Monday, February 08, 2010
  Visualising Biblical Data
Exhibit is claimed to be a "simple widgets tool" enabling mere mortals to make useful, interactive web-based visualisations of data sets easily. It is open source :) with samples like these:
There have to be ways to use this in teaching our disciplines, but I wish I had some immediate ideas, so I could try it ;) Just looking at it though suggests a fine playroom where pericopae were listed by size, genre, location etc... and one could see various cuts of this information...

HT Jane Hart

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010
  The Invention of Hebrew: First impressions
At SBL Seth told me that in exchange for a review here (and/or in a journal) his publisher would be willing to send me a copy of his new book:
Sanders, Seth L. The Invention of Hebrew. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

How could I refuse, the pre-publication hype and Seth's own descriptions of the book suggest that I'll either love or hate it. It seems it addresses my passionate interest in the intersection of culture and technology, especially writing and communications technologies. And it is focused on the "invention of Hebrew". My only sadness was that I had to wait till I returned home from a ten week working trip/holiday in Thailand and other interesting places. I'm home, and along with other goodies the book was waiting for me :) I'll post the review here in several parts, and I'll follow my usual procedure for reading a book (rather than for writing a traditional review, which aims to become a seamless whole) and post piecemeal as I read.

So first I looked at the most important bits (at least for getting an overall idea of a book):
  • Publishers blurb
  • Table of contents
  • (Index etc.) not a read just a quick scan
  • Preface (unless the first sentence or two suggest it is a waste of time)
The Invention of Hebrew is an attractively produced small volume (171 pages of text - no small is good, big just means more waffle like an airport block buster a waste of time, and in an academic book probably not entertaining either). The paper feels nice, though the print could be larger and sharper or I could be younger and sharper. It has a short but useful looking index and a bibliography. (Don't you hate books where you have to hunt the notes for the first mention of a work you need to consult!) Priced at $50 but the publisher (University of Illinois Press, who have a strong stable of interesting Bible related works now) it is even better value at Amazon for $40. By only complaint so far - and if you read this Seth please pass it on to the series editor - is that it follows the idiotic habit of listing the notes at the back and numbering them separately for each chapter. (This device developed in the BC period when it was hard work for poor writers and editors to keep track of all the notes and difficult for typesetters to place them at the foot of the relevant page. Computers changed all this. But graphic designers like "clean-looking pages" and actual users are not considered, once we have bought a copy publishers have no interest in our reading experience. Readers of academic texts need references, so either use the Harvard system of inline references, or use footnotes!)

The publishers blurb claims that Seth's book is groundbreaking: "absolutely innovative", "makes new knowledge", "first book to..." It also suggests that the work has an interesting thesis that Hebrew was a "self-conscious political language" promoting "a source of power previously unknown in written literature: 'the people' as the protagonist of religion and politics". Which is nicely sweeping and in a bookstore would lead me to open the work.

The preface is not at all one of the dead and dull ones that give "preface" a bad name, it is lively, quasi-autobiographical, and tells us that Seth intends to address loads of interesting questions:
  • Language and identity: "Did writing always flow from your spoken language and everyday identity, or did the relationship change? And if it did could that change who you were?"
  • Bible and politics The history of how "the Bible exercises power: through the manner in which it speaks to people". Have maximalists and minimalists both connived at reducing politics in Ancient Israel to the exercise of state power? (A question dear to the heart of every aspiring Anabaptist ;)
  • Biblical Studies and the academy "What does biblical studies have to say to the rest of the academy?"
The table of contents reads as if the book were a collection of unrelated essays:
  1. Modernity's Ghosts: The Bible as Political Communication
  2. What Was the Alphabet For?
  3. Empires and Alphabets in Late Bronze Age Canaan
  4. The Invention of Hebrew in Iron Age Israel
The four chapters are enclosed by an "Introduction" and a "Conclusion", but their titles do not strongly suggest their coherence and progression. Each looks interesting but they do not obviously work together. However, the sort of questions foregrounded in the "Preface" suggests that the blurb may not be exaggerating, this could be a ground breaking and interesting book. So I am hoping the "Introduction"will reveal how the chapters work.

All in all, I can hardly wait to read the "Introduction" and "Conclusion" tomorrow!

(But today I must make more progress on my chapter for The Gospel and the Land of Promise. My chapter will either be titled: "'Exile away from his land:' is landlessness the ultimate punishment in Amos?" or perhaps: "Land and earth, judgement and gospel in Amos".)

