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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Web 2.0: Collaboration of Billions of People

The reason why Web 2.0 is becoming such a popular phrase in our day and age is because there has never been this many users of the internet all at once since the internet was born. And that number continues to grow. It allows BILLIONS of people to collaborate on projects, connect with each other, consume information, and create all kinds of new "stuff" for people to look at, play with, and remix. The Web really hasn't changed, it's the fact that the way we are using it has been expanded, because, with BILLIONS of people, come TRILLIONS of ideas.
Hence, the reason why our group is working on creating a couple different websites where people can go to find useful tools to help them Consume, Create, and Connect in our digital world.
As I've been working on our Wiki site (Which, by the way is found here:, I have started to become familiar with a bunch of tools. First of all, wikispaces has become a huge tool in bringing this all together. It is really quite an easy way to design a basic website, and I've never worked with ANY web page designing tools, so it has been a lot of fun. Second, I found a cool website that will quickly create a jpeg logo for your website or company, which I used to create our Backpack2.0 logo on the wiki site. Check out the Logo Maker at Third, I've never worked collaboratively on a project mostly online, and it has been a new, and interesting experience. A lot of E-mails, and a lot of work on Google Documents is bringing this all together. Hopefully this all turns out looking great for the presentations next week! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Model for Future Classrooms?

For those of you who read my blog, I mostly do this for an assignment that I have in my History class (Digital Civilization, Honors 202 course at BYU.) We have been studying history from about 1400 AD to the present day, and then linking it to the effect that modern Media and the Internet have changed the world we live in now. It has been a wonderful, and challenging, class to be a part of.
I have also seen it become a model of what classrooms in the future might be like. Our teachers Dr. Gideon Burton and Dr. Daniel Zappala have focused a lot on "Self-Directed Learning". I see this as a direct result of Media Theory. The fact that electronic and mass media are so readily available at our fingertips with television and the internet is changing the very way we learn. Going to college is not the only way we learn anymore. Books are becoming less and less authoritative. The fact is, because information and ideas change so quickly in the world we live in, we need a medium that can keep up, and that is where Self-Directed learning becomes so important. WE have to take the initiative to go out there into the "mass media" that we have available to us, and be able to intelligently search for the wonderful information that is available to us on every topic.
This class has been a great model for what is available to us, and how classrooms in the future might function. As we have learned how to blog, search other blogs, use tools like Diigo, Prezi, and Slideshare, and the many other tools available out there, it has opened my eyes to the world of Education 2.0. The fact is, in today's world, YOU are responsible for your learning. It is not enough just to go to the classroom anymore.

This is one of the major reasons I am in the Digital Scholarship Wiki group. We are trying to make a user friendly website that people can go to to learn about the different tools available to them out there. Hopefully it will be beneficial to all who visit our website when we are finished.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


      Do we realize how amazing flight is? Or, like many other of the technologies we have today, do we just take it for granted and even complain about it at times?
      Here's a quick timeline of some of the major developments of aviation in history:
      December 17th, 1903--Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully make the first powered flight with the flying machine they had built, in Dayton, Ohio. Wilbur made the best sustained flight of the day, covering 852 feet of ground in 59 seconds.
      (Here's a blog about a documentary on Orville and Wilbur Wright
        World War I--As flying machines and airplanes became more feasible, the major powers in the war battled for rule of the air. Scientists from both sides of the war sought to develop faster, more maneuverable, sleeker, and more deadly flying machines. When one side would develop a better engine, the other would develop a better design. The war drove the technology of airplanes to a whole new level.
        1919--Britain and France introduce a Cross-channel service, originally from London to Paris, and thus begin the development of commercial flights, and transporting humans by airplane. By 1936, Donald Douglass and his Engineers release the DC-3 (standing for Douglass Commercial) airplane that can carry up to 21 passengers.

      End of World War II--In 1942, Adolf Galland of Germany flew a prototype of one of the worlds first jet engine propelled airplanes. The invention of the jet engine came too late to effect the outcome of the war, but its impact on the future of airplanes was immense.

