Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Using the Golden Rectangle Proportions in Web Design Foundations

A golden rectangle, based on mathematical proportions called the golden ratio or golden mean is approximately the proportion of a credit card, TV or laptop screen, and these same proportions are reflected in classical architectural design of Greek temples, columns, in fine art, and in nature such as Nautilus seashells.

One of the ways to create designs that use this proportions or have key elements in the golden proportions, is to copy an image of a temple, a Nautilus seashell (cut open to show the interior) or a simple object like a credit card into a Photoshop layer, set the transparency to 50% - 70% and lay out your site design over the underlying image. Of course another way is to do the math and lay out designs based on those proportions.

I have used the "copy an ancient Greek temple and paste it on its own Photoshop layer" technique myself in designing user interfaces for Microsoft and other technical companies to be more pleasant.

Really good web design facilitates site use, by directing user’s eyes to where they (and you) want and need them to look in order to flow onto their next decision.
Used well, an underlying design plan which includes proportions provides visual cues to end users and aids intuitive understanding both in navigation and context. By context this means look and feel as it is applied to end user's needs and the company or organizations' site / app design. In this way it helps the design speak to users! By speak this means direct on a two dimensional page using design itself to focus user’s eyes on decision making areas or strengthening information points.

On the ecommerce Crate and Barrel site, http://www.crateandbarrel.com, for example, the design team is obviously using the exact proportions of the golden ratio to make an inspirational website that just makes visual magic even more exciting, harmonious, and pleasing. It's low key, clean and has that special something. When such proportions are not there, end users may not find the site as useful and helpful; such sites do not look beautiful, they don't flow, don't look unified, and sometimes are not coherent either.

The most well designed sites use CSS to control and display text, using fonts, background colors, and placement AND the golden ratio. It's not just color, not just images; it's the whole information architecture package as well.

Experienced, trained or intuitive artists use golden proportions to augment their designs, until they became completely natural design feature. Using the golden mean as a style and design tool - skilled artists also know how and when to break the "golden" rule.

I am not advocating a too cold matchie - matchie kind of design which looks like it was generated by a computer with no human qualities - but when demonstrating these proportions to a Microsoft ecommerce product manager, he was amazed where he could find that golden number in application design and on the Web. He was especially surprised to see where the corners of the proportions came together in key places to emphasize the important decisions, and how designers address the human eye and love for certain proportions -- humanistic design. It's not cold; it's vibrant from within, in part because of the intention of the designer sings through an inspired design.

Other names for golden ratio are the golden section (Latin: sectio aurea) or golden mean, extreme and mean ratio, medial section, divine proportion, divine section (Latin: sectio divina), golden proportion, golden cut, and golden number. It is also referred to as the law of thirds.

Yes let's call it beautiful! What do you think?

Fibonacci Numbers and The Golden Section in Art, Architecture and Music

Proportions of the Golden Rectangle

The Golden Rectangle and the Golden Ratio

Golden Rectangles

Phi: That Golden Number

Read more about it:


Friday, March 23, 2007

tender shots of solders coming back from Iraq

They are such tender photographs of service folks coming back from Iraq... photographer Suzanne Opton's shots:


The one of Claxton is perhaps the most telling. See for yourself.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wow! Charles in Space...

Today I was chatting with the good people at Garrigan Lyman Agency GLG.com an independent creative agency in downtown Seattle / NY. They are working on a website for Dr. Charles Simonyi, the 5th private citizen to become a space tourist. The website they created for Simonyi is http://www.charlesinspace.com/.

One of the neatest things about Charles, a long time Microsoft Chief Architect originally from Hungary, is that he created what is known in the computer science world as "Hungarian Notation."

Hungarian is fun because it is an unexpected concept in computer science, both because it makes sense as a naming convention for objects, but also because it is playful - it sounds like a joke someone made up! It probably started as an informal technique to remember variable and data types, in the same format as Hungarian names, with the surname first. Then as this shorthand method of naming variables gained acceptance it became formalized. I learned about 'Hungarian' from my Visual Basic teacher Stuart Williams at Sacramento State.

So for those with kids who are interested in space, want to grow up and be a space tourist or work in space related projects, visit Dr. Simonyi's site which allows people to engage and interact with Charles while he is in space in April. It should be a memorable experience - for kids of all ages.

Cheers to Charles!

CNN ran a cover story on Charles' flight http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/space/04/06/russia.space.ap/index.html

PS Image grabbed from http://www.businessinnovationinsider.com/product_innovation/

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bono's Acceptance Speech NAACP End Extreme Poverty

Absolutely riveting and sensitive speech - NAACP Chairman's Award to Bono. Quincy Jones kisses and hugs Bono before he goes on stage. Bono's acceptance speech - "preach!" - brought the crowd to it's feet with a roar!

"This is true religion. True religion will not let us fall asleep in the comfort of our freedom. 'Love thy neighbor' is not a piece of advice, it's a command. ... This is not a burden, it's an adventure. Don't let anyone tell you it can not be done; we can be the generation that ends extreme poverty."
- Bono, March 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Using Semantics in an Academic & Business Environment to Build Support

(Final Section to "A Case Study...")

Author: Linda M. Lane, (UW Candidate MSIM 2008) March 15, 2007


(2) - Risk Calculation at UW
"With the increasing sophistication and complexity of security attacks, developing a solution of the addressed problems should take a high priority in the university risk management plan."

Not only should the university develop a security solution in the university risk management plan, the document should be framed within the academic semantic sensibility to insure greater chances for adoption and success. The semantics of the business language used within the university risk management plan will contribute to its success both inside and outside its environment by appearing to make every attempt for appropriate risk management while conforming to recognized social and academic norms. Evidence shows no relationship between the adoption of security policy and breaches of security. Moreover, even careful planning processes may produce worse strategic plans rather than better ones.

So what value does the risk management plan have? The language used can influence the appearance in order to gain cooperation and acceptance, build support and insure legal compliance. Effective use of language is a solution in itself to ensure success, regardless of the business management techniques actually applied to plan, enforce policies, and compliance.

According to one study there appears to be "no statistically significant relationships between the adoption application of security policies and the incidence or severity of security breaches." [i] The reason for semantically appropriate security policies is for appearances sake both with the university's environment, a "decentralized yet collaborative entity with an energetic, entrepreneurial culture" and outside, when courts seek evidence of best practices any time the university is held liable for security (PII) breaches.

Dessler [ii] writes that Knowing Your Business is an extremely important aspect of planning and further presents evidence that the best laid strategic plans can go astray. "You have to be able to answer the question "what business are we in? before you do any business planning. You need a strategy for your company…" Strategic planning is "in a class of its own…. It's often highly subjective. Tom Peters… reportedly offered $1,000. to the first manager who could demonstrate that he or she had created a successful strategy from a planning process. His point was that a careful planning process many produce worse – not better – strategic plans."

The language used by the Board of Regents description of the University's goals is "…committed to maintaining an environment for objectivity and imaginative inquiry and for the original scholarship and research that ensure the production of new knowledge in the free exchange of diverse facts, theories, and ideas." [iii] The language used in describing the policy and practices the university is recommended to act upon is," to ensure that the UW creates an excellent compliance model built on best practices, while protecting its decentralized, collaborative and entrepreneurial culture." [iv] These are the university's facets of value, and how it views itself. Both statements show insight into the fact they know who they are and what they do.

That terminology is in stark contrast to the best practices language used for "…the management of information security (Barnard & von Solms, 1998), by defining: "the broad boundaries of information security" as well as the responsibilities of information resources users (Hone & Eloff, 2002b, p. 145). More specifically, a good security policy should: "…outline individual responsibilities, define authorized and unauthorized uses of the systems, provide venues for employee reporting of identified or suspected threats to the system, define penalties for violations, and provide a mechanism for updating the policy." (Whitman, 2004, p.52)." (Doherty, Fulford, 2004)

In the first heading of Information security: management's effect on culture and policy , authors Knapp, Marshall, Rainier and Ford, on page 28, state:
•"Top management support is positively associated with a security culture." They follow with explanations that security cultures are built from the leaders,
"Without top management support the creation training and enforcement of the organizations security policies would not occur or would not be taken seriously by the employees."
•"Without executive level support even a robust security comprehensive documented security policy does not guarantee enforcement across the enterprise." [v]
To prevail in creating a security culture within an environment dedicated to the free exchange of ideas, the university leadership must choose it's wording with care to obtain commitment from all the schools and campus leaders.

Even the responsibility of the CISO is to direct, not enforce, security and privacy policies, as stated in the UW CISO job description draft [vi], under the Duties section:
"Direct the development and enforcement of information security and privacy policies in compliance with federal and state regulations and standards."
These university policies must be written in a way to semantically reflect both the values of the university and to appear that it complies with all laws through best practices.

