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More Than A Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons Through His Daughter’s Eyes

May 10th, 2010 No comments

The following incident took place when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at
his home wearing clothes that were not modest. Here is the story as told
by one of his daughters:

When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila,
and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door
waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could
possibly give in one day.

My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said
something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and
said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and
hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground,
covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the
ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find
gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock.
You’ve got to work har d to get to them.”

He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more
precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”

Source: Taken from the book: More Than A Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons
Through His Daughter’s Eyes.

http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Hero-Presented-Daughters/dp/067104236X

More Than a Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons Presented Through His Daughter’s Eyes (Hardcover)
~ Hana Ali (Author)
To the world, three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is known as “the Greatest.” To his daughter, Hana, he is simply known as Daddy. Now in a heartfelt tribute, Hana Ali shares the life lessons she learned from her father, and offers an intensely personal look at one of the most revered men on the face of the earth.

Sprinkled among her insightful anecdotes, Hana Ali presents a collection of Muhammad Ali’s most provocative and profound poetry and quotes — spanning from the turbulent 1960s to today — as well as classic and never-before-published photographs. She also confides the wisdom and understanding of a cultural icon whose battle with Parkinson’s disease has not stopped his commitment to African-American pride, nor his ongoing fight against poverty and racism. Lovingly conveyed through Hana’s unique perspective, More Than A Hero is more than just a rare glimpse inside the Ali family — it is an inspirational reminder that we can all achieve greatness.

Watson Institute Visiting Fellows

December 29th, 2009 No comments

Watson Institute Visiting Fellows
2010 APPLICATION

The Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University seeks several recent PhDs for three year residential visiting fellowships, beginning July 1, 2010. The mission of the Watson Institute is to pursue interdisciplinary research on pressing global issues and to foster more direct engagements between scholarship and policy and public debates. The latest publication about recent developments and current research trajectories can be found in the Watson Institute’s Fall newsletter (PDF).

Successful candidates will pursue their own research and also contribute to the development of collective and collaborative research at the Institute. They will teach one course per semester, chosen in consultation with the Institute’s director, and advise students.

Salary: $55,000 (12 month) plus individual health and dental coverage.

The committee will begin reviewing applications on February 15, 2010.

Brown University is an AA/EEO employer and especially welcomes applications from women and minority candidates.

All Applications must be submitted online. Click here to apply.

Categories: call for papers, Resources Tags:

OSI Chevening Scholarships for study in the United Kingdom

December 29th, 2009 No comments

OSI Chevening Scholarships for study in the United Kingdom
For more information see

http://www.soros.org/initiatives/scholarship/news?&sort_on=date&sort_desc=0&start:int=15

DEADLINES:

January 2010

12th – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Oxford Scholarships – 9 Month Research & Master’s Awards
The Open Society Institute offers support for postgraduate study in the UK for doctoral students, junior lecturers, and young professionals from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

18th – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Essex Human Rights Scholarships
The program offers support to students from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Palestine, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan to pursue postgraduate programs at the Human Rights Centre.

25th – OSI/FCO Chevening/Staffordshire University (MSc in Economics for Business Analysis)
OSI offers support for university graduates from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, or Montenegro with outstanding academic qualifications for the MSc in the Economics for Business Analysis program at Staffordshire University.

25th – OSI/Staffordshire University (MPhil/PhD in Economics)
The Open Society Institute invites university graduates from applicants from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro to apply for this MPhil/PhD in Economics distance-learning program.

29th – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Warwick Scholarships
OSI offers support for scholars from Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Mongolia with the chance to read for a master’s course at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Warwick.
February 2010

1st – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Cambridge Scholarships
Scholars from Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are invited to apply for awards in the social sciences and humanities.

2nd – OSI/FCO Chevening/Royal Holloway University of London Scholarships
This scholarship program provides opportunities for applicants from Pakistan to study for an MSc Democracy, Politics and Governance or MSc Medical Sociology at Royal Holloway.

2nd – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Sussex Scholarships
The Open Society Institute invites applications from suitably qualified students from Albania, Belarus, and Kosovo for a one-year in MA Contemporary European Studies or an MA European Politics.
2nd – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Edinburgh Scholarships (Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria)

The scholarships offer support for independent postgraduate study at the University of Edinburgh for students from Georgia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, the occupied Palestinian Territories, and Syria.

2nd – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Manchester Scholarships (Economic Studies)
These scholarships provide opportunities for applicants from Mongolia and Tajikistan to study for a one-year MSc program in economics at the University of Manchester, UK.

2nd – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Manchester Scholarships (Department of Government)
OSI offers support to scholars from Belarus, Mongolia, Russia, and Uzbekistan to participate in a master’s program in politics at the University of Manchester.

2nd – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of York Scholarships
The program offers scholarships to suitably qualified individuals and/or young professionals from Afghanistan and Tajikistan to pursue an MA Post-War Recovery Studies at York.

2nd – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Glasgow Scholarships
OSI cosponsors scholarship opportunities for qualified students from Indonesia to study for an MSc in International Politics.

4th – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of Nottingham Scholarships
The scholarships provide opportunities for independent postgraduate study at the University of Nottingham for students from Indonesia, Jordan, and Syria.

4th – OSI/FCO Chevening/University of St Andrews Scholarships
The scholarships provide opportunities for independent postgraduate study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, UK, for applicants from Indonesia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

18th – OSI/FCO Chevening/University College London Scholarship (School of Slavonic and East European Studies)
These scholarships support students from Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, or Serbia to undertake master’s studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.

For More information see

http://www.soros.org/initiatives/scholarship/news

Things You Really Need to Learn

November 29th, 2009 No comments

Things You Really Need to Learn
By Stephen Downes
August 30, 2006
http://www.downes.ca/post/38502

Guy Kawasaki last week wrote an item describing ‘ten things you should learn this school year’ in which readers were advised to learn how to write five sentence emails, create powerpoint slides, and survive boring meetings. It was, to my view, advice on how to be a business toady. My view is that people are worth more than that, that pleasing your boss should be the least of your concerns, and that genuine learning means something more than how to succeed in a business environment.

