Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 76: Experimental Ethics, Babies and Russia

We had a guest lecture about Experimental Ethics in our Research Principles course. Which led to discussions about unethical experiments and their results, including the Stanford Prison Experiment and one I'd never heard of before...

Lesson 72: "The Russian Baby Experiment". Terrible, if true... But possibly just a widespread misinterpretation cobbled together from multiple sources...

"The Russian Baby Experiment" was described as an experiment in which orphan infants were taken into a lab environment and raised without human contact. They were physically very well cared for, but without communication or touch, and all the babies died.

But in trying to find details about it to share in this blog post, I couldn't find any such experiment... I found René Spitz, who came upon the same basic conclusions through observing infants in foundling homes. And I found information about parental deprivation (originally stated as maternal deprivation by Bowlby, who drew from Spitz). I even found a snopes message board thread trying to do the same thing I was.

But no reference to the actual, terribly unethical, experiment. So I can only hope that it didn't ever happen, and that it just grew out of statements as to why you'd never be able to do such an experiment.

May just be an extrapolation of towel monkeys.

Let me know if you know otherwise!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 75: Time, Waste and Money

Lesson 71: Sometimes you'll just feel like you didn't learn anything.

And that's ok. Maybe I haven't explored deep enough, or sought hard enough. Maybe I'm just too tired for the necessary thought processes today.

But you don't always feel like you came away having learned anything. When that happens a whole day, it can feel like a shame, but it happens.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 74: And It Continues To Pour...

I'm feeling a little facetious today....

I was more impressed with the lesson being taught than any lesson I personally learned.

Lesson 70: People are people.

We were discussing the needs of different groups with regards to library services and materials. Homeless people, teens, new immigrants, etc. And each person presented their bit about what each group needed, and ultimately they realized that all these people need the same things.

People are people. They all need the same basic information and materials, some may prefer them with specific focuses, or in different formats, but for all the distinctions and categories we try to fit them in, they all have the same basic information needs.

The slides aren't up, so I can't share my particular favourite break down of people's information needs (specifically the study was about teens, but it was functionally identical to the same ones shown for all the other groups) but I'll put it up when I find it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 73: When It Rains It Pours!

Our weekly trivia outing gained a lot of popularity this week! I really hope that people keep coming out. I mean, we'll probably need to split into two teams, but it was nice having everyone out, and we all have Tuesdays off, so it's a nice night to do this kind of stuff!

Also, I got a package in the mail I've been anticipating since the 9th, so now I can get started on my super secret personal development project! I might announce it more widely in a year or so....

I even arranged a group for one of the last projects I didn't have one for yet, and my brother's chorus got a rating of "Superior" at a competition in Tuscon over the weekend! So much good stuff for such a short time!

Lesson 69: Bacon is a legitimate substitute for any meat.

Ok, so really I only learned that it causes no problems as a ham substitute, but given how well bacon goes in virtually any meal, I think it's a safe generalisation!

I finally bought myself more flour, so I was making my mom's biscuit recipe with cheese and ham, but I have no ham and a whole pack of bacon to go through so.... Cheese and bacon biscuits! Sooooo tasty!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 72: The Hard, Long Slog

Yesterday, it went down to -20°C (that's -4°F for any Americans in the crowd). Lucky for me that was a one off. Unluckily for everyone, that meant that what was just slushy snowy stuff to slog through two days ago is now a hardened, icy sheet, polished by the boots and bums of those who have been walking, and falling, on these paths, sidewalks, and stairs.

Climbing the hill was more like playing Snakes & Ladders today...

Lesson 68: It isn't that the winter is harsher, colder, snowier or.... Winterier than you're used to. It's how much you're actually outside that counts.

You see, I've been spending the past 4 winters in Toronto (and to some extent Guelph). In Toronto, I lived a stone's throw from campus. It took me about 5 minutes to walk to class, which meant 2 minutes to get to campus. Once I was on campus, it was all cutting through buildings and walking through the tunnels that connected each building to every other. Though the actual underground tunnels had been closed for ages because of vagrants and assaults (or so I was told), there were numerous above-ground tunnels, and buildings that were just plain connected to one another.