      Computers--As computers enter the scene of flight, more sophisticated airplanes and control towers develop, and commercial and private flying become widespread. Today, airplanes make the world a smaller place, giving us the ability to be on the other side of the world within 24 hours. Isn't it wonderful?

      Saturday, November 13, 2010

      Real life application!!

      So, in light of talking about passwords the other day, today I had a very unpleasant surprise. I got on my computer this morning, after a wonderful Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, and tried to log into my E-mail. What I got instead was a message from Google saying I had had some suspicious activity on my account, and that I needed to type in a phone number for them to send me a verification text message. I did this, and then the account had me change my password. When I got on my Gmail account, I found an interesting E-mail that had been attempted to be sent, that I never sent. It only had a link to a website, and I deleted it immediately, because I'm pretty sure it was something malicious. Luckily Gmail had actually stopped those E-mails from being sent, and had shut down my account. This was why my Gmail was not immediately logging in, and why my blog was down earlier this morning. What it looks like is someone hacked into my E-mail in order to send something scary to my contacts. This was very troublesome, so I took the time this morning to go through and change my passwords on many different websites. Hopefully this won't happen again. :)

      It just reaffirmed to me that Dr. Zapala knows what he is talking about, and that it's a good idea to have different passwords, and to change them often. It is frightening what people can do through the internet with malicious intentions, but it is also one of the most wonderful tools we have nowadays. Just be careful out there.

      The Blog of Rhett Ferrin

      As part of our midterm evaluation, we are supposed to do a review of another student's blog, and I was assigned to look at Rhett's blog. All in all, he does an amazing job of accomplishing all of the course outcomes. He has amazing posts that show he really reads and understands the historical concepts that our presented in class. He definitely understands the computer concepts that we are studying in class, and ties them together with the historical concepts in his blog posts.
      The most impressive part about Rhett's blog is his self-directed learning. He takes the concepts of each class period, and does an extensive amount of research on his own, to be able to post very scholarly articles on the topics at hand. He does a wonderful job of combining pictures, videos, and scholastic information to help the reader gain a great and deep understanding of specific historical concepts. Take a look at his post on Fusion Vs. Fission as an example; by the time you are done reading Rhett's posts, you have gained a greater understanding of the topic he posts about.
      For improvement, I think two things could be done:
      1. Rhett could do a few more digital literacy labs, and try a few different blog post types. I think this would give a little more variety to the kinds of posts that Rhett has. Although Rhett has fantastic posts, I would like to see more of a variety.
      2. Rhett could also give us some more of his own thoughts. I would like to see him write a post of what he thinks and feels, as opposed to his frequent articles that focus on scholarship. His scholarly posts are wonderful, but again, I think it would be nice to see a little more variety.
      As far as the course outcomes go, I think Rhett is doing an excellent job, and I think his blog is one of my favorites to read.

      Friday, November 12, 2010

      Reflections on life...and my Digital Civilization Class

      This semester has been crazy. It's my first semester as a married student. I'm working two jobs, with a total of around 30 hours a week. I'm trying to spend time with my wife and both our families. I'm serving as the Ward Mission leader in my ward. We live in Springville, and haven't had a car, so we have been taking the bus, which takes longer than driving. And on top of all of this, I'm taking 16 credits here at BYU and trying to keep my head above water. It's been rough. But I've been doing alright.
      Having said all that, this class has probably taken up the bulk of my time to do homework. I think I work on this class more than any other class I'm taking. The only one that is close behind it is my Linear Algebra class, which also takes up a considerable amount of my time. So, all in all, I have been doing my best to keep up with this class, and learn all I can, and it has been a very difficult, but wonderful experience. I really have learned a lot, and it has stretched me more digitally than any other class I have ever had.
      Lately I have been trying to focus on connecting to other blogs within our class, and building off of others' ideas. I have also been trying different blog types, such as my Rant, or the fact that I have figured out how to embed videos in my blog and have been using this as a wonderful tool.
      The best part has been the learning in this class. I have loved reading the assigned readings, and using them as a catapult into the digital sea of information. Understanding the historical concepts has taken on a whole new meaning, because I get to find more information on my own on each historical event, person, or period of time. The computing concepts have also been a wonderful thing to study along with the historical concepts, giving me a completely different view of history, and of todays computers. Diigo has become one of my favorite tools, giving me the ability to see what others have found on the class topics. I have also started to love Google Reader, which gives me a tool where I can see things happening all over the internet in one place. As I have grown better and better at my self-directed learning, it is becoming quite enjoyable, and I love being able to connect to things that you would never connect to in a normal class.
      Although I may not be the best blogger in the class, or the most involved, I have done the best I can, and I have kept up with the reading and the blogging. It has been a wonderful class experience, and I have learned so very much.

