Saturday, April 14, 2012


       I think everyone in this class would agree that this has been nothing like we ever imagined college to be. For some it was a breath of fresh air while for others is was a rod jamming their tire spokes. 

For me it was somewhere on the fresh air side but one thing is for sure; this class has changed the way I will view future learning.   
       In my previous reflective blog post I went through what I had learned up to then and how I got there. Admittedly, I was fairly confused even then and if you would like to know from the beginning of the semester till then I would direct you to that. Since then, however, I feel that I have been able to make a small clearing in this jungle we call 'self directed learning.' I had never really contemplated the fact that our learning is not self directed. In traditional school we are pulled, pushed, or kicked in the way the instructor would like us to go. The typical student has become complacent with this and, like a rag doll, has simply gone along for the ride.
       Coming to this class reminded me of a communist country being liberated. Not everyone immediately wanted it or even knew what to do with their new found freedom. Should I work harder or just stop working at all? Consciously or subconsciously I believed this question crossed every student's mind. It took a while to know what to do but for me it wasn't till my openness blog post that I feel I started understanding what was going on. I began to recognize the problem which was vital to solving the issue. This was the beginning to a few leaps which has led me to really believe that self directed leaning is not only desirable but actually possible. Even within the confines of standard education I can be a self directed learner. It will take quite a bit more effort than being a rag doll student but the things in life worth having seem to be those we work the hardest for.

finding people

To be honest, I feel that I did fairly well in contacting people about our book and event. Here is who I contacted:

1. Facebook - I had a few people watch online because of posting on Facebook
2. Google+
3. Open Government group on Linkedin - Surprisingly, A few people expressed interest in the event.
4. Rachael Chappell - Sister who does home school and was interested in how education will be affected  by openness. She could only watch the beginning before the video went choppy and died because of her humble computer. She emailed me and said that she thinks openness may be only for people who are up-to-date. An interesting point to be discussed.
5. Trey Ratcliff (creative commons advocate) - I attempted to get in his circles but unfortunately he has too many people following him and never replied.
6. Michael Nielsen (Author of Reinventing Discovery) - We exchanged emails about the book and gave a couple good thoughts which we tried to implement in the book. 
7. Richard Baraniuk (Professor at Rice University and gave a ted talk about openness) - I also talked to him about the book. We sent a few emails back and forth and he expressed interest in the event. I haven't heard if he was able to watch or not.

I also attempted to contact two other professionals by email but never got a response. If you count my wife and other immediate family and friends it could come to ten but these were the best ones. I was surprised I was able to converse with some professionals who are advocating openness. It was very entertaining and I learned that connecting with people is only as hard as you make it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Openness: An Annotated Bibliography

       My research process has been fairly internet heavy. This is because I have been studying much of how the current open via digital media is changing how we think about information. I also was able to find quiet a few interesting things in the bibliographies of the things I read
       This bibliography shows that there are people out there who believe in many levels of openness. There are people in every field commenting and writing about this important subject. This proves that it is not a black and white subject. There are obviously problems or there would not have to be anyone fighting for the open idea.

Further Readings

Thought Leaders
  • Trey Ratcliff ( Trey is a computer specialist turned photographer. He is an advocate for creative commons and making art open to the public. All his photos online are in full quality and free to download. I plan on using a photo of his and to use him as an example of how people can be open and still make money in their field. [I found him while searching for professionals involved with creative commons]
  • Richard Baraniuk( Richard is a professor at Rice University. He spoke at a ted conference and is the founder of Connexions, a free, open-source, global clearinghouse of course materials. [I found him at the beginning of the course when researching openness]
  • Michael Nielsen ( Michael is "This is the most highly cited physics publication of the last 25 years, and one of the ten most highly cited physics books of all time (Source: Google Scholar, December 2007)." He wrote the book Reinventing Discovery and is an advocate for open science. [I found him after reading the book Reinventing Discovery]