Taking these issues together, it does not appear to matter which business management methods it uses to accomplish these tasks as long as it uses appropriate language to obtain a committed security culture. Due to the culture, the language being used is a key issue for success, because the law requires the appearance of effort in doing security and risk management, and does not specify ways to apply compliance (HIPAA for example), while the university values objectivity, imagination, and a free exchange of ideas which applies to policy as well.

The academic environment only requires that such management fit its social norms, and the institution's goals, and the management style may be outside of its concerns or relevance, while the semantics and language used are relevant for appearance and cooperation.

The business of the academic and educational environment semantics of using "risk management as a service", "distributed management," and "voluntary compliance" sounds like the university. When contrasted and compared with the terminology and phrases used in traditional risk management planning language such as "unauthorized uses," "define penalties for violations," "reporting suspected threats" -- this language does not hit the mark.

To provide one example, "Sense and Sensibility" is a semantically different way of saying "Information and Aesthetics" or "Perception and Guiding Principles" but the semantic meaning differs. Aesthetically Sense and Sensibility is a graceful, elegant, polished way of saying those same things; but it is more poetic, cultured and sophisticated, and self-reflective. In a similar fashion compliance is what the CISO office wants and needs to produce and project - but "compliance" and the related terms "unauthorized uses," "define penalties for violations," "reporting suspected threats" are full of forced implications, inferences of power, and totalitarian references that do not fit with a university's urbane sensibility, raison d'être and social norms.

The business terms the university draws upon to include all the schools and campuses are likely to attract light critical attention if chosen with careful semantic intention, they will fit the academic environment. The university has no choice-- it needs to protect its people, service, reputation and brand. However, it is in the interest of the university to allow risk management to match its academic framework semantically.

An example of their semantic thinking is demonstrated in mentioning "disciplinary actions" the entire phase used is "disciplinary actions and incentives" which keeps in mind the appropriate semantic tone of university writing by including "incentives."

The university's CISO compared himself in his job to a junkyard dog - but that does not fit the semantic model for cooperation at the university. Junkyard dogs are mongrels generally found in junkyards, and not in ivory citadels of academia, with their land grants, traditions, and loyalty. CISOs in academic business environments are more like highly trained, prize winning dogs; never the less like any dog potentially dangerous when threatened. At the UW the image of a husky, their mascot, in drawing references may suit his position semantically better.

Creating culturally sensitive written policy is not just appearance outside the university it is a semantic tool which lends social cohesion inside the university. Using the correct terminology is likely to actually obtain willing, successful compliance in risk management issues because the university knows their business and how to speak in a language that will be heard and understood by managers and employees alike, in their decentralized, collaborative, and entrepreneurial culture. This same language will be understood outside of the university by courts and attorneys to be erudite, cooperative, displaying every attempt to deploy best practices within the school.

Resources Used

[i] Doherty, Neil . (2005) Do Information Security Policies reduce the Incidence of Security Breaches, An Exploratory Analysis. [Electronic Version] , Information Resources Management Journal, 18, 21 .

(Do Information Security Policies reduce the Incidence of Security Breaches, An Exploratory Analysis. Neil F. Doherty and Heather Fulford, Loughborough University UK, Information Resources Management Journal; Oct-Dec 2005; 18, 4; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 21 Copyright Group Idea 2005)

"The findings presented in this paper are somewhat surprising because they show no statistically significant relationships between the adoption application of security policies and the incidence or severity of security breaches."

[ii] Dressler, Gary. (2004). Management, Principles and Practices for tomorrow's leaders. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Chapter 5, Strategic Management, Knowing your business, discusses organizational goals and ways to align the organization and culture to achieve them.

[iii] Warren, V. (March-10-2007) Collaborative Enterprise Risk Management, Final Report.


(COLLABORATIVE ENTERPRISE RISK MANAGEMENT, Final Report, University of Washington , by V'Ella Warren, Vice President, Financial Management, vwarren@u.washington.edu 206-543-8765, and David C. Hodge, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, hodge@u.washington.edu 543-5340 , February 13, 2006)

"The University of Washington (UW) is a decentralized yet collaborative entity with an energetic, entrepreneurial culture. The community members are committed to rigor, integrity, innovation, collegiality, inclusiveness and connectedness."

"The UW's excellence is reflected in the institution's reputation, "the bottom line" which links us to the community."

"The objective of this paper is to ensure that the UW creates an excellent compliance model built on best practices, while protecting its decentralized, collaborative and entrepreneurial culture. This paper lays out a conceptual framework for thinking about risk management. The framework is followed by information on models used by other universities, including four case studies. An evaluation of the UW's current situation comes next. Finally, the paper argues that a collaborative, institution-wide model works the best, and proposes recommendations for implementing that approach."

"Clearly, the creation of a culture of compliance needs to be driven by our core values and commitment to doing things the right way, to being the best at all we do. …we need to know that the manner in which we manage regulatory affairs is consistent with the best practices in existence."

"As a core value to serve its purpose "the University is committed to maintaining an environment for objectivity and imaginative inquiry and for the original scholarship and research that ensure the production of new knowledge in the free exchange of diverse facts, theories, and ideas" (Board of Regents 1998)."

[v] Knapp, Kenneth . (2006) Information security: management's effect on culture and policy . Information Management & Computer Security . Retrieved March 10, 2007, from Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0968-5227.

(Information security: management's effect on culture and policy
Kenneth J. Knapp, US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA and
Thomas E. Marshall, R. Kelly Rainer and F. Nelson Ford
Department of Management, College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn Alabama, USA
Information Management & Computer Security
Vol. 14 No 1, 2006, pp. 24-36 @ Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0968-5227)

[vi] Unknown Group Author. (March-10-2007) UW Chief Information Security Officer job description, 2003-2004 .

Additional Resources

Bailey K. (2007). Personal Interview. University of Washington, Seattle. February 22, 2007

Written by "The Documents":
Dany Dahler
Linda Lane
Joel Larson
Michael Paulsmeyer

for more on Semantics see:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Independent Study in Technical Education

Assistant Teaching, Informatics INFO 344
iSchool, University of Washington
Linda Murry Lane

Michael Crandall | Academic Advisor
Winter Quarter, 2007

Intimate moment of learning, image of a student and teacher at Starbucks in Fremont, Seattle, Washington

The intention of this paper is to cover the activities of being an assistant teacher in INFO 344, a course on Web Application and Development at the University of Washington, iSchool in Informatics, Winter quarter 2007. Here I will briefly cover some of the reading materials and foundational experiences I considered with teachers from my past to illustrate how their teaching methods, especially the idea of team teaching, helped me to learn and improve my teaching. (Bransford, 2000)

My goals in accepting an assistant teaching role showed me just how oblivious I was to teachers time commitments: class preparation, presentation, and evaluation. It takes far longer to prepare for a class than I could have imagined.

I decided to accept a role as a teaching assistant on Web Application Design and Development for several reasons, chiefly the experience, my own learning, some pay, and course credits.

* First, it would give me some experience teaching a university class in technology; prior to this I had only taught college students in ceramics, and fine art to youth.

* Second, I could learn more details about technology from the INFO 344 class, taught by Jim Loter.

* Third, with the monthly stipend and partial tuition waiver I would go into debt more slowly for my Master of Science Degree in Information Management while qualifying for a loan.

* Fourth, I would be able to earn 2 credits for an independent study in Technical Education under the stewardship of Mike Crandall, maintaining my full load for schools loans.

* And last, my best teachers have always been my heros. Maybe I could apply something I learned from them in teaching the two assigned classes which were my responsibility.

It looked fairly easy, the class meets only twice a week and so I thought I would be able to do the class work as well. “How much time could teaching subjects I already know require?” I asked myself. (Bransford, 2000) What a terrible assumption. What a newbie I was! Nowhere in that list did I expect to learn so much about teaching a class!

Not only does class preparation require many more hours, literarily days of reading and in depth thinking, then, the presentation is both far more draining and exhilarating that I imagined. Evaluation is a challenge – what are these students learning? What is it that they don’t understand? I was clueless. The idea that I could grade papers and take the class at the same time while in a Masters Program, for me it was magical thinking, not even close to possible. Class preparation requires considerable time, and grading the resultant papers and labs ethically, with a clearly laid out rubric, also requires significant time. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004) Teachers at the University of Washington have assistants because they need them.

In preparing for the two classes, I took different approaches, based in part on the books I read but also based on my experience after teaching the first class, regarding what was successful, and what did not appear to work. I also based what I did on the dynamic presentations of extraordinary teachers from my youth.

