Visualizing Time in Social Networks
I'm not that much into social networking, but the tool Peter Gloor and Yan Zhao have deloped for visualizing social networks looks very interesting.
This paper introduces TeCFlow – A Temporal Communication Flow Visualizer for Social Network Analysis. TeCFlow automatically generates interactive movies of communication flows among individuals by mining e-mail log files and other communication archives. Combining those movies with measures of social network analysis such as the change over time in group betweeness centrality and group density leads to insights into organizational dynamics. In addition we have defined a contribution index, which measures the activity of individual actors as senders and receivers of messages relative to a group.
We have applied our tool to the analysis of different organizational scenarios such as management of large software projects, sales force effectiveness, mergers of groups, and research and development teams. Through this analysis we have gained an intuitive understanding of the inner working of these virtual teams, which are hard to obtain by conventional means.
(via Bill Ives)
Excellent resource for e-learning
Since I'm getting more and more involved in education I'm looking for resources that give me insight in the current theories in the field. Just yesterday someone from elearningeuropa.info portal approached me to write an article for them. It took me about ten seconds to decide to say yes :-) The portal is an initiative from the European Commission and seems to be an excellent resource about e-learning.
The lost generation
The Dutch government seems to be concerned with three issues: terrorism, safety issues and cutting down the costs. how we are going to pay for the pensions of (the baby boom generation). I'm not saying these issues should not be given attention (however, the government should have given these issues attention ten years ago!), but there are two huge issues for my own generation nobody seems to notice: finding a proper job and finding a decent place to live in.
One of the December issues of Intermediair , a vacancy magazine for the higher educated, talks about the lost generation. A survey showed that 14% of Dutch students that graduated in 2004 hadn't found a job yet. To put this number into perspective, the average unemployment rate for The Netherlands is 6.3% in October-December 2004. While this seems a huge problem to me (note that I still haven't found a paying job) and friends around me, there seems to be absolute silence around this issue. The people experiencing trouble finding a job now could get 'lost' according to Intermediair since they will lack experience in a few years time when the baby boomers (the generation born after WWII) will leave the companies by the dozen. By that time they will lack the experience AND are not fresh comers on the market, hence the lost generation. I'm one of them. What does this mean to me? I'm well aware of the problem and I'm looking for all kinds of platforms to keep me busy and give me working experience, even if I don't get paid for it. That is my way of dealing with it. But I see a lot of friends around me that need to make money to make a living (I'm in the fortunate position I don't) and are forced to do simple work, e.g. working in a call-center. It's them I'm worried about most, since they lack the time to create their own projects and end up having no proper working experience in a few years time.
Beside the fact that there are hardly any vacancies for starters there is another problem. I'm living in Enschede, two hours by train/car from Amsterdam, three from Rotterdam, two and a half from The Hague. Guess where most of the jobs are! Taking a job in these cities would mean to move there. But you're likely to get offered a one-year contract, meaning there is no way you could get a mortgage. Well, that's fair enough. The only problem is that renting a place is gonna cost so much that you're lucky to find something you can afford AND have your own bathroom. Even though I'm living with Ton, who has a fine income, we could not make a living in the Randstad up to our standards (and that is living together on a minimum of 90 m2 and experience a bit of nature around us). Houses are too expensive out there, either rentals or for sale. And that is not an issue for us alone. So not even the amount of vacancies for me is small, the amount is even smaller if I take into account that I actually can't move further west than Enschede. And what's the news reporting? Well, the trial against the murderer of Theo van Gogh began today. Guess what I've been seeing live on tele today?
The screen as teenagers umbilical cord
Just before Christmas (yep, it's been a while, sorry for that) I had a group discussion with the students participating in my experiment Blog in the classroom. It was 50 minutes of great fun to see and talk to the students. Especially talking about my father's teaching style (I had him as a teacher for four years) was amusing. He hasn't changed a bit ;-) I asked the students about their experience using the weblog. They experience the assignment as rather difficult, but using the blog is pretty easy. The only thing that makes them a bit reserved is the way they have to type in their solutions since it's all about algebra (meaning they have to use V for roots and ^ for power, see the blog for examples).
The thing that was most interesting to me was a remark from one of the students that it was easy to check whether something new was published on the blog. It just felt natural to sit behind the computer (mostly at school btw, not at home) surfing around, chatting perhaps and check out the blog in between. Another student told me that it is easier to check to blog, because she often felt 'too lazy' to get her books and notebooks in order to get some homework done. It seems that using an internet based communication tool is far more fluent for today's students.
To me that is the biggest challenge the educational system faces in the next few years. Schools are not dealing with the way teenagers learn. They are taught by people that grew up and finished their education before the internet era. Lots of teachers still lack the skills to teach current teenagers in the way they are familiar with and can understand. Loads of information is coming to them via the internet and everything they do is through the screen: the learning, the reading, downloading and listening to music, writing, designing and most importantly: communicating with the world. And if everything teenagers do is through the screen, why then is there so little taught through the screen??? It's time for a change, it's time to blog! (or to use wiki's or whatever you prefer as long as it's screen wise)
Is my brain giving in?
I've not been in a blogging mood lately. I don't know what it is, but it seems that simply too much is running around in circles inside my head. And that my favorite cat turns out to be seriously (and life threateningly) ill is not a good start for 2005. Continuously it think by myself: oh, I should blog about that! And like two minutes later I'm sitting at my computer not knowing what is was anymore. Is my brain telling me that it's had enough of it after 20 years of thinking and learning?? I certainly hope not! Statistically I have, what, like 60 years of my live ahead of me. I'm not willing to live the forthcoming year completely brainless! I hope it's just a temporal lack of energy, due to winter. Let's hope next week turns out to be one full of energy ;-)
Money for Asia
I'm amazed how much money people are willing to donate for the victims of the tsunami. Over 112 million Euros and still counting. These days I'm proud to say I'm Dutch!