Saturday, March 17, 2012


One of the major advancements of openness was the printing press. Pervious to this, books could take months or years to make one copy. This made books extremely expensive and therefore unattainable for the common person. While printing was relatively slow to begin with one of the first books to be printed, the bible, had a serious effect on the society of the day.  Religion was the first to feel the enormous effects of printing. Before, the preacher was the only one with the bible and was likely the only one who could read. Suddenly, however, people could get their own copy and had a reason to read. The fight for openness began. People began questioning the teachings of individual churches and began to come up with their own interpretations. This led to people like Martin Luther and William Tindale to speak out about the way the church was being run which opened the door for the protestant reformation.
In the 16th and 17th centuries openness was again revolutionized by printing. With the widespread use of the printing press, suddenly the education spread as fast as books could. This was a time where new inventions and new thoughts crept into society and science began to take foot. We are currently going through a similar process but at an infinitely faster rate. With the development of the internet the open movement began, causing us to reflect back and realize that the buildup to this age wasn’t simply the advancement of the computer, but a traceable change in in history of how our society thinks about knowledge.  
One of the uses of the printing press during this time period was scientific papers. Before these existed there was a serious problem in the scientific community. Scientists have a resource, their knowledge and findings. This resource was extremely precious and often hard to come by. Obviously, they would have wanted to protect their findings so no one could steal them and claim them as their own. Because of this fear, everything was closed.
Following the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century (most of this occurred in between 1660 and 1793), a group of scientists got together and formed some official scientific societies. Some were government-sponsored (like the Royal Society of London, still around today) and some were private, but they were all organized for what was essentially open science for the time. They knew a problem existed and they needed a solution. These groups gave scientists an environment to share their ideas without fear and gave them a way to be paid. This movement towards openness, however, has ironically become the main source of frustration to its proponents today. Due to changes in technology and expectations, a movement for openness created a closed system.
Today, there is a movement against these scientific papers. In this digital world these papers and journals are seen as slowing the speed of information, just as copying a book by hand used to be seen as the inefficient process. Now there are web sites where you can learn about thousands of topics for free. Some examples are:
These sites and many others are dedicated to bringing a new ability to learn to everyone around the world for free. Just as the printing press brought learning to the masses, knowledge no longer has to be for those who go to college. It is incredible what has been done but it must be done with caution. The sites listed are open to users but not at all open to publishers. This is important because while everyone can and should be a consumer of knowledge, producers should have limitations. There is a balance which must be found. This is a topic which has been and will be debated. According to history, having an open society will make us better off. We just have to be careful what we consume and create.
            As an example, the book Reinventing discovery goes over the complexities of open sourcing. Although there are many different examples of open sourcing, two that most people are familiar with are Linux and Wikipedia. These open projects have truly innovated ways of being open. Like with the advent of the printing press, this new way of creating an open society has placed expectations which society now lives with. These processes of innovations must come with any development in spreading information and openness. Someone had to think of creating everything from parchment and pen to the internet itself and everything in between. As we look through history there is always some major invention or innovation which causes or help produce and spread knowledge. The irony is, that these changes have made things which were once viewed as be best was to be open, like scientific papers, an enemy to openness.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Don't want to pay for Office?

Here are two great alternatives to the over-priced Microsoft Office. Both are open software meaning they are free! Similar to Linux, many people have come together to create these amazing resources. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Were my great grandparents digitally literate?

Although my great grandparents never had the internet or social media, I believe they were as digitally literate as someone could be in the 1940s. Recently I have finished putting all 10 hours of silent video captured by my great grandfather to digital format. He was an amateur film maker and spent countless hours filming and putting together these videos which I only vaguely knew about until recently. This has made me wonder what the definition of "digitally literate" actually is. Will our great grandchildren view us as digitally literate or will they say we didn't have enough technology to truly be digitally literate?  In my head, I would say that to be digitally literate means to keep up with the social world, to strive to learn what you can with what you have. Just because you don't have tons of resources doesn't mean you are not digitally literate. The African man who used the one computer in his village to find out how he could make his plants grow better through science blogs is much more digitally literate than the teenager who spends ump-teen hours a day on Facebook and other useless activities on the web. From what I have seen in the videos I have watched, my great grandfather strove to be on the cutting-edge of the time and to use what he had for good purposes. I believe that it was this time and these desires in the 20th century that paved a way for the want and then need for a digital world. People want to communicate better. Just think of how many inventions have came about because someone wanted a better way to communicate, made it, and then everyone wanted to use it. There are countless examples and will only be more in the future. For my great grandpa, the best way he saw he could communicate to the future was through his silent films. Now my wife and I have begun a video blog, inspired by his desire to show us his life. I am grateful he was digitally literate enough to do it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Reflecting on the semester