From the beginning I knew that I had to be better rounded on the two main class topics, even if I felt I already understood them. Broad understanding and expressing this understanding fruitfully is what differentiates knowing from teaching. (Bransford, 2000) This meant taking the original presentations used in the class (written by the erstwhile teacher Shaun Kane) learning what he documented, following out the references, mostly links, and then adding my own spin. The first class I would teach was on “User Interface Design”1, and the second topic was “Privacy on the Web.”2

While reviewing the former teacher’s existing presentation materials I realized that an overview related to the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) was more critical to sound user interface design than previously I was aware of. As a senior program manager at Microsoft and other high tech companies I generally manage both the working process in software development environments as well as contribute to the user interface design and user experience. I know how important the entire lifecycle of software is to user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design components and ongoing design needs from my actual experience.

Designers obtain information from the business on what is wanted for the interface. DSC_1729They have some access to end users in the best cases, or at least possess a baseline of end users needs. Designers and product manager write personas, scenarios, use cases, draw wire frames, design, try out rendered designs, perform user interface tests, and iterate these designs. Commonly developers just develop interfaces as described to them through the functional and design specifications.

More rarely they may even design and develop completely original interface tools, or use them in new ways that become part of the standard web lexicon of human computer interaction. They work together in groups to synthesize designs and that should be reflected in our learning environment. (Bransford, 2000)

Occasionally I hear about projects which failed often because the specification or the technical solution did not fit the required need. This is a result often of little or no communication in the SDLC process, probably due to a number of communication issues, a lack of emotional maturity, and brought about by not asking enough questions, out of fear, lack of engagement, or cultural norms.

Designers, product managers, and developers can be brought in during any part of a functional, design, or technical specification project and they need to know when to speak up to clarify such things as user interactivity issues, or articulate why something specified won’t work. It’s not enough to just say something won’t work in results focused companies, workers need to propose new solutions, and be prepared to defend their ideas and reasoning. These are the things I wanted the students to learn. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Learning group dynamics in a safe learning environment helps to develop professional Mermaid entering UDistrict Starbucksskills as critical assets before one’s job is on the line. (Bransford, 2000)(Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004) Team structures and managers may either reward or condemn such initiative, and it’s pretty clear that rewards bring better results, often immediately. Being afraid of failure is not the same as being invested in success.

Emotional maturity is one of the human values I discussed with the class, which is important to understand working in this field both subjectively and objectively, in order to be successful. Even when a UI/UX expert’s ideas are correct or better -- their designs may not be selected for use -- it can be frustrating. The example I gave was:

“I witnessed an independent consultant from a widely used user interface firm become emotionally upset during a presentation, because a manager decided not to accept the recommendation to standardize the interface. In this case the person was not even aware of how emotionally involved they were, and how that reflected poorly on their consultancy.”

The other side of that example is that the expert was engaged for all the right reasons, in defense of the end user, but not in the right manner, which is a detached business sense, because such business decisions need to be viewed as not personal, even if they are.

UI design is a process. It requires an investment as an advocate of end users. It requires knowledge, passion, and courage; in that way it is a lot like teaching a class. (Bransford, 2000)

By doing some in depth thinking, reviewing some of the available materials, from the point of view of needing to prepare to teach a class in UI design, I reflected that it is not just who the users are and what they need, what is possible technically, or the physical UI components in terms of specific selection items: buttons and checkboxes, or aesthetic design choices such as colors; but more importantly is also an understanding an overview of the whole iterative process -- how UI design interacts highly with the design and development methodology in place, and where the designer / product manager / developer is within that SDLC framework timeline. (Bransford, 2000)
Materials - moss on a tree with a black glass building in the background
Considering the high level of knowledge of the class and the wealth of reference materials on user interface design, I decided to first focus on issues that are more process oriented and human based than the typical UI class might be.


For my first class I presented a detailed SDLC -- edited into in the existent PowerPoint UI presentation. It was long, with just me speaking, at least three students felt asleep. For my second presentation I considered what had worked and what didn’t work and radically improved my presentation.

Enduring years of education I found that some teaching styles did not work well for me as a student. It was easy to observe from my classmates, they were bored too, arrived late, avoiding attending at all, drifted off into a dream world, or fell asleep. In the brightest educational situations, the risky, most creative teachers actually put their jobs on the line to enable their students to learn.

One would think that adults who are paying to attend school would arrive promptly and pay attention. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how old you are or what you paid for a class, dull presentations are boring, unlikely to be inspiring, and can not be justified.

The rude awakening from students generally comes from their teacher evaluations but these occur at the end of classes, but by then it is too late for creative interaction to take place. Vice versa, a student can get to the end of a class and find they have learned little or have nothing to take away and a grade that reflects that lack.

Myself, the teacher Jim Loter, and the students in our class were all raised during the years when television and film are common place. The people in my class have enjoyed using computers nearly their entire lives, and take them for granted at some level. People expect to be entertained in classes. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

It’s not television itself that makes students do poorly in school, but they get bored and that contributes to poor grades. “There was no evidence that television by itself had a major effect on cognitive abilities,” reads one study on even the most isolated populations (rural Alaskans) behavior in school and other social environments after the introduction of television, “The social learning concept of reciprocal determinism can be used to explain the complex ways in which television interacts with person variables and other environmental variables to influence test scores.” (Forbes, 1980)

Because of the easy availability of entertainment, keeping students actively interested is to some degree what modern education is about. In the book “Team Teaching”, the authors make many statements about the effectiveness of team teaching as an automatic way for students to become responsible for their own entertainment by engaging them actively in the learning process with other students.

Other engaging methods the authors point out use a variety of presentation tools, such as video and PowerPoint, emphasizing that modern students are less well engaged with a standard lecture method. (Bransford, 2000) Even a seriously disabled lecturer, Dr. Steven Hawking prerecords answers to questions in order to effect more lively interaction with audiences.3

For the second class, having done such things as lightly kick the chair of a sleeping student during my first lecture (see Problems), I realized that even though my enthusiastic tone, verve in presentation style, and desire to communicate were strong, without a chance to interact more solidly the students would not be interested in the information. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004) My first PowerPoint presentation on UI and the SDLC was sweeping in its coverage, very wide – it was “information dumping”. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

So, for the second presentation I severely limited the time and scope to precisely what was needed; one hour on aspects of privacy with a focus on the Web. Their attention I fixed on the social, historical, political, and economic fundamentals of privacy, and increased their desire to listen by using the value of entertainment specific to the topic at hand. In short I showed videos at the beginning of the class based on ongoing discussions. (Bransford, 2000) I continued what worked well in the first presentation - asking students impromptu questions, spoke quickly, walked among them like theater in the round, calling on those I knew by name.

While waiting for the videos to load I introduced the students to the concept of a Faraday Cage for protecting RFID sniffing of smart cards by asking them to describe one, showing my own metal credit card case for a brief discussion. My idea was to throw valuable materials into the room, just like any spirited conversation I would have with close friends, where you can just barely get a word in, because it is all so interesting. I also gave away “prizes”4 for those students who answered questions. I asked class members to read aloud privacy quotations from the PowerPoint presentation with Jim Loter clicking through them to keep me in motion, and asked questions about the meanings.

We examined two companies dubious ‘privacy statements’ that became obvious on deeper inspection as thinly veiled waivers for unwanted sales attempts.

For the video clips I choose six each from a different point of view on privacy topics, and screened four brief clips to establish the class themes. These videos were –

1. “Videocamera - Reclaim Privacy”5 Privacy radicals in Europe vandalizing video cameras placed in public which they marked out on maps, backed up by a funny punk attitude and music. (This outlined serious vigilante attitudes on privacy.)

2. An introduction to New Privacy Controls on ‘Second Life’6, Linden Labs massively-multiplayer online gaming environment, introduced by Nylon Pinkney an animated speaker interviewing other avatars with a particularly fresh “Gen X” deadpan sense of humor, “I’m more bored now”, “I have nothing to live for.” (Tied to a future class speaker, Doug McDavid from IBM, regarding ‘Second Life’)

3. “Are You Sexually Inappropriate?”7 This was Canadian TV news show about an offensive invasion of privacy for Stephen Pate, a disabled person. He was asked strange questions on government forms to obtain monetary aid for his wheelchair (which tied back to the presentation on disabled people using the Web, bringing together topics on human decency and databases.)

