Bookmarked Z-Library: The price of academic knowledge – The Fulcrum by Grace Kim-ShinGrace Kim-Shin (

Piracy is theft, but the gatekeeping of knowledge should be seen as a crime of its own.

Grace Kim-Shin discusses the FBI’s closure of Z-Library. It makes me wonder how much has changed since the death of Aaron Swartz.

via Stephen Downes

Replied to Why Can’t We Agree On What’s True? | Dr. Ian O’Byrne (Dr. Ian O’Byrne | Literacy, technology, and education)

Blaming social media or the Internet for what people choose to say is not looking at the root of the problem. It’s like blaming soapboxes for the people standing on them.

In my opinion, this is one of the biggest threats to humanity. With fewer and fewer people getting educated, these mass misinformation and disinformation campaigns easily influence a growing population.

Education is no longer important for individual success, education is critical for the success of society and humanity as a whole.

This is an intriguing piece Ian. Personally, I am reminded of my own education, and Stanley Fish’s idea of interpretative communities. Although we may use the same words, the meaning is something different.
Bookmarked Learn from machine learning (Aeon)

The world is a black box full of extreme specificity: it might be predictable but that doesn’t mean it is understandable.

David Weinberger compares the way in which the Western world has traditionally conceived of generalisations and certainty with the way in which machine learning works.

We like traditional generalisations because (a) we can understand them; (b) they often enable deductive conclusions; and (c) we can apply them to particulars. But (a) an MLM’s generalisations are not always understandable; (b) they are statistical, probabilistic and primarily inductive; and (c) literally and practically, we usually cannot apply MLM generalisations except by running the machine learning model that resulted from them.

This move away from certainty to a probabilistic understanding of outcomes has an impact on our conceptions of knowledge. For some like Ayad AKhtar uncertainity is actually a good thing, however this is still somewhat corrupted by machine learning and the way it warps our minds.

Liked The Deceptive Allure of Clarity by jennymackness (

We do students a disservice by misleading them into thinking that their achievements can be broken into bits and that each bit is worth a certain percentage. Complex knowledge cannot be defined in these terms. A rubric cannot cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s. The rubric should not be so atomised that there is no room for students to move in. As Iain McGilchrist says:

‘… the gaps in the structure are where the light gets in. If you tighten everything up, then you get total darkness’. (

If we must have rubrics, then they should be guides rather than prescriptive, and students and staff should be encouraged to move beyond them.

Liked filter success (

If we are to rely less on machines and more on fellow humans we will have to put more effort into our knowledge filtering. Inside large companies, human filters can be identified, promoted, and supported. The identification of knowledgeable people should be an important management function. The organization can also help people to codify some of their knowledge, especially through stories. I have noted before that stories connect knowledge. Stories can provide the contextual glue, holding information together in some semblance of order for our brains to process into knowledge. Stories also help to develop empathy and in the longer term, trust. Knowledge in trusted networks flows faster.

Liked Why forgetting is really important for memory: U of T research (University of Toronto News)

The big take-away from recent neurobiological research on memory is that the best thing for storing memories is to not memorize absolutely everything, notes Richards. If you’re trying to make a decision it will be impossible to do so if your brain is constantly being bombarded with useless information.

“We always idealize the person who can smash a trivia game, but the point of memory is not being able to remember who won the Stanley Cup in 1972,” he says.

“The point of memory is to make you an intelligent person who can make decisions given the circumstances, and an important aspect in helping you do that is being able to forget some information.”

via Katexic
Liked What Do We Mean By Knowledge Rich Anyway? by Alex Quigley (The Confident Teacher)

To understand why, I think Professor David Perkins, from Harvard University, can help. Perkins wrote about the troublesome nature of ‘fragile knowledge’. His analysis offers us a more nuanced language to consider how even carefully sequenced curricula may not be well understood by our novice pupils, despite our best efforts.

He describes this ‘fragility’ in four parts:

  • Missing knowledge. Sometimes important pieces of knowledge are just plain missing. E.g. In a Shakespeare essay, Alex may forget that Macbeth was written with the audience of James I in mind.
  • Inert knowledge. Sometimes knowledge is present, but inert. It lets the student pass the quiz but does not help otherwise. E.g. Alex doesn’t think to mention the ‘divine right of kings’, which his teacher implicitly wanted him to focus on in his essay.
  • Naïve knowledge. Sometimes the knowledge takes the form of naïve theories and stereotypes, even after considerable instruction. E.g. Alex persists with the notion that Lady Macbeth is solely to blame for her husband’s behaviour in his essay.
  • Ritual knowledge. The knowledge that students acquire often has a ritual character, useful for certain academic tasks but not much else. E.g. Alex pleases his teacher by mentioning the rare rhetorical device ‘anadiplosis’ in his essay.
Replied to What I don’t know – Colin Devroe (

It is true that many assume that programmers know so much more than many of us do. There may be a few superheros out there that have the time and interest in learning “everything” but I can tell you in 25 years I’ve never met one. Even the most brilliant minds in our field usually have a focus.

