My contribution to the student charter

Heres my take on sharing and contributing to the learning of your peers.

File sharing and collaborative editing

My experience of file sharing has been quite varied. I remember in high school when we would all use the one cheat sheet for an open book test, or girls would send each other whole assignments the night before they’re due. It’s so different at university. We find a resource, use it as a citation and to increase the credibility of our work. Rarely do we share these resources. And why would we when ‘highly individual’ work is held in such high esteem? Often we have to go out of our way to find a source in the first place, why should we just give that away?

On the other hand, on the occasion that someone has shared a file with me, I’m really grateful. As the saying goes ‘many hands make light work’, and I’m sure we could all come up with an individual perspective from the same journal article as other students. We do it all the time, and if you work hard enough to earn the good grades, you’ll still get them despite the fact that other students have seen your precious widely published new resource.

Collaborative editing can also go both ways. Similarly to file sharing, ‘many hands make light work’. In theory, its a great idea. We all contribute and we all get the same result with only a portion of the effort. However this is often not the case. You often find that some members of a group slack off, and it becomes a one person assignment with a few names on it. However, I think a variety of opinions (even those that clash) can only improve the work.

The student charter

(see below for a print screen)

1. My first contribution to the student charter is aimed at remind myself and other students not to take advantage of place at university. Yeah ‘Ps get degrees’, but you can’t approach your whole education with this mentality. There are always others who would kill for a place in your degree. It was important to addthis into the student charter because education is a privilege, not a right. 

2. My second contribution is important because dishonesty might get you by for one assignment, but when you need to remember what that assignment was on for next year or for real life, chances are you won’t be able to. I added it in because we only ever hear about the implications of cheating that are to do with getting caught or penalised. Honest work is better work and if your conscious isn’t enough to get you to work thatway, hopefully this will be.

6. My third contribution to the student charter add an alternative angle to the need to accept others and embrace the diverse environment at uni. As well as it being everyone right to be treated with respect and to be valued as an individual, we can always benefit from being open to fresh ideas and alternative ways of life. You know the saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.

Image

Purple= my contributions

Advertisements

Ebooks? More like… eshmocks

The way I see it, you either love or hate the idea of ebooks.

I’m one of those people who love to buy books, read them, dog ear them, lend them, re-read them, order them, display them and most importantly: keep them on my bookshelf for ever.

So to me, when I see someone reading from a Kindle on the train, it seems like a waste. I choose to see the negative aspects of the ebook phenomenon. But the world must be onto something, not this many people can be totally wrong. There have to be some pros.

Image

I can come up with a whole lot of cons.

  • ebooks don’t have that fresh (or wonderfully old) paper smell
  • ebooks can’t sit on your shelf and decorate your empty wall space
  • If you loose the storage space for your ebooks, your whole library is gone
  • They rely on batteries, which die
  • They don’t have any character i.e. you can’t judge the book by its cover

I had to get online to assess the pros though. Begrudgingly, I had to admit there were some cons.

  • ebooks have audio options
  • They’re cheaper than real books
  • They don’t weigh as much either
  • You can do advanced searches on them
  • in terms of text books, they won’t weigh down your bag

Still not won over, I did some further research. I found out that the first ebook was made in 1971, before this whole internet/digital age began (the internet went live in ’74). I realised as I was reading that online communication gave readers the ability to be more precise about what they read, either for pleasure or for study. The popularity of ebooks grew, as did the concern for what would happen to print media forms.

The creation of amazon.com in 1995, however, put a new spin on this. While ebooks were being used as a marketing tool by publishers, Jeff Bezos, the creator of amazon, saw books as the most popular product to sell online. He reasoned that,

‘Books… were an $82 billion market worldwide. The price point was another major criterion: I wanted a low-priced product. I reasoned that since this was the first purchase many people would make online, it had to be non-threatening in size. A third criterion was the range of choice: there were 3 million items in the book category and only a tenth of that in CDs, for example.’