But what should you learn? Your school will try to teach you facts, which you’ll need to pass the test but which are otherwise useless. In passing you may learn some useful skills, like literacy, which you should cultivate. But Guy Kawasaki is right in at least this: schools won’t teach you the things you really need to learn in order to be successful, either in business (whether or not you choose to live life as a toady) or in life.

Here, then, is my list. This is, in my view, what you need to learn in order to be successful. Moreover, it is something you can start to learn this year, no matter what grade you’re in, no matter how old you are. I could obviously write much more on each of these topics. But take this as a starting point, follow the suggestions, and learn the rest for yourself. And to educators, I ask, if you are not teaching these things in your classes, why are you not?

1. How to predict consequences

The most common utterance at the scene of a disaster is, “I never thought…” The fact is, most people are very bad at predicting consequences, and schools never seem to think to teach them how to improve.

The prediction of consequences is part science, part mathematics, and part visualization. It is essentially the ability to create a mental model imaging the sequence of events that would follow, “what would likely happen if…?”

The danger in such situations is focusing on what you want to happen rather than what might happen instead. When preparing to jump across a gap, for example, you may visualize yourself landing on the other side. This is good; it leads to successful jumping. But you need also to visualize not landing on the other side. What would happen then? Have you even contemplated the likely outcome of a 40 meter fall?

This is where the math and science come in. You need to compare the current situation with your past experience and calculate the probabilities of different outcomes. If, for example, you are looking at a 5 meter gap, you should be asking, “How many times have I successfully jumped 5 meters? How many times have I failed?” If you don’t know, you should know enough to attempt a test jump over level ground.

People don’t think ahead. But while you are in school, you should always be taking the opportunity to ask yourself, “what will happen next?” Watch situations and interactions unfold in the environment around you and try to predict the outcome. Write down or blog your predictions. With practice, you will become expert at predicting consequences.

Even more interestingly, over time, you will begin to observe patterns and generalities, things that make consequences even easier to predict. Things fall, for example. Glass breaks. People get mad when you insult them. Hot things will be dropped. Dogs sometimes bite. The bus (or train) is sometimes late. These sorts of generalizations – often known as ‘common sense’ – will help you avoid unexpected, and sometimes damaging, consequences.

2. How to read

Oddly, by this I do not mean ‘literacy’ in the traditional sense, but rather, how to look at some text and to understand, in a deep way, what is being asserted (this also applies to audio and video, but grounding yourself in text will transfer relatively easily, if incompletely, to other domains)..

The four major types of writing are: description, argument, explanation and definition. I have written about these elsewhere. You should learn to recognize these different types of writing by learning to watch for indicators or keywords.

Then, you should learn how sentences are joined together to form these types of writing. For example, an argument will have two major parts, a premise and a conclusion. The conclusion is the point the author is trying to make, and it should be identified with an indicator (such as the words ‘therefore’, ‘so’, or ‘consequently’, for example).

A lot of writing is fill – wasted words intended to make the author look good, to distract your attention, or to simply fill more space. Being able to cut through the crap and get straight to what is actually being said, without being distracted, is an important skill.

Though your school will never teach you this, find a basic book on informal logic (it will have a title like ‘critical thinking’ or something like that). Look in the book for argument forms and indicator words (most of these books don’t cover the other three types of writing) and practice spotting these words in text and in what the teacher says in class. Every day, focus on a specific indicator word and watch how it is used in practice.

3. How to distinguish truth from fiction

I have written extensively on this elsewhere, nonetheless, this remains an area schools to a large degree ignore. Sometimes I suspect it is because teachers feel their students must absorb knowledge uncritically; if they are questioning everything the teacher says they’ll never learn!

The first thing to learn is to actually question what you are told, what you read, and what you see on television. Do not simply accept what you are told. Always ask, how can you know that this is true? What evidence would lead you to believe that it is false?

I have written several things to help you with this, including my Guide to the Logical Fallacies, and my article on How to Evaluate Websites. These principles are more widely applicable. For example, when your boss says something to you, apply the same test. You may be surprised at how much your boss says to you that is simply not true!

Every day, subject at least one piece of information (a newspaper column, a blog post, a classroom lecture) to thorough scrutiny. Analyze each sentence, analyze every word, and ask yourself what you are expected to believe and how you are expected to feel. Then ask whether you have sufficient reason to believe and feel this way, or whether you are being manipulated.

4. How to empathize

Most people live in their own world, and for the most part, that’s OK. But it is important to at least recognize that there are other people, and that they live in their own world as well. This will save you from the error of assuming that everyone else is like you. And even more importantly, this will allow other people to become a surprising source of new knowledge and insight.

Part of this process involves seeing things through someone else’s eyes. A person may be, quite literally, in a different place. They might not see what you see, and may have seen things you didn’t see. Being able to understand how this change in perspective may change what they believe is important.

But even more significantly, you need to be able to imagine how other people feel. This mans that you have to create a mental model of the other person’s thoughts and feelings in your own mind, and to place yourself in that model. This is best done by imagining that you are the other person, and then placing yourself into a situation.

Probably the best way to learn how to do this is to study drama (by that I don’t mean studying Shakespeare, I mean learning how to act in plays). Sadly, schools don’t include this as part of the core curriculum. So instead, you will need to study subjects like religion and psychology. Schools don’t really include these either. So make sure you spend at least some time in different role-playing games (RPGs) every day and practice being someone else, with different beliefs and motivations.

When you are empathetic you will begin to seek out and understand ways that help bridge the gap between you and other people. Being polite and considerate, for example, will become more important to you. You will be able to feel someone’s hurt if you are rude to them. In the same way, it will become more important to be honest, because you will begin to see how transparent your lies are, and how offensive it feels to be thought of as someone who is that easily fooled.

