Reflections at the Second Week Milestone

First, I wish to compliment Asa at Anonymous Octopus for an awesome  blog post title which is both creative and descriptive: A Fortnight in a Flash. I strongly agree that the first two weeks of this course have gone by extremely rapidly.

Due to my work and home/family schedules, I’ve been having trouble keeping up with the scheduled assignments from the syllabus.  As I’m an open participant, I don’t need to worry about that from a grading perspective, but I do want to participate fully and contribute appropriately to what should be a highly synergistic interaction among all participants.  To do that I need to keep up as best I can.  Also, I know from many previous experiences that I will benefit from this course in proportion to the effort I put in.  I want to learn and benefit greatly, so I will need to work hard and carve out the time needed as best I can.

Thus far I’ve focused most of my effort on the nugget and concept experiences, and not emphasized extensive commenting on other participants’ posts.  I’ve made some comments, but not the 5-10 scheduled for some days.  In the big scheme of things, this is probably OK: I think it will be of more value to the students for me to comment well but less frequently, than frequently but with less care and thought.

As I’ve partly described in my previous post, and will discuss more in future posts, my goals for this course are likely a bit different than most other participants.  While I expect to learn much about writing and multimedia presentation and how to construct and present effective arguments using more than just words, that’s not my initial or primary goal.  My main interest is a deep inquiry into the concepts and ideas of visionaries such as Drs Vannevar Bush and Douglas Engelbart, and an examination of how those concepts have and have not manifested themselves in current computer-aided knowledge-work tools.  It also would be nice to include the formulation of a plan or concept as to what “missing pieces” are needed and (perhaps) how to bring those “missing pieces” into existence through integration of existing tools or creation of new components, but that may be stretching a bit too far (at least within the duration of this course.)

There are also several items I wish very much to contribute and launch into the #thoughtvectors mix.  In the weeks before the course started, I made notes in a handwritten journal of a whole bunch of ideas which are either directly or tangentially related to course topics, about which I plan to post as food for thought.  These include many pointers to various useful concepts and resources I’ve found over the years, which I hope the students (and instructors) can benefit from in many ways.  Writing these up will take additional time from my schedule; I expect to have to prioritize the writeups, and continue posting them to my blog well after the summer course is complete.

I suspect very little about which I want to write is unknown (especially to the instructors), but perhaps my writing will prompt several to discuss and describe the ideas in more depth, with more usefulness and examples of application.  For instance, one specific area I plan to write about is outlining, including the concept of “mind maps”; I see that Karen Richardson has already created an excellent example of a mindmap in describing her associative trail.  Likewise, another topic involves various tools useful for brainstorming and writing and authoring various types of documents; Suzan has already described the start of an excellent list.

In summary, this first two weeks has been interesting and valuable and a great start to the course.  I’m looking forward eagerly to the next couple weeks, especially the Douglas Engelbart readings and the archive of Friday’s interview with Alan Kay.

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