Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deep Space Travel

Travelling in the depths of space will literally give a whole new meaning to dancing with the stars. In Technology’s Promise, William Halal and others postulate that it may indeed be possible that we will see deep space exploration near the middle of the 21st century. One can only hope these days, but with the recent gutting of the U.S. space programs out of fear and mismanagement of the federal government, the possibility of even getting to Mars by then seems doubtful. The short shortsightedness and selfishness of those we have put into high office has done almost irreparable harm to once lofty aspirations.



Much work and research will be required to realize the means to propel mankind where no one has gone before. People here on Earth will have to settle down and get along much better in order for such an expensive enterprise can even begin to prosper. It appears that we are in the midst of a bust or boom phase of human development. At the moment, uncertainty is in the driver’s seat with confidence riding in the back of the bus, heading for a canyon cliff. It is time to toss the old baggage (i.e. Legislators and the like) off the bus so that it can make the leap across to the other side with some leadership that has integrity, fortitude and foresight.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mind Mapping Online Tools

CS855 Mind Map

A nice, useful Web 2.0 tool to support Socio-Technical Innovation in the 21st century is Mind42.com. This tool provides a platform for illustrating an idea and all the factors that one can think of that might go into the innovative development of the idea into reality.

Futurist Isaac Asimov

Did Isaac Asimov foresee the advent of Google, Wikipedia and the like?

Isaac Asimov
“Once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers, be given reference materials, be something you’re interested in knowing, from an early age, however silly it might seem to someone else… that’s what YOU are interested in, and you can ask, and you can find out, and you can do it in your own home, at your own speed, in your own direction, in your own time… Then, everyone would enjoy learning. Nowadays, what people call learning is forced on you, and everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class, and everyone is different.” ~ Isaac Asimov
 http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/01/28/isaac-asimov-creativity-education-science/

Having a firm grasp of the technological aspects afforded to the world by the proliferation of personal computers, Isaac Asimov certainly envisioned the educational advantages that were about to be realized. He would no doubt approve of the direction computer technology has taken us for the most part.

He also understood the potential for abuses of any technology, especially one that could reach into every household in the world. As one of the most productive authors of our time, he spanned the realms of impossibilities as well as practicalities. It seems as though all things are quite possible in his mind, where the depth of his vision could only be described as boundless.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Agora

The New Agora paper promotes the apparent advantages of the theory of a Technology of Democracy as it is primarily based on the architecture of a Structured Design Dialogue Process (SDDP). (Schreibman & Christakis, 2007) This is made up of 31 constructs that are assembled into 7 modules, of which the paper focuses in on latest module of the Six Dialog Laws. The sixth law is Evolutionary Learning where observers study about the associations that exist between the various ideas that come up in the course of discussion.

This method of examination and analysis could prove invaluable in most project development processes. A case in point might be with the aforementioned School of Dreams in my blog. Undoubtedly the concepts to be broached with such an undertaking will need to be bandied about considerably amongst the diverse factions that could arise over what may easily become a research topic of considerable controversy. A healthy active dialogue is bound to be the result once the freely contributed ideas and opinions are compiled from the initial Delphi brainstorming stage for general consumption of the group of interested parties.

The Evolutionary Learning process should result in considerable insight and aid in instigating the formulation of a plan to go forward with the research. This process could also lead the primary research team to utilize a follow on Delphi process to further examine and define some complex problem or expose more details required to better understand a course of action.

Schreibman, V., & Christakis, A. N. (2007). New Agora: New Geometry of Languaging And New Technology of Democracy: The Structured Design Dialogue Process. International Journal of Applied Systemic Studies (IJASS), 1(1), 15-31. Retrieved from http://sunsite.utk.edu/FINS/loversofdemocracy/NewAgora.htm

School of Dreams

Dream research has probably been going on in some form since Adam. The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) portion of sleeping was defined as such in the middle of the last century and has been a research topic of great interest ever since. It is thought that the mechanisms at work during REM help to consolidate learned events into memory. Hagewoud, et al.(2010) found that sleep deprivation and the timing of when in the sleep cycle that it occurs is important to the retention of memories.

