I am participating in another mooc – an edX mooc out of the University of Texas, Arlington on the subject of data, analytics, and learning. A bit of craziness given my current schedule but one that I feel warrants my time and attention.
Well, the answer is that both the content and the process beckon. The instructional/hosting lead is George Siemens who, with an impressive team (Carolyn Rose, Dragan Gasevic & Ryan Baker), is pioneering a dual-layer (meaning combination of x & c mooc) approach. Siemens and company are being intentionally transparent regarding the instructional design process.
The dilemma of providing enough structure to prove functional for all and enough flexibility to invite personal exploration and ownership of one’s learning is a continual challenge. I am fascinated to participate in a course that is adopting a process which tries to address this issue.
My response to the need for flexibility has pretty steadfastly been one of offering/expecting learners to engage and make informed choices on what works for them and how they will demonstrate/document/share their learning. Unfortunately this is not a common or popular view because it is often interpreted as placing unreasonable expectations on instructors and makes giving appropriate feedback challenging at best and onerous or impossible at worst. This is because both student and instructor are expecting that the instructor is “all-knowing” to a standard that is nearly impossible to meet.
We need a rethink.
Instructors should be familiar, interested and engaged with subject matter to the extent that they have well-developed navigational tools allowing them to assist students in finding resources and sources of feedback and further engagement. Ideally instructors are knowledgeable guides and active co-learners. I like the analogy of an experienced mountain guide who cannot control the weather, the fitness level of the participants, or the flora and fauna but is there to assist, point out areas of interest, influence the sequencing of events, offer new relevant information, look out for the group’s safety and be the lead responder if an emergency should crop up. Guides do not control. Too much of our educational system is based on control; instructors wanting to control or thinking they need to control, and students (or student’s parents or institutional administrations) expecting instructors to control.
So, I am keen to witness and experience the dual-layer learning process being pioneered in DALMOOC with the added BIG bonus of gaining insight and skills in the area of data, analytics and learning! . . . more to follow
What if being overwhelmed is a symptom of a bumpy transition from the preInternet world to our current environment? What if email is based on preInternet communication? Could email be contributing to overload and hampering open leadership?
What if open leadership is the change we are all waiting for?
Change? Open Leadership?
Yup, change and open leadership. What if we reframed change as an opportunity to connect, collaborate and create?
“More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections so as to be able to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways”. (Cronon, 1998)
Hold on, how does any of this relate to open leadership? What I am yearning for is not change but the opportunity to feel less overwhelmed and more directly involved with the people I cherish and the things I am passionate about!
It sounds like you dowant change, you want to shift away from feeling overwhelmed, you yearn to feel more connected. Quitting email and embracing open leadership might be your answer.
You’re kidding, right?
No. Quit email! You don’t have to do it all at once, but do it sooner rather than later. The demise of email as a major communication technique is inevitable. For many people email was their introduction to the Internet but it really is ‘old think’ based on an old medium – it’s nothing but digitized snail mail.
Ok, I’d love to quit email. It takes up way too much of my time – but I can’t do my job without it and I really don’t see how quitting email has anything to do with open leadership!
Quit email and you will find extra hours in your day but it also means you will have to find an alternative way to communicate. Sometimes that means sitting down for a coffee and “being here now” by really connecting and listening to the person you are with and their ideas, feelings and concerns. Open leadership is about building relationships, but that has implications in our digital world as well. There are much better ways than email to connect. The Internet is an amazing communication tool – so why not take advantage of the properties that are unique to the Internet? The Internet is about the ease and ability with which information can be shared rather than hidden in inboxes and added to ‘to do’ piles.
The change in the infrastructure of knowledge is altering knowledge’s shape and nature. As knowledge becomes networked, the smartest person in the room isn’t the person standing at the front lecturing us, and isn’t the collective wisdom of those in the room. The smartest person in the room is the room itself: the network that joins the people and ideas in the room, and connects to those outside of it. It’s not that the network is becoming a conscious super-brain. Rather, knowledge is becoming inextricable from—literally unthinkable without—the network that enables it. Our task is to learn how to build smart rooms—that is, how to build networks that make us smarter, especially since, when done badly, networks can make us distressingly stupider. (Weinberger, 2012).
