Old stuff new to me

I’m enjoying the Metadata coursera lectures. He’s pointed us to some interesting sites and information that I was surprised wasn’t on my radar.

First Monday

First Monday is one of the first openly accessible, peer–reviewed journals on the Internet, solely devoted to the Internet. Since its start in May 1996, First Monday has published 1,381 papers in 218 issues; these papers were written by 1,888 different authors. First Monday is indexed in Communication Abstracts, Computer & Communications Security Abstracts, DoIS, eGranary Digital Library, INSPEC, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, LISA, PAIS, and other services.”

Library Thing

“LibraryThing is a cataloging and social networking site for book lovers.

LibraryThing helps you create a library-quality catalog of books: books you own, books you’ve read, books you’d like to read, books you’ve lent out … whatever grouping you’d like.

Since everyone catalogs online, they also catalog together. You can contribute tags, ratings and reviews for a book, and Common Knowledge (facts about a book or author, like character names and awards), as well as participate in member forums or join the Early Reviewers program. Everyone gets the benefit of everyone else’s work. LibraryThing connects people based on the books they share.”

“What is a document?”

Abstract: Ordinarily the word “document” denotes a textual record. Increasingly sophisticated attempts to provide access to the rapidly growing quantity of available documents raised questions about which should be considered a “document”. The answer is important for any definition of the scope of Information Science. Paul Otlet and others developed a functional view of “document” and discussed whether, for example, sculpture, museum objects, and live animals, could be considered “documents”. Suzanne Briet equated “document” with organized physical evidence. These ideas appear to resemble notions of “material culture” in cultural anthropology and “object-as-sign” in semiotics. Others, especially in the USA (e.g. Jesse Shera and Louis Shores) took a narrower view. New digital technology renews old questions and also old confusions between medium, message, and meaning.”

Bird Song Hero

Bird Song Hero

Keep your brain sharp and find a new way to entertain yourself on walks, Bird Song Hero is a simple game that helps you learn 50 unique bird songs by teaching you to read and memorize visual sound diagrams produced by each bird. This method helps you learn quickly, and I look forward to pestering my friends with this knowledge.

Instructional Design portfolio projects

Well I forgot to mention anything about the three tool proficiencies I’m planning on adding to my web portfolio for my professional development in instructional design:

  • Anki: Flashcards
  • Versal: Online course, great for 3D modelling or video-heavy type courses.
  • Stepic: Online course, great for programming heavy type courses.

For Anki, I plan to create a demonstration that helps people learn the types of clouds. Much source material to be drawn from the fantastic book The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney.

For Versal, eventually I’d like to create an intro to 3D printing course. However, that is very ambitious, so I am going to first create a course about pickling and a course about making yogurt.

For Stepic, I’m still looking at what is already out there. I will definitely be doing a JavaScript or Python demonstration of some sort, my favorite idea currently is coding fractals…. but another idea is intro to bash scripting.

Is a constant discussion of the lack of women in STEM helpful?

Every day someone somewhere seems to be talking about how we can get more women in STEM.
Do we want every single person on earth to be a professional mathematician or scientist? I personally, have a private study of technology and coding, and do believe that ideally everyone would learn to code, just like everyone should be able to read. However, I think that the constant clamoring around getting women in STEM fields is harmful.

  1. Not everyone, man or woman, wants to go into a STEM field, and isn’t that just as well? I think the emphasis to do so reveals a devaluation of the fields women have been involved with in the past, education, arts, and whatnot.
  2. By continually dinning our ears with this message, don’t we bring the stereotype more firmly into the minds of people?

Career recommendations should be based on the natural skills of the individual. Have you ever spoken to folks in STEM? As a literary person, I have found them overall to be fascinating, but creatures unlike myself. I am at heart, an artist. I problem solve and code because these are important tools, but my mind is more about expression than calculation or mechanization.