Empathy isn’t some sort of bargain. It isn’t the application of the Golden Rule. It is a genuine feeling in yourself that operates in synch with the other person, a way of accessing their inner mental states through the sympathetic operation of your own mental states. You are polite because you feel bad when you are rude; you are honest because you feel offended when you lie.

You need to learn how to have this feeling, but once you have it, you will understand how empty your life was before you had it.

5. How to be creative

Everybody can be creative, and if you look at your own life you will discover that you are already creative in numerous ways. Humans have a natural capacity to be creative – that’s how our minds work – and with practice can become very good at it.

The trick is to understand how creativity works. Sometimes people think that creative ideas spring out of nothing (like the proverbial ‘blank page’ staring back at the writer) but creativity is in fact the result of using and manipulating your knowledge in certain ways.

Genuine creativity is almost always a response to something. This article, for example, was written in response to an article on the same subject that I thought was not well thought out. Creativity also arises in response to a specific problem: how to rescue a cat, how to cross a gap, how to hang laundry. So, in order to be creative, the first thing to do is to learn to look for problems to solve, things that merit a response, needs that need to be filled. This takes practice (try writing it down, or blogging it, every time you see a problem or need).

In addition, creativity involves a transfer of knowledge from one domain to another domain, and sometimes a manipulation of that knowledge. When you see a gap in real life, how did you cross a similar gap in an online game? Or, if you need to clean up battery acid, how did you get rid of excess acid in your stomach?

Creativity, in other words, often operates by metaphor, which means you need to learn how to find things in common between the current situation and other things you know. This is what is typically meant by ‘thinking outside the box’ – you want to go to outside the domain of the current problem. And the particular skill involved is pattern recognition. This skill is hard to learn, and requires a lot of practice, which is why creativity is hard.

But pattern recognition can be learned – it’s what you are doing when you say one song is similar to another, or when you are taking photographs of, say, flowers or fishing boats.. The arts very often involve finding patterns in things, which is why, this year, you should devote some time every day to an art – music, photography, video, drawing, painting or poetry.

6. How to communicate clearly

Communicating clearly is most of all a matter of knowing what you want to say, and then employing some simple tools in order to say it. Probably the hardest part of this is knowing what you want to say. But it is better to spend time being sure you understand what you mean than to write a bunch of stuff trying to make it more or less clear.

Knowing what to say is often a matter of structure. Professional writers employ a small set of fairly standard structures. For example, some writers prefer articles (or even whole books!) consisting of a list of points, like this article. Another structure, often called ‘pyramid style’, is employed by journalists – the entire story is told in the first paragraph, and each paragraph thereafter offers less and less important details.

Inside this overall structure, writers provide arguments, explanations, descriptions or definitions, sometimes in combination. Each of these has a distinctive structure. An argument, for example, will have a conclusion, a point the writer wants you to believe. The conclusion will be supported by a set of premises. Linking the premises and the conclusion will be a set of indicators. The word ‘therefore’, for example, points to the conclusion.

Learning to write clearly is a matter of learning about the tools, and then practice in their application. Probably the best way to learn how to structure your writing is to learn how to give speeches without notes. This will force you to employ a clear structure (one you can remember!) and to keep it straightforward. I have written more on this, and also, check out Keith Spicer’s book, Winging It.

Additionally, master the tools the professionals use. Learn the structure of arguments, explanations, descriptions and definitions. Learn the indicator words used to help readers navigate those structures. Master basic grammar, so your sentences are unambiguous. Information on all of these can be found online.

Then practice your writing every day. A good way to practice is to join a student or volunteer newspaper – writing with a team, for an audience, against a deadline. It will force you to work more quickly, which is useful, because it is faster to write clearly than to write poorly.. If no newspaper exists, create one, or start up a news blog.

7. How to Learn

Your brain consists of billions of neural cells that are connected to each other. To learn is essentially to form sets of those connections. Your brain is always learning, whether you are studying mathematics or staring at the sky, because these connections are always forming. The difference in what you learn lies in how you learn.

When you learn, you are trying to create patterns of connectivity in your brain. You are trying to connect neurons together, and to strengthen that connection. This is accomplished by repeating sets of behaviours or experiences. Learning is a matter of practice and repetition.

Thus, when learning anything – from ’2+2=4′ to the principles of quantum mechanics – you need to repeat it over and over, in order to grow this neural connection. Sometimes people learn by repeating the words aloud – this form of rote learning was popular not so long ago. Taking notes when someone talks is also good, because you hear it once, and then repeat it when you write it down.

Think about learning how to throw a baseball. Someone can explain everything about it, and you can understand all of that, but you still have to throw the ball several thousand times before you get good at it. You have to grow your neural connections in just the same way you grow your muscles.

Some people think of learning as remembering sets of facts. It can be that, sometimes, but learning is more like recognition than remembering. Because you are trying to build networks of neural cells, it is better to learn a connected whole rather than unconnected parts, where the connected whole you are learning in one domain has the same pattern as a connected whole you already know in another domain. Learning in one domain, then, becomes a matter of recognizing that pattern.

Sometimes the patterns we use are very artificial, as in ‘every good boy deserves fudge’ (the sentence helps us remember musical notes). In other cases, and more usefully, the pattern is related to the laws of nature, logical or mathematical principles, the flow of history, how something works as a whole, or something like that. Drawing pictures often helps people find patterns (which is why mind-maps andconcept maps are popular).

Indeed, you should view the study of mathematics, history, science and mechanics as the study ofarchetypes, basic patterns that you will recognize over and over. But this means that, when you study these disciplines, you should be asking, “what is the pattern” (and not merely “what are the facts”). And asking this question will actually make these disciplines easier to learn.

Learning to learn is the same as learning anything else. It takes practice. You should try to learn something every day – a random word in the dictionary, or a random Wikipedia entry. When learning this item, do not simply learn it in isolation, but look for patterns – does it fit into a pattern you already know? Is it a type of thing you have seen before? Embed this word or concept into your existing knowledge by using it in some way – write a blog post containing it, or draw a picture explaining it.

