Adventures in E-Learning and Digital Culture

My Digital Artifact – A Souvenir #edcmooc February 27, 2013

Digital Artifact #edcmooc


Tiki-Toki’s script does not work with WordPress, spent too much time trying. This will get you there.

Hope you enjoy my artifact as much as I enjoyed making it.


Week 4 Video Reviews – Robbie the Manipulator et al… #edcmooc February 22, 2013

The videos this week were highlighted to evoke forms of transhumanism however in yesterday’s blog I outlined that I am not a convert of the movement.  My video reviews reflect that.

Robbie the Manipulator

Throughout the video I kept being reminded about how we attribute human emotions to our pets.  Design a robot, albeit a highly complex one, give it a kind, trembling, dying voice to manipulate the heartstrings and voila you have half the viewer’s raging about the injustice of what has happened to him.  Hey.. he’s not real!!  To be honest I felt the same yuck about  ET (he wasn’t a robot but creepily non-human).  Call me pragmatic but I cannot believe a robot will ever have the same attributes as a human.  We program, they respond.  When it changes they can come after me.

Gimme Gumdrops

I want one (as long as I can change her accent and mute her from time to time)… but I don’t believe in her as anything more than a complex, well designed robot with advanced levels of interaction. (I don’t believe in her at the moment because she doesn’t exist).


True Skin

Horrible, dystopic view of a life with the wrong body part, us and them, surveillance, grey and seedy city life and the Cyborg.  Realistically people do opt to enhance what they perceive as their quality of life.  We see that with choices eg, when they are sick or want to improve their appearance, or stay young – some choices are life-threatening, unsafe and unproven but they persevere because of their own personal drivers.

On the other hand hip replacements, heart pacemakers, and the like, wonderfully improve quality of life now.  My young friend, off to do Megatronics at University this year, tells me about exciting technology that replaces limbs, maybe bionic eyes.. all good and all useful human endeavour (let’s just hope everyone can afford it?)

I watched a Ted-X talk (a headset that reads your brainwaves) – a chap could think/control a simple computer task with brain responses and a fancy hair net.  Brilliant.  This is wonderful technology with potential BUT THE DEVICE OPERATES  ON HUMAN RESPONSES not on its own.



Truly sad to me who gets immense pleasure from the real world but for those who do not have choices about the colourless world’s they inhabit an Avatar could provide an escape .  Here, when the players are in character, they are unique, complex and important.   (And I learnt today if you are good at this particular game you get paid well).

One of the players on the video did sound like a joyful killer. From Gabe Zichermann’s Ted talk (reference in last blog below) research shows that people with violent personalities become more violent when gaming.  Other research talks about people with addictive personalities becoming game addicts.  (Interesting – current research says the problems start with the people not the technology –– not technology determining the bad behaviour.. just enhancing it).

Research shows some games do help us multi-task, problem solve quickly, drive better … but an excess is problematic.  Disruptions to circadian sleep rhythms are not uncommon and can present as psychoses to doctors.   I have seen teenagers (not mine) in this state due to heavy gaming and it is disturbing.

“Sleep researcher Yaron Dagan states that “[t]hese disorders can lead to harmful psychological and functional difficulties and are often misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated due to the fact that doctors are unaware of their existence.”[1]


I enjoyed the quality of the videos this week and appreciated the connection to the subject matter.  I am just not of the transhuman persuasion so they didn’t have huge resonance.




Transhumanism and its Unique Relationship with the Emperor #edcmooc February 21, 2013


I find the views of the Transhumanists in our readings a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes, all rhetoric but nothing new.  It might be I am too pragmatic (and tired) to understand the nuances?

“Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remould in desirable ways. Current humanity need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually manage to become posthuman, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have” N Bostrom

We have been “evolving” like this since our earliest times.  We had a wonderful BBC programme on Early Britain recently – which showed how we have evolved, physically, mentally and spiritually.  It is a remarkable story and a credit to the humans’ creativity – not just evolutionary but revolutionary.  Transhumanists’ aspirations will be fulfilled and that is because of human’s boundless creativity and seemingly infinite ability to adapt and improve.

I have been reflecting on Gabe Zichermann and his infectious passion for gamification and how this new technology is resulting in improved abilities to learn, multitask, come up with solutions faster and it’s wider application in various arenas.   But the technology is not the cause of the improvement – it is the human brains ability to adapt and maximise.

One random thought – we, in NZ,  had devastating earthquakes recently that have destroyed human landscapes and infrastructures – Nature does seem to have a its own indiscriminant, final word when it comes to any exalted state humans feel they have evolved to or created.  But what do we do in the face of disaster – regather, create, rebuild better.  Brilliant.

On the basis of my limited introduction Transhumanism falls deficit because it bases its idea of evolution on “rational means” which minimises the irrational, extraordinary or inexplicable human aspects which fascinate us. How do aboriginals teleport without machines, how do humans perform amazing feats under duress without bionic body parts, how do some people foretell the future without time machines?  What about intuition and faith – all valid expressions of being human in most cultures.  I am not widely read on transhumanism – they may have explanations?

