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robertogreco : plasticity   15

on reading and flux - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"He then goes on to define high, medium, and low flux, and to describe some situations in which one or the other might be called for.

All this has me thinking about the degree of flux appropriate to different reading experiences. This seems to me highly variable according to genre and purpose. For instance, the New Republic’s iPad app is designed to offer higher flux than other magazine apps I’ve seen, which are minimally interactive: here you have poems that you can use your finger to slide into view, taps that activate deeper levels of content, and so on. Sometimes it’s too much, and at other times it takes too long to figure out how a given story works — they vary more than they ought to — but in general I like it. A good deal of thought has gone into the design, and moe often than not the interactions are appropriate to the particular story and help me to engage more fully with it.

But I would never want to read Anna Karenina this way. The kind of concentration demanded by a long, complex, serious novel cannot bear much, if any, flux. And unnecessary flux can readily be avoided by reading it in a codex — hooray for that! But if people do gradually shift more and more towards reading on some kind of screen or another, and screens become increasingly capable of variable degrees of flux (as e-ink screens currently are not), then we readers will be ever more dependent on designers who possess a deep sensitivity to context and purpose — pixel-based designers who are widely, as a matter of basic professional competence, as flexible and nuanced in their design languages as the best print-based designers are today. Or, at the very least, they’ll need to build in the possibility of opting out of their fluxier interfaces. As someone who’s headed for a more screen-based reading future, I’m a little naevous about all this."
flux  plasticity  alanjacobs  2013  frankchimero  text  reading  howweread  context  purpose 
november 2013 by robertogreco
In Defense of Messiness: David Weinberger and the iPad Summit - EdTech Researcher - Education Week
[via: ]

"We were very lucky today to have David Weinberger give the opening address at our iPad Summit in Boston yesterday. We've started a tradition at the iPad Summit that our opening keynote speaker should know, basically, nothing about teaching with iPads. We don't want to lead our conversation with technology, we want to lead with big ideas about how the world is changing and how we can prepare people for that changing world.

Dave spoke drawing on research from his most recent book, Too Big To Know: How the Facts are not the Facts, Experts are not Experts, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room.

It's hard to summarize a set of complex ideas, but at the core of Dave's argument is the idea that our framing of "knowledge," the metaphysics of knowledge (pause: yes, we start our iPad Summit with discussions of the metaphysics of knowledge), is deeply intertwined with the technology we have used for centuries to collect and organize knowledge: the book. So we think of things that are known as those that are agreed upon and fixed--placed on a page that cannot be changed; we think of them as stopping places--places for chapters to end; we think of them as bounded--literally bounded in the pages of a book; we think of them as organized in a single taxonomy--because each library has to choose a single place for the physical location of each book. The limitations of atoms constrained our metaphysics of knowledge.

We then encoded knowledge into bits, and we began to discover a new metaphysics of knowledge. Knowledge is not bound, but networked. It is not agreed, but debated. It is not ordered, but messy.

A changing shape of knowledge demands that we look seriously at changes in educational practice. For many educators at the iPad Summit, the messiness that David sees as generative the emerging shape of knowledge reflects the messiness that they see in their classrooms. As Holly Clark said in her presentation, "I used to want my administrators to drop in when my students were quiet, orderly, and working alone. See we're learning! Now I want them to drop in when we are active, engaged, collaborative, loud, messy, and chaotic. See, we're learning!"

These linkages are exactly what we hope can happen when we start our conversations about teaching with technology by leading with our ambitions for our students rather than leading with the affordances of a device.

I want to engage David a little further on one point. When I invited David to speak, he said "I can come, but I have some real issues with iPads in education." We talked about it some, and I said, "Great, those sound like serious concerns. Air them. Help us confront them."

David warned us again this morning "I have one curmudgeonly old man slide against iPads," and Tom Daccord (EdTechTeacher co-founder) and I both said "Great." The iPad Summit is not an Apple fanboygirl event. At the very beginning, Apple's staff, people like Paul Facteau, were very clear that iPads were never meant to be computer replacements--that some things were much better done on laptops or computes. Any educator using a technology in their classroom should be having an open conversation about the limitations of their tools.