Think, always, about how you are learning and what you are learning at any given moment. Remember, you are always learning – which means you need to ask, what are you learning when you are watching television, going shopping, driving the car, playing baseball? What sorts of patterns are being created? What sorts of patterns are being reinforced? How can you take control of this process?

8. How to stay healthy

As a matter of practical consideration, the maintenance of your health involves two major components: minimizing exposure to disease or toxins, and maintenance of the physical body.

Minimizing exposure to disease and toxins is mostly a matter of cleanliness and order. Simple things – like keeping the wood alcohol in the garage, and not the kitchen cupboard – minimize the risk of accidental poisoning. Cleaning cooking surfaces and cooking food completely reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. Washing your hands regularly prevents transmission of human borne viruses and diseases.

In a similar manner, some of the hot-button issues in education today are essentially issues about how to warn against exposure to diseases and toxins. In a nutshell: if you have physical intercourse with another person you are facilitating the transmission of disease, so wear protection. Activities such as drinking, eating fatty foods, smoking, and taking drugs are essentially the introduction of toxins into your system, so do it in moderation, and where the toxins are significant, don’t do it at all.

Personal maintenance is probably even more important, as the major threats to health are generally those related to physical deterioration. The subjects of proper nutrition and proper exercise should be learned and practiced. Even if you do not become a health freak (and who does?) it is nonetheless useful to know what foods and types of actions are beneficial, and to create a habit of eating good foods and practicing beneficial actions.

Every day, seek to be active in some way – cycle to work or school, walk a mile, play a sport, or exercise. In addition, every day, seek to eat at least one meal that is ‘good for you’, that consists of protein and minerals (like meat and vegetables, or soy and fruit). If your school is not facilitating proper exercise and nutrition, demand them! You can’t learn anything if you’re sick and hungry! Otherwise, seek to establish an alternative program of your own, to be employed at noonhours.

Finally, remember: you never have to justify protecting your own life and health. If you do not want to do something because you think it is unsafe, then it is your absolute right to refuse to do it. The consequences – any consequences – are better than giving in on this.

9. How to value yourself

It is perhaps cynical to say that society is a giant conspiracy to get you to feel badly about yourself, but it wouldn’t be completely inaccurate either. Advertisers make you feel badly so you’ll buy their product, politicians make you feel incapable so you’ll depend on their policies and programs, even your friends and acquaintances may seek to make you doubt yourself in order to seek an edge in a competition.

You can have all the knowledge and skills in the world, but they are meaningless if you do not feel personally empowered to use them; it’s like owning a Lamborghini and not having a driver’s license. It looks shiny in the driveway, but you’re not really getting any value out of it unless you take it out for a spin.

Valuing yourself is partially a matter of personal development, and partially a matter of choice. In order to value yourself, you need to feel you are worth valuing. In fact, you are worth valuing, but it often helps to prove it to yourself by attaining some objective, learning some skill, or earning some distinction. And in order to value yourself, you have to say “I am valuable.”

This is an important point. How we think about ourselves is as much a matter of learning as anything else. If somebody tells you that you are worthless over and over, and if you do nothing to counteract that, then you will come to believe you are worthless, because that’s how your neural connections will form. But if you repeat, and believe, and behave in such a way as to say to yourself over and over, I am valuable, then that’s what you will come to believe.

What is it to value yourself? It’s actually many things. For example, it’s the belief that you are good enough to have an opinion, have a voice, and have a say, that your contributions do matter. It’s the belief that you are capable, that you can learn to do new things and to be creative. It is your ability to be independent, and to not rely on some particular person or institution for personal well-being, andautonomous, capable of making your own decisions and living your live in your own way.

All of these things are yours by right. But they will never be given to you. You have to take them, by actually believing in yourself (no matter what anyone says) and by actually being autonomous.

Your school doesn’t have a class in this (and may even be actively trying to undermine your autonomy and self-esteem; watch out for this). So you have to take charge of your own sense of self-worth.

Do it every day.. Tell yourself that you are smart, you are cool, you are strong, you are good, and whatever else you want to be. Say it out loud, in the morning – hidden in the noise of the shower, if need be, but say it. Then, practice these attributes. Be smart by (say) solving a crossword puzzle. Becool by making your own fashion statement. Be strong by doing something you said to yourself you were going to do. Be good by doing a good deed. And every time you do it, remind yourself that you have, in fact, done it.

10. How to live meaningfully

This is probably the hardest thing of all to learn, and the least taught.

Living meaningfully is actually a combination of several things. It is, in one sense, your dedication to some purpose or goal. But it is also your sense of appreciation and dedication to the here and now. And finally, it is the realization that your place in the world, your meaningfulness, is something you must create for yourself.

Too many people live for no reason at all. They seek to make more and more money, or they seek to make themselves famous, or to become powerful, and whether or not they attain these objectives, they find their lives empty and meaningless. This is because they have confused means and ends – money, fame and power are things people seek in order to do what is worth doing.

What is worth doing? That is up to you to decide. I have chosen to dedicate my life to helping people obtain an education. Others seek to cure diseases, to explore space, to worship God, to raise a family, to design cars, or to attain enlightenment.

If you don’t decide what is worth doing, someone will decide for you, and at some point in your life you will realize that you haven’t done what is worth doing at all. So spend some time, today, thinking about what is worth doing. You can change your mind tomorrow. But begin, at least, to guide yourselfsomewhere.

The second thing is sometimes thought of as ‘living in the moment’. It is essentially an understanding that you control your thoughts. Your thoughts have no power over you; the only thing that matters at all is this present moment. If you think about something – some hope, some failure, some fear – that thought cannot hurt you, and you choose how much or how little to trust that thought.

Another aspect of this is the following: what you are doing right now is the thing that you most want to do. Now you may be thinking, “No way! I’d rather be on Malibu Beach!” But if you really wanted to be on Malibu Beach, you’d be there.. The reason you are not is because you have chosen other priorities in your life – to your family, to your job, to your country.