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Thursday, December 17, 2009
  Science or commerce? Copy right or copywrong?
Duane posted an abnormally interesting certificate which came from Lawrence Lessig's keynote talk to EDUCAUSE09. The video is here (I have not seen it as we only have slow intermittent Internet here on the Thai-Burma border).

I posted a long comment on Duane's blog, but since I am unlikely to post anything else here in the next while, on holiday with intermittent Internet, I'll reproduce here in even more extended and focused form, as a post.

Copyright, which seems to mean the right to forbid others to copy, may or may not be theft. Actually, of course it is NOT theft, producers of creative works have the right to obtain a reasonable (or at least today an unreasonable, if they are sufficiently famous) income from their work.

But copyright certainly IS the antithesis of science, since any science worthy of the name is open to debate and criticism.

Education is more interesting. There are two extreme cases:
  • There is a commercial form of education that exists to ration and control the supply of licenced practitioners of various professions - that sort must love copyright.
  • Then there is education as the process of learning to share in the process of growing and nurturing knowledge - that sort detests copyright as its antihesis.
Technology is another really interesting case, which Lessig (on this slide, as I have not seen the whole, having slow intermittent Internet here on the Thai-Burma border) does not mention.

As for education, the question is: Is technology science or commerce?

Now let's consider the case of theological study or education. Is copyright right or wrong? Is theology science (in this post I have tried consistently to use "science" in it's European sense of an open and criticisable body of knowledge) or commerce?

I know where I stand :)

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Monday, February 16, 2009
  Biblical narrative: trying out Prezi
Prezi seemed a brilliant real alternative to Powerpoint. By real alternative I mean, not software from an alternative supplier that does much the same as Powerpoint but perhaps with more subtle transitions and animations, but software that reenvisages a presentation as something more than a collection of slides.

It is!

Prezi lets me create something like a mindmap, and then share it with others, or use it to illustrate my talk. Click on the image below to explore my Prezi on biblical narrative it's my first try, it has no pictures, but already I can see this is a new and often better way to present ideas than the old slideshow was. An audience can zoom in and out (just click on something to zoom in there, click on the magnifying glass icon to zoom in, or the full screen icon to see the whole "page") or step forward or back through the presentation with the arrows.


Stephen asks (in the comments below) for a standalone file to run the presentation on a PC (without the need for an Internet connection) here it is. It is nearly a 10MB download as it includes the files for Prezi as well as the data for the presentation. Apparently it works on Windows and Mac (but not yet on Linux) so pretty portable!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009
  Participatory pedagogy and cultural literacy
Dubbed "the explainer" by Wired magazine, Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the impact of new media on society and culture. After two years studying the impact of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he has turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society. His videos on technology, education, and information have been viewed by millions, translated in over ten languages, and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide.

Prof Wesch has a stimulating post on Participatory Media Literacy: Why it matters, he draws heavily on a fine essay Participative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies, by Howard Rheingold. With one of the longest running stimulating gurus of digital collaboration (Rheingold) and one of the hottest - recently voted Prof of the Year - US tertiary teachers around (Wesch) there are plenty of stimulating ideas to reflect on.
Howard Rheingold is a critic and writer; his specialties are on the cultural, social and political implications of modern communication media such as the Internet, mobile telephony and virtual communities (a term he is credited with inventing). He is the author of The Virtual Community and Smart Mobs. website: vlog:

Reading the two underlines WHY teaching about digital literacy (beyond the standard "how to use the library catalogue, online databases and Zotero to research and write an essay in a Wordprocessor") is vital whether one is teaching Chemistry, Anthropology or Old Testament.

Just as it was not merely the technology of moveable type that changed the economics of literature in early modern Europe, but even more the ways that technology was adopted and used that revolutionised the culture and the thought that changed "everything". If Luther and others had not adopted the technology and used it to undermine the old power structures in politics, theology and the academy the technology alone might have enabled a very different world, where Rome and the aristocratic families of Europe licenced print and censored its contents...

In 2009 the failure of banks and auto manufacturers demonstrates that the notion of a "free market" that can adjust itself successfully is evidently false. Yet if the new(ish) communications technologies are to have a liberating effect (like that of print) we have a greater need of an open market than ever. To achieve this we need literate users using the technologies, so that those who would harness them for their own benefit alone can be hampered as Luther's rude and crude cartoons scandalised those in power in late medieval Europe.
Digital literacy - as the ability to make use of the developing digital communications technologies - must be as widespread as possible. Yet the capacity to use the media alone is not enough, most students already Twitter and Facebook each other. They need also to think critically (surely a fundamental educational goal) about these media and the social and economic structures they inhabit and create.