Tom then gave some opening remarks where he said something to the effect of "The iPad is not a repository of apps, but a portable, media creation device." If you talk to most EdTechTeacher staff, we'll tell you that with an iPad, you get a camera, microphone, connection to the Internet, scratchpad, and keyboard--and a few useful apps that let you use those things. (Apparently, there are all kinds of people madly trying to shove "content" on the iPad, but we're not that interested. For the most part, they've done a terrible job.)

Dave took the podium and said in his introductory remarks, "There is one slide that I already regret." He followed up with this blog post, No More Magic Knowledge [ ]:
I gave a talk at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit this morning, and felt compelled to throw in an Angry Old Man slide about why iPads annoy me, especially as education devices. Here's my List of Grievances:
• Apple censors apps
• iPads are designed for consumers. [This is false for these educators, however. They are using iPad apps to enable creativity.]
• They are closed systems and thus lock users in
• Apps generally don't link out
That last point was the one that meant the most in the context of the talk, since I was stressing the social obligation we all have to add to the Commons of ideas, data, knowledge, arguments, discussion, etc.
I was sorry I brought the whole thing up, though. None of the points I raised is new, and this particular audience is using iPads in creative ways, to engage students, to let them explore in depth, to create, and to make learning mobile.

I, for one, was not sorry that Dave brought these issues up. There are real issues with our ability as educators to add to the Commons through iPads. It's hard to share what you are doing inside a walled garden. In fact, one of the central motivations for the iPad Summit is to bring educators together to share their ideas and to encourage them to take that extra step to share their practice with the wider world; it pains me to think of all of the wheels being reinvented in the zillions of schools that have bought iPads. We're going to have to hack the garden walls of the iPad to bring our ideas together to the Common.

The issue of the "closedness" of iPads is also critical. Dave went on to say that one limitation of the iPad is that you can't view source from a browser. (It's not strictly true, but it's a nuisance of a hack--see here or here.) From Dave again:

"Even though very few of us ever do peek beneath the hood -- why would we? -- the fact that we know there's an openable hood changes things. It tells us that what we see on screen, no matter how slick, is the product of human hands. And that is the first lesson I'd like students to learn about knowledge: it often looks like something that's handed to us finished and perfect, but it's always something that we built together. And it's all the cooler because of that."

I'd go further than you can't view source: there is no command line. You can't get under the hood of the operating system, either. You can't unscrew the back. Now don't get wrong, when you want to make a video, I'm very happy to declare that you won't need to update your codecs in order to get things to compress properly. Simplicity is good in some circumstances. But we are captive to the slickness that Dave describes. Let's talk about that.

A quick tangent: Educators come up to me all the time with concerns that students can't word process on an iPad--I have pretty much zero concern about this. Kids can write papers using Swype on a smartphone with a cracked glass. Just because old people can't type on digitized keyboards doesn't mean kids can't (and you probably haven't been teaching them touch-typing anyway).

I'm not concerned that kids can't learn to write English on an iPad, I'm concerned they can't learn to write Python. If you believe that learning to code is a vital skill for young people, then the iPad is not the device for you. The block programming languages basically don't work. There is no Terminal or Putty or iPython Notebook. To teach kids to code, they need a real computer. (If someone has a robust counter-argument to that assertion, I'm all ears.) We should be very, very clear that if we are putting all of our financial eggs in the iPad basket, there are real opportunities that we are foreclosing.

Some of the issues that Dave raises we can hack around. Some we can't. The iPad Summit, all technology-based professional development, needs to be a place where we talk about what technology can't do, along with what it can.

Dave's keynote about the power of open systems reminds us that knowledge is networked and messy. Our classrooms, and the technologies we use to support learning in our classrooms, should be the same. To the extent that the technologies we choose are closed and overly-neat, we should be talking about that.

Many thanks again to Dave for a provocative morning, and many thanks to the attendees of the iPad Summit for joining in and enriching the conversation."
justinreich  ipad  2013  ipadsummit  davidweinberger  messiness  learning  contructionism  howthingswork  edtech  computers  computing  coding  python  scratch  knowledge  fluidity  flux  tools  open  closed  walledgardens  cv  teaching  pedagogy  curriculum  tomdaccord  apple  ios  closedness  viewsource  web  internet  commons  paulfacteau  schools  education  mutability  plasticity 
november 2013 by robertogreco
What Screens Want by Frank Chimero
"We need to work as a community to develop a language of transformation so we can talk to one another. And we probably need to steal these words from places like animation, theater, puppetry, dance, and choreography.