      Thursday, November 11, 2010

      Diigo and a Movie Review: The Atomic Age

      Normally, I have been using Diigo in order to show that I am doing outside researching other than the materials that we are given to read as a class. But I thought this probably wasn't the best or only use of Diigo. I don't know how many of you actually look at the bookmarks that others in our class put on Diigo, but I found it quite wonderful to just look at the information that others had posted about the Atomic Age on Diigo recently. It led me to a great overview of a bunch of different topics in the Atomic Age. I would recommend that others use it as a tool to finding information about the topics in class.

      For my blog today, I felt it would be good to do something different, and do a Movie Review of an older movie titled, "Above and Beyond" from 1952.
      "Above and Beyond" is the Hollywood version of the story of Colonel Paul Tibbets, who was the pilot of the B-29 bomber that dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima. (Here's a great blog about Col. Tibbets) "Above and Beyond" gives us an interesting glimpse into more of the personal life of Colonel Tibbets. Imagine being married and having a family, getting called to do a job that would take you away from your family months at a time, and you couldn't tell your wife or kids ANYTHING about what you were doing. It creates great anxiety and tension within Col. Tibbets' family, and puts a huge strain on Col. Tibbets himself. On top of all of this, Col. Tibbets also has to struggle with the fact that he will be killing THOUSANDS of people by dropping this bomb over Hiroshima. Having a family of his own, Col. Tibbets struggles greatly with realizing he will be killing families just like his own, in order to stop the war and save MILLIONS of lives. The personal story of Col. Tibbets comes to life in this film, which gives you a very different, and personal view of war. I would give the movie 7 out of 10 stars for portraying the reality of the brutality and emotional strain of war, and for the wonderful character development of Col. Tibbets and his family.

      The Atomic Age, in a way, has focused more on people collectively, rather than the individual. The thing I love about this movie is that it focuses on individuals, and the interactions among them. In today's world, as a result of the Atomic Age, and of the internet, there are many times that we focus on people in general, and how PEOPLE act. However, I think it is also important that we realize that we are also all individuals, and each one of us is important. This is where our Father in Heaven, and Jesus Christ, are great models for us. They care about people collectively, but they also know, and care about, each of us INDIVIDUALLY. It is important, then, that we care about people collectively, but also care about each other individually. We need both in our lives to stay balanced.

      Monday, November 8, 2010

      Politics and Economic Rant!

      This video is definitely a rant on Keynesian economics, but it kind of sums up the ideas that I've been having about how the government has handled recessions in the past, and how the current recession is being handled. In all honesty, I don't believe a Keynesian approach will solve all our problems. We need to go back to the tried and true methods of economic history.

      With that said about our topic for Tuesday, I'm going to go on a rant about politics. I find it all very ridiculous these days. Here are my reasons why:

      1. Politicians seem to go from one campaign to the next. Look at President Obama; he seems to spend more time on the campaign trail then trying to help out the public. And with the end of another election day, within hours MSNBC had posted this article about how focus now shifts to the presidential election in 2012. Seriously?? We just finished with this election! And we're already looking ahead to 2012 for another one?? Why don't we focus on the issues that we have right now??