For the last day or so I have been thinking about this blog. I feel that I am more a follower of the blog then a poster and that I have learned a bit about a lot by having it. I have tried to keep things relevant but have not had much success. I believe I began preaching open learning. This was because our group presented on the first day and I got excited about the possibilities. I still am excited but the subject changed as I found that there were many people talking about open learning but no one with any real ideas for a project. At least, none that could feasibly be done by our class.
Next came open government. I enjoy following politics and I feel that there is a giant void in our society of people who don't care at all. One group presented about it an I tried to take it and run. The problem was, run where? This time I had an idea that would work and we could do. The problem was that it was not grounded in history. I made a few shallow attempts to do so but it felt empty. I could talk to people in person about my ideas but when it came to the digital world no one expressed interest. I even joined an e-government group on linked in and posted a few of my ideas with links to my blog but nothing caught. And thus it is that I am beginning to change ideas again. I haven't decided on anything specific but I am trying. There are times when I feel involved with the class  but for the most part I feel separated and unable to connect. I guess I will continue to formulate ideas and attempt to gather social proofing but I don't feel successful quite yet. Part of the process I guess.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

organization of information


This week I am focusing my attentions on public libraries and how they effected history. Something I quickly found was that the Boston library is often considered the first real public library in America. It opened in 1854 and came out with a statement of purpose which describes many philosophies which I believe could be modified and made to be the statement of purpose for the internet. Major points of this statement are:
  • There's a close linkage between knowledge and right thinking;
  • The future of democracy is contingent on an educated citizenry;
  • There's a strong correlation between the public library movement and public education; and
  • Every citizen has the right of free access to community-owned resources.
In the 1890s Melvil Dewey took libraries to a new level as president of ALA(American Library Association). When running for this office his slogan was, "the best reading for the largest number at the least cost." His chief desire was to standardize and organize everything the library had to offer. It would be interesting to have Melvil Dewey back and to see what he would do with the internet. When I start searching for things on the internet I often feel that I am in an unorganized library. Stacks and stacks of knowledge everywhere with only a few ways to shift through and find what matters and what can be trusted. Is there any way to catalog the entire internet? I have no idea but I know there are some people out there with ideas. By the time I am old and grey maybe the internet will be well organized and straight forward and we will all wonder how we ever found anything of use before.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Who would you vote for?

I understand that the political field has changed dramatically since the founding fathers ran against each other for office but this has made me curious. Who would I vote for in elections of the past with no hindsight? I think that along with a 'pick your candidate' game it would be interesting to see who else you are similar to throughout history. I admire Abraham Lincoln immensely but would I have voted for him when it really mattered? Also, do I generally believe in things which match candidates who are good presidents or bad presidents? I think it would be a great gamification exercise which would link and teach about past and present politics. Something I feel college students know much too little about.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Knowledge is Power

As a class we are still trying to figure out a project but I am just going to pretend like we are going with the idea of my last blog post. I think that this coincides extremely well with this weeks discussions on the 18th century and information.  Newspapers in this era began spreading information in vast quantities. By 1814 there were 346 newspapers in America and with the advent of the "penny press" in the 1830s, news was booming. As a testament to this, voter turnout in and before the 1836 election was below 60%. Suddenly in 1840 80% of voters got out to vote. 1870 then brought another jump in numbers voting as the 15th amendment guaranteed the right to vote to non-property owners of any race. While this still excluded women, it vastly broadened peoples need for information. The industrial revolution put this spread of knowledge on steroids and by 1880 there was a reported 11,314 papers. 

Looking at this graph you also see a large increase in recent voting percentages. I believe that we can help this along by helping the spread of information quickly and decisively. We can use digital media like news papers were used to inform people who are used to learning quickly.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

More thoughts on voting

Today we had a discussion about voting and ways to get college age kids to be informed and care enough to vote. Our group was the "vending machine" discussion focused around getting people informed. The main issue  is that getting informed takes time and time is the most valuable resource for people our age. That is why we decided that telling people who they would vote for based on a series of questions would be the best way. Anyone could take this poll about what their ideas are about certain topics and then the program would tell them who they are most likely to vote for. There are many problems about this which would have to be addressed.

  1. The questions could be misleading. They would have to be extremely carefully worded in order to convey each parties platform. The best way may be to have a question posed to each candidate and then the voter chooses between their 1 paragraph responses. 
  2. The candidates may overlap on many issues. One way to overcome this would be to output percentages of each candidate rather than just one person.
  3. It could cost a lot to put together especially for our class. The best way I think that we could deal with this is to make it web-based. We could put it up on college websites making it easily accessible and editable.
  4. Some people know a lot about politics and some people do not. The questions would have to vary from core values to specific topics with an option to say, "Not an issue I am concerned about."
  5. More problems to come.
While there are problems we would have to hammer out I believe that this could be extremely effective. The possibilities go much further than just the the presidential elections as well. How many people know anything about their local elections in their city/county/state? I would argue that this is a much bigger problem than the presidential election and something we could begin to help fix. We could apply this to elections or any type of vote held and drastically increase our public participation. Please, as you see more problems with this post a comment with the problem and an idea for a solution. I will try to keep this updated and add in the ideas to this blog.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tron & Advertising