4. “The Conversation – Privacy Ends Here”8 A clip from the seminal 1970’s film about privacy and surveillance, “The Conversation” written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

With comments from Loter, (MA, Film Studies, University of Iowa, 1969), we played “The Conversation” clip entitled “Privacy Ends Here” which shows the protagonist, a listening post surveillance expert for hire, played by Gene Hackman, tearing out the walls and floor of his apartment at the end of the film. This illustrated that privacy is one thing when someone else’s privacy is disrupted; it’s completely another matter when the person losing their privacy is oneself. Jim and I discussed a few more films which include privacy issues as part of the plot, such as the popular Matrix series 10, and Gattaca 11. It gave Jim Loter and I the opportunity to interact while linking his in depth knowledge of popular culture to privacy making the class more immediately relevant. (Bransford, 2000)

For the very technical students I recommended a much longer video presentation available through YouTube.com on how RFID leaks privacy Information through DNS 12, by Karsten Nohl (PhD candidate at the University of Virginia, Computer Science.) Speaking about the history and legal context of privacy, the differences between the laws concerning privacy and ethical concerns on privacy, the differences of opting in and opting out, databases, and cookies I provided them an interwoven, broad based understanding on this sensitive technical and human topic. At the end of the class, I noticed self-directed education activities of the students – they followed the presentation links out to the various privacy sites without prompting. (Bransford, 2000)

I felt this interactive style was much more successful -- it connected the students to technologies they are familiar with, and play with on the Web (YouTube, Second Life) and materials presented in another class such as screen readers, as well as popular culture when these ideas are introduced in other social environments. I wished we had more time in which to interact regarding their own experiences with privacy issues. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Other contributions of note include assigning each student a disability to consider ongoing through the lecturers 13, and assignments. The disabilities assigned: visual, aural, physical. This played out in a creative way for their UI comparison assignment papers, when each student brought forward a disabled person’s point of view to review functionality. From the papers it was apparent they had made a strong mental connection with disabled people and an ongoing commitment to consider the needs of disabled users. (Bransford, 2000) (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

To introduce the differences between privacy laws and ethics I began unexpectedly by shooting images of the class with my Nikon camera, pointing out the fact that I was not asking their permission, and stated, that according to the law I could even make money from the photos without giving them any, and publish them as well. This is how I introduced the case of Nussenzweig vs Philip-Lorca diCorcia, asking “Photographer's Ethics in a Free Society, Why is this Case Important?”14 I brought forth a possible answer “because the law tells us that it is legal, but our moral judgment tells us it isn’t right to profit from or use someone’s photograph against their will.” Why is this case important? It's important because it is complex; our sense of ethical judgment tells us it isn't right, while the law says it isn't wrong.


Most of the evaluation decisions, that is grading metrics for the students, were already made by Jim Loter prior to my arrival but I did introduce two ideas that he enthusiastically agreed to use. First, I suggested that we agree that the due to the interactive nature of the course work it was possible for everyone to earn an ‘A’ grade. We hoped that this would encourage more students to work together on projects. Jim Loter presented this idea in class, and there was a positive response. Two, wary of making mistakes or unfair decisions on grades I introduced a spreadsheet with a grading rubric which would account for points given or taken off for specific parts of the assignment. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

The amount of time to carefully read each students work and make written comments regarding each paper while reviewing the large user interface project stunned me into understanding what my own teachers wade through -- poor spelling, strange grammar, a lack of structure in presentation, alien hanging information without connection to the subject, yes, it was all there in small amounts, but these students did absolutely outstanding work and I was very proud of them. We both told them so, after the grades were in for assignments.

To provide the students feedback about what really outstanding analysis is in UI, I had copied two exemplary student papers and handed them out to the class. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Jim Loter was evaluated by the students at the beginning of the last class. I was also presented with his evaluation of my TA work which I do not have the courage to read; even having studied how significant amounts of academic evidence shows that feedback helps teachers improve their methods.15 (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

What I learned from Jim Loter was a kind of fearlessness about the information sprinkled with a twist – an unexpected lighthearted silliness, freshened up his presentation of the some times overly dry content, which he knew very thoroughly.

Problems and Teaching Examples

In this section of my paper I will discuss a problem with one of the books on education I read. I will also bring up the examples of excellent teaching methods of my early teachers to illustrate what informed my thinking about how to engage students.

“How People Learn” is a book I loved and have re-read sections of it numerous times. The straightforward well-written academic style which the reader can just cruise through without stopping, huge numbers of references, with a well-considered relationship to the structure of the book, even though complex is not only pleasing, it is something I plan to emulate as I learn to write in an academic context.

One of the problems I encountered with my research is that the author Larry K. Michaelsen of the book Team-Based Learning claims to be the inventor of that style of learning in the late 1970s, long after team based learning was regularly used in Alaska during my education in both private and public schools, and probably predates our lifetimes by an untold number of years. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

From my perspective from the introduction there was too much about the author’s accomplishment and I had to struggle to work past his and the other authors attributing the idea to him. What author Larry K. Michaelsen did was state, formalize, and study in an academic setting the transformative use of small groups in college teaching. Then he documented his findings and named it “team based learning”. Mankind invented team learning a long time ago to survive successfully using groups.16 Once past this issue, I found Team-Based Learning even more pertinent and useful than How People Learn.

Regarding team based learning, for example, as I child the teachers in Montessori kindergarten and pre-school used this teaching method. In junior high and high school due to the severely overcrowded public schools a few of my teachers used both tag team teaching (or co-teaching) and student team based learning methods. Tag team or co-teaching may be defined as two or more instructors working together by sharing the teaching load to enhance their students learning potential by using their best abilities and knowledge; it is commonly used in large size classes.

Other examples of ancient team based learning practices are rooted in very old established learning environments including the Tibetan schools of dialectics, which draws from older traditions in India, and uses these methods for preparing and conducting arguments, performed in Monastery courtyards with groups, symbolic gestures, and the slapping of hands to make a point.17

The example of my junior high and high school from 1969 - 1973 formed some of my ideas about dynamic presentations. Anchorage’s public Orah Dee Clark junior high school, in just my single 7th grade math and science class, had more than 100 students. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)The math and science teachers Arthur Denning and Don Luethe split decided to simultaneously teach all of the students in a single giant classroom using innovative techniques. They told us why they were doing it, and explained how they would teach us.

They taught Math and Science in a series of lectures interspersed with team projects everyday - designed to keep us on our toes and highly engaged in learning. They brought pet piranhas and made a 6 ft long gerbil village; we never knew what our teachers would do or teach us next. They switched out during the same lesson plan, with one teacher taking point while the other circled around to answer problems and questions, or take a break to stand in for teachers in another combined and overcrowded class in English Literature and History across the hallway.

We were encouraged to work in groups to solve problems. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004) Those who did not join were assigned groups. Sometimes better students were pulled from their favorite groups and mixed with the slower learners, but generally it was based on where you sat in class, so arrival better be prompt if you wanted the best seat. Many mini-quizzes, and math puzzles were given every week, with “prizes18” for the winners. Based on that experience more than 30 year ago I too brought prizes to my class to encourage the reserved students to speak up in class and answer questions. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Denning and Luethe taught in that manner because there was no other reasonable way to teach such large classes of very diverse students. Many children spoke native Alaskan languages at home, and English only at school. My mother, a planner, and I estimated that many students had one or both alcoholic or drug addicted parents, one third of the total had parents either living in poverty, or were from highly transient homes as a result of working in the military19. These kinds of stresses often set up students for an uphill curve in learning when there was little or no direction at home, or when failure at school meant severe punishment such as beatings. Students were often silent observers in class, but social disturbances were common. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Endeavoring to educate regardless of the wide range of diverse issues, really good teachers were essentially my heros.

My best teachers gave me the ideas for the high energy tone I used in my presentations. This may explain why I kicked the student’s chair, far from being angry I was being kind -- I wanted him to have the advantage of everything presented. It was what I would want my teacher to do for me if I fell asleep in class. For example, to illustrate physical responses and adrenaline, my science teacher Luethe unexpectedly kicked the podium over at the beginning of a science lecture – it fell with a loud banging noise, which scattered several of the students sitting in the front rows towards the floor. He was red faced when he saw the kids terrified, some like their experiences at home. Some students sat stoically and stared at him while a few others laughed when he clarified the reason, “That’s adrenaline!” Later we heard Denning explain to Luethe in an undertone that he had to send one student home for a change of clothes -- but no one forgot that lecture about the mechanics of ‘fight or flight”, and with this knowledge transferred, students remained eager to attend. (Bransford, 2000) (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

That was not the only class taught in this engaging if occasionally abrupt manner – in high school at least two other classes were taught by tag teamed teachers overburdened with far too many students, and they relied heavily on team learning environments, such as in a class on American History where we did the same kind of work that early Americans did to survive.20

My teachers inspired me to encourage people to think for themselves, by example. In a series of classes taught by the phenomenal teacher, the late Mrs. John Kay "Mama" Reese, the focus was squarely directed to cause high school students to think for ourselves, and to act on our beliefs. This was a conscious decision on her part, she did not want us to memorize dates but express knowledge and act with wisdom. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004) Returning from our summer vacation, on the very first day of class Mama Reese gave us an impossibly difficult written exam asking for dates, and other specifics. Finally when one student in exasperation ripped the test paper up and threw it in the air like confetti she expressed delight and encouraged all of us to think that way. Some students, however, completed their exams much to her astonishment, and actually turned them in.