Barnes & Nobel were one of the cleaver businesses to recognise the huge potential in online book sales, competing with amazon online since /97. Not all book distributers, however, were this clever. A couple of years ago, Borders went out of business due to their inability to compete with online prices. This to me was terribly sad. Going into a book store and taking the time to browse, try and see if you want to buy.

I can see how useful ebooks are, and why so many people (my 81 year old Grandma included), are into them. They’re in sync with every other digitalised aspect of modern society. They’re light, easy and cheap. Aside from all the undeniable pros, they’ll still never replace the comfort, enjoyment and nostalgic value that is inspired by real books.

Source: http://www.lybrary.com/free_ebooks/pros_and_cons_of_ebooks.pdf

Source: http://www.etudes-francaises.net/dossiers/ebookEN.pdf

Image source: http://whilethekidsaresleeping.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/my-favourite-books.jpg

Flipped lecture: Search

Just google it…

Imagine someone offering to sell you a tattslotto ticket. You declined. Your arch enemy bought the ticket. They won first division.

That’s what it was like for many investors given the opportunity to invest in Google in its early years. It seems like a no brainer, but back in the 90s, it was the first of its kind to use links between web pages to assess the relevance of search results. And people were sceptical. A company called excite, a competing search engine had the first opportunity to buy Google for a mere million dollars. For a company thats worth nearly two hundred billion dollars, you’d be spewing.

Most people I know wouldn’t think twice about using a different search engine. When I accidentally end up on Yahoo it feels wrong, despite the fact that its been around longer.

Google has become more than the name of a search engine. I googled ‘how much is Google worth’ to write this post. I use gmail, not email. Nobody has ever asked me to yahoo something. We google it, we don’t browse the web for it. In all the chaos of the internet boom, I know I will find answers on google.

Watch the video here

Flipped lecture: browser wars

Lets start off with saying I had no idea what Netscape was before watching this. I had never heard of it.

The documentary begins by comparing the world wide web to other revolutionary inventions such as sliced bread, the electric lightbulb and the aeroplane.

As we would expect, the narrator informs us that the internet started with a group of imaginative computer nerds.

From what I gathered, the internet was around for a while but used specifically for research, and was just presented as text. The documentary conveys the change from this set up to the internet we know, with

‘images, pictures, audio and video capabilities’.

It astounded me that these guys knew what was up at such a young age, ‘junior year university’. Just when I thought that was impressive, the early success of Bill Gates was relayed.

‘I have as much power as the president’

he said. So microsoft ruled technology. I found it amusing the way the documentary used dark, intimidating shots to relay the goings on at their headquarters. It matched the ‘simple yet ambitious’ aim of Gates to have a PC in every house and office, all running Microsoft programs. This might have sounded ludicrous at the time, but hearing it today really brought home the fact that this stuff is changing the world, a revolution, as claimed at the beginning of the video.

And while I will forget the name of Netscape in a couple of hours, I will remember the fact that I watched this using google chrome, as explorer sucks.

Click here for the link to the documentary!

 

Flipped lecture: 6 degrees of separation

‘Did you know that you’re only six handshakes from anyone on earth?’

I didn’t.

The notion that there are only 6 degrees of separation between two people has been a figure of speech for years. Until watching a documentary on the study of this, I brushed it off, never considering it as a literal possibility.

˜

The documentary suggests that ‘nature has a hidden blue print’ that is directly related to network theory. Societal networks are extremely important to marketers and individuals alike. If we don’t understand networks, we can’t understand markets and society.

It was related to the ‘6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game’ (play here). Hollywood, as stated in the documentary, is a prime example for how the theory works. What started from a game made by college students was actually a fundamental role in the experiment; due to the motivation it gave scientists. It was found that,

a few random links shrunk the distance between a million actors.

˜

The scientists wondered: How can a population of dissimilar individuals suddenly synchronise? How does order emerge from chaos? They figured the only way to find out was to study further. An experiment was conducted in which people from all over the world were given a package to give to an American man. These people included a dancer from Paris, a college student from Germany and a young woman in a small African village. Each of the few participants had different expectations and different views of the level of difficulty involved in their task.