This weekend my wife and I watched Tron for the first time on Netflicks. While a little cheesy for my taste, it did have some interesting points on openness. Should programs be free to users? Are we headed to a more open or closed world? Can companies put their main product out for free and still make enough money to keep a job? I would say yes and we have to prime examples in facebook and Google. Most people would consider these companies expert in many different areas but their real expertise? Advertising. In many ways these two companies are pioneers in internet advertising. In fact, it is nearly the only way they make money! So is advertising the answer? With a progress to a more open society should we expect a bogging down in advertisements thrown at us? I am tempted to say yes and I am not really against it. I payed less for my Kindle full knowing that they were going to stick advertisements on it. It is a price that I, the consumer, am willing to take which may show in what direction we are headed.
I have heard many people speak negativity about internet advertising but I don't think they realize that advertising is why we get so much stuff for free. Facebook and Google would have to charge us for using their products. One of the main concerns I have heard is that they are collecting too much personal data. While I do understand that privacy is an issue, this is why people will pay them a lot of money. They know that their advertising is going to specific people who have already shown an interest in something like their own product. I am personally all for this. Although I am not an advertiser, I am a consumer and if I am going to have adds around me why not have stuff I am actually interested in? They know I'm a Mormon. They know how old I am. They know my gender, my age, what I like, and what I don't like. Scary? Honestly, I don't mind. As long as I am still getting stuff for free bring on the advertising. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When I was going to Snow College I feel like I finally realized the importance of learning rather than getting a degree. Suddenly grades didn't matter as much as learning the subject and being able to have an intelligent conversation on the topic. It was like night and day. Suddenly I was getting As in classes where everyone said was next to impossible. This change in my desire to learn also lead me to a class called Entrepreneurial Finance. I really had the desire to go to this class but already had too many credits and not enough time. I then went to the teacher and told him my situation. That is when I first learned about auditing, or going to class to learn rather than to get a grade. I learned a lot about finance and it ended up being one of the reasons I decided to major in finance. I feel like this was my first experience with open learning. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries learning was revolutionized. The percentage of educated people went up considerable during this time because of new inventions and new thoughts. I feel that we are going through a similar process. With the development of the internet we have thrown education online. Some of these include: 

These sites and many others are dedicated to bringing a new ability to learn to everyone around the world for free. Just as knowledge progressed from those who knew Latin and were extremely wealthy before the Renaissance era,  knowledge no longer has to be for those who go to college. It is incredible what has been done but it must be done with caution. The sites I have listed are open to users but not at all open to publishers. This is important because while everyone can and should be a consumer of knowledge, producers should have limitations. For example, just because I wrote a paper 4 years ago about how global warming is false doesn't mean I should be able to post it to a scientific journal. The same this goes with All Gore. Just because he has money and power doesn't mean he is right. There is a balance which must be found. This is a topic which has been and will be debated. Overall, however, I do believe that having an open society will make us better off. We just have to be careful what we consume and create.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Humanism as the germinal period of modernism

The title of this blog came from a recent article I found. I would highly suggest the read.

I have often been confused by the term "humanism." Any definition I come across seems very vague and usually takes pages to explain. I have attempted asking people the definition of humanism and have yet to get a single sentence response. Perhaps by the end of this post I will be able to create that one sentence definition, perhaps not. This article portrays humanism as a break from current tradition back to the old tradition. In 16th century context, it took the medieval attitude of supernaturalism, brought it back to the classics where it got loosely tied to a mixture of art and critical thinking, and threw it into the 18th century which is where modernism was born. This few hundred years of societal conflict has be dubbed the Renaissance. To me, it is one of the most fascinating times of history to consider. There was so much going on in the realm religion and science together, the conflict nearly tore them both apart inside and out. The basics of religion were being attacked by people inside the church like Martin Luther as well as scientists such as Galileo. In this strange battle between science and religion in the Renaissance era who one? Neither. The aesthetic nature came out on top. The world idea was changing into beauty and emotion. I'm not sure why we have called it humanism. To me, the name is more confusing than insightful. A better word could simply be pre-western as this was truly the time where an individualistic idea was brought to the forefront. Where Europe began thinking like we think today. And thus the west was born.
So, what is humanism? I still cant give a solid definition but I feel like I have cut off some edges and am slowly coming to an understanding. If you have any other insights or if you have found that one sentence definition, please share.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do not limit yourself!