Coming from the perspective of implementation, this is something I have had to learn moving into the world of development. I presumed that those around me had all the answers. What I learnt fast is that they simply had the ability to put two and two together quicker than me. The challenge I have had to face is the feeling that someone does know the implications when making a decision, which is not always guaranteed.
Replied to Constellations. Metaphors. SPLOT? It’s in the Stars. (CogDogBlog)

The thing about these collections is that sequencing is not a factor. A constellation is a collection of 3-15? 20? resources that Mary might assemble to assign to Todd, and then maybe a slightly different set for the people in Customer Service.

But the whole idea of the thing under the hood is that as a collection of stars, each has parameters that contribute to its relative size (number of views, ratings, how often it is used in constellations), and that an arrangement of stars in a constellation is a function of how similar they are (common categories, tags, overall content length, similar words?).

I love your work on SPLOTS Alan. This addition is really intriguing. It reminds me in part of Mike Caulfield’s Wikity project, in that users are encouraged to build knowledge and understanding. I could see it being used as a research tool as much as a means of packaging content. I collect together resources in my Collect blog, but I sometimes feel that what is missing are meta pages, in the style of Ryan Boren.
Liked On Western vs Imperial Knowledge (Reflecting Allowed)

Much of the way education is organized around individual achievement makes inequality almost inevitable. It is in some people’s advantage to be differentiated from others, whether that privilege is earned or automatic because of cultural and social capital of school fitting well with their (dominant) identity and social standing.

Bookmarked The mind-bendy weirdness of the number zero, explained by Brian Resnick (Vox)

Once we had zero, we have negative numbers. Zero helps us understand that we can use math to think about things that have no counterpart in a physical lived experience; imaginary numbers don’t exist but are crucial to understanding electrical systems. Zero also helps us understand its antithesis, infinity, in all of its extreme weirdness.

Brian Resnick explains nothing or to be correct, zero. This includes the historical place of zero and the different ways of understanding (and misunderstanding) it. As Andreas Nieder hypothesises, there are four stages of understanding zero:

The first is a just having the simple sensory experience of stimulus going on and off. This is the simple ability to notice a light flickering on and off. Or a noise turning on and off.

The second is behavioral understanding. At this stage, not only can animals recognize a lack of a stimulus, they can react to it. When an individual has run out of food, they know to go and find more.

The third stage is recognizing that zero, or an empty container, is a value less than one. This is tricky, though a surprising number of animals, including honey bees and monkeys, can recognize this fact. It’s understanding “that nothing has a quantitative category,” Nieder says.

The fourth stage is taking the absence of a stimulus and treating as it as a symbol and a logical tool to solve problems. No animal outside of humans, he says, “no matter how smart,” understands that zero can be a symbol.

Whatever our thoughts are on the matter, the conclusions are clear:

when we investigate nothing, we’re bound to find something.

Bookmarked How Informal Learning Gets Misunderstood (And Misinterpreted) by David Price (Noteworthy – The Journal Blog)

The inconvenient truth is that students don’t need ‘experts’ the way they used to. Knowledge is ubiquitous. Any teacher that thinks that they don’t need to change as a result of this truth is doing their students a disservice. Make no mistake: the real learning revolution has already happened, it just doesn’t involve those of us who teach. Because they real revolution is in the phenomenal growth in informal and social learning — as practised by the Beatles and, now, all of us.

David Price responds to criticism that creativity is dependant on a cache of knowledge. Referring to his experiences with Musical Futures, Price explains that it is creativity and passion which lead to an interest in knowledge and theory, not vice versa. Something he also discusses in his book Open. This reminds me of a post from Amy Burvall who also discusses the importance of having dots to construct ideas. Interestingly, Brian Eno suggests that such ‘dots’ can grow out of shit. Reflecting on the growing trend to ban devices, Mal Lee and Roger Broadie suggest that banning will have no impact on students digital learning and will instead have a detrimental effect on agency within schools.
Bookmarked Why I Love Link Blogging (BirchTree)

The web allows us to create content that is connected with the rest of the web. Everything we do, especially us writers, is kicked off by something someone else said, and we should embrace that. Make your blog a part of a conversation, not an island that feels like you’re just doing this all on your own. None of us are, and we should be proud of that.

I too love link blogs. Reflecting on the three methods of writing outlined:

Do I write my article as a brand new post that gives the impression I thought of something in a vacuum? Do I write a normal post and link to the article/tweet that inspired me inline? Do I do a full block quote that shows off what idea got me going and write from there?

I feel I find myself wondering which link to reference. More recently, I have taken to referring to many of my own bookmarks. Although this is useful for my own thinking, I wonder if it impeds readers?

H/T Chris Aldrich