What’s happening now…and why I’m not writing much – reading, teaching, librarying, parenting…
An Open Letter on Statistical Analysis
I used to shy away from Statistical Analysis as a means to meaning.
Now different thoughts occur.
Last night my daughter was struggling with 5th-grade division problems that involved endless remainders…
I used to be really uncomfortable with the “why?” of mathematics…
…last night I found it fascinating, as if it were opening entirely new sets of mysteries and unknowns to me trailing off as it did, like endless reflection and inquiry.
QUERY 1: “WHY?”
Common enough thought for a philosopher.
Seems to me the “good philosopher” (effective, useful, usable, relevant) consistently ponders and inquires into the Affect and Effect of whatever is under observation or scrutiny. What / How / Why / Where / & for Whom does it “mean” that we’re Doing / Being / Knowing this or that or what-not. Anything, really. Anything at all.
Which got me to thinking…
what/how/why/where/when/for-whom do all these infographics, demographics, assessments, quizzes, ticked responses, reviews, # of views, feedbacks, “likes,” “unlikes,” and so forth “mean” for our Doing/Being/Knowing?
(what’s it all mean, Big Data [pronounced “Big Dadda”?)
QUERY 2: “Huh?”
WHAT MATTERS TO YOU?
The question that drives, allows, enables any help a “philosopher” might be able to foster…
AND HERE COMES STATISTICAL ANALYSIS!
(the philosopher asks)…
For the moment, just…just-now, here, this-when…
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY MATTERS MOST TO YOU IN YOUR LIFE?
Let’s check out your personal statistics (YOU’LL have to do this part of the work – observation, comparison & contrast, open inquiry & interpretation)
for instance…WHAT things do you nudge toward qualitative analysis or quantitative analysis?
A few simple questions regarding:
- time with children/partner/self/nature/friends/world (in relation to) time at work?
- time scrolling Facebook / browsing internet (in relation to) time gazing at / listening to / caressing / doing-being-knowing-with your loved-ones?
- time realizing time-tested wishes or longings (in relation to) accepted responsibilities?
- time reading/moving/resting (in relation to) time watching/viewing/receiving
- pleasurable time (in relation to) suffering time
and so on….
[or how well do such things mesh up / converge / resolve, etc?)
(finding ways statistical analysis might mean)
and then, of course, there’s the more totalizing EXPERIENCING of such analysis / account / record / actuality [REALITY]…
…at least ONE way a statistical analysis might MEAN?
(and a humane use of philosophy?)
(science & mathematics?)
(humanities & arts?)
WHAT MATTERS MOST TO YOU?
(maybe think of 3-5…rank them?)
HOW DOES THAT RELATE TO A STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF YOURSELF?
(keep track of your minutes / hours for 3-5 days)
WHAT DOES YOUR ACTUAL BEING / DOING / KNOWING REPORT ABOUT WHAT MATTERS TO YOU?
(compare. contrast. assemble. interpret. reflect.)
[RESEARCH: it all depends on context]
and it’s all immersive EXPERIENCE
(…used my lunch break for grocery-shopping to alleviate evening stress after work when I need to get the kids to multiple locations and events, and prepare dinner while hopefully interacting with them, witnessing their goings-on in the ONE place I can be at a time, while finishing up that revised CV I need for perhaps continuing employment in a position I actually feel suited to, find challenging, and organizing an upcoming theater production, parceling energy with hopes I might have some left for my prime concern: my partner, or maybe myself – isn’t that part of all of it too? – and the reading/writing/reflecting I’d love to do, acquiring plane tickets and maps for upcoming family journeys, counting breaths to relax, aiming for meta-cognition and emotional awareness so that I don’t miss, ignore, injure, need to exercise, plus the laundry and housework, and…)
all the time, is just the time you have
Nourishment during a lunch break
“Here, I will observe simply that fundamental research (in the humanities) diverges from much theory in that it is always seeking the limits of its language in responding to that to which it seeks to answer: those dimensions of experience and symbolic expression that summon it (as a kind of exigency for thought) and to which no concept will ever be quite adequate. Such research is impelled by its own neediness and its sense of being answerable, whereas theory, governed by the concept, proceeds with ever-expanding appropriations; fundamental research proceeds from encounter (always from a sense that something has happened to which it must answer), and it seeks encounter. In theory, there are no encounters.”
– Christopher Fynsk –
Sudden Soap Box: Digitization = Access (not preservation)
Unbeknownst to me – the next Blackboard discussion assignment for one of my summer classes turned out to be :
- Is digitization the answer to preserving print materials? Discuss advantages and disadvantages.
The following was my response – realizing by the end that this had become an impassioned sort of soap box sermon rather (perhaps) than a reasoned response. Judge for yourselves and please offer replies and conversation!
Is digitization the answer to preserving printed materials? Discuss the advantages and disadvantages
In my opinion the answer is NO. I believe digitization is an aspect of access, not preservation. Digitization – the process, format and type of “storage” are all inexact and uncertain dependencies – on energy sources, tools, network connections, licensing, access, programs, softwares, interfaces, and so on down the line. With no real concept of the reliability, consistency or longevity of data in “cloud storage” – digital documents still need physical copies to ensure longevity. The only companies I really hear belaboring the issues of continuity, reliability, and potential of accurate digital preservation besides the Library of Congress and Pew are Tim Berners-Lee and the WorldWideWeb Consortium, ITC and other digital business/tech aggregates – which continually discuss the problems, scramblings and deterioration of digital data bits in ethereal storage. We all understand that we have books 100s even 1000s of years old, from which we can verify online copies, files, etc. Otherwise many “scanned” documents lose clarity, miss pages, notations, editions, etc. This is becoming an enormous problem when companies and institutions begin thinking that by digitizing something they are preserving it. They’re not. They’re making it available in another format and medium, not preserving it. Our computers, platforms, servers, programs, hardware and software are continually being altered and updated – formats are insecure, data continuity is insecure, e-book packages automatically deliver updates and editions without preserving previous editions/authors/etc. Digital access is precarious – a solar flare or atmospheric storm could wipe out or scramble data at any time (as a wise man once said).