As Rheingold tries to demonstrate only a participative pedagogy is up to this task. So, the deep questions are:
  • Can teachers learn fast enough? or
  • Will the volunteerism of "Web 2.0" be enough to open the doors?

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
  Thinking about technology
Some authors build for themselves such dominant reputations that they become one-man brands - the names that require no qualification. So in discussion of Christian issues "Barth" (unless qualified by a forename) means Karl-author-of-Romans-and-Church-Dogmatics.

Some authors achieve this status because their thinking is so clear, and their communication so straight and clear that one must either agree or disagree with them - they polarise. [Some of us are so good at seeing every facet of an issue that following our thought is like walking through untracked forest, a series of tiny decisions,rather than one momentous one...] Lewis earned his "brand" that way, and so has Carson.
Photo of DA Carson by jrgordon13
At least in Carson's case his forthright clarity means people usually either love or hate him - and in recent years his pronouncements on "emergent" have earned him much hate. But, whatever you think of Carson the (one-man) brand, he has written a superb editorial for Themelios.

He addresses a Christian approach to technology, and begins (predictaby) with Rom 12:2 and (also predictably?) 2 Cor 10:5. He states that "the most dangerous movements in any age are those that are so widely assumed that it is very hard to see them" supporting his case with reference to history, though any cross-cultural worker will be as aware that today's assumptions by Western Christians look very different in most of the world.

[The geographical difference in assumptions is well illustrated by an example a colleague uses of German and American "Christian Brethren" women meeting - the Americans were shocked that the Germans drank and the Germans felt that the Americans looked like whores with their makeup ;) ]

After an interesting, though to readers of this blog unsurprising, rehearsal of some features of current digital techno-culture he concludes:
We need to hear competing voices of information from the world around us, use our time in the digital world wisely, and learn to shut that world down when it becomes more important to get up in the morning and answer emails than it does to get up and read the Bible and pray. We may also learn much from church history, where we observe fellow believers in other times and cultures learning the shape of faithfulness. We begin to detect how easily the "world" may squeeze us into its mold. We soon learn that adequate response is more than mere mental resolve, mere disciplined observance of the principle "garbage in, garbage out" (after all, we are what we think), though it is not less than that. The gospel is the power of God issuing in salvation. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and living in the shadow of the cross and resurrection, we find ourselves wanting to be conformed to the Lord Jesus, wanting to be as holy and as wise as pardoned sinners can be this side of the consummation.
Do read the whole editorial (HTML or PDF), and since Themelios does not have a comment feature (how I wish the church, and especially Evangelical Christians, would recognise that openness and discussion are healthy and not persist in old authoritarian modes of discourse) you are welcome to post any short responses

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008
  Oh, use your Moodle!
Geoff (at Theologians Without Borders) has been asking to hear about creativity in theological education, in an off blog email "conversation" he has asked about how we use our use of the Moodle CMS in Carey's distance program. I also agreed to do some guest posts with the theme "What if..." dreaming of things that could be done to enrich distance teaching of theology. Here's what I am thinking as a "What if..." post about Moodle. Please tell me what I've missed, or missed explaining - before I send it in to Geoff!

What if... we really used Moodle to the full

Some years ago at Carey we began to "move our distance teaching to the next level". Part of the plan was to install, and make good use of, an open source (means free) online "Course Management System" called Moodle.

Moodle allows:
  • a central store of documentation for a course, which can be updated as soon as something changes
  • students to be reminded of assignments that are due soon and other important dates
  • one central place to email a whole class
  • a place to store and deliver marked assignments
  • a place to provide course related material like pictures, videos, links, PDF files of readings that did not get into the course anthology...
  • teachers to set simple "quizzes" (with questions in various formats like multiple choice, short answer etc.) that can either count towards the course marks or simply provide feedback to students or check that they have done required reading
Moodle is:
  • cheap - no software costs, and even a professionally hosted option is not expensive
  • easy - it takes very little time and instruction for even our less techie colleagues to work the basics, and usually not too long for someone to show you how achieve the less obvious goals
  • scalable - anything from one course with one teacher to the whole British Open University (which with over 150,000 students is a but bigger than the average theological seminary ;-)
  • fairly easy to manage, and there are plenty of people around with experience who can help.
In short Moodle is great, and even better value, and it will allow a Seminary to really support Internet connected distance students, and through discussion forums and emails integrate them into a "class".