When you realize you have the power to choose what you are doing, you realize you have the power to choose the consequences. Which means that consequences – even bad consequences – are for the most part a matter of choice.

That said, this understanding is very liberating. Think about it, as a reader – what it means is that what I most wanted to do with my time right now is to write this article so that you – yes, you – would read it. And even more amazingly, I know, as a writer, that the thing you most want to do right now, even more than you want to be in Malibu, is to read my words. It makes me want to write something meaningful – and it gives me a way to put meaning into my life.

Categories: Lifelong Learning, Resources Tags:

ACM Crossroads

November 28th, 2009 No comments
Categories: Resources Tags:

Learning Technologies2008 Mooloolaba

November 28th, 2009 No comments

[slideshare id=724949&doc=learningtechnologies2008mooloolaba-1225924767101654-9]

via Learning Technologies2008 Mooloolaba.

Categories: Resources Tags:

Thesis Statements

November 28th, 2009 No comments

http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/thesis_statement.shtml#strongthesis

How To Write a Thesis Statement

What is a Thesis Statement?

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  • to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
  • to better organize and develop your argument
  • to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?

Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned.
How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned.
How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One.


How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned.

Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.

Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?”

A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”

OR

A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”

The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.

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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned.

Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

  • take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
  • deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
  • express one main idea
  • assert your conclusions about a subject

Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.

Brainstorm the topic.
Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.

You start out with a thesis statement like this:

Sugar consumption.

This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.

Narrow the topic.
Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

You change your thesis to look like this:

Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.

This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.

Take a position on the topic.
After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.

You revise your thesis statement to look like this:

More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.

This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language.
You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices, so you write:

Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.

This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.

Make an assertion based on clearly stated support.
You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:

Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.

Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.

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How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One.

1. A strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand.

Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:

There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.

This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.

Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.

This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it’s specific.

2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.

Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:

My family is an extended family.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.

While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.

This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.

3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:

Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.

This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:

Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like becausesincesoalthoughunless, and however.

4. A strong thesis statement is specific.

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you’re writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:

World hunger has many causes and effects.

This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:

Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.

This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.

Produced by Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

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How to Write Articles and Essays Quickly and Expertly

November 28th, 2009 No comments

http://www.downes.ca/post/38526


Introduction: Four Types of Discursive Writing

From time to time people express amazement at how I can get so much done. I, of course, aware of the many hours I have idled away doing nothing, demur. It feels like nothing special; I don’t work harder, really, than most people. Nonetheless, these people do have a point. I am, in fact, a fairly prolific writer.

Part of it is tenacity. For example, I am writing this item as I wait for the internet to start working again in the Joburg airport departures area. But part of it is a simple strategy for writing your essays and articles quickly and expertly, a strategy that allows you to plan your entire essay as you write it, and thus to allow you to make your first draft your final draft. This article describes that strategy.

Begin by writing – in your head, at least – your second paragraph (that would be the one you just read, above). Your second paragraph will tell people what your essay says. Some people write abstracts or executive summaries in order to accomplish this task. But you don’t need to do this. You are stating your entire essay or article in one paragraph. If you were writing a news article, you would call this paragraph the ‘lede’. A person could read just the one paragraph and know what you had to say.

But how do you write this paragraph? Reporters will tell you that writing the lede is the hardest part of writing an article. Because if you don’t know what the story is, you cannot write it in a single paragraph. A reporter will sift through the different ways of writing the story – the different angles – and find a way to tell it. You, because you are writing an article or essay, have more options.

You have more options because there are four types of discursive writing. Each of these types has a distinct and easy structure, and once you know what sort of writing you are doing, the rest of the article almost writes itself. The four types of structure are: argument, explanation, definition, and description. So, as you think about writing your first paragraph, ask yourself, what sort of article are you writing. In this article, for example, I am writing a descriptive article.

These are your choices of types of article or essay:

Argument: convinces someone of something
Explanation: tells why something happened instead of something else
Definition: states what a word or concept means
Description: identifies properties or qualities of things

An argument is a collection of sentences (known formally as ‘propositions’) intended to convince the reader that something is he case. Perhaps you want to convince people to take some action, to buy some product, to vote a certain way, or to believe a certain thing. The thing that you want to convince them to believe is the conclusion. In order to convince people, you need to offer one or more reasons. Those are the premises. So one type of article consists of premises leading to a conclusion, and that is how you would structure your first paragraph.

An explanation tells the reader why something is the case. It looks at some event or phenomenon, and shows the reader what sort of things led up to that event or phenomenon, what caused it to happen, why it came to be this way instead of some other way. An explanation, therefore, consists of three parts. First, you need to identify the thing being explained. Then, you need to identify the things that could have happened instead. And finally, you need to describe the conditions and principles that led to the one thing, and not the other, being the case. And so, if you are explaining something, this is how you would write your first paragraph.

definition identifies the meaning of some word, phrase or concept. There are different ways to define something. You can define something using words and concepts you already know. Or you can define something by giving a name to something you can point to or describe. Or you can define something indirectly, by giving examples of telling stories. A definition always involves two parts: the word or concept being defined, and the set of sentences (or ‘propositions’) that do the defining. Whatever way you decide, this will be the structure of your article if you intend to define something.

Finally, a description provides information about some object, person, or state of affairs. It will consist of a series of related sentences. The sentences will each identify the object being defined, and then ascribe some property to that object. “The ball is red,” for example, were the ball is the object and ‘red’ is the property. Descriptions may be of ‘unary properties’ – like colour, shape, taste, and the like, or it may describe a relation between the object and one or more other objects.

Organizing Your Writing

The set of sentences, meanwhile, will be organized on one of a few common ways. The sentences might be in chronological order. “This happened, and then this happened,” and so on. Or they may enumerate a set of properties (‘appearance’, ‘sound’, ‘taste’, ‘small’, ‘feeling about’, and the like). Or they may be elements of a list (“nine rules for good technology,” say, or “ten things you should learn”). Or, like the reporters, you may cover the five W’s: who, what, where, when, why. Or the steps required to write an essay.