Digitization is an answer to access not preservation. Berners-Lee et. al. have always been clear that the purposes and hopes of WWW and Semantic Web work was to make the world’s culture more readily communicable and sharable – not to preserve it. To democratize it. Technology progresses too quickly and outdates too quickly to be a reliable form of preservation. And with open access and collaborative semantic web – no digital document can be considered “authoritative” or be ensured to represent original writings or creation. All digital data is open to revision, alteration, damage – it passes through too many hands, servers, connections to be utilized as an authoritative source. (Perhaps all web citations, whether scholarly or not should be appended with some mark indicating it was retrieved from digital storage, rather than confirmed by printed document).
As access solution – digitization is wonderful. For “just-in-time” retrieval and sharability, open publications and global learning and information – digitization is an incredible advance in communicating globally. But reading a text over the phone, or broadcasting pages on TV, etc., are all notated if used in research. Digitization also seems to mitigate against deep reading or comprehensive research, as digital texts tend to be scanned rather than read through in their entirety, and there seems to be a tendency to retrieve “good enough” or topical articles rather than searching for the best research available to the research at hand. (side note, sorry).
So, in my opinion, digitization should be used for that which is was developed – a communicative medium – unstable, unreliable and ever-developing – but not an authoritative or preservational archive. A books average life is between 100-300 years and utilizes much less energy in being used or shared than all the electricity and energy required for digitization and access. Most ereaders, PCs, and other digital tools last at the outset 5-10 years and then add to the world’s waste, far less recyclable than pulped paper.
Digitization = access – global and unstable. Physical copies = preservation – relatively stable and verifiable (as long as enough copies are preserved to compare and contrast). We never considered this problem until now with the enormous weeding and disposal being done by the very places that existed to preserve these artifacts!
In the midst of a day of feeling overwhelm faced with school projects, group projects, and individual research assignments, I woke anxious and needing voices to recall my core – the vibratory physiology of the aim of my experience – to write, creatively, freely, integrated and symbiotically brain-body-world…
I scanned my shelves for emergency care, and found it here:
“the rare scholars who are nomads-by-choice are essential to the intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines.”
After 12 nomadic years of self-study, retail labor, marriages and parenting, I am now in my second semester of graduate studies in Library & Information Sciences. As my coursework progresses and evolves toward more specified researching, the organization of my passions and values, interests and desires do as well. Over the past year my blog manoftheword and the other blogs I participate in have primarily been creative instigations and outlets. Places where my ongoing work in art and literature can find some audience and I can process and work through ideas and conceptions as they fumble their way toward something more finished, hopefully one day publishable, perhaps useful to others. Most of my poetic efforts I have exposed through Spoondeep along with the work of a dear friend of mine. The works my wife and I set out to do and continue (not nearly as often as we desire) can be witnessed at Combinatory Art in Motion, where we attempt a contemporary and relational ekphrasis as an open and intimate artistic endeavor.
As the demands of schooling, parenting and marriage bundle and thicken, my focuses also need to sharpen and grow more efficient. In accord with this, I have changed the title and some of the goals of keeping this blog active and vital. The discipline of Library & Information Sciences is proving to be a wonderful practical theoretical grounding of the majority of those aspects I love most about our world: language, art, relationships and learning, and I am focusing my investigative work in the program on semiotics, human-information-behavior, Information Retrieval systems and tools and design, and the function of language in our acquisition of knowledge and interpretation of the world and its data. This is nothing new for me, and I have attempted and practiced many of these same methods throughout my life – reading, writing, and communicating with others.
All this to say that The Whole Hurly Burly will become a place for me to work out my creative life in language and symbols (or images) as it has been, but will probably have fewer posts and hopefully entries that are more fully developed. Research takes time, and so many hours of reading and interpretation, and as elements arise that I can only work out for myself poetically or in imaginative prose, if they seem to have some merit or I need feedback I will post them here. There may also be more theoretical hypotheses as I struggle to make sense of the many lines of thought rubber-band-balling my brain. I will keep up with Friday Fictioneers so that there will be at least one fiction exercise a week and will continue to pass on crucial inspirational quotes/music/arts/ideas as they flood my desk.
It has become very clear to me that I want whatever I do to be drawn up from the whole messy complex background texture and tangle of being a living human being among other humans and the larger matrices of the world – it is this untangleable complex and network of social and natural, individual and corporate, intimate and estranged, abstracted and imaginative realities that I take Wittgenstein to be referring to when he refers to it as “the whole hurly-burly” of our goings-on. And the sinewy, grueling and challenging process of attempting to refer to our experience semantically, in language, in symbols, in sounds and shapes is the most rewarding activity I experience – and when we come close to our desire it feels in me to be what David Foster Wallace signifies “making the head throb heart-like.”
These, then are the goals of this blog moving forward. To engage and investigate the “whole hurly burly” and to offer it to you in hopes it might cause your “heads to throb heart-like.” I cannot thank you enough for whatever time you give my process and work, your kindness in engaging and insightful comments. Here’s to development and change —
and what is currently infusing me: Currently Reading