The Uber-Tool

Notes from today's discussion in PLENK2010

- problem of multiple tools
    - individually they're very simple,
    - but together they are daunting

- similarity of function
    - aggregating functionality
    - similar interface

- eg Athabasca Landing

- that end-to-end functionality
     - workflow

- role of Education?
     - it seems that education is no longer innovating
     - now it seems private companies set trends, ed follows

Handbook of emerging technologies
   - need a tool that helps me synthesize
   - helps me put it all together

Building tools?
   - vs building skills and capacities
   - Mendalay?
   - because I do different things with different tools, I need a level of specialization

The Theory of Everything
   - physicist/surfer
   - might be different for everyone
   - enables me to be online/offline, in my head in my screen

The foundational elements of a discipline
   - that may be achievable - eg., critical literacies
   - but these would be reflected differently in different tools
   - eg., audio - will be different in local radio, satellite radio
   - but the core element remains the same - 'listening'

Can we keep the thing that changes hidden so that we focus on the core?
   - personal autonomy
   - distributed knowledge
   - social learning

It's the instantiation that confuses us, not the core idea
   - eg., twitter

How do we get at the core?
   - 21st century literacies?
   - pattern recognition?
   - two aspects: technical, and human - tech looks for connections, humans look for ideas
   - analysis versus discussion

Pattern recognition
   - beginning of theory generation

Pulling patterns together in this course - eg., posts, tweets
   - what a computer can do better - patterns of activity
   - a content analysis wouldn't get at how I do OLDaily
   - more at play than just simply running an algorithm

Human - assigns meaning to pattern - semantic
Machine - assigns structure to pattern - syntax

Tracking change - tracking trends - distinction between form and meaning
In Ed Tech that distinction is sometimes misplaced
   - eg you expect a person to do what a computer could do better - eg. lecture

This concept of sense-making, wayfinding, meaning
   - these patterns are emerging - what does that mean socially, economically, politically
   - eg. a computer can generate income data
   - but the person sees the decline in middle class as serious.

Assigning meaning to perceptions
   - is this something we do deliberately, or organically?
   - Eg., I see a person, I am drawing conclusions, I'm assigning something to that
   - When I assign attributes to an individual I am assigning meaning to it
   - two people encountering the same person will assign different meanings to it

Maria's presentation (Wednesday)
   - distinction between expert and novice is in assigning patterns
   - the purpose of thinking is to stop thinking - eg., driving - to drive automatically
   - but - the more we have to work, the more we will learn it

Reference - Sources of Power, by Klein
   - Cambridge Handbook of Expert and Expertise
   - we think in patterns if we're experts, we think linear if we're novice

Our capacity to recognize patterns
   - our eyes are moving all over, literally craving patterns
   - if there is a pattern to pursue, the mind will latch on
   - not just the eye, this is what we do

Is our uber-tool like the eye? Something that creates a certain level of expertise for us, allowing us to achieve some sort of higher expertise?


  1. >Something that creates a certain level of expertise for us, allowing us to achieve some sort of higher expertise?

    Kind of a scaffolding exercise?

  2. > Kind of a scaffolding exercise?

    Yeah, could be. But that's not really what I'm thinking of.

    The layers of the visual cortext are a bit like a pre-processing system for visual perception.

    The different layers perform analytic functions, such as edge detection, or motion detection. The data which is, if you will, presented to the brain has been interpreted for us.

    With respect to the internet, we are, if you will, at the place where data first comes into the visual cortex. We have to do edge detection and motion detection manually, which means we need to learn how to do this, and then actually do it.

    What we want is not so much a better way to learn how to do this, but rather, a system that does this for us, so the data we are presented with can now be analyzed at a much higher level. If we don't have to laboriously detect edges, we can begin to form an ontology of objects, for example.

    So such a system is in a sense a scaffold, but not in the sense that it performs functions we later want to do, but rather, in the sense that it allows us to perform higher order functions.

  3. That makes sense to me. I wonder if there would be different interpretive filters, for different data sets. For example, the eye interprets visual data, the ear interprets auditory data etc.

  4. I think our uber-tool is like our third eye or mind’s eye ( -- see “In Creative Thinking”), Stephen.

    And where would we place it if we had the choice? I think I’d like mine on an antenna sort of hovering above watching me think through all the possibilities I can and then encouraging me to imagine even more.

    Garrett Lisi’s theory of everything < > uses the metaphor of the E8 coral “with particles at any location interacting in every possible way” to explain that “all possibilities are expanding and developing at once.”

    In Quatum physics, “everything that can happen does. All possibilities are realized” (Lisi, TED). My uber-tool would help me see more possibilities rather than those I can hold in my mind because I have limited short-term memory or poor strategies for keeping related resources in my mind and close enough to retrieve to add to the mix.

    Lisi’s theory is all about patterns and networking particles. I think the pattern recognition you speak of and tools for helping us see more patterns, more possibilities at once could be the “tool of everything.”

  5. @Stephen You want a cyber twin, not an uber tool. :)

  6. Interesting use of the term 'uber'.


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