Assignments

calvin

Yes, it’s as you have always suspected, Calvin and Hobbs help out with my assignments! We have come to the end of the semester and I am snowed under with work on assignments, but I do feel is a sense of achievement at having come this far in such a short time. I have a “Captivate” assignment, a report, a “Flash” assignment and the summer project waiting ; one thing I learned on this course is to manage several diverse projects at once, something I that would have overwhelmed me before now. Out there in the real world, that is how things operate.

The Best

Future Net

In a discussion about the difference between the Net generation and the Baby boomers, I was intrigued by a comment that the Net generation doesn’t  read, but they can multitask, i.e. do five things at once. I wonder what are the implications of this.

As we live in an age of 24/7 connectivity, this has brought benefits but it can be a double edged sword in terms of mental well-being. Our brains have largely remained unchanged since the stone age, so we are equipped with a stone age mind in a digital world and neuroscience has been looking at some of the side effects of this.

Recent brain images have shown that parts of our brain are highly active during down time, this has led scientists to believe that moments of not doing are critical nor connecting and creating new information, ideas, and experiences.

According to a report from the University of California, San Diego, in 28 years (1980-2008) our consumption of information increased 350%, while our downtime (time not doing stuff) continues to shrink. When we are watching TV, or surfing the net, playing computer games or using social media, we are triggering the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine creates a “high” and we try to maintain that elevated state. When dopamine levels decrease, we try to look for diversions that will restore the high.

We need to be mindful of how digital media and continuous web connectivity are shaping our brains, perceptions and habits.

Class with Professor Rubens

We had a Friday morning class with Professor Philip Rubens, who is Adjunct Professor in Technical Communication at UL and also is Professor of Technical Communications at East Carolina University.

Dr Rubens spoke to us about ethics in technical writing and indeed, ethics in writing generally. He mentioned having a copy of Wendell Berry’s book “Standing by Words” which he keeps by his bedside. Wendel Berry is a farmer, social activist, writer, poet, Professor of English. In “Standing by Words” he talks  about the gradual increase in language that is either meaningless or distorts meaning; he examines the deterioration of language throughout our culture, from poetry to politics, and from conversations to advertising. Berry believes that this ever-widening split between words and their meaning echoes the increasing isolation of individuals from their communities and of their communities from the land.

Dr Ruben’s point ( I think)was that words have meaning and we have to be honest and careful in what we write to emphasise his point he highlighted the phenomenon of paid political bloggers who write from a perspective that they do not believe in, but are paid well to do so.

Interview impressions

Haven’t been on this blog for a while, have been snowed under with farm work and assignments for college, I am still a bit behind and struggling to catch up, got the flu in the middle of it all, but thankfully I am coming around again, I had an interview with a CEO who designed and delivered training to executives last week.

A strategic thinker who was interested in what I was doing at college as she was in the interview. She came across as a very optimistic person; her first enterprise was failing but she managed to steer it on a different and very successful course. She had a spirit of engagement with life that saw obstacles as challenges and has the confidence and ability to make decisions that she decides are important both for herself personally and at a corporate level. I think that this is what sets her apart; optimists know intuitively that there are always choices to be made in life which gives a sense of control and stability in the middle of what many of us see as confusing.

Adobe Flash

We are off this week, and have no deadlines to meet, makes a change. I will need to get into college to catch up on my Flash labs. Flash is a really cool tool but it will take me quite a while to get the hang of it. Websites continue to get more sophisticated with animation, special effects and interactivity, if they are over used they can be more of a distraction from the important content especially in e learning sites, striking a balance can problematic
As with all these tools, time is what it takes to get the hang of them, a commodity we have little of at present. I had a herd test this morning, so between the farming and the college my time is pretty full. I must of course not neglect the most important thing, family and relationships. Was it Dr. Johnson who said, “the ultimate result of all ambition is to be happy at home”, it’s easy to get distracted, sometimes relationships can be put on the back burner and get crowded out by issues which seem more important at the time.

Constancy

“Discipline provides a constancy which is independent of what kind of day you had yesterday and what kind of day you anticipate today.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

I need to follow the above advice if I am to keep up with my blog!
Submitted first assignment for EL6052 last week; now working on the XML assignment for Friday next, there is a lot of work on but we are half way through the semester! Things are moving pretty fast.
Last week we had a presentation from IBM. The focus of the presentation was an introduction to DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture), an XML-based language for authoring, producing, and delivering information; it is the main language of the writing department in IBM. As part of their presentation, we were divided us into groups and given activities to do together. The activities were basic, but they required us to think before we wrote anything and divide an article into concept information, task information, description information and reference information. An interesting and thought provoking exercise.

Back to the grindstone.

Mix of wanderings

Let’s eat Grandad

Let’s eat, Grandad  (Correct punctuation can save a person’s life)

I saw this on the net, think it’s funny.

The past few weeks we have been using Adobe Dreamweaver in labs. It’s a really interesting tool but I’m surprised at how much work it takes to build a basic website, maybe when I get more familiar with the process it won’t take so long.

Had Michael McGovern in to talk to us about his work in “Sure skills”, he is a former student of the course so he had some insights to share with us. His reflection on being comfortable with change and helping others to deal with is part of what training is about.

This causes me to reflect how everything is constantly changing, even what is most precious to us; this is the existential dilemma of life, and the price of being a conscious human being. The challenges of this course sometimes bring up uncertainty about myself, my abilities, and about what may happen in the future. However, challenges, uncertainty, and questioning are part of what life is, how I choose to meet them is the real challenge

One of my current challenges is to discipline myself to write this blog, I suppose I look for excuses to do something else a lot of the time. I am not at college this morning as I had a cow calving; it really brings home to me the benefits of a blended approach to providing training and education

”Nowadays we are all of us so hard up that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments” Oscar Wilde

I came across these two interesting sites:

Cathy Moore

BBC Learning