A point of conjecture for just how much sleep is needed and what is really going on when REM occurs at various lengths of time has been that possibly as more learning experiences are acquired, the new information takes more time to be woven into the existing consolidated fabric of memories.(Gina R. Poe, Christine M. Walsh, & Theresa E. Bjorness, 2010) There may be much more going on here than defragmenting the internal hard drive. Walker & Stickgold (2010) consider the possibilities of significant processing tasks are taking place during multiple REM episodes throughout a sleep cycle.

Most people spend anywhere from 6 to 10 hours sleeping each night. The questions that come to mind are: Could there be an opportunity here to tap into the cycle of sleep to learn through virtual experiences what most currently spend what appears to be an excessive amount of time in school learning today? Could there possibly be a way to train complex tasks to a sleeping subject who could then take what is learned to be applied when awake? Could this become the ultimate immersive application of the emergent virtual education environments? 

The concept of Game Based Learning (GBL) would seem to be an appropriate venue for injecting experiential learning into our dreams. A presentation of problem scenarios and tasks with a virtual mentor as guide through a dramatic experience can enhance the learning process. Sometimes this is often what comes up naturally when we have particularly vivid dreams.  Thomas (2011) presents research into the framework of a system for assisted learning activities through GBL with the goal of “automatically generating scaffolding to guide students in exploratory learning environments”.

An open collaboration of ideas through the use of a type of Delphi method would be most appropriate as these concepts are relatively young and expected to become heavily charged with strong opinions from several areas of study. There is no burning need to rush in where angels may fear to tread. The mind is a terrible thing to waste but an even more dreadful thing to destroy through ignorance and greed. More than ample time must be allotted to studying first the feasibility and ultimately the process of implementation of such an endeavor. By comparison, putting a man on the moon was simply child’s play. The human mind may really be the ultimate frontier to strive to explore.

Combining what will likely be discovered through future dream research with the rapidly developing fields of GBL and virtual worlds could provide both educational as well as economical benefits to a world where technology and wide spread understanding of the underlying knowledge a growing ever further apart. As usual, the unconventional aspects of this application will probably be an impediment to its progress as there is much to understand about how and why our brains function as they do before treading where we may not belong only to create the possibility for severe detrimental and even irreversible effects.


Gina R. Poe, P., Christine M. Walsh, P., & Theresa E. Bjorness, P. (2010). Both Duration and Timing of Sleep are Important to Memory Consolidation SLEEP, 33(10), 1277-1278. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941411/pdf/aasm.33.10.1277.pdf
Hagewoud, R., Whitcomb, S. N., Heeringa, A. N., Robbert Havekes, P., Jaap M. Koolhaas, P., & Peter Meerlo, P. (2010). A Time for Learning and a Time for Sleep: The Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Contextual Fear Conditioning at Different Times of the Day. SLEEP, 33(10), 1315-1322. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941417/pdf/aasm.33.10.1315.pdf
THOMAS, J. M. (2011). Automated Scaffolding of Task-Based Learning in Non-Linear Game Environments. Unpublished Dissertation, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Walker, M. P., & Stickgold, R. (2010). Overnight Alchemy: Sleep-dependent Memory Evolution. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891532/pdf/nihms206932.pdf

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers | Video on TED.com

Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers | Video on TED.com

Conrad Wolfram takes the stance that math is not something we should be teaching our children. More specifically the chore of hand calculating, which has been proven time and again to bore most to tears. His main question is why are we still forcing students to workout rather trivial problems with paper and pencil rather than teaching them to understand the concepts, analyze real world problems and use computers to do the grunt work? He makes a compelling argument and what he proposes is to take a considerable leap away from the old way of teaching Mathematics toward a real-world approach that will serve more practical purposes, increase our understanding of an ever increasingly mathematical society and remove the stigmas associated the learning Mathematics. Most of us have been convinced that the only way to learn math is to do math. Conrad would like to change all that so the way to learn math is to solve real interesting problems and let the computers do the math.