Words matter. They are abstractions, too—an interface to thought and understanding by communication. The words we use mold our perception of our work and the world around us. They become a frame, just like the interfaces we design."

"When I realized that, a little light went off in my head: a map’s biases do service to one need, but distort everything else. Meaning, they misinform and confuse those with different needs.

That’s how I feel about the web these days. We have a map, but it’s not for me. So I am distanced. It feels like things are distorted. I am consistently confused.

See, we have our own abstractions on the web, and they are bigger than the user interfaces of the websites and apps we build. They are the abstractions we use to define the web. The commercial web. The things that have sprung up in the last decade, but gained considerable speed in the past five years.

It’s the business structures and funding models we use to create digital businesses. It’s the pressure to scale, simply because it’s easy to copy bits. It’s the relationships between the people who make the stuff, and the people who use that stuff, and the consistent abandonment of users by entrepreneurs.

It’s the churning and the burning, flipping companies, nickel and diming users with in-app purchases, data lock-in, and designing with dark patterns so that users accidentally do actions against their own self-interest.

Listen: I’m at the end of a 4-month sabbatical, and I worry about this stuff, because the further I get from everything, the more it begins to look toxic. These pernicious elements are the primary map we have of the web right now.

We used to have a map of a frontier that could be anything. The web isn’t young anymore, though. It’s settled. It’s been prospected and picked through. Increasingly, it feels like we decided to pave the wilderness, turn it into a suburb, and build a mall. And I hate this map of the web, because it only describes a fraction of what it is and what’s possible. We’ve taken an opportunity for connection and distorted it to commodify attention. That’s one of the sleaziest things you can do.

So what is the answer? I found this quote by Ted Nelson, the man who invented hypertext. He’s one of the original rebel technologists, so he has a lot of things to say about our current situation. Nelson:
The world is not yet finished, but everyone is behaving as if everything was known. This is not true. In fact, the computer world as we know it is based upon one tradition that has been waddling along for the last fifty years, growing in size and ungainliness, and is essentially defining the way we do everything. My view is that today’s computer world is based on techie misunderstandings of human thought and human life. And the imposition of inappropriate structures throughout the computer is the imposition of inappropriate structures on the things we want to do in the human world.

We can produce a vision of the web that isn’t based on:


We can make a new map. Or maybe reclaim a map we misplaced a long time ago. One built on:


We can use the efficiency and power of interfaces to help people do what they already wish more quickly or enjoyably, and we can build up business structures so that it’s okay for people to put down technology and get on with their life once their job is done. We can rearrange how we think about the tools we build, so that someone putting down your tool doesn’t disprove its utility, but validates its usefulness.

Let me leave you with this: the point of my writing was to ask what screens want. I think that’s a great question, but it is a secondary concern. What screens want needs to match up with what we want.

People believe there’s an essence to the computer, that there’s something true and real and a correct way to do things. But—there is no right way. We get to choose how to aim the technology we build. At least for now, because increasingly, technology feels like something that happens to you instead of something you use. We need to figure out how to stop that, for all of our sakes, before we’re locked in, on rails, and headed toward who knows what.

One of the reasons that I’m so fascinated by screens is because their story is our story. First there was darkness, and then there was light. And then we figured out how to make that light dance. Both stories are about transformations, about change. Screens have flux, and so do we."
frankchimero  2013  screens  flux  build2013  plasticity  jamesburke  plastic  skeoumorphs  containers  materials  change  transitions  perception  flatdesign  windowsphonemetro  ios7  software  replacement  shape  affordances  grain  design  paper  print  eadwardmuybridge  movement  motion  animation  customization  responsivewebdesign  responsiveness  variability  mutability  mutations  ux  interactiondesign  interfaces  language  ethanmarcotte  maps  mapping  representation  cartography  embodiedmeaning  respresentation  tednelson  computersareforpeople  softwareisforpeople  unfinished  responsivedesign 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Visualizing Variation: Animated Variants
"An important early claim made for digital scholarly editions was that they don't force editors and readers into choosing one variant over another. Instead of creating an implicit or explicit hierarchy of rejected variants subordinated to a single, supposedly authoritative reading, it was thought that digital editions could represent variants dynamically, presenting their ambiguity to readers not as a problem to solve, but as a field of interpretive possibility. Very few digital editions, however, have realized this possibility in their interfaces. One thing a digital visualization can do is make a virtue of ambiguity in ways that print cannot, combining the elements of time and motion to represent variants in ways that challenge the idea that texts are fixed and immutable.