The Internet provides us with the opportunity to share, to contribute, to comment, to debate, to discuss, to come to the table, to choose which table to come to, to plan, and to execute. The role of the leader is no longer about controlling information and having the answers. It’s about engagement, openness and facilitation.
“Open access and knowledge that is available to everyone replaces traditional, rigid hierarchy, making way for a more natural and organic communication structure within companies. Leadership is syndicated among employees, and the manager’s new role is more focused on facilitating.
One manager told us “the most challenging thing about quitting email, is not about never opening your inbox again, but letting go. You have to let go, trust your people, and stand back and give employees decision-making autonomy. Instead of telling them what to do, you leave room for a more organic way of working. It really redistributes power across the board, and sometimes that’s scary, because as a manager, you have to let go. But when you see more creativity and even better results, you know it’s worth it. You don’t tell people what to do, they are able to organize the work themselves, and in a more dynamic way. So give people the room and space to move, and you can expect the unexpected. The traditional hierarchy is transformed into self-managing teams where natural leaders have the opportunity to step forward and shine.” (retrieved fromhttp://www.mixprize.org/hack/quit-email-and-start-living)
People are longing to focus on what really matters. To have time to connect, to engage in issues of consequence, to lead themselves into exercising their own potential and onto their next challenge. People want to create their own change and share their energy, passion and commitment. Open leadership is about finding agency, about learning from others and wrestling with ambiguity in the company of others who care. It’s about discovering voice, about collaboratively navigating the inevitable crocodiles of life and problem solving in a meaningful way. It is about open, connected, creative learning and living!
The infrastructure of the Internet is redefining how we think, know, work, and collaborate. It is redefining leadership and the look of both education and business.
Weinberger, D. (2012). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room. Perseus Books Group: Kindle Edition.
The other day I visited Edmonton’s telephone museum. I was struck by a transcript of the 1st phone call made from Edmonton. It read like a telegram. The interaction that was possible was beyond the conceptualization of the participants. “New media are new archetypes, at first disguised as degradations of older media” (McLuhan, 1964 p. 240). New ways of communicating are developed to improve the efficiency of old media by making communication faster, easier, less expensive etc. However, inevitably new communication techniques genuinely reconfigure our thinking.
In oral societies the possibility of separating the known from the knower was not even an imagined possibility. Counting was not something we always had, in fact many ancient societies only had words for one, two, some and many. The original quantitative recordings were tally marks of the variety that indicated what was being tallied (a big mark for a sheep a little one for a hen). It was a major conceptual leap to separate the idea of an abstract number from the object that the number represented. Communication techniques inevitably lead to new ways of thinking.
Originally the Internet was seen as a wonderful new way of transmitting the same old information. Instead of physically sending a piece of paper from one location to another through the mail the information could be sent faster, and cheaper via email (note: the name is a dead give away that conceptually not much had changed). E-Learning looked a lot like a teacher at a distance being able to hang the pages of a book onto a screen for students in different locations to consume. No big change in methods – students were expected to read the material written or chosen by the teacher, fill out some worksheets, then the teacher corrected the material and assigned a mark.
What is the new think? How has the advent of the Internet changed our thinking? Are we stuck using the thinking of an old paradigm to frame our use of a new medium. What does that look like? Communication theorist, Robert Logan claims that the introduction of new media is always in response to being overwhelmed by old media. If this is true it would seem to follow that if we use the new media in the same way as the old media but it is faster (so our transaction volumes increase) and cheaper (meaning we are likely to use it more often) then we would find our selves in the position of having an ever increasing volume arriving at a greater frequency of whatever it was that overwhelmed us in the first place. YIKES! mega-overwhelm! Sound familiar?
I think the ability to connect on a large scale and to genuinely collaborate and create rather than simply co-ordinate is what distinguishes Internet communication from previous communication forms. I think we are still finding our way in the new medium of the Internet, learning to re-conceptualize communication! Learning a new Lingo and a new way of thinking. Learning to Think Out Loud.