      2. Party affiliation accomplishes NOTHING. We end up with one of two governments these days. The first is one where one party controls congress and the executive branch, and can push whatever bills they want right through to law, with hardly any opposition. This does NO good to represent how the people in the country want things done. The second government is one where things are split, which is what we now have after this election. As this political cartoon depicts, nothing gets done when this happens:

      Party affiliation becomes ridiculous. Why don't we just get rid of parties and hire people who will think for themselves logically, and make decisions based off of what they think, and not what their party thinks? I wish we would learn from the wise words of President George Washington:

      However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
      GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796

      3. The money spent on campaigning is RIDICULOUS!! Look at the race for governor in California for an example. Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, spent $160 MILLION on her campaign. And just think of all the other money that was spent on campaigning throughout the country! Why don't we put that money to good use?? Why not give it to charities??

      4. Because so much money is spent on campaigning, the only people who have a chance of getting elected are those with a lot of money. As such, there is almost 0 probability that anyone from the middle or lower classes would ever be able to run for Governor or Congress. So is our government really a fair representation of the American people? Or is it just a representation of what the rich think?

      For those who are interested in political science, I apologize if this has offended you. But I just feel that things have moved far away from what the founding fathers of our country envisioned when they established the US Constitution. I will welcome any comments, and would love to hear any other opinions on the matter.

      Sunday, November 7, 2010

      Robots, computers, logics, oh my!

      In a very real sense, I hope that computers never get to the point that we see in the short story "A Logic Named Joe". (Thanks need to go to Erin Hamson for finding a radio version of the short story that I found really cool). It is a scary thought to think that computers would "logically" start thinking for us, and outsmart us in every way. This is the idea behind movies like I Robot with Will Smith

      Or Eagle Eye, with Shia Labeouf

      It's quite a scary thought. Logic and probability cannot solve everything. There needs to be feeling and emotion behind our problem solving as well. Otherwise we will be considered heartless. Which is kind of how computer logic could be considered in these stories: heartless.
      And yet, we have also had shown to us that there are unsolvable problems by Alan Turing. So computers will never be able to solve ALL problems. A paradox could be considered a problem computers will never be truly able to solve. For example: Suppose you are on the moon, and a Martian flies up to you in his flying saucer, and then says, "All Martians lie all the time." Now, if this statement is true, then he is lying. But, if he is lying, then all Martians tell the truth all the time. However, if all Martians tell the truth all the time, then he must have been telling the truth, so all Martians lie all the time. And around and around we go. This is also the basis of the idea of the halting problem brought up by David Harel in his book "Computers LTD: What They REALLY Can't Do".
      Problems involving the emotions and our souls I think is a type of problem that computers will never be able to solve. This also another reason why it is such a blessing to have the Holy Ghost to help us make righteous, heartfelt decisions in the world around us. I'm grateful for that help that we have been given us from Heavenly Father, to help us solve the problems and concerns in our life that are truly important.

      Tuesday, November 2, 2010

      The Power of the Unconscious

      Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and many other psychologists of the 20th century had an extremely big focus on the subconscious and the unconscious. Freud talked about the Dynamic Unconscious, which is an active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the person’s deepest instincts and desires, and the person’s inner struggle to control these forces. (Psychology by Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner) Carl Jung spoke of the "shadow self". All in all, many of these Psychologists theorized that our unconscious self has a lot to do with who we are. Kurt Witt had a great blog on some of these ideas, and I'd like to tie in some of what I've been learning in other classes this semester to add to Kurt's ideas.
      In my Psychology class this semester, we read an article titled, "The Unconscious Will: How the Pursuit of Goals Operates Outside of Conscious Awareness," by Ruud Custers and Henk Aarts. It is a fairly difficult read, but they essentially argue that our unconscious actually chooses goals for us before we actually become aware of them. With such a fascinating article, we were then asked to write a short essay about it, which I've linked to on Google Documents:

      The Unconscious Will

      Essentially, the biggest problem that I have with many Psychologists is that they are missing something, and that something is the knowledge that we have from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact of the matter is that our soul is made up of a spirit and a physical body, and a lot of the time these two desire and seek after different things. True joy and happiness comes when we cast off the "natural man" and seek after the things of the Spirit, or the things of God. I think Psychologists do have glimpses into a lot of truth, but they would be able to make much more sense of there observations and ideas if they had the Light of the Gospel to help them as well.