Thursday, July 20, 2006

cancer is CELLFish

I was reading this book by Satyananda Saraswati. It starts talking about cancer, and goes into the normal stuff that we all know about how cancer starts with a cell gone wild, multiplying, hogging up all the nutrients, and being careless with its wastes. Then it says something pretty profound:

"Cancer starts when a single wayward cell begins to live for itself alone."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

These are the people in my neighborhood

I went on a daylong miniretreat with my group at school - Life Long Kindergarten. I put pictures of them up so you can see what they look like.

Pictures of the people in LLK

Free Schools and Free Tools

I've been spending time thinking about and building creative learning tools. One question I ask when I'm making a learning tool is, "How much guidance should I build in to the tool?" I'm finding that this is a design question without an exact answer. Every tool has some suggestions in it - a hammer guides you towards hitting things, while a nail gun specifically suggests that you should shoot nails into things. You can prepare a wide range of foods with a chef's knife, while a garlic mincer is much more directed and even more effecient. Which tool should you give someone?

When I visited a free school this spring, I found they had a world that might be useful to borrow from when I think about my learning tools.


Me and a couple Media Labbers drove out to a visit day and took a tour.

music-note.jpgLISTEN TO THE AUDIO TOUR I COMPILED (3 minute mp3)

They didn't have any classes, nobody got any grades, there were no grade levels, and there was no required curriculum. But there were things like a music room with guitars and other instruments, a computer room, a reading room with books on every subject, and a group of adults that were available if their expertise was needed. So how much guidance was built into the school? It seemed only enough to support the students' ideas as they blossomed. That's a careful balance, because too much guidance and you'll end up with a group who doesn't have space to follow their own ideas, while too little guidance will leave a group without the nurturing it needs for new ideas to emerge. Free tools are kind of like free schools - you have to take your project in your own direction, but once you get going the functionality you need is there to help your project grow.

A good cook might make use of a chef's knife and a garlic mincer. So how can we make tools that are useful, but without limiting what can be cooked up?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Worry about your problem sets

Well i guess i obviously have to be worried at all times about something in life right? (i got this in the mail from mit medical) I'd like to get a piece of mail that says "take a deep breath relax and dont worry at all"

Vibes, logic, intuition, and ways of seeing

Note: If you're a normally functioning person, there's no need to read this.

This realization keeps coming up in every day life. It's about ways of seeing things. For example, one way of seeing is to form a logical framework for the world by choosing some axioms and applying them. Let's say you arrive home, and you walk into your house. The door was unlocked. As you walk in the door handle feels a little slimy and you step on something crunchy. Your subconcious sees a blood splatter on the wall and that some items are disshoveled. To see the situation logically you might say

"I know something isn't right here, because I remember locking the door and sweeping the floor, I don't remember the door handle ever having felt this way in the past (and my palms aren't sweaty or greasy so it's not my palms), and I'm getting some visual cues even though I can't pin them down that something's out of place."

Using a cognitive process of fact checking and logical discrimination you can see the situation. Imagine that another person walks into the same house and just says "I'm getting bad vibes." What is going on in this second person's head?

Is it the same process of thought that went on in the first person's head? Is it the same conclusion?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this. I'd say that the conclusions is very similar. The thought process, if you can call it that in the second case, is different. The second person is using intuition. I would say that a lot of the same thoughts are going on. The intuitive process still notices the door's unlocked, still feels something strange and sees something strange. But rather than thinking it through, there's some combination of bodily memory, noncognitive processes, and whatever that pulls together to notice something's wrong. To even analyze it like this defies the nature of the process. The thought process for intuition is perhaps not exclusively a "thought" process. You might say the thoughts are distributed throughout the body using body memory. You might call it a gut reaction. But you might not call it anything and just learn to use it from time to time. The language that falls out of it, say "good vibes" for example, isn't cognitive in nature, but it's still useful in getting through life. It makes mistakes sometimes, but so does logic when you forget to include certain aspects. Intuition doesn't always give you the same information as a logical framework, but it can be much more effecient (or even more human) in its expression - "bad vibes" how compact. I'm not arguing to use intuition exclusively or even predominantly. I'm just trying to figure out why it has more of a place in my life now and how others who were logically trained might glean some insight from what I've been noticing. If you encounter some new object, it's helpful to take a look from a few different angles. You'll even see people sort of coking their head and moving left and right to take a look at something. Well I can see a lot more angles than I used to be able to, or maybe I'm just becoming more aware of how to use the angles.