Most of the previous posts on this blogsite explore the concept of Internet Lingo and how it relates to the ways in which we work and think. My musings are greatly enriched by the thoughtful comments that have been added to previous posts and I welcome and encourage comments as a form of participating in Internet Lingo.
To demonstrate how very different the form of communication of a webpage is from the format of book I have added some images that illustrate what this post would look like if every link in this post were a page of a book
If you are curious about how these images were made – check out Kevin’s Meandering Mind and his post, Make the Web Visible, Literally, Thanks Kevin! __________________________________________
McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, Toronto CA: McGraw-Hill.
I pressed pause on my Internet use. It was simple and appropriate. I did it for two days, without fanfare, without having to post and notify. I did it without really planning for it – it was an intuitive response to needing to attend to family and self in a way that did not include me sitting in front of a computer screen. I was not hard core either, I did a few quick checks to see if there was anything urgent and left it at that. I think intuitively, comfortably, consciously pressing pause, letting go, letting flow and playing are all part of being fluent in Internet Lingo.
Skillfully parlaying in Internet includes knowing important things will resurface if they are critical and believing that it is essential to live life with heart and connection to self, family, friends and nature.
“I added and subtracted voices from my attention network, listened and followed, then commented and opened conversations.”
– Howard Rheingold commenting on PLNs
I think it is essential to be aware of our role as stewards of our own attention networks. As responsible adults we have an obligation to assist youth in becoming skilled stewards of their attention networks. Skilled use includes pressing pause from time to time.
In, The Secret to Digital Sanity, Shelly Hayduk claims, “You should be able to jump in and out of the flow as your time permits with full knowledge and comfort of the fact that the flow will always be there. It rarely goes away.” [emphasis in the original]
One of the biggest ‘learnings’ for me in coming to terms with, and working towards, being skillful in Internet Lingo is recognizing when letting go and letting flow is appropriate. The release may be triggered either by a desire or need to engage and respond to my non-digital life or it may be initiated by my response to the Internet.
When I try to navigate and respond to the Internet by only using the meta-lanuages of speech, writing, math and scientific method, I find that often my expectations do not align with what I am experiencing. If I take a fairly linear approach, thinking that I can comprehensively absorb or connect dots with what I already know I quickly find that there are too many choices, possible directions, and things to be taken into consideration. Being methodical and trying to deal thoroughly with one aspect before moving onto the next does not work particularly well – it is a reflection of my trying to use old methods with new technology. There is a mismatch – neither one works well and I become overwhelmed. The Internet is liquid not solid. To navigate I need to swim, to take flow into consideration – or as Marshal McLuhan would say, “to use my wit“. Internet Lingo demands navigation by improvisation. When I begin to feel that too much is happening I need to let go. Giving myself permission play, to let go, or to press pause is appropriate and results in the creation of a personal, healthy Internet ecology!!
I think it is really critical that we understand and become fluent in Internet Lingo so that we can knowledgeably set our boundaries and determine where our comfort level is with regards to how permeable our Internet/non-Internet periphery is.
I have been thinking a great deal about the meta rhizomatic language of the Internet – the ways in which it is manifesting, the implications, where personal learning networks/PLNs fit into the picture (thinking about boundaries and peripheries and similarities and differences between networks and rhizomes) and the implication for both the education system and for life-long continuous learning.
I think that Internet Lingo (the term I use to refer to the meta-language of the Internet/ see previous posts) has much in common with poetry. Internet Lingo is associated with overwhelming amounts of information . . . where exposition results in getting bogged down – best to tag, find key words and phrases that can be staircases to mystery chambers. Doors unlock not with passwords to walled gardens but through hyperlinked tags and trusted allies leaving bread crumbs. Curation is a form of practicing poempathy (a word I coined), gathering strands that dangle enticingly in one’s peripheral vision. The central, focused vision is reserved for navigation but the periphery provides for depth and serendipitous associations ~ waves of convergent and divergent thinking replace directed thinking.