I wore the same sweaters as I did in summer, my run-down winter coat, and just ran to campus and stayed in the enclosed areas if it was too cold for what I was wearing.

When I was in Guelph, I'd be going straight from building to car so much that what I was wearing mattered even less.

Now, I'm living in Montreal. I haven't noticed that the weather's any different in severity than the past few winters I've seen. The pattern's different, but it's not any worse or any better. But now, I spend 15-20 minutes a day climbing to class. And another 15-20 minutes climbing back down to my place. Out in the elements. And I can't make it go appreciably faster at all, short of caving and flagging down a taxi.

So I'm cold.

I bought a new coat back in November, which has probably made it better than it would have been, but my summer sweaters just aren't going to cut it any more.

If my classes were at the bottom of the hill, I could potentially use the paths through the underground city (though they don't really extend far enough North or West to be very useful) and I wouldn't really be having a problem.

But my classes are at the top of the hill, and that's a whole other ball game.

Plus, I actually go out now on evenings and weekends because I have a life or something, which I didn't in Toronto. So there's that too.

I do so love the winter though! Particularly the nice big snow falls... It's so pretty! :3

In mod/admin news, I've been writing from the app BlogPress on my iPad, which is a marvelous app, but I was having quite a lot of trouble actually posting from it. That has since been resolved, it was a facebook connection issue blocking my syncing, but all my drafts should now be published. If there's an unaccounted for hole which you've noticed please let me know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 71: The Great Distinction

A large chunk of my class and day were taken up by planning a presentation about the use of social media by libraries. A very interesting topic to be sure, but that will have to wait. You see, it took us far too long into our discussion to realise our fundamental flaw. We hadn't defined what we were considering and how.

Is YouTube the same as twitter? Is Second Life the same as them? Facebook? These can't all be the same beast! It doesn't make sense! Heck! Why are we even discussing Second Life? I mean, honestly....

Lesson 67: Social Media Sites are distinct from Social Networking Sites. Though they may overlap, and can all potentially be referred to with the blanket term "The Social Media", ultimately Social Networking Sites connect and share between profiles while Social Media Sites create content and connect profiles.

It's the focus. Social Media Sites focus on creating content, like Twitter, YouTube, DeviantArt do, whereas Social Networking Sites focus on connecting profiles, while their users may create and share within that framework.

What a headache...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 70: What a Feeling!

Why yes, I do use a lot of song lyrics as titles! But this one was just because I had an amazing weekend. As much as I loved being home, it's good to be back!

My first class today could largely be boiled down to "correlation is not causation". We saw how you can prove that bread is one of the greatest problems in the world, though frankly I'm rather disappointed that she didn't make any mention of how the decline of pirates has fuelled climate change.

We also looked at different scientific research methods etc, and while I'd covered all of this in various other spots throughout my education. Something popped out at me and gave me a new way of looking at research. As this wasn't really a lesson, it will be hard to phrase as one, but I'll give her a whirl.

Lesson 66: How something is studied is largely influenced by the nature of the thing itself.

Ok, now some clarity. The majority of scientific progress is done through Positivist research. To immensely simplify some complex ideas, Positivism is the basis of the theory, hypothesis, test, observe, conclude science most people know. Basically, the basic laws and theories that govern the natural world mean that you can predict an outcome and test it, and it will be repeatable no matter who does it.

An alternative to Positivism is the Interpretative Approach. It is mostly used when talking about psychology, sociology and the like. That is to say things that aren't directly and obviously beholden to, or more accurately governed by chemistry, physics and their rules and interactions.

Here's where it gets muddy. Human consciousness is referred to as an emergent property. On their own, no one part of the body contains human consciousness, but taken all together suddenly it's there! It's like with chocolate. No single molecule amongst the hundreds in each bite of chocolate can be said to "taste like chocolate", but with all of them together, there you have it.

So, when you're trying to determine the physical laws and interactions that govern a reaction, you use the Positivist Approach. But when you're trying to study an emergent property like human consciousness and it's resulting cultures and societies, the emergent approach, the Interpretative Approach, only makes sense.