When you elect to write an essay or article, then, you are going to write one of these types of writing. If you cannot decide which type, then your purpose isn’t clear. Think about it, and make the choice, before continuing. Then you will know the major parts of the article – the premises, say, or the parts of the definition. Again, if you don’t know these, your purpose isn’t clear. Know what you want to say (in two or three sentences) before you decide to write.

You may a this point be wondering what happened to the first paragraph. You are, after all, beginning with the second paragraph. The first paragraph is used to ‘animate’ your essay or article, to give it life and meaning and context. In my own writing, my animation is often a short story about myself showing how the topic is important to me. Animating paragraphs may express feelings – joy, happiness, sadness, or whatever. They may consist of short stories or examples of what you are trying to describe (this is very common in news articles). Animation may be placed into your essay at any point. But is generally most effective when introducing a topic, or when concluding a topic.

For example, I have now concluded the first paragraph of my essay, and then expanded on it, thus ending the first major part of my essay. So now I could offer an example here, to illustrate my point in practice, and to give the reader a chance to reflect, and a way to experience some empathy, before proceeding. This is also a good place to offer a picture, diagram, illustration or chart of what you are trying to say in words.

Like this: the second paragraph sill consist of a set of statements. Here is what each of the four types look like:

Argument:

Premise 1
Premise 2 … (and more, if needed)
Conclusion

Explanation:

Thing being explained
Alternative possibilities
Actual explanation

Definition:

Thing being defined
Actual definition

Description:

Thing being described
Descriptive sentence
Descriptive sentence (and more, connected to the rest, as needed)

So now the example should have made the concept clearer. You should easily see that your second paragraph will consist of two or more distinct sentences, depending on what you are trying to say. Now, all you need to do is to write the sentences. But also, you need to tell your reader which sentence is which. In an argument, for example, you need to clearly indicate to the reader which sentence is your conclusion and which sentences are your premises.

Indicator Words

All four types of writing have their own indicator words. Let’s look at each of the four types in more detail, and show (with examples, to animate!) the indicator words.

As stated above, an argument will consist of a conclusion and some premises. The conclusion is the most important sentence, and so will typically be stated first. For example, “Blue is better than red.” Then a premise indicator will be used, to tell the reader that what follows is a series of premises. Words like ‘because’ and ‘since’ are common premise indicators (there are more; you may want to make a list). So your first paragraph might look like this: “Blue is better than red, because blue is darker than red, and all colours that are darker are better.”

Sometimes, when the premises need to be stressed before the conclusion will be believed, the author will put the conclusion at the end of the paragraph. To do this, the author uses a conclusion indicator. Words like ‘so’ and ‘therefore’ and ‘hence’ are common conclusion indicators. Thus, for example, the paragraph might read: “Blue is darker than red, and all colours that are darker are better, so blue is better than red.”

You should notice that indicator words like this help you understand someone else’s writing more easily as well. Being able to spot the premises and the conclusion helps you spot the structure of their article or essay. Seeing the conclusion indicator, for example, tells you that you are looking at an argument, and helps you spot the conclusion. It is good practice to try spotting arguments in other writing, and to create arguments of your own, in our own writing.

Arguments can also be identified by their form. There are different types of argument, which follow standard patterns of reasoning. These patterns of reasoning are indicated by the words being used. Here is a quick guide to the types of arguments:

Inductive argument: the premise consists of a ‘sample’, such as a series of experiences, or experimental results, or polls. Watch for words describing these sorts of observation. The conclusion will be inferred as a generalization from these premises. Watch for words that indicate a statistical generalization, such as ‘most’, ‘generally, ‘usually’, ‘seventy percent’, ‘nine out of ten’. Also, watch for words that indicate a universal generalization, such as ‘always’ and ‘all’.

A special case of the inductive argument is the causal generalization. If you want someone to believe that one thing causes another, then you need to show that there are many cases where the one thing was followed by the other, and also to show that when the one thing didn’t happen, then the other didn’t either. This establishes a ‘correlation’. The argument becomes a causal argument when you appeal to some general principle or law of nature to explain the correlation. Notice how, in this case, an explanation forms one of the premises of the argument.

Deductive argument: the premises consist of propositions, and the conclusion consists of some logical manipulation of the premises. A categorical argument, for example, consists of reasoning about sets of things, so watch for words like ‘all’, ‘some’ and ‘none’. Many times, these words are implicit; they are not started, but they are implied. When I said “Blue is better than red” above, for example, I meant that “blue is always better than red,” and that’s how you would have understood it.

Another type of deductive argument is a propositional argument. Propositional arguments are manipulations of sentences using the words ‘or’, ‘if’, and ‘and’. For example, if I said “Either red is best or blue is best, and red is not best, so blue is best,” then I have employed a propositional argument.

It is useful to learn the basic argument forms, so you can very clearly indicate which type of argument you are providing. This will make your writing clearer to the reader, and will help them evaluate your writing. And in addition, this will make easier for you to write your article.

See how the previous paragraph is constructed, for example. I have stated a conclusion, then a premise indicator, and then a series of premises. It was very easy to writing the paragraph; I didn’t even need to think about it. I just wrote something I thought was true, then provided a list of the reasons I thought it was true. How hard is that?

In a similar manner, an explanation will also use indicator words. In fact, the indicator words used by explanations are very similar to those that are used by arguments. For example, I might explain by saying “The grass is green because it rained yesterday.” I am explaining why the grass is green. I am using the word ‘because’ as an indicator. And my explanation is offered following the word ‘because’.

People often confuse arguments and explanations, because they use similar indicator words. So when you are writing, you can make your point clearer by using words that will generally be unique to explanations.

In general, explanations are answers to ‘why’ questions. They consider why something happened ‘instead of’ something else. And usually, they will say that something was ’caused’ by something else. So when offering an explanation, use these words as indicators. For example: “It rained yesterday. That’s why the grass is green, instead of brown.”