This group of prototypes uses animation to cycle between different textual variants, presenting them as a field of possibilities to readers, and hopefully inviting readers to consider the evidence for and consequences of different possibilities. Animated variants also drive home the simple yet unsettling point that textual transmission is more often a matter of change than fixity: texts sometimes change even when readers aren't looking.

The Animated Variants visualization was inspired partly by debates in Shakespearean editorial theory and partly by born-digital poetry, especially the early computer poems of bpNicol. Although the first prototype of this visualization was developed with Shakespearean examples in mind, my plan is to generalize them to handle as many different kinds of variation as possible. The single prototype posted here will likely become a group of visualizations that handle many different kinds of textual variation, including variants in words, phrases, lineation, stage directions, and manuscript revisions. For now I have posted a simple first version that cycles between variant words and phrase, as shown in the box above."

[via: ]
alangaley  text  variations  language  xml  webdev  css  javascript  change  flux  plasticity  translation  expandingtext  digitalsertão  animatedvariants  stackingwords  auditiontext  webdesign 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Paul Bloom | Professor of Psychology, Yale University | Big Think
"Paul Bloom is a professor of psychology at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He is a past president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and a co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, one of the major journals in the field. Dr. Bloom has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science as well as for popular outlets such as The New York Times, the Guardian, and the Atlantic. He is the author or editor of four books, including "Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human." His newest book, "How Pleasure Works," will be published by Norton in June 2010."

[This link points to the segment of the interview title: "How Are Kids Smarter Than Adults?"]
children  language  socialinteraction  brain  plasticity  psychology  imagination  pretending  interviews  paulbloom  play  pretend  development  fiction  evolution  perception  childdevelopment  morality  art  religion  pleasure  reality  purposefuldeception  self-deception 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Placticity, Global Movements and Bioregion Change
"The first half of the twentieth century was drenched in the blood spilled by German and Japanese aggression, yet only a few decades later it is hard to think of two countries more pacific. Sweden spent the seventeenth century rampaging through Europe, yet it is now an icon of nurturing tranquility. Humans have invented the small nomadic band and the continental megastate, and have demon- strated a flexibility whereby uprooted descendants of the former can function eaectively in the latter. We lack the type of physiology or anatomy that in other mammals determine their mating system, and have come up with societies based on monogamy, polygyny, and polyandry. And we have fashioned some religions in which violent acts are the entrée to paradise and other religions in which the same acts consign one to hell. Is a world of peacefully coexisting human Forest Troops possible? Anyone who says, “No, it is beyond our nature,” knows too little about primates, including ourselves.”

[Quote from Robert Sapolsky here: ]
thomassteele-maley  plasticity  adaptability  anthropology  society  human  ingenuity  change  gamechanging  robertsapolsky  bioregions  happiness  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  primates  ecology  culture  lcproject  tcsnmy  history  sweden  germany  japan  war  agression  utopia  baboons  nomads  citystates  scale  humannature  phenotypicplasticity  environment  environmentalism 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Don’t leave learning to the young. Older brains can grow, too. -
"Whether it is by learning a new language, traveling to a new place, developing a passion for beekeeping or simply thinking about an old problem in a new way, all of us can find ways to stimulate our brains to grow, in the coming year and those to follow. Just as physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body, challenging one’s brain, keeping it active, engaged, flexible and playful, is not only fun. It is essential to cognitive fitness."
brain  neuroscience  plasticity  oliversacks  learning  openminded  curiosity  adaptability  flexibility  challenge  growth  2011 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Bilingualism | Hilery Williams
"It seems that in timed problem solving tests, the thought processes of bilingual people move rapidly from one language to another in order to retrieve information. Thus, knowing 2 words for the same concept creates flexibility and, it is claimed, freer thinking. Naturally this requires practice but this research is evidence of the extreme adaptability and plasticity of the brain."