If I ever make any at all...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 69: Not Going To Say Anything... I Am Matuer.

Swave and deboner too!

.... Jokes that only really work when spoken. Ignore me.

Anyways... Today was my last first class of the semester. And because it's basically How To Be In Charge 101, we did an activity I've done quite a few times before, it's kind of a thing in Scouts.

It's a NASA activity in which you've crashed on the moon and your survival depends on reaching the mothership over 200 miles away. You have 15 items, and in order to succeed must rank them by importance.

Now it's an easy activity if you know Maslow's hierarchy of needs, or even if you just know what you need to survive. Priorities include not running out of air to breathe, having enough water to make sure you don't dehydrate before you get there and food to make sure you don't starve. 200 miles could take you 3 days if you go without stopping for sleep or anything, or over a week if you actually rest or are injured etc.

Lesson 65: Things are never as easy as you think they should be. Or alternatively: Being fully grown and well-educated does not mean you understand space.

Some people in my group had assumed that we weren't on the moon as it currently exists, but one on which we did not require breathing apparatuses (apparati?). They couldn't fathom that NASA would have given us things that wouldn't have been useful in this exact situation, therefore the fact we had matches proved that we could breathe on the moon. One guy wanted us to leave the oxygen behind entirely...

Matches, the raft, the compass, they were on the shuttle for if we crashed in the water... On Earth.

And yet, the whole group got derailed because of this.

Things are never as easy as you think they should be.

I'm Batman. And I can breathe in space.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 68: Reference Interviews 101

One single class today, and it didn't start at 8:35! That was nice... Less of a bleary rush to school...

Lesson 64: You're never too old for attendance.

This is a Masters program. Masters! And yet, at least 2 of my classes this term are actually taking attendance, and will be throughout the course as a metric to contribute to the final grade. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset because it's taking away my ability to miss class with relative impunity, I don't intend to be missing enough classes for it to matter. It just seems silly that we are all mature students, we are all ostensibly paying our own ways, but attendance is necessary.

I thought we passed that after first year of undergrad....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 67: Only Work Today, But I Forgot!

I forgot to mention! I had told you all about my exams, but didn't think to share if my impressions were borne out by my final grades.

Which they did, more or less.

I think I did a few percentage points worse on my information and society exam than I had expected, but all in all, I got exactly the grades I had expected (not the ones I'd hoped, but the ones I expected).

Which means I passed my first term of my Masters program! And well! What a relief!

I checked it with Jon there giving me hugs and literally cried I was so happy.

I guess I'd been more worried about it than I gave myself credit for...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 66: Guess Who's Back, Back Again!

First day back! What a great break!

To summarize: I saw all my scouting friends and we went up to the cottage for an awesome New Years (though Jon had to work). I made double chocolate beer and mulled wine marshmallows and hung out with my family. I had an amazing Christmas and gave some pretty amazing gifts if I do say so myself (including the aforementioned beer and wine marshmallows). I received some amazing ones too (skates, Munchkins, and crockpots! Oh my!). I also spent so much time with my fiancé, even if we couldn't go to any parties together.

But now, time to roll up my sleeves and get back to learning!

So what did I learn today? Well, we've had a lot of "the history of books, libraries and archives" lectures, but today's had some new, interesting tidbits that I hadn't seen yet. Here are my favourites...

Lesson 62: The Printing Press not only increased literacy and the dissemination of ideas, but also allowed for the rise in use of local languages and drastically reduced the use of Latin as the written lingua franca to exchange ideas.

So in that way, my brain has decided, the Printing Press is basically the Tower of Babel.

Lesson 63: The Atwater Public Library was started by the Montreal Mechanics Institute in 1828 to "Make A Man A Better Mechanic, and The Mechanic A Better Man."

Hooray! New year, new lessons!

Now, this semester, I yet again have Tuesdays and Fridays off, so my posting will be sporadic on those days. I also had Thursday off, but decided I'd rather play it safe with the prof I know and give up my four day weekend, than take the risk with the poorly-reviewed unknown quantity and keep my four day weekend.

On the other hand, this means that you get more days of me posting consistently! So... Yay?