Almost all explanations are causal explanations, but in some cases (especially when describing complex states and events) you will also appeal to a statistical explanation. In essence, in a statistical explanation, you are saying, “it had to happen sometime, so that’s why it happened now, but there’s no reason, other than probability, why it happened this time instead o last time or next time.” When people see somebody who was killed by lightening, and they say, “His number was just up,” they are offering a statistical explanation.

Definitions are trickier, because there are various types of definition. I will consider three types of definition: ostensive, lexical, and implicit.

An ‘ostensive‘ definition is an act of naming by pointing. You point to a dog and you say, “That’s a dog.” Do this enough times, and you have defined the concept of a dog. It’s harder to point in text. But in text, a description amounts to the same thing as pointing. “The legs are shorter than the tail. The colour is brown, and the body is very long. That’s what I mean by a ‘wiener dog’.” As you may have noticed, the description is followed by the indicator words “that’s what I mean by”. This makes it clear to the reader that you are defining by ostension.

A ‘lexical‘ definition is a definition one word or concept in terms of some other word or concept. Usually this is describes as providing the ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ for being something. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that when you are defining a thing, you are saying that ‘all and only’ these things are the thing being defined. Yet another way of saying the same thing is to say that the thing belongs to such and such a category (all dogs are animals, or, a dog is necessarily an animal) and are distinguished from other members in such and such a way (only dogs pant, or, saying a thing is panting is sufficient to show that it is a dog).

That may seem complicated, but the result is that a lexical definition has a very simply and easy to write form: A (thing being defined) is a type of (category) which is (distinguishing feature). For example, “A dog is an animal that pants.”

This sentence may look just like a description, so it is useful to indicate to the reader that you are defining the term ‘dog’, and not describing a dog. For example, “A ‘dog’ is defined as ‘an animal that pants’.” Notice how this is clearly a definition, and could not be confused as a mere description.

The third type of definition is an implicit definition. This occurs when you don’t point to things, and don’t place the thing being defined into categories, but rather, list instances of the thing being defined. For example, “Civilization is when people are polite to each other. When people can trust the other person. When there is order in the streets.” And so on. Or: “You know what I mean. Japan is civilized. Singapore is civilized. Canada is civilized.” Here we haven’t listed necessary and sufficient conditions, but rather, offered enough of a description as to allow people to recognize instances of ‘civilization’ by their resemblance to the things being described.

Finally, the description employs the ‘subject predicate object’ form that you learned in school. The ‘subject’ is the thing being described. The ‘predicate’ is something that is true of the subject – some action it is undertaking, or, if the predicate is ‘is’, some property that it possesses. And the ‘object’ may be some other entity that forms a part of the description.

As mentioned, the sentences that form a description are related to each other. This relation is made explicit with a set of indicator words. For example, if the relation is chronological, the words might be ‘first’… ‘and then’… ‘and finally’…! Or, ‘yesterday’… ‘then today’… ‘and tomorrow’…

In this essay, the method employed was to identify a list of things – argument, explanation, definition, and description – and then to use each of these terms in the sequence. For example, “An argument will consist of a …” Notice that I actually went through this list twice, first describing the parts of each of the four items, and then describing the indicator words used for each of the four items. Also, when I went through the list the second time, I offered for each type of sentence a subdivision. For example, I identified inductive and deductive arguments.

Summary

So, now, here is the full set of types of things I have described (with indicator words in brackets):

Argument (premise: ‘since’, ‘because’; conclusion: ‘therefore’, ‘so’)
Deductive
Categorical (‘all’, ‘only’, ‘no’, ‘none’, ‘some’)
Propositional (‘if’, ‘or’, ‘and’)
Inductive
Generalization (‘sample’, ‘poll’, ‘observation’)
Statistical (‘most’, ‘generally, ‘usually’, ‘seventy percent’, ‘nine out of ten’)
Universal (‘always’ and ‘all’)
Causal (’causes’)

Explanation (‘why’, ‘instead of’)
Causal (’caused’)
Statistical (‘percent’, ‘probability’)

Definition (‘is a’, ‘is defined as’)
Ostensive ( ‘That’s what I mean by…’ )
Lexical (‘All’, ‘Only’, ‘is a type of’, ‘is necessarily’)
Implicit (‘is a’, ‘for example’)

Description
Chronology (‘yesterday’, ‘today’)
Sensations (‘seems’, ‘feels’, ‘appears’, etc.,)
List (‘first’, ‘second’, etc.)
5 W’s (‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’)

Complex Forms

As you have seen in this article, each successive iteration (which has been followed by one of my tables) has been more and more detailed. You might ask how this is so, if there are only four types of article or essay.

The point is, each sentence in one type of thing might be a whole set of sentence of another type of thing. This is most clearly illustrated by looking at an argument.

An argument is a conclusion and some premises. Like this:

Statement 1, and
Statement 2,
Thus,
Statement 3

But each premise might in turn be the conclusion of another argument. Like this:

Statement 4, and
Statement 5,
Thus,
Statement 1

Which gives us a complex argument:

Statement 4, and
Statement 5,
Thus, Statement 1
Statement 2
Thus Statement 3

But this can be done with all four types of paragraph. For example, consider this:

Statement 1 (which is actually a definition, with several parts)
Statement 2 (which is actually a description)
Thus,
Statement 3

So, when you write your essay, you pick the main thing you want to say. For example:

Second paragraph:

Statement 1, and
Statement 2
Thus
Statement 3

Third paragraph:

Statement 4 (thing being defined)
Statement 5 (properties)
Statement 1 (actual definition)

Fourth Paragraph

Statement 5 (first statement of description)
Statement 6 (second statement of description)
Statement 2 (summary of description)

As you can see, each simple element of an essay – premise, for example – can become a complex part of an essay – the premise could be the conclusion of an argument, for example.

And so, when you write your essay, you just go deeper and deeper into the structure.

And you may ask: where does it stop?