Some courses at Carey really quickly began to make real use of the system. Brian Smith (our retired principal who had not used a computer before retirement) clocked up the most student contributions to a discussion simply by asking really thought -provoking leading questions. I used the tests to reward students with up to 10% simply by doing the "required reading" and as a result turned what I think before was 80% of the class in real life do about 20% of the reading, to 80% of the class do at least 80% of the reading.

But there are gaps. Some teachers hardly use Moodle - though not difficult it is one more thing to learn in a life that is too busy. Few of us actually get organised to post pictures and links relevant to our courses... So, implementation and take up of the possibilities are a bit hit and miss...

What if...
  1. We had a "Moodle consultant" (alias a technically minded senior student) who could spend an hour or two each week helping us to use Moodle more or better - guess how much more most teachers would achieve!
  2. We had a policy that all teachers and students in every class promised to take a serious look at the discussion forums for that class at least twice each week (maybe one or two hours of work to timetable in each week, but think of the greater communication with distance students and how much more time effective than individual emails replying one-on-one to questions)
  3. One of the Moodle consultant's jobs was to check what pictures and other resources we used in teaching the class onsite, and helped us make them available to distance students.
  4. A scattering of our courses set as an assignment to present readings online and then interact with other students presentations - I have seen such an assignment put a student in South-East Asia in contact with one in the South Island of NZ and "watched" the experience open the student's eyes to a wider world producing real formative change.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008
  Thank you Cory Doctorow
is one of those cool suave webby names I have always wanted to mention in a post, I have also been very busy clearing stuff I might not need from my hard-drive so that (a) I can defrag it before we go away and (b) so that there is more than 10GB free to store all the video and photos we expect to take. I was stuck at 24.7GB free (about 3x what I started with, so no mean feat) when I read this post: "HOWTO Get a load of hard-disk space back" by Cory D on BoingBoing. Just go File | Compact Folders in Thunderbird, and Presto! I now have 27.5GB free and extra 2-3GB in a couple of minutes. And even better according to commenter Frumious

There is a setting to compact space automatically.

Look under prefs->advanced->network & disk space

Then click the 'compact folders when it will save over _____ KB' checkbox.

Adjust the numerical value as desired.
The brilliance just got better, I may not have to remember to "compress" ever again.

By the way, I am trying out BlipTV as a place to store the videos, I have uploaded some trials to The World of the Old Testament, of course the interviews with theology students and teachers in Sri Lanka will go on Wordpress, who have just upped the free storage to 3GB, what good timing!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
  Zotero is brilliant, and integrates nicely
In the comments discussion on my post below about Zotero - the free open bibliography and citations manager - I may have helped mislead people. I had not then been using the wordprocessor integration feature. I now have, it is great. And works just as well in MS Word as it does in Open Office on my PC (I assume that the Mac and Linux versions are as superb).

Here are two quick and dirty screencasts to demonstrate:

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Friday, January 11, 2008
  Bottling clouds: or Why I am (still) not a biblioblogger
bottle by etwood
Jim West is seeking your help to imitate the (possibly mythical) legend of king Canute. He wants to hold back the tide of technology. The technology of blogging works by allowing several things - all of them available separately elsewhere, but which in conjunction make the form what it is:
  • the writable web - like a content management system blog software makes it easy to write webpages, and insert them into a working site
  • RSS feeds - allowing a loose "community" of others to read what you write, as you add something new, thus making the system more time dependent than the conventional web but also adding focus and greater sense of "community"
  • links to other blogs - while not an obligatory part of the "system" almost all blogs have a "blogroll" of (some of) the blogs the author(s) read and think "like" their own
  • "conversation" - while comments are not obligatory as a software feature, the genre of "blog" works through a high proportion of material showing interaction between different people about the topic, where the comment feature is not provided (and sometimes when it is) this takes place through linked posts.
clouds over ruapehu by k-girl
So, one of the key features defining blogging is the expanding cloud of witnesses who comment on and link to any particular blog. That cloud (and the metaphor is chosen because it does not suggest a hard-edged neat dividing line), or those clouds (since any blog is likely to be part of more than one community of bloggers), locate the blog. Some blogs are neatly and only part of one cloud. E.g. Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway Weblog (the very name is redolent of this blog's antiquity and therefore authority!) is pretty much surrounded by other blogs that focus on the Bible. Jim's own eponymous blog, however, with its interests in Zwinglism, depravity and other non- or only quasi-biblical topics is probably surrounded by more than one cloud. AKMA's eclectic blog (sorry, Random Thoughts) certainly is.

