Month: August 2011

Philosophical Pedagogy: Wittgenstein

Philosophical pedagogy is unusual in that the learner is being encouraged by the teacher to think for themselves and develop critical skills rather than absorb a certain concept or datum.  Here’s a report on Wittgenstein’s teaching style that I read today.  According to two of his students, this is how Wittgenstein described his own teaching style (D. A. T. Gasking and A. C. Jackson, ‘Wittgenstein as a Teacher’, in K. T. Fann (ed.), Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Man and His Philosophy, New Jersey: Humanities Press; Sussex: Harvester Press, p.52, 1962.).

In teaching you philosophy I’m like a guide showing you how to find your way round London. I have to take you through the city from north to south, from east to west, from Euston to the embankment and from Piccadily to the Marble Arch. After I have taken you many journeys through the city, in all sorts of directions, we shall have passed through any given street a number of times – each time traversing the street as part of a different journey. At the end of this you will know London; you will be able to find your way about like a Londoner. Of course, a good guide will take you through the important streets more often than he takes you down side streets; a bad guide will do the opposite. In philosophy I’m rather a bad guide.


Open Access in Argentina

In this interview, Dr. Colman-Lerner (Faculty of Engineering, University of La Plata, Argentina) suggests that awareness of OER is largely limited to higher education researchers who are also currently teaching.  He suggests that scientific journals are facing a subscription crisis which could be ameliorated by an open access publishing model.

The Ampersand

image of the ampersand symbolvia Web Designer Depot.

I don’t know exactly when it was that I first understood what the ampersand was called, but it was probably later than it should have been.  Not that it matters much, since we all use the ampersand in a very intuitive way.  It’s largely interchangable with ‘and’ that’s how most people use it.  Familiar as fish & chips.

Wikipedia has lots of information about the ampersand.  Apparently it was customary to say ‘and’ at the end of alphabet recital before and after the phrase ‘per se’ (by itself).  Over time, this was condensed and introduced into common usage as ‘ampersand’ in the 19th century. Remarkable it didn’t happen before, given how ubiquitous it is. Maybe it’s because of the slight sense of vagueness that the ampersand connotes… the lack of detail about the connection between the two articles being connected.

But an ampersand is only an ampersand when taken in isolation. The phrase ‘and, per se, and’ is intended to bring out the abstract nature of the ampersand on the alphabet chart in the same way that ‘per se A’ or ‘per se I’ distinguished the phonemes being recited from their everyday use as articles or pronouns.

If the meaning of language is in its use, what is the meaning of the ampersand?

Enlightened Trial and Error

Bjoern Hartmann, of the Stanford HCI Group, gives an overview of different prototyping tools he has built with collaborators to address two research questions. First, how can tools enable a wider range of designers to create functional prototypes of ubiquitous computing interfaces? Second, how can design tools support the larger process of learning from these prototypes?


Copyright tips for bloggers

Five easy rules for bloggers

To avoid being accused of stealing someone else’s content, follow these simple rules:

1. You may not use a work simply because it does not have a copyright notice
The mere absence of a copyright notice (which is not a requirement) does not mean that there is no protection. Published works automatically have copyright protection, whether expressed with a notice or not

2. You may not copy a work even if you are not making money from it
Making a copy of a DVD you own so that you can watch it while you are away on holiday is illegal. Even though you are not making any income, copying constitutes copyright infringement. Of course, the copyright owner will only be more inclined to take steps against you if they become aware of the fact that you are actually deriving income from the article or image that you have posted on your blog

3. Giving someone credit does not make it legal
There are certain exemptions in this regard. Generally, you may quote somebody as long as you give them credit, but you cannot quote an entire work, for example, nor can you post a sound or film clip on your blog

4. Including the creator’s copyright notice will not protect you
The rule is that to reproduce anything, you need to get permission from the owner of the work to do so

5. Don’t copy material just because you can’t find the copyright holder
Whether you are unable to identify the copyright holder, or that person does not reply to your request for permission, you are still infringing the law if you reproduce or even adapt (and render certain other acts referred to as “restricted acts”) in relation to material, or a substantial part thereof.