This site contains notes on writing, learning, technology and other miscellanea. Below are the last ten entries of my Notes.

Close Reading and Media Ecologies

Alex Reid talks about the meaning of close reading as used in English Studies and the difficulty of defining it. He writes:

It’s really founded on the premise that interpretation and hence the meaning of the text is to be found/made in the careful consideration of word choices, style, specific sentences, and so on. A good amount of contemporary close reading is connected with what some call symptomatic interpretation (following on Fredric Jameson), which basically means that one views the text as a symptom of a larger cultural issue. As a result, close readings–in both literary studies and rhetoric–tend to move from quoting specific passages out of extensive texts to making fairly large arguments about race, gender, class, sexuality, and so on.

He moves on from there to discuss how this type of close reading cannot handle the “massive flows of data” and information we now read or collect. There’s a need to develop new “rhetorical and aesthetic practices” and ask,

“What new rhetorical capacities emerge through our relations with emerging media ecologies?

Winning an Argument

In Winning an Argument, Shane Parrish writes:

If you want to win an argument, ask the person trying to convince you of something to explain how it would work. Odds are they have not done the work required to hold an opinion. If they can explain why they are correct and how things would work, you’ll learn something. If they can’t you’ll soften their views, perhaps nudging them ever so softly toward your views.

It is worth bearing in mind, however, that someone might do the same to you.

Creativity is the Art of Connecting

Many people want to believe that they aren’t that creative, that creativity is something special, intuitive. But Shane Parrish cites others who argue that creativity is simply connecting things. such as Steve Jobs’ taking of a calligraphy class that influenced the design of the first Macintosh computer ten years later. 

It’s a short but worthwhile read.

The University and Social Media

Thomas Basbøll writes about Academic Virtues and makes the point that using social media to spread research findings

shows we are now trying to get people believe things they can't possibly understand. We are telling them what we think the truth is but without allowing them to engage critically with it. That's precisely what our classrooms and journals are for. They are situations in which ideas can be presented along with their justifications, and where those justifications can be questioned before the proposed belief is adopted.

Learning Styles Challenge

Will Thalheimer updates his “Learning Styles Challenge” to $5000.

That is, if any person or group creates a real-world learning intervention that takes learning styles into account--and proves that such an intervention produces better learning results than a non-learning-styles intervention, they'll be awarded $5,000!

This challenge started 8 years ago, and still no one has been able to show in research that learning styles make a difference in learning outcomes.

Getting It Wrong Helps Learning

An article in Scientific American, Getting It Wrong: Surprising Tips on How to Learn, reports on research that shows 

learning becomes better if conditions are arranged so that students make errors.

People remember things better, longer, if they are given very challenging tests on the material, tests at which they are bound to fail.

This learning effect occurs because generating possible (even if wrong) answers) to questions or retrieving information (even if failing to retrieve it) helps remembering more than simply studying the information. 

Six Principles for Making New Things

Paul Graham has six principles for making new things:

Here it is: I like to find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1, then (f) iterating rapidly.

Four Great Commencement Addresses

Shane Parrish has collected four excellent commencement addresses: 

Steve Jobs

David Foster Wallace

Neil Gaiman

Naval Adm. William H. McRaven


Great new online thesaurus by Dave Winer. 

AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2014

The American Association of School Librarians have posted their Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2014 that

foster the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. They are free, Web-based sites that are user friendly and encourage a community of learners to explore and discover. 

Website categories include:

  • Media Sharing
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Manage & Organize
  • Social Networking & Communication
  • Content Resources
  • Curriculum Collaboration

If you want to go back to earlier years, just change the year in the web address.