Jim seeks to define an in-crowd, he does this honestly and exclusively by defining who is "out", while Duane rises to the bait and seeks to enlarge the borders through a Modest Suggestion. Now, if the biblical studies cloud round Abnormal Interests was the same as, or included the biblical studies cloud round Dr Jim West etc. etc... then we could neatly define the biblioblogsphere. But they are not, each writer includes some, but not others of the putative bibliobloggers. The attempt at definition, whether inclusive (Duane) or exclusive (Jim), fails. Or at best only offers an approximate answer, this blog is a bibiloblog with a 65% degree of probability! The technology itself resists the attempt.

The sub-title of this post may be explained by this old post.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007
  Why I hate the photocopier
Photo by CloCkWeRX captioned "The most evil photocopier I know."
It is often the simplest ideas that are the most useful. From the most physical, like those few grains of rice in the salt celler that stop the salt coagulating by absorbing moisture, to the most cerebral, like the concept of zero. Donald Norman, author of the 1988 classic critique of the way VCRs (remember them?) work The Design of Everyday Things, has done it again. His new book, The Design of Future Things, deals with the failure of much technology design to relate well to/with humans.

Some machines "think" and the relationship works, a clothes drier that senses when the clothes are dry and switches off... but other machines drive us crazy. Like the college photocopier, I put a book on the glass, carefully positioned so that the left page will nicely fill an A4 sheet (A4 is global standard paper size for North American readers) that means an enlargement to about 133%, so I type that in and choose the correct paper tray. This will produce a nice clean, readable copy for the students. I press "Start", and the machine whirs. It "thinks" for itself. It's sensors inform it's "brain": the page is B4 size, it is placed crosswise, but the user has chosen the A4 normal direction tray (and the users commands, or at least some of them, must be obeyed)... So it outputs a sheet with the whole double page spread of the book shrunk to fit cross ways on the page, each word a marvel of micro-minituarisation.

It sounds as if there is a problem of communication between the photocopier and me (actually it is not just this photocopier, the previous one was nearly as bad) perhaps counselling would help?

Enter Donald Norman, talking about Delft (yes the city in Holland) apparently the city square in Delft (I have not been there, so cannot confirm this observation - perhaps you have and can confirm it for us?) the city square in Delft is full of pedestrians and cyclists all busily wending their ways in different directions at different speeds. Yet there are seldom collisions. Now if each pedestrian kept their eyes open (especially the ones in the back of their heads) and carefully dodged the bikes all hell would break loose and the city hospital would be full to overflowing. It is because the pedestrians, sensibly - but counter-intuitively, do not attempt to dodge the cyclists, but plod predictably on ignoring the bikes whizzing past, that the cyclists can easily avoid the slower obstacles in their path, and concentrate on not hitting other cyclists.

Donald Norman sensibly notes:
If our smart devices were understandable and predictable, we wouldn’t dislike them so much.
...The simple idea that is really useful? Make things predictable. If I simply put a book on the copier and press "start" let the machine make its best guess as to the output, but if I make settings myself then, do what I blasted tell you and don't even try to think! If the stupit machine would learn that lesson we'd get along fine.

PS if all goes well Barbara and I go off to the bach (or see location) for our summer holidays today, so not more posts till next year...

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Saturday, November 24, 2007
  Virtual classrooms
I have been playing with Authorpoint Lite (a tool to turn a PowerpointTM :( presentation with recorded audio into FlashTM :( ) It works really well, the only drawback to the free version is that the Flash only seems to work on my local machine or from their server, so it is only suitable for material one wants to make freely available (Carey copyrights its courses :(

If someone were to give me US$299 (or whatever the Education price is - not displayed on the website) I'd love to use the full version!

So, when they emailed me about a new "Virtual Classroom" tool (WiZiQ) for Moodle (the Open Source Learning Management System) I became really interested. If I was teaching next semester at Carey I'd try it out (but I am on sabbatical :) ...

I wonder how well the two-way audio would work over dialup, let alone video, so for now this is a dream of the future for many of our students.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007
  Whose world is it anyway?

