Building biodiversity

It’s already too late for almost anyone in the 21st century to live or spend much time in a pristine environment; we have thoroughly broken most of them, and the few which remain cannot be isolated from widespread climate change. It’s time to accept that if we want ecological beauty and biodiversity we are going to have to build it ourselves — an extraordinarily complex scientific, technological, and political challenge that nonetheless we cannot afford to ignore.

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

 

Upgrading iMac memory

I got me a 21.5″ iMac in January 2010. I bought the cheapest model, and it has served me well. I also run Windows on it, using BootChamp. Very convenient. The Windows partition is too small, I need to make it larger, but I thought I’d wait until Windows 8 comes out, then I’ll install that and also do some autumn cleaning on the Mac side. Actually I would like to wipe the hard disk clean and reinstall everything, but that is probably too complicated I guess. My experience with Macs is still not very large.

Anyway, before I make these changes I thought I’d check how much an upgrade of the memory (now 4 Gb) would cost because the machine is noticeably slower than a year ago. Apple=expensive, I thought. Not so, however. I got 16 Gb of RAM from Multitronic for 80 euros! Who would have believed that?

So I got the RAM today and exchanging the old memory for the new took 10 minutes. Also this was quite surprising, taking into account how sealed everything normally is in an Apple product. Now the iMac is happy and fast again, this was a very good investment.

For my next laptop (the old one is 4,5 years but still good due to the SSD disk I installed last winter), I’m dreaming of a 13 inch Macbook Pro Retina. These are not on the market yet, but there are strong rumors that it would come on the market this autumn. If it comes and isn’t too expensive (it has to cost less than 2000 euros for me to be interested), I’ll consider buying one next year. Or then a normal ultrabook of some kind. Or maybe Microsoft Surface?

 

Capturing knowledge the Y Worlds way

I just discovered a puzzling and wonderful site, Y Worlds by the Y Worlds Cooperative. It seems linked in some way to the SpaceCollective, who’s blogs I follow. Visiting the sites you get a “Time of Aquarius”-feeling at first, but there is lots of very good stuff, packaged in a not-so-traditional way.

The Y Worlds blog presented a post today which is both insightful and hilarious despite the somewhat dry heading “Knowledge Mapping Project”. What about this description of knowledge mapping:

We are on the hunt.
Our prey is accurate, systemic, comprehensive knowledge.
We understand that such knowledge exists within the wild and untamed frontier.
We do not intend to harm knowledge. Rather, we would like to capture it, record it, study it, map it, and if possible, breed it to generate stronger and wiser offspring.

Various species of knowledge roam the earth. Well documented sightings are scattered and rare. Specific variants of knowledge are known to live at corporate and non-profit breeding grounds. Herds of knowledge have been found to frequently congregate at conferences and universities and research centers. They are attracted to watering holes. And much of the population of knowledge roam the earth relatively alone and unrecorded.

For a previous researcher in professional, practical knowledge this humorously written approach describes very well the need for a respectful, ethical way of handling the delicate knowledge you find in the wild.

There is lots to explore at the web sites, what about this, under the rubric “Objectives”:

Assessment of knowledge in rhizomatic learning

David Cormier is the man – or one of them – behind the concept rhizomatic learning and he reflects on the assessment in the case of MOOCs in a recent blog. MOOCs are one of many possible ways of implementing rhizomatic learning, but I suspect that the nature of many of the MOOCs that will be organized by big universities in the near future will not be very rhizomatic.

Dave Cormier has come to a conclusion regarding assessment that seems relevant for the idea of rhizomatic learning:

IF

What we are learning is contextualized by each individual differently, according to their experiences, their understanding and purposes,

AND

The things that are learned are not definite, but flexible and complex

THEN

Assessing what someone ‘knows’ is an act of enforcement of a given point of view, not a helpful guideline to learning

Very logical.

Latvia and Lithuania

My uncle and I usually make a trip to one or several countries around the Baltic Sea every summer. We are especially interested in the nature on the shores and how it differs – or not – from country to country. This year we drove down to the Curian Spit in Lithuania, the narrow cape close to Kaliningrad. We spent five days on the trip, driving 1840 kilometers. Thanks to my fuel economic car, the fuel cost was only 125 euros, even if the price of fuel was almost as high as in Finland, around 1,5 euros/litre.