˜

‘We tend to know people like ourselves’ 

The suggestion that we are locked within our own circles was something I found to be true. For example, I know a lot of people who know other people I know, however they are all based in communities I am a part of.

Just a single random link has enormous effects

The findings of this experiment are supported by another study featured in ‘Proof! Just six degrees of separation between us’ in The Guardian (2008), in which the results of a study into the issue was published. The email based experiment found an average of 6.6 degrees of separation between its participants.

˜

One of the more interesting things I discovered watching the documentary was the notion that the six degrees project helps us to understand the origin of disease. It makes sense: If we can know so many people that easily, why would we not be able to infect and be infected by these people? We all know someone who has moved away somewhere foreign. We all know someone who has been quarantined. The prevalence of disease and the necessity for needles and quarantine services helped me come to terms with this angle of the study. All I needed to do was think back a few years to the swine flu epidemic. It all started with a random connection.

Another thing that iterested me was that I could link myself to Beyonce. All in all, I think this doccumentary is well worth a watch. It widened my thinking in terms of global communication and let me to realise that the world is both small and big at the same time.

To watch the video in full, follow this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pz29Onl_uRw

Search engine comparison

I chose to compare the results of three different search engines:

– google

– duckduckgo

and

– instagrok

I ranked them:

1. google

2. instagrok

3. duckduckgo

Instagrok was set out in a way that allowed me to work with and annotate the results. It provided different layouts as well, catering for different learning types. It took a while to load, however, and did not offer obvious links to other sites. I would use it again for school research, but only in combination with another search engine.

Duckduckgo was faster than Instagrok but the colour and font looked less professional than google, which it was more similar to.

Google still stands as my favourite search engine, and it knows it too. It was the quickest and the most accurate. It offers definitions as other search engines do, but the  search results are more relevant.

Google Alerts

I recently set up three google alerts for things that interest me:

  1. Harry Potter 
  2. Ed Sheeran
  3. Cyclone Oswald

Using these alerts, I found out the following things in 24 hours about my interests, without having to do anything but open an email:

I found this a really convenient way of keeping track of things I’m often googling.  The answers were there in my email for when I  wanted them and I did not have to check them.

However, it got me thinking about our need for information. Is it really necessary to find out everything about a news story or your favourite series without looking? To me, it was my computer encouraging me to be lazy. While it saves time, this method of sourcing new information is pretty full on.

I’m not denying that the internet and google have done a lot of great things for us, but shouldn’t we at least try to pretend our lives aren’t been entirely consumed and ran by machines, and stalk our favourite artists all on our own like big kids?

These google alerts can be cause for information overload, should you let them. While reading an article about this concept, I started to feel more comfortable with my opinion that these alerts aren’t all that necessary. The article deals with the fact that we are all students when it comes to the internet and social networking. While it admits that this is all a revolution  I support the claims that state in terms of our internet usage,

“there is a very real human cost of social connectivity”.

I feel that creating alerts for every single update on whatever we chose is one facet of the internet that will cost us. My final thoughts on the subject revolved around this: Is it really that hard to just google something again?

Image

The mentioned article can be found here: http://www.briansolis.com/2012/05/the-fallacy-of-information-overload/

Using RSS to do research

I’ve been using RSS feeds to do research on my favourite clothing websites.

It has been really useful as I get notifications whenever the sites change aka, whenever a new item is released on there.

A good example is featured in the image below, in which I can see the latest posts on Market HQ.

  • I can look at individual posts as well as a list of recent posts
  • I am able to see the number of changes that have been made to the site
  • This number will disappear after I have had a look on the site, enabling me to remember what I have and haven’t looked at

Now that I am using the RSS feeds, I have been able to research about a new skirt that I want to buy, and can buy it without even having to online shop, let alone shop in store.

Image

Quote

A quirky quote

It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us

-Jane Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

This is a favourite quote of mine as it offers a quirky perspective on the flaws of the human condition, supporting the theory that we can be our own worst enemy.

Follow Jane Bennet on twitter: https://twitter.com/Jane_Bennet