March 27, 2002

My theme for the way

My theme for the way ahead is to look around, not forward.
John Seely Brown, in Forbes



"I don't have enough time." How often I hear these words from others. It's about as sound as clerks who blame poor service on "the computer" and mistaking fate for "bad luck."

We all have the same amount of time. Some of us use it more wisely than others.

"I don't have enough time" is another way of saying "This is not sufficiently high on my list of priorities to consider doing."

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March 24, 2002

Doing a Google search on

Doing a Google search on "learning visually" yields beaucoup hits on "learning disabilities" and "visual learning disabilities" and "visually impaired." I'm beginning to think that this is like old-time psychology, where the first cases were all deranged. Psychologists still seem to know more about mental illness than mental health.

Another area that pops up on a search is "learning styles." Now that's an interesting concept, but most of us use all of the styles. It's not either/or so mucha as a matter of degree. I'm drawn to visuals like a moth to the flame, but that doesn't mean I don't read and write.

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March 23, 2002

Mapping Hypertext : The Analysis,

Mapping Hypertext : The Analysis, Organization, and Display of Knowledge for the Next Generation of On-Line Text and Graphics
by Robert E. Horn (Paperback - February 1990

This is a gem. I don't know how I missed it these dozen years past. Horn foresaw many of the problems of hypertext...and what to do about them...before HTML became commonplace.

He also presents Information Mapping (his invention) in very concise fashion.

And I hadn't realized how much Doug Engelbart had contributed. What a guy.

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March 22, 2002

ScienceMaster Learning Galleries has awesome

ScienceMaster Learning Galleries has awesome photos of nature for use by teachers.

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March 21, 2002

I'm getting ready for the

I'm getting ready for the eLearning Forum session on Learning Visually in April, so this blog is becoming my dumping ground for potential material.

From Inspiration's site, here's a piece on Visual Learning:

Research has shown that visual learning is one of the best methods for teaching thinking skills. Visual learning techniques graphical ways of working with ideas and presenting information teach students to clarify their thinking, and to process, organize and prioritize new information. Visual diagrams reveal patterns, interrelationships and interdependencies. They also stimulate creative thinking.

Visual learning techniques help students:
Clarify thinking. Students see how ideas are connected and realize how information can be grouped or organized. With visual learning, new concepts are more thoroughly and easily understood.

Reinforce understanding. Students recreate, in their own words, what they've learned. This helps them absorb and internalize new information, giving them ownership of their ideas.

Integrate new knowledge. Diagrams updated throughout a lesson prompt students to build upon prior knowledge and internalize new information. By reviewing diagrams created previously, students see how facts and ideas fit together.

Identify misconceptions. Just as a concept map or web shows what students know, misdirected links or wrong connections reveal what they don't understand.



Graphic organizers

Thinking Maps

Visual Literacy

Mary Alice White, a researcher at Columbia Teacher's College has found that young people learn more than half of what they know from visual information, but few schools have an explicit curriculum to show students how to think critically about visual data.
In a society where powerful interests employ visual data to persuade (what Alvin Toffler calls "info-tactics") schools must show students how to look beyond the surface to understand deeper levels of meaning and tactics employed to sway their thinking. There is a danger that these images will serve as decoration rather than information unless we show them how to interpret (make meaning of) the data.



Visual Thinking and Mental Imagery
Recent studies of patients with brain damage and of brain imaging indicate that visual and verbal thought may work via different brain systems. Recordings of blood flow in the brain indicate that when a person visualizes something such as walking through his neighborhood, blood flow increases dramatically in the visual cortex, in parts of the brain that are working hard. Studies of brain-damaged patients show that injury to the left posterior hemisphere can stop the generation of visual images from stored long-term memories, while language and verbal memory are not impaired. This indicates that visual imagery and verbal thought may depend on distinct neurological systems.



Scott McCloud's I can't stop thinking, The Big Triangle, and best of all, My Obsession with Chess.