To all those limited people out there:

Perhaps you have other friends on G+ who you feel would not be interested or maybe you are scared of your knowledge leaking onto the web and then having strange people finding you. I would plead with all of you limited people to change your mind. Go to your settings and spread your knowledge to the world. Isn't that the point of this class? Don't you want to spread the wealth? I would argue that you are being fairly selfish. If you truly feel that your  posts simply would not be interesting to anyone outside our class then your should probably not write those kinds of posts anyway. I have been studying about openness for the last couple of weeks and it has struck a cord with me. I believe that information should be spread as much as possible. As you put your knowledge onto the web, let the reader decide if it worth consuming or not. Do not assume others simply won't be interested. know someone who I talk to regularly about a variety of deep subjects. This person has a fantastic view on many subjects but when we get into group conversations they shuts off and simply listen, claiming that their view is no different from the groups. How many times could our view have changed someones life if we only would have shared it. We will never know because there was no communication! The world will still progress if you do not post publicly but perhaps your small bit of insight or knowledge can be the butterfly which creates a hurricane.

Friday, January 20, 2012

In my book, Reinventing discovery, I have been informed of many of the complexities of open sourcing. Although there are many different examples of open sourcing, two that most people are familiar with are Linux and Wikipedia. Previous to reading this book I considered open sourcing to be easy. Many people simply input their ideas and then suddenly a new something is created! This, however, is quite the opposite of how an open sourcing project is completed. Linux and Wikipedia especially have truly innovated ways of open sourcing that works. Random data is only random data until someone develops a way to organize it. One person, however, cannot control the huge amount of data that Linux or Wikipedia produce.   These organizations have had to innovate on extreme levels in order to produce what we see today. These process of innovations must come with any development in spreading information. Someone had to to think of creating everything from parchment and pen to the internet itself. As we look through history there is always some major invention or innovation which causes or help produce and spread knowledge.
A white sphere made of large jigsaw pieces. Letters from many alphabets are shown on the pieces.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Building a computer

This last week I decided to build a computer myself because I had a few specific things I wanted out of my computer. Before buying any parts I spent hours and hours researching online to make sure all my parts fit and that it would actually work. As I was doing all this I became quite grateful for the openness of some very knowledgeable people. I looked at countless blogs and forums where people shared what they had learned. They had no incentives except to help those struggling at they same thing they once struggled at. This has given me the desire to also share my knowledge once I have finished this project. I wonder how much more effective the great minds of the 17th century like Newton and Kepler would have  been if they had the internet to tap into. I believe they were intent on getting their findings to the world but simply did not have the same kinds of means which we have today. In my last blog post I debated if openness was achievable while money still exists but it seems to me that while we are not completely open we are certainly progressing towards it and have been for quite some time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

As I was walking to my class today, reading my book for a class on my Kindle, I was thinking about openness. Specifically, I was wishing that all books which I have bought also came with a digital copy that I could put on any reading device. Being in business, however, my immediate thought was money. This would create endless problems as digital files are every so easy to copy. Authors would not get paid as much as they want which would make them less likely to keep writing. Everyone wan't their share of money. I believe this to be the chief reason we continue to be a very closed society. People do not want to share their ideas because they want the money they could potentially get from developing that idea into a money making venture. I would even say that the reason many inventions arose was because someone wanted gain. This seems to be a two sided coin. On one hand there is a potential universe which Star Trek describes. Money does not exist and all information flows freely to everyone with any interest. Education is free and anyone can do anything they want without worrying about having to provide for themselves the basics of life. Sounds great, right? A world of openness. I, however, do not believe this would work for most people. A completely open world would quickly stagnate. There would be some production but without money (the only road I see to complete openness) would anyone truly be driven enough to progress society? If all books were free would anyone really be motivated enough to spend a good portion of their lives to research and write a text book? I am not sure, perhaps it is the business side of me thinking that everyone cares about money as much as I do. I will have to think on it more but in the meantime, what do you think? Can people share their ideas without being payed? Is a world of complete openness truly possible?

Monday, January 9, 2012


What do I know about the historical period and the digital concept assigned to me? Surprisingly little, but I am excited to learn more about the 16th century and how it was affected by openness. I know that there were many great artists to come out of this time as well as thinkers like Galileo and Copernicus who changed the way we thought about the heavens. The Church was under attack by Martin Luther and Bibles were begining to spread as the press was invented in the 15th century. It was a time of forward thinking and change, much like now.