My “Tool of Everything” — the E8

“. . . our universe is a growing E8 coral with particles interacting at every location in all possible ways according to a beautiful pattern.”  Garrett Lisi, TED 2008

E8 Polytope (Wikipedia)

My Personal Knowledge Environment is evolving faster than my Personal Knowledge Management system.

PLENK 2010 gave me a network of learners with whom I could try out new tools and test my wings.  What I learned about a Personal Learning Environment is that I need tools and resources to help me function successfully online in what Wilson (2008) describes in these five ways:

1.      connect with other professionals – tools/resources/ ideas

2.     communicate/collaborate

3.     create/express

4.     manage

5.     curate

I would also suggest that a sixth, to synthesize.  I have not experienced such a constant and turgid flow of information since my dissertation research and writing and it seems to me that strategies for synthesizing through reflection are vital.

When I asked for the “tool of everything” to help me synthesize in a PLENK 2010 session (Facilitator Session, October 29, 2010, Session Six archived), Stephen described an uber-tool and George later described in a forum that he and colleagues are working on a tool that would help learners filter and prune massive amounts of information coming from numerous sources.  George later wrote in the discussion form: “Currently, if you want to track PLENK, you need to use numerous different tools: twitter search, Google alerts, blog search, the daily, grsshopper, etc. And, once you’re using the tools, they don’t “learn from you”. That’s not right. Software systems should learn from our interactions, rather than only aggregate and send information.”  It is a very exciting time to think of what new tool is on the horizon to support our learning within massive, complex networks.

Years ago I remember seeing a scientist with a camera attached to his forehead so he could record all that he sees and hears.  This could be the ultimate memory tool for you’ve have no trouble “remembering” all that you experienced – or would you?  Wouldn’t you need to also be recording your internal responses as you experienced everything?  And, what kind of curating would you need to do to ever find the connections that you wanted to review and reflect upon?

The Wikipedia definition for cyborg – “the term is also used to address human-technology mixtures in the abstract. This includes artifacts that may not popularly be considered technology; for example, pen and paper, and speech and language. Augmented with these technologies, and connected in communication with people in other times and places, a person becomes capable of much more than they were before.”

I think I’m asking for the next evolution of cyborg that takes my internal thoughts that I record using computer technology and stores them with those of others that I’ve selected to give me a quantum leap in making those “with particles at any location interacting in every possible way” to explain that “all possibilities are expanding and developing at once (Lisi at TED 2008).

I have come up with some specs for this tool of everything:

E1 — Inclusive online-offline repository
“enables me to be online/offline, in my head in my screen” (My comment recorded in Stephen’s notes of October 29th Facilitators’ Session).

I had seen MindMeister around the MOOC but had not really taken it seriously until Glen (Convivality Corners, September 23, 2010, ) shared one in a Second Life session and spoke of how he had even used it in presentations.  I remember commenting that it seemed like a simple Prezi, a snazzy tool that I would never be coordinated enough to use.  But place a MindMeister map on an iPad and then use the magic fingers routine to float, enlarge, reveal, and vanish and the results could be described my fave Arthur C. Clarke quote:  “Technology sufficiently advanced to be useful is indistinguishable from magic.”

Besides the showmanship, the other purely magical part of MindMeister is the ease that you can synch your desktop and iPad versions with the Web and vice versa.  Why can’t Google Docs do this?  Is there a text-based program that does this as well as MindMeister?  I could foresee a new era of productivity for me if I could synch whatever I write on my desktop to the Web so not only would everything be backed up remotely but I could access it from everywhere.  Wasn’t that Tim Berners Lee’s motivation for inventing the Web?

E2 — Searching all at once
“the pedagogy of propinquity” (Convivality Corners, October , 2010)

Glen wrote a classic piece defining the pedagogy of propinquity as “the study of learning that happens along the way to learning other things” (Gatin, 2010, October 15) When I review my Diigo, Zotero, RSS feeds, Evernote, Google Docs weekly notes for PLENK 2010, desktop notes, handwritten notes on readings, everyday handwritten log, and my “to think” list (thank you, Dalit) to search for the idea that I need to make the perfect connection, it’s hit or miss and most often miss.  I have plenty of opportunities to learn other things but may never succeed in making the connections that I’d hoped to. I have a photographic mind to a point and can recreate a mental image of where the text, diagram appeared (upper left corner of page, etc.) and that use to work great for books but isn’t so useful for the Web.

A value of being able to sync everything I write to the Web and have all of my links saved within one tool would be that I could easily search everything at once to find what I need.

E3 — Mind mapping
“In quantum physics, everything that can happen does. All possibilities are realized” – Garrett Lisi, TED 2008

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. – (My Ocober 31 response to Stephen’s Notes from the PLENK 2010 Oct. 29 Elluminate session)

And if I could search everything at once, wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to create a mind map as I go that helps me “see” my connections and begin to move them around to create a logical flow for my argument?  Or another argument that arises from being able to see these ideas in proximity or propinquity.

E4 — Teaching my tool
“And, once you’re using the tools, they don’t “learn from you”. That’s not right.” George in the infamous “What are your questions” discussion in PLENK 2010 Week 8

The tool of everything would be intelligent enough, as George describes, to “learn from me” and auto-tag the resources not only with key words but with categories that it’s learned from me.

E5 — My Memes
“ . . . power of metaphors and analogies to affect one’s view on the world, ability to make predictions, generate expectancy, and solve problems (Klein, 1998, Chaper 12).

I’d like for this tool to give me not only the obvious tags but let me preload tags that it would use to create categories of related resources.  For example, “metaphor” would be an important tag for me as I am fascinated by how we use story and metaphor to learn.  So even though Klein’s book might not surface in a search for “stories and metaphors,” if this tool had my pre-selected tags then it could search and connect Klein’s book to this category.

E6 — “Read and synch later” function
“Is it [synchronicity] only, as skeptics suggest, selective perception and the law of averages playing itself out?  Or is it, as Carl Jung believed, a glimpse into the underlying order of the universe?  He coined the term synchronicity to describe what he called the “acausal connecting principle” that links mind and matter (Lundstrom, 1966).

There are way too many instances of synchronicity or “glimpses of the order of the universe” on the Web and there’s no time to pursue them.  So, of course, I need a “read later” function.  Then I can file a new source that I’ve no time to read and see that it’s auto-tagged and ready to study for connections.

E7 — Web writing
“Chance favors the connected mind” — Steven Johnson, TED, 2020, July

Imagine the time I would save if I could trust composing online and creating my links as I sprinted or trudged through the piece.  Having lost way too many online comments, I now compose in Word and continuously return to the Web to copy urls to duefully paste in my Word document.  If I could compose on the Web then I could simply make the links, hopefully, in a simple one-step process, and avoid the linking process when I take the completed piece online.  But I of little faith will not dare to compose on the Web unless I can synch to my desktop.

E8 — Sharing my collection
Meme – “a self-replicating unit of transmission – in the case of biological evolution, the gene” (Wikipedia definition of meme)

Finally, I’d like, but, of course, to be able to share my lifelong collection of ideas and resources with whom I choose.  A mind meld, perhaps?


About criscrissman

so serious about really blogging this time
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