“Transhumanism promotes the quest to develop further so that we can explore hither to inaccessible realms of value. “ N Bostrom.  Transhumanism is in luck because that is exactly what humans do.   History speaks for itself.  Technological enhancement may be a part of that but there is much, much more.


Week 3; Video Reviews; Humans in Control … Just #edcmooc February 16, 2013



One minute of well executed, advertorial brilliance on many levels.  Clear contrast between real and dystopia or technological … Digital driver in digital world commentary – “there is no “alive” in this town, just pixels, pretence and driver assist.”  His reference to alive indicates that he knows what real is.  Was he formerly a non-digital human?

The real car is concealed, hidden and only available to those who know where to look and have inside knowledge.  Digital driver arrives with a suitcase (prepared to leave digital world) and goes to a shop full of old things, books, with lots of light bulbs – all illuminated (metaphorical “seen the Light” experience).  Here reality exists in contrast with the grey uncluttered world he left, digital shopkeeper is eating a real hamburger, there’s a real plant … the car is the only thing hidden.  On revelation of the real car and on driving it Édith Piaf starts singing “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,”   (No I don’t regret anything) dedicated to the French Foreign Legion (how deep should we go here?) – a well-trained military service with a high (human) ethos of morale.

Morale (also known as esprit de corps) is the capacity of a group’s members to maintain belief in an institution or goal, particularly in the face of opposition or hardship.  Morale is often referenced by authority figures as a generic value judgment of the willpowerobedience, and self-discipline of a group tasked with performing duties assigned by a superior.   Wiki

Happy face now he’s driving, goosebumps (human response), “feeling” alive.  No going back once experienced driving this car, past Danger end of World sign and then revs through a wall which happens to made of glass (so well done) into nature and the real world “Once you feel it no going back”.  Triumph of the real over technology – of the human over the digital.


Great Ad for BT landline and a Real Human Encounter.  Funny the son who is physically present asks the guy who is away if he has talked to Mum.  Why doesn’t the son?  “Yes we talk all the time”, says Adam … NOT.  He meant digitally not for real.  Text and techology are no substitute for voice contact and conversation on a telephone, the ad tells us.

“Something is up with Mum” initiates a phone call from Adam.  She still looks pensive during and after the call, as if she has still not divulged what is going on with her as she pats her tum.

The fact that, even when he rang, she didn’t tell him could indicate their relationship’s “real life” neglect, built on shallow technological exchanges, could have adversely altered things. Or she may be pregnant and not sure how he will take the news, preferring a face to face meeting to tell him.  Or.. she could have an ulcer just worrying about everything.


Man builds a replica (not original in the true sense), artificial world similar to Italy.  Starts with blocks, adds detail, colour, trees and flowers, smell, movement etc to evoke an emotion in a woman (he loves). It turns out he does all this to get a photo of her loving the smell of flowers.  She is really in a hospital bed lying unconscious.  Somehow he accessed her imagination.  Nodules on her temples may have given him access to have her imagination to allow her travel to this world with all her humanity, touch, sight, feel, happiness, puzzlement, smell intact.  But why couldn’t he jump out of the door way?  Was this really just for his photo opportunity rather than her needs?

I think (?) this is technology provides a lovely gesture in this instance but awful in the wrong hands.  After he got his photo the world dissolved in a way that did not make her happy although he comforted her in the hospital bed later and brought a flower that existed in his artificial world (could have been a 3D print out).

An example of humans in control of technology with the ability to manufacture images for other humans to experience (unwillingly or not) subconsciously and parts of those images can become real.  With that technology they could surely cure her?

I don’t like that he could organise this artificial experience in her mind generally but have often felt people in comas are trapped in their bodies – you communicate intuitively but never really know if that is for you or them (in a similar way we attribute human emotions to our pets) – it would be wonderful to be able to interact with people in comas.  Oh dear, I just said, “you never really know if it’s for you or them”  … like the man’s photo shoot.!

They Are Made Out of Meat

Alliteration and repetition of the word meat became appalling to the point that I could smell meat and wanted this video to be over.  Aliens visit to decide whether to engage with us – reasonably impressed with humans(meat) ability and our achievements, thinking, dreaming, talking, inventing machines but for our constituency – MEAT.

In the meantime the students living and being around them are really, really enjoying themselves, friendship, love, food, play.  Meat made Machines, Meat does the thinking.  Their view to me is repellent, although funny.  The aliens could not get past what we were made off (meat) and so to them we were worth erasing.

“Who wants to meet meat”.  The aliens could get past the meat to define humans – it was a tainted classification.  We are not told what the “meat” represents to them – poison, food, a caste system in their own community?

Luckily the aliens’ viewpoint has no relevance to how humans define themselves.  Happy they rejected us.  They do, in this video, provide a unique and humourous viewpoint – humans as outsiders might see them.  “Who meets with Meat.”  Take “heart” the body is amazingly complex and unique to humans, as is our character, mind, spirit and intuition.!


Still feeling a little behind but more in a rhythm and less frenetic about web tools and flicking around new digital sites.  Loving some of the other things I have read and Week 3 Digital images.  Wish I could get a handle on GMT for the meetings.  I am trying a clock on my computer.