I grew up almost feeling guilty about the fact I’m not a natural engineer or mathematician. I went to a magnet school for science and engineering; yes, I heard the message loud and clear- STEM is the way to go. You know what other messages I heard?  When I did things that were creative, my peers and teachers liked it sure. In contrast when I did things in math or engineering, an overwhelming message of, well now you’re cool, this is what you should be doing, and what I considered the worst: this makes you better or cooler than other women. Lastly, that as a woman, I could expect easier hire in STEM versus creative fields because of affirmative action.

No one seems to really know why it is there are less women in STEM than men, though we all have our various theories. I don’t really want to get into them, though I will say we do know that telling someone about a stereotype before they take an assessment reduces their performance. What I do want to say is that is there are only two things I think you should do if you are worried about it:

  1. Learn better how to identify young STEM folks. Now, you’ll need to make sure this identification is not biased towards males. Maybe some studies of sex differences of those already in STEM could help make sure this identification does not exclude females. But learn how to identify them and target those people regardless of their gender.
  2. Do not devalue non-STEM fields and perhaps encourage men to go into them. If you’ve done point 1, you will find yourself more able to do this accurately. Maybe more men will go into non-STEM fields if they aren’t seen as some sort of second tier profession. Contrary to popular thought, we do not have a lack of STEM people.

What people should be worried about is pushing children towards what they want to do. More females are probably going to enter STEM as technology takes over more and more of our lives. However, some will still opt to use the products of STEM to do other things. These women should not be seen as failed converts, just like men who don’t go into STEM are not.

Everyone’s experience is different. I am a highly conscientious and sensitive person, so maybe I am the only one who feels like people were trying to coerce me into STEM and felt a damage to my self esteem when I struggled with Calculus II but excelled in English Composition, despite what was a sincere desire on my part. Which, by the way, is not because I’m a woman. It is because I had a haphazard attention span that favored reading and resisted computation.

If you can do and enjoy your Calculus II homework, I figure you are on your way to STEM. I wanted to be good at it, because everyone told me it would make me cool and rich; but I just did not put in the effort. Now that I know more about the rewards of engineering and have actual projects I work on, I find it easier to focus and “do my homework”. I sometimes think that the reason more men are in STEM are because more men are diagnosed with ADHD as children and get prescriptions for Adderall. That’s a bit of a crackpot theory isn’t it.

I do believe that people should be encouraged into STEM because it is empowering. I just think targeting women about it is misguided. Let me know what you think.

You’ve heard of MOOC, but is it time for MOOR– Massive Open Online Research?

You’ve heard of MOOC, but is it time for MOOR– Massive Open Online Research?

“All students who sign up for the course will be given an opportunity to work on specific research projects under the leadership of prominent bioinformatics scientists from different countries, who have agreed to interact and mentor their respective teams.”

My Coursera courses for this “semester”

Since I didn’t earn a certificate in the Human-Computer-Interaction course, I’m back to try it again.  I’m taking this course to improve my ability to make better user interfaces for web sites and apps. This course started at the end of March and ends at the beginning of June.

I am also taking Statistics: Making Use of Data, which I honestly forgot was in swing until now and will have to do my homework soon.  I’m taking that because one of my main education goals is having as thorough an understanding of statistics as possible. I can only write about what I understand, and if I don’t understand statistics, there isn’t too much interesting out there to write about that anybody from the couch can’t write. This course started on the first and will last 8 weeks.

The last of the currently ongoing courses I’m taking is Synapses, Neurons and Brains. I’ve enjoyed it so far, it started with a talk about connectomics and brainbows, and then went on in much detail about the structure and function of the parts of the brain, with historical asides. For 60 dollars I can apparently buy a verified certificate.  That’s a fairly impressive deal, but I don’t think any of my employers actually care that I’ve studied the brain and consciousness in detail, and anyone else doesn’t matter enough for me to pay 60 bucks to impress them.

In a few days, The Hardware/Software Interface course will begin. I’m taking this one purely for fun and don’t even know if I’ll put the effort in to make sure I get a good score. I’ve just always been curious to learn how it works, other than just “the bits tell Assembly to do stuff”, which is what I know so far.