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March 16, 2002

from Insiteview, Tom Shugart's Weblog

from Insiteview, Tom Shugart's Weblog

"Time-economics, what exactly does this mean? Is it how we spend our time - productively, purposefully, meaningfully, wastefully? I have been thinking about the time issue, in terms of both blogging and reading blogs and the articles they point to. Has anybody else thought about how to define time-economics? What is wasted time? How does it fit into the bigger questions of meaning and purpose? How precious a commodity is time?"


I guess I'll take a stab at it, Mike. The key lies in your next-to-last question: "How does it fit into the bigger questions of meaning and purpose?" You ask about the use of the term, "time-economics." Good question. "Economics" is associated with money, and "Money" shares some commonalties with "Time."


Money and Time both have the illusion of being very real. Indeed, about as real as you can get. Money is tangible and measurable. You can use it in an infinite variety of ways. Time is tangible and measurable on the face of every timepiece on the planet. Again, you can use it in an infinite variety of ways.


In actuality, however, time and money are not "real." They are both inventions of man--highly useful--created for the purpose of facilitating human interactions. But they are not Fundamental Entities of the same realm as those that are "really real"--Purpose, Meaning, Experience, Love, Energy, Power, etc. They are representations of those entities. People, for example, often describe the essence of money as Energy or Power or Spiritual-Connection-to-the-Abundance-of-the Universe," whatever. The point being, if you want to address your money situation, first address the fundamental abstractions underlying it.


Using this analogy, suppose we say that that the essence of Time is purpose and meaning, or that time is the representation of purpose and meaning? I remember a popular workshop of the 80's, "The More Time Workshop." Their slogan was, "You can't manage time (because it's not really real), what you manage is experience." The idea was that, instead of looking at time, you looked at the quality of experience that you intended to produce, and let your time-based agenda shape itself around that.


This philosophy is behind Stephen Covey's approach, isn't it? He stresses building out your plan from the foundation of your governing principles. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Mike).


So what's the point? To put it as simply as possible, I guess it's that we should evaluate our blog time in terms of our purpose and meaning and quality of experience and not by the mathematical yardstick of minutes or hours passed.

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Beatiful and varied renderings


Beatiful and varied renderings of the net

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Antigua Guatemala : The


Antigua Guatemala : The City and Its Heritage
by Elizabeth Bell

    Read this if you're going to Antigua; otherwise skip it. Marvellous story: Pedro Alvarez, a lieutenant of Cortes, butchers Guatemalans, establishes his capital near present-day Antigua, and is killed when a horse tumbled off a ledge and squashes him. His wife literally paints the town black, mandates ten days of mourning, and declares herself empress of America. Rains turn into torrents into floods, and the entire town, empress and all, are washed down the river, cleaned out so well that for hundreds of years people mislocated its site.

Michelin NEOS Guide Guatemala-Belize, 1e (NEOS Guide)
by Michelin Staff (Editor)


    A handy pocket-sized guide that was generally right on target. None of the guides, Neos included, had current skinny on hotels in El Peten; things are changing too fast. All-in-all, the best guide on Guatemala travel I could find.

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March 15, 2002

Animated chart junk or nifty

Animated chart junk or nifty explanation? TECHtionary is an over-the-top technical dictionary.

Elsewhere, the concept of "skins" seems to be spreading. Skins are cosmetic makeovers for applications. This morning I came upon BlogSkins.

Huh?
So you've got a blog of your own.
Congratulations. And you're oh so proud of your witty and insightful posts. But you've got one problem -- you suck at design. In fact, you suck so much that people skip right over your site because the bad color scheme combination and small font sizes hurt their eyes. That's where BlogSkins.com comes in. Take the designs from some of the best people around the blogging community, and instantly and easily apply them to your own Blogger-powered site.
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March 14, 2002

Returning from vacation, I'm able

Returning from vacation, I'm able to look at old behaviors with fresh eyes. Do I really need to read the newspaper compulsively? How often do I really need to check up on what's going on in the world? Wouldn't it be healthier to start the day with a glass of pineapple or watermelon juice than a cup of coffee?