Am hearing completely foreign things now ref: Prof Steve Fuller on being human but some great blogs are helping me interpret.  Saw the note about the time commitment needing to be reviewed if this course is run again – feel very relaxed about this and trust #edcmooc staff can too.  We are talking about a great learning adventure not honours and I feel privileged to be part of it….


Patrick Lucks Out in Valentine Challenge – #edcmooc competiton February 14, 2013

Filed under: Week Two #edcmooc — essgarland @ 11:28 pm
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Patrick Lucks Out in Valentine Challenge - Week 3 #edcmooc competiton

I disliked Patrick in great Sight Vimeo so took revenge for Daphne and all the others blighted by this Gaming creep. (Link for vimeo in Week 2 review) First go at web tools. Link at if you want to comment or vote on edcmooc competition.


Week 2 Future Shock & the Resistance Movement. #edcmooc

Filed under: Week Two #edcmooc — essgarland @ 3:01 am
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I covered Day Made of Glass on this blog. That and Productivity Future Vision are slick advertorials designed to appeal to their target market, the consumer of their products and services – to them the presentations predictably epitomise a technological Utopia – clean, slick and streamlined designed to make life easier and happy (both included nuclear family happy technical times).  To the edcmooc student the presentations throw up a dystopic world shadowed with issues such as quality of educative software, one dimensional teaching, privacy, restricted availability, likely to those who can afford it and so on.

Day Made of Glass

Productivity Future Vision


Very well made Dystopia that, for me, drew heavily on the serious gamer dichotomy separating what is real and what is not and where does the game end?  I could, however, only imagine Daphne being a Cyborg purchased or won online by creepy, gestapo gamer, Patrick.

“Gratification theory” would ask, “to whom would the technology in “Sight” be useful to?”  It would have to be compelling for people to agree to have technology inserted into their heads, even for power crazy gamers.  The trade-off, on face value, is being in a perpetual gaming state – no thanks.  And would gamers do it?  There is always the threat that someone will be more powerful and you the subservient or loser.  Would they be comfortable with public disclosure of their personal online information?

Hardwired head aside, how could someone manipulate an individual’s free will on the first date?  (unbalanced relationships can develop over time).  I am confident the human’s free will to choose would overrule hardware in the head and the gestapo accent.

Daphne would just keep walking, block him and report him to the software company unless, as stated earlier, she is a Cyborg.

Charlie 13

Covered in a separate blog.  (Be prepared for slow upload)


Another dystopic video showing a disturbing DNA identification system giving full surveillance powers to the authorities.  The hope are the Time Travellers who return as duplicates of existing people to warn the past of the path they are taking and their persistence in spite of a controlling authority who wants to stop their message.  You have to ask why they would not listen unless there was a darker motive.  Crime control seems to be the motivation for people to participate, as in Charlie 13, again the consequences feel sinister.   Plurality!


Competition threw my time frame out and have been left behind for now.  Problem was upskilling on the tools.  I had little background in this.  Loved how the #edcmooc community helps us!  Someone composed a long list of good web tools… but that was another diversion.  Agree that the time commitment for the course should be extended but it doesn’t matter because this is an enjoyable experience.  First Tweet chat last night – was worth hanging around until 1 am for.  So learning a lot technically and also reflecting a lot on the human response to technology after reading/viewing week 2 and feeling positive.


Charlie 13 – Humanity the Antidote to Dystopia #edcmooc February 13, 2013

Filed under: Week Two #edcmooc — essgarland @ 6:18 am
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My favourite Week 2 video highlighted, for me, the distinction between Utopia, Dystopia and Real.   The hope is in Charlie’s ability to reject his dystopic world with its internal chips and control.  Charlie has to choose between the Father and “real world” beyond the fence and Mother and “part of something bigger” which is “safe”, an oppressive and controlling system.  Charlie’s intuitive feeling is that this is not the way things were meant to be and his regular, illegal trips to the fence to spot deserters show his vision is turned away from the system.

The serendipitous series of events line up to strengthen Charlie’s resolve to reject his controlling world; a gift of his Father’s Compass the night before his coming of age – Mother explains a compass is – “how people used to find their way home” he turns to look at the photo of him and his Dad; then seeing his Father beyond the wall after believing him dead, “I have been watching over you for your whole life ..”.   These point Charlie to choose to opt out of the system and take his chances over the fence with Dad – not to utopia but to a real world.

Left behind is Emma, Mum.   After a lonely night drinking herself to sleep on the couch, she is woken by her phone alerting her to Charlie.  She finds his chip bloody on the bench.   She loves her son but believes the system is the safest way for them.  She has doubts when the system deems Charlie and his best friend incompatible, and when the policeman refers to her husband.  These, her love for Charlie and knowledge of her husband’s survival over the fence might push her over too?  Alternatively she might hook up with the “call me Will” policeman?

Reminded me of  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, again where youthful courage, hope and character shine above a warped, controlling system.  Humanity seems to be the best inoculation against Dystopian terrors.