Mama placed us in team learning groups to do such things as design, write, layout, and publish a regular high school paper. When the principal of East Anchorage High school canceled the publication because he did not agree with the editorial contents she organized us to respond formally, and then, controversially she advised us to strike. 21 (1972-1974) I echoed Mama Reese’s teaching endeavor to think for ourselves, when I assigned disabilities to the students and looked for evidence in their assignment, a UI analysis paper examining websites, that they had conditionalized their knowledge, and developed professional empathy with those classes of end users. (Bransford, 2000) (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Team based learning to create functional software applications in INFO 344 were decided long before I became a TA, but I feel it is a very significant way for the students to practically apply and learn new things, while reflecting back to their instructors what they have learned. (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004) Jim Loter used team based learning in an informal way by encouraging students to produce software in groups, and did not grade on a curve, but otherwise we did not use any of the more detailed methods covered in Michaelsen’s book, some of which could have been useful in developing interaction among computer science students who classically tend to have loner personality styles.

Improvements I could make:

“When teachers are faced with the responsibility of teaching large classes of 100 or more students and seek advice on how best to do then, they frequently get technical suggestions: get more organized, try to make your lecture lively, use more audio-visual materials, and the like: But technical changes do not have the ability to make a significant impact on the two biggest problems with large classes from a learning perspective: student anonymity and passivity.” (L.Dee Fink, from Michaelsen, et al, 2004)

1. Memorize the student’s names (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)
2. Prepare with the class teacher more frequently and in advance to devise ways to engage students in team-based learning (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)
3. Facilitate class inter-communication (Bransford, 2000) (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)
4. Acquire more advanced knowledge about databases and related class topics. (Bransford, 2000)
5. Acquire the skills that the best teachers have: (Bransford, 2000) (Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Frame ideas and information in such a way as students realize them on their own and their consequences and can communicate these ideas to others. Great teachers enable students to transform their educational experience from listening to information being presented into directly realizing knowledge through their own understanding.

Resources Used

Author: National Research Council (U. S.) Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice (Author), National Research Council (Corporate Author), John Bransford (Editor), Ann L. Brown (Editor), Rodney R. Cocking (Editor)
Title: How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School:
Pub Info: National Academy Press(September 15, 2000)
Edition: Expanded Edition (Paperback)

p. 25 “excitement of learning… transferred to the classroom.”

p. 31 Chapter 2, “How Experts Differ From Novices” 1-6 notice meaningful patterns, content subject matter … organized in ways … deep understanding, can not be reduced to sets of isolated facts, can retrieve important aspects of their knowledge with little … effort, Though experts know their disciplines… does not guarantee they are able to teach others”

p.49 “Knowledge must be conditionalized: in order to be retrieved when it is needed; otherwise, it remains inert.”
“Expertise in an area does not guarantee that one can effectively teach others about that area. Expert teachers know the kinds of difficulties that students are likely to face…”

p. 51, Chapter 3, Learning and Transfer “Assumptions about transfer accompany the belief that is it better to broadly “educate” people than simply “train” them to perform particular tasks”

p. 68 “Learning As Transfer from Previous Experience.”

p. 102 Self Directed and Other Directed Learning “They learn in situations where there is no external pressure to improve and no feedback or reward other than pure satisfaction - - sometimes called achievement of competence motivation.”

p. 141 Formative Assessment and Feedback, “ Opportunities to work collaboratively in group scan also increase the quality of the feedback available to students”

p. 145 “allow students (teachers) the freedom to make mistakes in order to learn”
“girls are sometimes discouraged from participating in higher level mathematics and science.”

p. 181- 182 “Facets may relate to conceptual knowledge…, to strategic knowledge... , or genetic reasoning. Identifying student’s facets, what cues them in different context, and how student use them in reasoning are all helpful in devising instructional challenges.”

p. 242 Conclusions, “Teachers need expertise in both subject matter content and in teaching”

p. 243 Learning Environments, Tools of Technology. “Bringing real-world problems into classrooms through the use of videos, demonstrations, simulations, and Internet connections to concrete data and working scientists.”

p.279 “Investigate successful and creative educational practice”
“Investigate the potential benefits of collaborative learning in the classroom and the design challenges that it imposes.”

Author /editor: Larry K. Michaelsen, Arletta Bauman Knight, L. Dee Fink.
Title: Team-based learning : a transformative use of small groups in college teaching
Pub Info: Sterling, VA : Stylus Pub., 2004.
Edition: 1st pbk. ed.

(Michaelsen, Knight, Fink, 2004)

Preface, Origination of Team-Based Learning
The idea of Team Based Learning originated with Larry Michaelsen in the late 1970’s. [LL: This statement, made several times in the book was difficult to agree with. He named, researched it, and documented what was used by many teachers prior to this, and in other civilizations, much earlier.] “An alternative to lecturing in the sciences.”

p. 2 Chapter 1 “Several factors have prompted teachers to explore this form of teaching. In part teachers are feeling pressure both from the younger TV generation of student who are not very tolerant of lectures and from older students who was a learning experience that consists of more that an “information dumping.”.

p. 22 Large Classes, “When teachers are faced with the responsibility of teaching large classes of 100 or more students and seek advice on how best to do then, they frequently get technical suggestions: get more organized, trey to make your lecture lively, use more audio-visual materials, and the like: But technical changes do not have the ability to make a significant impact on the two biggest problems with large classes from a learning perspective: student anonymity and passivity.”

p. 23 Classes with a High Level of Student Diversity, Team-based learning creates conditions in which people who are very different from one another learn that they need to work together an that they can work together Courses That Emphasize Thinking Skills “Team-based learning can be especially helpful to anyone who wants to emphasize the development of students thinking skills in their courses.”

p. 37 First, because there is not enough time for the teacher to cover all of the material, focusing on how we want students to use their knowledge is an extremely powerful and reliable aid in deciding which elements of the course content are really important”

Designing a Grading System, “…ensure that the grading system is designed to reward the right things. An effective grading system for team-based learning must address the concerns of both students and the instructor. For both, the primary concern is related to past situations in which too many groups have had free-riders.” [LL: this depends on which kind of team-based learning and grading structure is used.]

p. 58 “ …stresses based on group work”, Rewarding Group Success

p. 59 “…what we know is more a function of our ability to retrieve and use information than it is the sum total of the information that we have taken in.”

p. 125-131 A Dramatic Turnaround in a Classroom of Deaf Students

p. 203 Students with Disabilities, “Perhaps the most amazing and fascinating example of the incredible versatility of learning teams is the strategy’s effectiveness with students who are disabled.”

Author: Angelo, Thomas A., 1954-
Title: Classroom assessment techniques : a handbook for college teachers / Thomas A. Angelo, K. Patricia Cross
Pub Info: San Francisco : Jossey-Bass Publishers, c1993
Edition: 2nd ed

I did not make use of this book in any detail.

Author: Forbes, Norma
Title: Television's effects on rural Alaska : summary of final report / prepared by Norma Forbes
Pub Info: Fairbanks, Alaska : Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, [1984]
Abstract: “There was no evidence that television by itself had a major effect on cognitive abilities. Numerous interactions show that television in Alaska did not, during the period of the study, have a uniform effect on the children in the study. The social learning concept of reciprocal determinism can be used to explain the complex ways in which television interacts with person variables and other environmental variables to influence test scores. There was no evidence that television by itself had a major effect on cognitive abilities. Numerous interactions show that television in Alaska did not, during the period of the study, have a uniform effect on the children in the study. The social learning concept of reciprocal determinism can be used to explain the complex ways in which television interacts with person variables and other environmental variables to influence test scores.”

(Original publication was: Author Forbes, Norma E. Sociocultural and cognitive effects of commercial television on previously television-naive rural Alaskan children / Norma E. Forbes and Walter J. Lonner. Publisher Bellingham, Wash. : Western Washington University, [1980], but it is no longer available from the Summit collection of the Orbit Cascade Alliance Union catalog, so I used the 1984 version.)

Conversations with Dr. Norma E. Forbes, on her studies, Fairbanks, Alaska 1974 – 1980.

Dan Comden presentation “Accessibility on Websites”, Mary Gates Hall, University of Washington, Seattle, Jan 18, 2007. Observations

PowerPoint Presentations edited with referenced and original content :
* PrivacyLecture.ppt
* WebApplicationDev.ppt

Author: Hinton, S.E.
Title: The Outsiders
Pub Info: Viking Press, New York, NY April 1967
Edtion: 1st ed

Further research:

Author: Vidyabhusana, Satis Chandra, 1870-1920
Title: History of the mediæval school of Indian logic / by Mah¯amahop¯adhy¯aya Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana
Pub Info: New Delhi : Oriental Books Reprint Corp., dist. by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1977
Edition: 2d ed

Pleasure of Elegant Sayings Press, “A History of Tibetan Culture.”