My nine days off the grid were serene. Now I'm noticing the extent to which email interrupts my life. Coming home to 1400 emails, most of them offering me debt consolidation, better long distance rates, a deal on toner cartridges, or a more vigorous sex life, is only a nuisance.

The interruption comes from needlessly checking email every time I send a message (Doesn't anybody love me any more?) or responding to email in almost real time (rather than batching the non-urgent ones for later processing). Blocks of time are more productive than lots of little snitches of time. I'd be better off checking email only a couple of times a day and responding to non-critical email only at the end of the day, or every other day.


This is like giving up smoking. I'm already in denial. Just one more peak. Cripes. I'm closing Outlook until after this afternoon's meeting. I promise.

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March 13, 2002

Job aid for the illiterate

Job aid for the illiterate and its brother

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Guatemala Time here is less

Guatemala

Time here is less precise. At home, if I say I'll arrive around 8:00, I mean anywhere from 7:45 to 8:15. Here we'd have more latitude. 8:00, mas o menos, means "between 8:15 and 10:30." I wonder if this comes from different metaphors for how the world works. In spite of the fact that Einstein debunked Newton's view that the universe is a giant mechanical clock, Americans tend to think in terms of on/off, cause/effect, gears meshing, and everything running "like a Swiss watch." I sense that Guatemalans are somewhat pre-Newtonian, seeing things in spiritual terms. Things are more loosely coupled, bound together with magic and beliefs instead of drive shafts and fan belts.

Before the Spaniards arrived, the Mayans had come up with a calendar that was only off by 30 seconds everything 30,000 years, mas o menos, but the timing was left to the priesthood. Priests were astronomers; astronomers were priests. They built Tikal to calculate and celebrate equinoxes, solstices, and eclipses. On one wall in the departure area of the Guatemala City Aeropuerto hang clocks displaying the time in California, New York, Paris, etc. The hours are of course all different. Here, so are the minutes. It's 9:32 and 11:03 and 6:15..

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March 12, 2002

Time is a great teacher,

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
Hector Berlioz

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March 08, 2002

Raspberry Jam, Law of

Formulated by consultant Gerald Weinberg, the Law of Raspberry Jam states, “The more you spread it, the thinner it gets.”

Few things scale forever.

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Materiality

As Alan Watts titled a book, “Does it matter?”

Contrary to what you may think, accountants don’t strive to account for every penny. They strive to present a fair picture of an organization’s financial condition, not to balance its checkbook.

If your employer is auditing your expenses, a $300 discrepancy on your hotel bill is probably significant; it’s “material.” If Deloitte is auditing Exxon, a $5 million discrepancy in expense reimbursements is trivial — it’s a drop in the bucket that won’t even show up on Exxon’s financial statements.

I interpret the Principle of Materiality as “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Don’t fixate on false accuracy. And if you’re unsure whether or not something’s material, change its value up or down to see if it makes a meaningful difference. Impress your friends by saying you’re performing a “sensitivity analysis.”

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Sunk Cost

Don’t throw good money after bad.

Imagine you’ve sunk $100,000 into a project. Another $10,000 and it will be completed. But market conditions have changed and you’ll only recoup $25,000.

A colleague discovers an open-source code that will generate the same $25,000 return for an investment of only $8,000 total.

Do you go for the first option and complete the $110,000 project?

Or do you abandon the $100,000 and go for the cheaper new alternative?



The rational businessperson chooses the second option. The $100,000 is a “sunk cost.” It’s water over the dam. You need to make decisions based on incremental costs and incremental rewards. Paying $8,000 to get $25,000 beats paying $10,000 to get $25,000 any time, anywhere.

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