It’s easy to find good accommodation in the Baltic states nowadays, everywhere you find nicely renovated houses or hotels and the service is getting better and better. It’s also easy to communicate in English.

Her’s one of our routes, we stayed for two days in a cosy hotel Juodkranté, and visited Nida.


Visa Baltikum 2012 på en större karta

On the sea side of the Curonian sit, the beach looked like this:

In Latvia we visited the Gauja National Park, and stayed at Karlamuiza hotel, an old renovated manor house, also easy to recommend.

Here’s our route to and in the forest:

 

Visa Baltikum 2012 på en större karta

Put algebra where it belongs (and not in school)

It’s not very popular to criticize the existence of traditional subjects in the curriculum, especially not mathematics. Nevertheless, more and more freely thinking people are doing just that. Maybe this is part of a (too) slow, but major rethinking of our education system, maybe not.

A few days ago Andrew Hacker, an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York wrote an article in NYT, saying among other things: “It would be far better to reduce, not expand, the mathematics we ask young people to imbibe.” Hacker is however fairly traditional, not an edupunk or a revolutionary like Ivan Illich or the former Yale professor Roger Schank who says: “I gave up being part of the Education system so I could begin to change it.” and “We must stop this. Stop teaching children that math matters when it does not. Math in these tests means algebra, trigonometry and such, which almost never come up in anyone’s life.”

None of these people of course claim that mathematics or language is useless, on the contrary. They claim that teaching these kinds of subjects the way it has been done for more than a century is ineffective and also devastating for the motivation for a large part of pupils/students. For that small percent that really need mathematics, chemistry in their further studies, another way of learning would probably be more effective.

I share their opinion.

How to make work work again

Anyone (=both of you Blinkar) who has followed my blog knows that I’m very skeptic to 20th century management. I realize that my skepticism to some extent is due to my personal traits, but during the 25 years or so during which I have been interested in the dynamics of organizations, more and more really clever people have been pointing at the brokenness of the dominating management paradigms and putting forward theories and examples of how work can be organized in a better way. That is, in a way that makes “workers” flourish and society prosper.

During the last decade, many of the suggestions put forward in this realm have, at least to some extent, been based on complexity thinking/theory, which gives a solid basis to understand the principles for how things (people and nature) really work, and ideas of how to design a setting where productive work can be done.

My favourite theorist/practician when it comes to adding complexity thinking into the management (or non-management) toolbox is Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge. Reading his blog and articles and participating in an accreditiation workshop in 2006 was a grat leap in my understanding and gave structure to my intuitive thoughts about these matters.

But there are lots of other inititatives around as well, and the most recent I have discovered is the Beta Codex Network. I have not yet dug more deeply into their site, but this presentation by Niels Pflaeging, which is more like a short course in post-modern organization theory, tells a lot about the thinking they represent:

The wording chosen in the presentation is for a typical business setting – I wonder how it could be adjusted to speak more to the higher education field?

On meetings and thinking

David Gurteen’s newsletter is always full of wisdom and links to relevant sites.

In today’s newsletter he cites Andrew Armour  who says:

Most meetings, workshops and conferences are not viewed as an opportunity to converse, listen, build dialogue and explore solutions, but a means to present, report, control, persuade — to control your own plan, to get buy-in, to approve or deny.
No wonder then, that when the time does arise for focused, innovative, open and progressive conversation that most of the time –we fail.

This is common knowledge among reflective people, and in Armour’s listing of reasons why meetings, workshops and conferences are still organized in the way they are, lies the explanation – it’s a power game. Not showing up at a meeting in which you are supposed to participate (even if not personally invited) is seen as a lack of loyalty, however useless the meeting is for you.

This reminds me of The law of two feet, that David alluded to already in 2003:

… if at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing – use you two feet and move to some place more to you liking.

Another quote in David’s newsletter is by Ralph Waldo Emerson and goes like this:

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

This again reminds me of Scatman John’s words:

I want to be a human being, not a human doing