1 https://faculty.washington.edu/loter/info344/calendar.php January 16, 2007

2 http://faculty.washington.edu/loter/info344/slides/lect10_files/frame.html

3 Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “Hawking's black hole lecture leaves teens in the dark” http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1164881864835 “Questions submitted in advance by three pupils in the audience, which included previous winners and finalists of the Intel-Israel Young Scientists Competition, pupils from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth and other locations received short replies in pre-recorded answers from Hawking's synthesizer.”, accessed March 11, 2007.

4 The symbolic prizes were small ceramic figures, which come free with a purchase of Red Rose tea, and other small items I found laying around my domicile.

5 “videocamera - reclaim privacy”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZuU93dvBnE accessed YouTube.com.

6 Error displays “Removed from the YouTube by the user.”

7 Are you sexually inappropriate? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TRIKi6ZAnw, web video, YouTube.com

8 “The Conversation - Privacy Ends Here”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0-nV3TSMpw, web video, YouTube.com

9 Jim Loter’s education: B.A., Film Studies. Wayne State University (Detroit, MI). 1993. M.A., Film Studies. University of Iowa, (Iowa City, Iowa). 1996. http://faculty.washington.edu/loter/

10 The Matrix (1999) A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against the controllers of it.

11 Gattaca (1997) Film, Written and directed by Andrew Niccoll, “A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.”

12 “RFID Privacy, Old Threats and New Attacks” presentation by Karsten Nohl, a University of Virginia PhD Computer Science candidate, speaking at Hope 2006, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLsUBmbjNDY web video, YouTube.com

13 On Accessibility, Dan Comden's lecture in Info344 (Informatics, iSchool UW) Jan 18, 2007

14 Videos documented and presented from embedded links on my blog: http://wonderlane.blogspot.com/

15 Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers (Jossey Bass Higher and Adult Education Series) (Paperback) by Thomas A. Angelo (Author), K. Patricia Cross (Author) Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2 Sub edition (March 12, 1993)

16 Mike Crandall, Feb 27, 2007 8:53 am email “team based learning has been around since our first ancestors figured out how to use each other to catch prey and garden. How else did we learn all these things we seem to take for granted?”

17 I visited the Buddhist Dialectics School, McLeod Ganj, Himachal, Pradesh, India in 1993. Recommend research from English Pamphlet, A Brief History of the Buddhist School of Dialectics.

18 My prize for winning a quadratic equation quiz was of little other than symbolic value, a coffee cup ringed and stained, dog-eared copy of the “The Outsiders”, by S.E. Hinton, pub. Viking, New York, 1967.
(I read the teen book dutifully twice, but it was no match for Heinlein. Heinlein informed me; science fiction, world building, utopia, “The robots' Three Laws”, the right to privacy.)

19 Based on informal estimates Mrs. Darlene L. Lane, my mother, a city, state, and regional planner, made on the population with me for a land use study I presented to the Anchorage City Council in 1969 at age 13, with Mary Liston and Nancy A. Byrd apposed to building another school on the Orah Dee Clark site in part due to undocumented safety concerns and unconsidered feasibly issues. The school is to be demolished 2007 and rebuilt on the same site.

20 We settled into groups where we did things just like early Americans, such as made pickles by hand, with limited tools carved hand-made furniture using trees available behind East Anchorage High School. We built fires and made dinner - created a pumpkin pie totally from scratch. We learned to think about the time involved in survival among early Americans. This was not far from how the Alaskan Native students’ families lived in subsistence environments c. 1970’s.

21 An example of Mama Reese’s husband, Alaskan Superior Court Judge John Reese, dealing with the Anchorage School District’s fatally flawed thinking in dealing with students: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=2382

Independent Study in Technical Education Winter Quarter, 2007

End Notes:
After teaching my first class I came home and ate oysters for dinner. Biting into one I pulled a small heart shaped pearl from between my teeth. I took this as a good sign.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Just Browsing Outside

As a child I wandered into the University of Alaska at Anchorage’s library stacks and just started reading. If books on physics and math just happened to be across the stack from 19th century French poetry so much the better, it was an easier reach. When finished with one selection I chose the next one randomly, sometimes with my eyes closed just for fun.

This method works well when the amount of data is limited and the desire for information is high. Sometimes random information is a highly acceptable result. Soon I had consumed all the art stacks -- I found I was rereading them going back the opposite direction. I wished for a way to mark the books or sections of books I had randomly read. Memorizing thousands of Picasso’s images at the end of the row was the end of my road, and I went ‘Outside’ in search of cross cultural connections.

For Alaskans the term “Outside” generally refers to the United States, or “lower 48 states”. Prior to roads being built travel to Alaska was via boat and commonly originating from Seattle through the 'Inside Passage' in what is now Canada. Therefore the reverse route, through any means, is termed ‘Outside’, as in, “I’m going Outside on vacation.” or "She had her baby Outside so it could be President of the United States when it grows up" (really - this was a tradition such as evidenced by Alaska Senator Bob Bartlett's family, and my own). The term ‘Outside’, like a nickname or a tag, also implies a great deal about the Alaskan mindset, that the U.S. is really not home, and it is very distant. With a small population people were viewed as valuable.

Lots of people don't know where the term comes from, but my family helped populate the state arriving in 1896 a couple of years before the gold rush, so we contributed to popularizing slang terms 'cause we love 'em. On the other hand, my mom, so fond of telling the truth about everything confessed that my grandmother had not planted the large old birch tree at the very corner of Anchorage on 3th and L street, near where the statue to Capt Cook is now, as she had often repeated throughout my childhood and to anyone who would listen.

This leads me to believe there is another tradition, leg pulling. So all the other theories about where that expression "Outside" came from could be just as valid as that tree planting story. So much for the playfulness of Alaskans -- folksy, resistant to authority, maybe not exactly anti-intellectual but something like that.

My mom tells me she is writing a series of short stories titled "I Didn't Die" about all the times she escaped death in rural Alaska just going about her business in planning. She fell off a cliff and was caught by a net placed there for the express purpose of catching people at AlyeskaSki Resort just outside Anchorage, got stuck in a plane without fuel drifting silently past Denali (Mt. McKinley) but landed safely, once having accepted a plane ride with her inexperienced boss acting as a pilot got lost in the far north and navigating with a map and a flashlight from the air found the only airport for hundreds of miles by spotting a tiny distant light, ate hallucinogenic mushrooms by accident, and poisonous shell food and so forth. And you know what, you know the tag line - she didn't die.

I still see myself as just browsing Outside, and still, someday I might go home.

Del.icio.us Metadata Tagging

NEEDS EDITING: This is a document, a JPG

Of a subject, A person named Linda Lane, In a program, categorized as a student, and an assistant teacher

at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA
c. March 10th, 2007

Tag You’re It! What? Who? Where? When?





Linda Murry Lane

IMT 530- Organization of Information Resources
Winter Quarter Final, 2007
Michael Crandall | Instructor

• Approach
This document is a reflection of my learning experience to construct vocabularies posted as metatags to my Del.icio.us.com site based on the MSIM website. I made many approaches and evaluations including working closely with a leading thinker on the subject of metadata, Mike Crandall, my instructor, and academic advisor at the iSchool, University of Washington, Seattle.

There are many ways to develop a classification scheme. There are four ways recommended by some experts: rational, empirical, cultural, and contextual.(Taylor, 2004) Rational is logical. Empirical uses your observations. Cultural is what everyone believes. Contextual is what works best within a situation. The site we are asked to tag is the Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) and display in http://www.del.icio.us.com.

Since I know little about education as a field I decided to review the MSIM Web site and build a model to see if I can understand what the designers intended and represented by looking at their navigation and the related pages, and build on that. This is the contextual method, and it relies on the rational, empirical, and cultural methods.

But having second thoughts I finally arrived at a purely personal and subjective point of view based on Dublin Core and what I know about social tagging (Golder, 2006). I want a classification / categorization of facets and controlled vocabularies, a system I understand and agree with especially because this is an exercise, and play is one of the ways we learn. (Bransford, 2000)

Originally I thought I would use an approach assisted by computers, which is to say that I would strip the existing metadata comments off the HTML pages as I have seen done by Search engine accumulators.

As a result of having a multi-page Web site with one of the most popular personal resumes published on the World Wide Web I inferred information about search before I read anything about it. My resume page is optimized for a number of returns in Google, Live, Yahoo! and other search engines, floating to the top of more than 4.5 million similar items indexed on the Web. Such queries include ‘resume + Product Manager’, ‘Program Manager’, ‘Microsoft’, ‘Information Architect’, and similar keywords.

Following the queries back to their sources using a source tracker taught me several things about searching, and in this way I have been exposed to ways that people search, actual text strings, languages, personal settings in their browsers, data accumulators, products related to resumes and searches, and so forth. At least two other of the resumes which rate as high as mine do so because I advised those people how to publish their resumes on the Web, obtain search results, and reinforce them. Very few people that I can detect locate my site through any other method except search.