Photo by kitsu

Writing the post below, It's not what we're teaching, it's HOW we are teaching! Reminded me of Amber's post We’re Living in Their World Now. Her account introduces a teacher, incensed (and I think also in-sensed) at a student daring to email another teacher during her class:
“Well, that’s when I banned computers from my classroom,” she said smugly. “That fixed that problem up right quick.”“It’s probably inconvenient for them to have to use pen and paper but it’s just so rude for them not to be focused on my lecture!”.
Amber responded:
If liberal education is going to make progress and be of any value in this culture, it has to embrace the way people actually learn and consume information today, not they way they did in the days of Socrates, or even our parents. Or even, truly, us..
Amen! She also imagined a start-the-year speech introducing the new batch of students:
They were five years old when Quentin Tarantino gave us Pulp Fiction. They’ve been using the internet since elementary school. They’ve never seen a floppy disk. They barely remember VHS tapes, and have never gotten tangled up in an overly long phone cord because they grew up with cordless phones. They’ve never recorded songs off the radio: they’ve always been able to download them. These are this year’s freshmen.” I’m sure that hearing this, many professors will balk and stammer, and many will think, “God, what do we have in common with these kids?”.
But, we still expect students, old and young in the age of MSN and TXT to sit, often in ROWS, and look to the front, while someone "delivers information and ideas"!?

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Thursday, June 28, 2007
  Writing: making the process visible
A post on the always stimulating IFbook blog, about recording the writing process ("Poetry in Motion"), pointed me to the intriguing QuickMuse. The site is devoted to presenting poets writing poetry. Not videos of poets talking about writing poetry, but screen captures of the actual (almost physical) process of writing.

Each poet was given a stimulus, so Marge Piercy got this quote about exodus:
A people with a moral vision for themselves and humanity emerged through the birth waters of the Sea of Reeds. This vision was created out of the dark night of slavery, from being crushed in the cruel womb of Egypt. They now march toward Mt. Sinai, to meet the Divine Presence that has called them into history.
Rabbi Mordecai Finley
She writes - at least on this occasion, with a short time limit - by slapping the main ideas down fast, and then tinkering till it is "right".

IFbook also pointed to Ian Spiro's fascinating Dlog, at neat Javascript (I think) application that records what you write... So here is me writing a short fragment titled "Writing". (You need Firefox or Safari for this to work, apologies to those with sub-standard browsers ;-) for such impaired folk, and for those without the time (or too lazy) to go watch as you read here is the (final) text:
So this system will visualise the composition process, as well as any mistakes the author makes in transcribing thought to page...

I wonder how such a writing "space" might affect the process of composition. For certainly the "word processor" impacts the way we write [do I need to check the reference for that book?]...

Might putting a recording like this on a blog inhibit, or would we all - good exhibitionists that bloggers are - write rubbish at great speed, or indeed learn to think BEFORE we write - now that would be novel ;-)

I started this with no idea where it was going... and I still do not know how to title it! [I must have missed that bit in skimming the instructions!]

This whole experiment was stimulated by reading the post on the IFbook blog at
and then looking at some of the poems they link to, and then wondering, how would such a tool (if always available) impact writing - after all writing is as interesting as reading!
I've now started wondering what this process does to our reading...

... and how cool it would be if someone produced an edition of Amos that reproduced this using Wolff's redaction critical analysis to make the "edits" would one "see" the canonical shaping process at work more clearly? When I have time I must try...

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007
  One Laptop per Child: Unforseen consequences?
According to the Reuters report, "Developing nations to test new $150 laptops" the One Laptop per Child project should start delivering the first few thousand innovative tough laptops to "to eight nations in February".

This project is smart enough, new enough and visionary enough that anyone with a love of technology and half an imagination is bound to be excited by the possibilities. But recently I've begun to think of the possible unintended consequences.

These first 2,500 machines will inevitably be concentrated in villages associated with prominent people. But what about the next million or six? If they too are concentrated in the hands of the villages, tribes, and language groups of the powerful will Western altruism in trying to bridge one "digital divide" widen another? Or will organisations like World Vision ensure that they also get in significant numbers to the least "advantaged"?

And, what about the effect on child labour? It takes very little imagination, and kids even in the poorest places have huge imaginations, to envisage thousands of ways these laptops can be used to make a buck (and adult daily wages are little more than that) using these machines. Will pictures like these:
merely be replaced by this (without the smiles)?

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