For me, it stops with descriptions – something I’ve seen or experienced, or a reference to a study or a paper. To someone else, it all reduces to definitions and axioms. For someone else, it might never stop.

But you rarely get to the bottom. You simply go on until you’ve said enough. In essence, you give up, and hope the reader can continue the rest of the way on his or her own.

And just so with this paper. I would now look at each one of each type of argument and explanation, for example, and identify more types, or describe features that make some good and some bad, or add many more examples and animations.

But my time is up, I need to board my flight, so I’ll stop here.

Nothing fancy at the end. Just a reminder, that this is how you can write great articles and essays, first draft, every time. Off the top of your head.

Categories: General Knowledge, Resources Tags:

3Cmedia: Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media Making Links through Digital Storytelling Issue 5 (October) 2009

November 6th, 2009 No comments

3Cmedia: Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media
Making Links through Digital Storytelling Issue 5 (October) 2009
ONLINE NOW!
http://www.cbonline.org.au/3cmedia/

This issue of the Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media
and Communication (3CMedia) provides important insights into how a
particular form of community-based digital media practice is being used
in a variety of contexts to facilitate social participation through
storytelling and creative expression. Papers are based on selected
presentations given at the 5th annual Making Links conference, held at
The University of Melbourne from 11th to 13th November, 2008.

Aneta Podkalicka and Jonathan Staley report on the development,
operation and management of a youth media program, YouthWorx Media and
how digital storytelling is being used in conjunction with community
radio to engage disadvantaged young people.

Peta-Marie Standley and her colleagues introduce The Traditional
Knowledge Revival Pathways (TKRP), an Indigenous-owned community,
training and environmental consultancy, that uses new media tools
including digital storytelling techniques to reconnect people to place
and to demonstrate the value of the ancient Indigenous knowledge system
in providing solutions to issues of contemporary concern.
Natalie Davey and Samia Goudie report on the Hope Vale – Pelican
project. This partnership between the Elders of Hope Vale, and Pelican
Expeditions, a marine research and education service provider aims to
promote social and emotional wellbeing and caring for country. In 2007
and 2008 a digital storytelling media camp was embedded into the project
and extraordinary stories were produced.

Throughout 2009 the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) collaborated with
individuals and Indigenous communities across Queensland in an
initiative that used digital storytelling to capture responses to the
Apology made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Jean Burgess and Helen Klaebe
report on the collaborative process used to capture responses from
Brisbane-based individuals.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image is one of the few cultural
institutions of its kind worldwide. Helen Simondson charts the
development of the Digital Storytelling program at ACMI.

About 3CMedia and the Making Links issue 3CMedia is a scholarly
e-journal which aims to provide a forum for promoting, reporting and
debating research in community-based, citizen’s and ‘third sector’ media
and culture. 3CMedia is published by the Community Broadcasting
Association of Australia and access to the journal is free of charge.
Contributions covering a wide range of disciplinary and
interdisciplinary approaches, research methods and topics are welcome.
All papers published in 3CMedia are subject to a process of blind peer
review and many are based upon papers presented in the academic stream
of the Community Broadcasting Association’s Annual Conference or the
annual Making Links conference. Making Links (see also
www.makinglinks.org.au) is a conference that seeks to engage interested
people, organisations and groups working at the intersection of social
action and information technology, including community workers,
educators, trainers, non-profit organisations, people who work with
marginalised groups, activists and researchers. One of the program streams in the 2008
conference was dedicated to digital storytelling.

For more information about 3CMedia, and to see current and previous
issues, visit the journal website: http://www.cbonline.org.au/3cmedia/

Categories: Resources Tags:

Culture change in Asia tracked through new online archive

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

Culture change in Asia tracked through new online archive

Rare images showing rituals, festivals and everyday life for isolated tribes
in the Himalayas are to be preserved online from today by JISC and the
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) for the benefit of
researchers, teachers and students.

Highlights among the 10,000 images include rich textiles and jewellery of
the Nagas and the shaman-led rituals and acrobatics of the Apatani tribe.

Browse and download the images here <http://digital.info.soas.ac.uk/cgi/c>

These extraordinary moments were photographed by a professor of anthropology
at SOAS, Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf (1909-1995), who studied tribal
cultures in South Asia and the Himalayas from the 1930’s to the 1980’s.

His photographic collection consists of more than 20,000 images of which
approximately half, from India and Nepal, are now online for people to
browse, download and use non-commercially free of charge.

Digitisation programme officer at JISC, Ben Showers, says: “Life has now
changed forever for the tribes that Fürer-Haimendorf photographed, but JISC
is safeguarding these collective memories held in the images of the rituals,
events and cultural interactions.  This open archive will allow researchers
and students working far into the future to have online access to some of
these hugely significant moments.”

Visitors to the archive will find a host of resources to guide them through
the collection, including biographies, maps, background on the different
tribes, and an interview with the photographer, as well as a comprehensive
search facility.

The online archive is the first digitisation project of SOAS’s new Centre
for Digital Africa, Asia and the Middle East, created in part to make the
invaluable archives of the school more widely available. Digitisation is
essential for the preservation of fragile material and to give researchers
online access to rare or difficult-to-access books, manuscripts,
photographs, sound and film recordings.

Stuart Blackburn, the SOAS Centre’s academic coordinator, says: “At a time
when tribal cultures are undergoing rapid change, including religious
conversion and language loss, these photographs of Fürer-Haimendorf are a
valuable resource for the study of change and continuity. From my experience
in the area, I know that the tribal peoples themselves, many of whom have
computers, will find these images endlessly fascinating.”

After 12 months of archiving, an open day celebrating the launch will take
place at SOAS today to which all are welcome.

Launch event

The launch event for the online archive will include lectures, discussions
and an evening reception at which the online collection will be launched
officially.

It will be held from 10 am to 6.30 pm today (30 October) at SOAS’s Brunei
Gallery, Thornhaugh St., London WC1H 0XG.
<http://www.soas.ac.uk/gallery/>

Visit the archive here <http://digital.info.soas.ac.uk/cgi/c>

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