprise that I hadn’t discussed it with her. My employer had initially given me 4 hours a week to take the course on company time because they some strong benefits from it, but project pressures soon ate into that. Anyways, both my wife and my employer, after talking to them agreed that I should continue as it was important to me and that some re-prioritizing some of their time and me re-prioritizing time spent on some of the more social aspects of the course would allow me to continue without needing to go into the 60+ hour work week.

The moral of this story: I needed to “network” with my work and home “groups” more than I was with the course to bring some de-randomization of the chaos in my head.

Ta ta for now. Its midnight and the kids like their Saturday AM cartoons at about 7 AM.

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