"Other studies have shown that the cognitive benefits of bilingualism are apparent from 2 years of age. It’s not just that the 2 year olds solve problems better, but that they are less distractible than mono-linguists: they are accustomed to listening and adapting to two modes of speech."
language  bilingualism  cognition  cognitive  cognitivedisability  adaptability  plasticity  memory  flexibility  retrieval  problemsolving  information  freethinking  listening  adaptation  distraction 
february 2011 by robertogreco
The Cognitive Cost Of Expertise | Wired Science |
"Now for the bad news: Expertise might also come with a dark side, as all those learned patterns make it harder for us to integrate wholly new knowledge. Consider a recent paper that investigated the mnemonic performance of London taxi drivers. In the world of neuroscience, London cabbies are best known for their demonstration of structural plasticity in the hippocampus, a brain area devoted (in part) to spatial memory. Because the cabbies are required to memorize the entire urban map of London – it’s the most rigorous driving test in the world – their posterior hippocampi swell and expand, leading to permanent changes in the brain. Knowledge shapes matter."
neuroscience  psychology  constraints  jonahlehrer  perception  brain  chess  thinking  science  expertise  memory  plasticity  generalists  specialization  mindchanges  permanence  specialists  mindchanging 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Children, Wired: For Better and for Worse — Daphne Bavelier, C. Shawn Green, and Matthew W.G. Dye [.pdf]
"Children encounter technology constantly at home and in school. Television, DVDs, video games, the Internet, and smart phones all play a formative role in children’s development. The term ‘‘technology’ subsumes a large variety of somewhat independent items, and it is no surprise that current research indicates causes for both optimism and concern depending upon the content of the technology, the context in which the technology immerses the user, and the user’s developmental stage. Furthermore, because the field is still in its infancy, results can be surprising: video games designed to be reasonably mindless result in widespread enhancements of various abilities, acting, we will argue, as exemplary learning tools. Counterintuitive outcomes like these, besides being practically relevant, challenge and eventually lead to refinement of theories concerning fundamental principles of brain plasticity and learning."
cognitive  brain  neuroscience  videogames  internet  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  children  learning  counterintuitive  plasticity  development 
november 2010 by robertogreco
RSA - No limits
"This does not mean, of course, that every person has the same resources and opportunities or that anyone can be great at anything; biological and circumstantial differences and advantages or disadvantages abound. However, by revealing talent to be a process rather than a thing, we can debunk the simplistic idea of genetic giftedness. It is no longer reasonable to attribute talent or success to a specific gene or to any other mysterious gift. The real gift, it turns out, belongs to virtually all of us: it is the plasticity and the extraordinary responsiveness built into basic human biology."
talent  practice  creativity  psychology  expertise  learning  doing  tcsnmy  potential  davidshenck  adaptability  toshare  topost  plasticity  genius  sports  persistence  hardwork  experience  iteration 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Book Review - 'Reading in the Brain - The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention,' by Stanislas Dehaene - Review -
"More than any other animal, we humans constantly reshape our environment. We also have an exceptionally long childhood and especially plastic young brains… At this very moment, if you are under 30, you are much more likely to be moving your eyes across a screen than a page. And you may be simultaneously clicking a hyperlink to the last “Colbert Report,” I.M.-ing with friends and Skyping with your sweetheart… the ancient media of speech and song and theater were radically reshaped by writing, though they were never entirely supplanted, a comfort perhaps to those of us who still thrill to the smell of a library… surely, in the end, the story of the reading, learning, hyperlinking, endlessly rewiring brain is more hopeful than sad."

[See also:
bookfuturism  alisongopnik  timcarmody  books  reading  neuroscience  technology  plasticity  learning  media  newmedia  brain  adaptation  adaptability  noamchomsky  stanislasdehaene 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Brains old and young « Snarkmarket
"Put these two [articles from the NY Times] together, and you get a pic­ture that’s even more hope­ful. Our brains aren’t just plas­tic over the span of human evo­lu­tion or his­tor­i­cal epochs, but over indi­vid­ual lives. It might be eas­ier and feel more nat­ural for chil­dren, whose brains seem to us to be noth­ing but plas­tic­ity. But we don’t just have a long child­hood — to a cer­tain extent, our child­hood never ends."

[see also: AND AND ]
neuroscience  brain  science  plasticity  childhood  evolution  adaptability  newmedia  cv  memory  psychology  generations  alisongopnik  stanislasdehaene 
january 2010 by robertogreco

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