The key component of that exercise is publishing a document (Buckland, 1997) on the Web takes place as a part of human endeavor, as does the reinforcement. The machines and related software perform their indexing and search algorithms, and then, human beings, searching for specific information seek through search engines, and by making selections reinforce results. This makes their intuitive and intellectual results based on what is returned in an iterative cycle. But at the beginning and end are people doing things for human reasons.

A recent news article announcing the Freebase database to serve the Web is at its core just another way to include human side facets for computers to mechanically serve information.

What I had decided to do:
1. Take a compilation of all of the MSIM pages - All 97 MSIM URLs:

2. Run each of them through the Dublin Core metadata editor engine linked off the DC site, (http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/cgi-bin/dcdot.pl)

3. Group the results of each header set into bundles

4. Then enter all of those into Del.icio.us

This would be one rather obsessive way to respond to the assignment, but it would work. In this way it would all be computer generated with the exception of my manual inputs into fields. It is mechanical in nature, and no doubt Darth Vader would be proud. (Lucas, 1977)

There is also a manual way to do it, based on the intention of Del.icio.us as a more human social tagging tool but I liked the first way because it is complete. However the project assignment had several human components. I felt that a controlled vocabulary would arise naturally as I had more experience with the MSIM site, even though my choice had been to view the site through the different eyes of the various intended users – mostly students -- prospective, current, international, disabled, and alumni.

At making this suggestion, of an experiment mixing manually created metatags and computer generated ones my academic advisor provided feedback that the idea behind the assignment was an experiment –
I wanted you to think about what the intersection of an organized tagging system and a freeform one would mean, and what it would look like over time. I'm curious about how this grows over time as subsequent classes come along (also interested to see how many people actually discover and use previous tags).

Thinking about intelligent information system designs I had already reached conclusions based on class discussions and my own experience with Web based information systems that human systems, especially those based on human emotion, not just purely intellectual motivations are a preferable design factor.

“Unintelligent information system design assumes that the 'heavy' end of the 'intelligence' of the system is with the software and its designers, and that the frustration or 'feelings' of end users are of little consequence” was an understanding I reached with a friend of mine, Brent Barr, a former Boeing engineer, when discussing the MSIM site and security and log in issues I experienced just in the first few weeks of the MSIM program. Together we concluded that reality is the reverse when considering information systems because we can not completely remove our subjective views, and nor should we want to, because such systems are for humans to use, and we are naturally guided by our feelings, if we let ourselves be.

Intelligent information design is achieved when it actively engages the highest intelligence present in the system. From a keenly aware design point of view the highest intelligence is not purely intellectual, abstract, or objective, but includes these ‘feelings' of the user. Structuring content so that targeted intellectual information may be found, and from there personal choices in reading, navigating, sorting, sense making, and decision making can occur without undue stress to the weighted side, that is what benefits the high end of an information system; this means driving systems to deliver information for users, for human beings is the goal. “Computers are here to serve mankind not the other way around.” (H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama, 2000)

Humans naturally categorize, sift, structure, and organize physical stuff and information (Taylor, 2004). It is a part of human intelligence, it is crucial to the activity of our determining knowledge and belief, making decisions, and storing and retrieving objects and ideas later. But categorizing content is difficult, because it is based on human views of ‘what and how and why’ we observe and organize. Ranganathan’s view in the facets classification he developed was especially of interest to me, I want to say “charming” because it was universal in approach. He saw it more as we do today, very much like the news, who, what, where, when, and why – or as he described fundamental his facets classification structure as: Personality, Matter, Energy, Space, and Time. (Steckel, 2007)

Our scientific goal is to be objective as much as possible. However with more experience information scientists have realized that all categorization and classification is performed within weighted human structures, colored by belief, politics, history, education, etc, as well as existing information structures. These are all categories in themselves.

Just as observing a people who have a category called “Woman, Fire, and Dangerous Things” or a heavily weighted political view, or the intention to be humorous, charges a classification structure. All of our knowledge and the environment do so as well.

So our goals really are to decide on what is meaningful in context. That is a human system. How we can teach the machine to understand the content and context will help us fulfill personal aspirations. Applied ontologies are explicit mirrors for conceptual modeling of ideas, and data in contextual frameworks. They help computers appear like they think!

This means that structuring information which makes the most sense within the environment it will be used, and understanding in at least a basic way how an information system works and what it will be used for are the most important starting places. A corollary is the need to be aware of what systems are actually capable of doing, what they do well and what they do poorly.

From purely observing we all have maps of the world which are some combinations of rational and emotional, objective and subjective, when combined with motivations, needs, and desires apparently impel our actions. Metatagging is a relatively small part of our mapping which allows ourselves and others to see what we are doing, where we are going, and show it through links.

Regarding the specific question of the MSIM website, my feelings tell me the navigation is not structured well and that the tone of the site is old fashioned, and too cluttered. My reasoning is that I continue to use search instead of navigating, and as I am sensitive to the number of mouse clicks this probably means I could not find things in the past. Emotionally the turquoise color in particular looks like nearly every thing I designed for the conservative Microsoft sites I worked on a couple of years ago. I would love to see a neutral clean, clear, fashion-forward extremely slimmed down site. The expectation I have for RSS feeds may be provided as a logged in user of tools the University of Washington provides, but when I am logged in they do not appear on the MSIM site. Also pages which receive more attention through searching may be something which takes preeminence in structuring the presentation of content.

• Implementation
As I moved my metadata schema and vocabularies (Leise Fast Steckel, 2003) into Del.icio.us, I discovered many frustrating problems. Del.icio.us bundles work differently than expected, creating a new bundle overwrote the prior one; I could not understand what the system was trying to tell me. I just wanted to create a bunch of bundles and add the groups of predetermined metatags to them.

Alternatively since I am working from a slow machine I wanted to create a bundle, and subtags and just copy and paste all the complete URLs on one subject into the open field. The results of doing this produced hidden tags, so I had to delete them multiple times, because all I had were piles of unrelated metatags that made less sense to me than a simple structure of Capstone.PDF.NameofSubject would.

Is there was any reasonably automatic way to derive the same information such as I first proposed from the information stored in the headers? The problems meant I kept redesigning the vocabulary, which is not a workable strategy. Naturally I began to use open tagging (Guy, 2006) to help me personally recall what posters look like, for example, with just a few keywords in order to get any thing out of the system in the future, because I could not easily copy and paste using older technology on Win2 K machine. Gifted with a good visual memory I should be able to relate a few tags combined with the title and “pink” or “yellow arrows” if I have seen the image before. This is unlikely to help anyone else locate specific capstone posters or remember them.

Hierarchies provide direction in understanding, and I believe one could develop a flat style of tagging in Del.icio.us to describe a hierarchy but it would not appear hierarchical easily.

The MSIM Microsoft scholarship page is an apparent victim of Web rot. Considering the Web rot issue I wondered why spend time storing URLs which invariably fade over time? It’s really the entire content, or the key components of it needed. One of the favorite videos presented to the Informatics INFO 344 class has already been removed by the user – possibly someone with no legal right to post internal Second Life materials to a public site. Embedded as video link from YouTube, it does no good nicely linked on a blog, it is an empty reference, and it took significant time to create. This example enforces the idea to quote more fully any text and copy images wanted from original sources because it is possibly the last time they will be present in the system.

That we can only control our own creation and placement of materials on the Web, not anyone else’s stuff, implies that search should be fast, continuous, and retrieve and store the original if possible or important enough

It is increasingly obvious how difficult it is to tell systems and data how to interact as more data and systems are created and digital almanacs may help return one answer to a specific question. (Markoff, 2007)

Some things such as personal names don’t work visually to be crammed together without spaces or with underlines between them, because a name is generally brief, and a name is what it is, not a metadata chunk of what it is. Names can be represented in many ways, and culturally what a name is varies, such as middle, surname, nicknames, which of the names you would use an initial for and so forth, so having names even more complex muddies the water even more. (McCulloch, 2004)

Doubtlessly Del.icio.us will cut out spaces (just look at the name), and make names into separate tags, just like other less useful tagging structures. Flickr allows for spaces, but I am not certain why “The Beatles” are also “TheBeatles” or what this means in search results over the entire Web.

• Influences
How my solution make a difference in the management or user experience on the MSIM website would be to create a completely flexible interface, highly discoverable which individual end users can subscribe to. For example I have no interest in seeing anything other than the links to the class Websites I attend. For the sake of time I am simply not interested in the other materials, except for a list of teachers, staff, their position of responsibility and contact information which I could find by searching and adding to My Site at will.

Experienced end users may prefer when they go to the MSIM Web site the only materials available are what they choose to put there, with changes and updates offered through mechanisms such as an RSS feed. The same goes for the inbox in email, students are required to subscribe to a number of listservs. Listserv was an innovative technology in 1987(Internet.com) fully twenty years ago. The iSchool announcements should scroll along on the right of the screen for example, so one can scroll through them and in this way the information would not arrive mixed with the end users business and personal email.

As far as improving searches, the input device needs to be updated to work in conjunction with the new software tools. Mice should be capable of storing multiple query objects so end users can click on Web objects, text images or whatever and have search understand that they want the deltas of those things, and related things or contrariwise their opposites.(Lane, 2007) Searches should be able to lean in a particular direction based on the user’s selections.(Steckel, 2002) (McCulloch, 2004) This can be accomplished with algorithms, metadata consider related items, and the date of things; the system should be able to gradually learn from the end users selections, and the more easily anticipated needs, such as a newly enrolled student.

As we know search is not the answer to every human need, random access or browsing is a way to learn. (Taylor, 2004)

With familiarity, when there is too much information to cope with, or the stakes get too high, people get lazy and selfish, and want systems to stand in for them – if you consider it from a system point of view an example is - any operating system should learn where (what directory) and what the work flow is, and how the user expects it to be sorted, instead of returning to the preset configuration. There are serious physical implications because one’s wrist gets tired of clicking.

That is the same reason the MSIM website should to be completely in the end users control to discover upon their invitation and at their will. In short the MSIM website to suit individual needs completely not be a general presentation for everyone which then they need to negotiate each time they use it, it should be self configuring. We need to trust end users to add those webparts that will help them study or work or do whatever they want at the University, and scan through the information the University feels its people should review, without making them store it.

The empirical standard against which 'intelligent' systems should be judged, we know by the real, accurate, data communicated by the greatest active intelligence present: the feelings of the user. "Trust your feelings, Luke." advised the young Skywalker’s Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke lowered his targeting computer to rely on his mastery of skill and instinct.

• Trusting Problems
In the end considering relativistic verses unambiguous objectivist empiricism is besides the point of all this and beyond our ability to confirm either way (Gould,1983); the only truth to be found in these things is change itself. Empirical science changes and in that respect it is relativistic, so a middle path appears to be the logical one.

As far as practical websites that are used frequently should provide a measure of the control of appearance and change to the end user.

While working on this project I was advised I was going too low of a level down with the data analysis. (Crandall, 2007) Once I had higher level clusters of metatags the project seemed doable.

The mechanics of Del.icio.us I believe I will understand again, because when using it just for my own purposes I did understand exactly how bundles worked, and now perhaps due to the complexity of my needs it appears not to function as I expected.

The reading helped, they were enjoyable, but in the end it was just too much to guide me effectively in this project although I highly enjoyed our investigation of the related topics. The trees and forest got lost in the volcano of information. I needed to just try something, without concern for being right. The introduction of so much information, too many three letter acronyms, arguments for and against styles and ideas (Gould, 1983), and significant information from the readings and book, data about data about data (Shirky, 2005) can be an overload. It created a feeling that I am unworthy person because I can not do all of this, figure out the easy to use software, and deliver a paper on time. Similarly when seeking and shifting through information other people must encounter such feelings of frustration, around the massive amount of information and their goals, when all they seek is just this one little thing, which they may have difficulty finding in a reasonable amount of time.

In reading various arguments back and forth I found myself wondering, “Where’s the fun?” It’s a human character, the adventurous Hans Solo, with all his limitations and helplessness (no magic powers, no high Jedi status, without any hip light-sword waving guru “Master Yoda”), simply with his desires and inherent human capacity for understanding to control and influence his environment, he would cheer that sentiment and just enjoy himself and his surroundings.

• Informants

• Taylor, Arlene G. The Organization of Information, 2nd ed. Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited, 2004.

Returned to Taylor for the basics and reread sections such as the Metadata chapters.

• Buckland, M. (1997). What is a "Document"? Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 48(9), 804-809.
What is a “Document” I asked myself several times is it ok if I call an image a document?

• Internet.com, What is a Listserv? http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/L/Listserv.html Retrieved March 9, 2007

• Markoff, John. Published: March 9, 2007 http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/09/business/webdata.php
“Creating a database to organize the Internet, Metabase envisions a repository that is like a digital almanac”

• Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Class work, provided a framework around the terms “cognitive and linguistic semantics”.

• McCulloch, E. (2004). Multiple terminologies: An obstacle to information retrieval. Library Review, 53 (5/6), 297-300.

It is becoming progressively impractical for users to consult the wide range of sources available to satisfy an information query. Will Mapping prevail?

• Guy, Marieke; Tonkin, Emma. (2006). "Folksonomies: tidying up tags?" D-Lib Magazine 12(1). doi:10.1045/january2006-guy.

Description of ‘Tag’ = a word that signifies a relationship between an online thing and someone’s mental construct (Context). Mario Popish discussion: “Flaws in folksonomies [social tagging (Del.icio.us / flickr)] Nonsense tags like lbnl, that limit effective searching, misspellings, Single words like runonsentences, trying to satisfy the personal and the collective's organizational need. Interesting theory presented that tags will tend to converge thus “evolving” meta-data in a natural way. Tagging Best Practices: pluralize, lowercase, use_underscores_in_phrases, follow conventions, add synonyms (computer should do that).”

• Golder, S.A. & B.A. Huberman. (2006). The structure of collaborative tagging systems. Journal of Information Science, Vol. 32, No. 2, 198-208.

Taxonomies are hierarchical and exclusive while tagging are non-hierarchical and inclusive.

• Peterson, Elaine. (2006). "Beneath the Metadata. Some Philosophical Problems with Folksonomy". D-Lib Magazine, November 2006, Volume 12 Number 11. http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november06/peterson/11peterson.html

Brian Dorsey discussion – “Peterson seems to completely miss one critical difference between library style subject classification and tagging. Subject classification is a binary choice - a given object either does or does not belong to that subject. Tagging however is more like voting for a subject, the systems know exactly how many people have used a specific tag for that object and can choose to only present the most common, agreed upon tags.”

• Shirky, Clay. (2005). Ontology is overrated. http://www.shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html
Brian Dorsey discussion – “Religion = Christian from a Christian point of view - unstable categories (East Germany). A significant break -- by users tag URLs and aggregating those tags, allows alternate organizational systems, systems that, like the Web itself, do a better job of letting individuals create value for one another.”

• Steckel, Mike. (2002). Ranganathan for IAs. Boxes and Arrows. http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/ranganathan_for_ias

Description of Facets, and Ranganathan’s thoughts. Ranganathan’s reductionism in his classification facets, as related to ideas in classical Indian literature is appealing to me because the very basis of wisdom, shunyata (Sanskit), is the concept of everything arising from emptiness; in the ontology of Mahayana Buddhism it is stated in the celebrated paradox:

“form is emptiness; emptiness is form”

This is the core of the Heart Sutra. The Buddhist notion of emptiness logically concludes that ultimate reality is knowable, there is clear-cut ontological basis for phenomena, and that we can communicate and derive useful knowledge from it about the world, which Ranganathan restates in his modern terminology. From the human experience side, it is the same for form, feeling, perception, intention, and consciousness.

Portions of this explanation derived from my own education and the following website: http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/emptiness.html It is interesting to note that a copy of “The Diamond Sutra” is the oldest known dated printed book in existence.

• Spender, J. (1998). Pluralist Epistemology and the Knowledge-Based Theory of the Firm. Organization , 5 (2), 233-256.

Bill Marriott discussion: “One definition of knowledge is something that others can gain evidence from, and this knowledge can be separated from the knower (Spender, 1998)”

• Gould, S. (1983). What, if anything, is a zebra? Ch. 28 of Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections on Natural History. New York: Norton, 355-365.

• Lane, L. (2007) Modal, multiple input search mouse is an original idea, I did not read it elsewhere, it just occurred to me when trying to think of ways to save my wrist when combining ideas for search attempts on the MSIM site. It would work by stored selections or groups of stored selections either with or without positive reinforcement (like a fly out collection of lists of search parameters or locations). The search input box would be contained in the listing mechanism.

• Lucas, George Star Wars (1977). Film, (USA)
A social view in the computer industry as computers being the dark side of the force, or essentially non-human goes back to conversations with co-workers in during the boom and bust cycle of that industry.

• Bransford, J. and Ann L. Brown (2000) How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition by National Research Council (U. S.) Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, National Research Council, (Paperback )

Learning is a natural, playful process, which in children is frequently accompanied by joy.

• HH The 14th Dalai Lama Ethics for the New Millennium, Riverhead Books, 1999

His Holiness’s work has mentioned computers since 1980 that I am aware of, and I have attended more than one speech when he said “Computers are here to serve mankind not the other way around.” Which when you are working 60+ hours a week at Microsoft seems like a novel approach to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

• Leise, Fred; Fast, Karl; Steckel, Mike. (2003). Creating a Controlled Vocabulary. Boxes and Arrows. http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/creating_a_controlled_vocabulary
Construct sets of CVs, and related terms, look inward, look outward, ask people -- sounds like great advice.