Learning using Internet Lingo can be confusing. It is more implicit than explicit. Inevitably there are numerous layers (and leaps) that become more accessible after multiple readings. Sometimes there is no going back, only pushing or dancing forward with the traces of what you were able to connect with. It is close to impossible to run exactly the same route twice. There can easily be a wide range of interpretations or points of view. This is a 3D, nonlinear, encompassing everchanging ecology. In its multiplicity Internet Lingo shuns duality. Right and wrong become more and more relative. There is a sense of play, of allusion, an infinite number possible connections and sequences.
As I was thinking about waves of convergent and divergent thinking in relation to Internet Lingo – the following chart materialized for me. This is truly Thinking Out Loud and I invite both feedback and additions to the chart.
I don’t think it is an accident that, as we have been trying to grapple with the rhizomatic Internet Lingo associated with Dave Cormier’s hosting of #Rhizo14, several people have gravitated to the figurative arts and craft tent and used poetry and sound to paint our understanding.
Are you game for a dip into the land of Internet Lingo? The following links will mark a few possible start points to view Internet Lingo at work. What you will find is “written by far more than two people and consists of multi-media mash-ups of tweets, Storifies, blogs, and links too complex, convoluted and dynamic for any one reader to ever fully absorb. [It] is constantly evolving, thus forcing the reader to become a participant in a linguistic sense-making journey” (Crawford & Jones, 2013. unpublished). The dogtrax cross, the scent is lost, picked up and relocated, re-established across continents. . . and timezones.
In no particular order here is a list of links that constitute some portion of the poempathy that has been bubbling up. It is important to read the comments as well as the blogs!
Language consists of a whole spectrum of responses from mimic actions through spoken word and poetry to literature and nonfiction. Syntax is one of the qualifiers of language. Most meta-languages such as: the written word, mathematics and scientific method are formal, linear and precise. They all belong in the bundle that can be referred to as CSWL (Clinical Standard Written Language). Columnist, Jon Evans, feels that Clinical Standard Written English (CWSE) is transitioning from being the accepted norm and the authoritative voice to being a form of communication where “you have deliberately hidden who you are, by donning that mask called CSWE.”
Informal, networked language such as: oral language and Internet Lingo have a syntax that welcomes branching, leaping and associating. Traditional sequencing is disrupted and associating quickly becomes a form of content.
Overload of information has given rise to the Internet and the leaping associative nature of its navigation (ease of access of information is a defining factor in Logan’s claim that the Internet itself is a whole new human meta-language).
The language of the Internet is leaning towards turning us into knowledge nomads. Jobs of the future are nomadic – based, not in a defined space/location or at a defined time, they are self-directed and self-paced, a transient series of jobs. In the knowledge era our work is not our training or our education or our jobs; our work is our life-long learning (continous learning being another one of Logan’s Internet qualifiers). The silos of personal and professional are becoming more and more blurred in a profersonal mix (an example of Logan’s alignment and integration). In the culture of the Internet the task is to create, nurture and leverage our uniqueness to add value to our lives, our philanthropy and the jobs we create.
“In the past, we applied for jobs. Now we are asked to design our work.” – (Moravec, 2008)
Knowmads and technogypsies represent a new culture created in response to the evolutionary occurance of Internet Lingo. Moravec states that, “A knowmad is a nomadic knowledge and innovation worker – that is, a creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere.” He estimates that by 2020, 45% of the Western workforce will be knowmadic.
Logan is clear that syntax and semantics are both important aspects of determining if a form of communication is a meta-language or not. Obviously, he is not looking exclusively at words as being the building blocks in his meta-languages (i.e. numbers, symbols and hyperlinks also qualify as basic units).
Could Twitter be considered a basic unit in Internet Lingo? It is a unit that fully embraces the concept of leaping. Maria Popova sees Twitter as, “greatly challeng[ing] the binary dichotomy of attention as something that is either given or taken away, distracted. Instead, these tools allow us to direct attention to destinations where it can be sustained with more concentration and immersion.” Rita J. King in her piece, How Twitter Is Reshaping the Future of Storytelling claims that Twitter as a “medium is remaking us”. Colleague, Sean Jones and I wrote a paper, Zombie Lingo, that addressed the question of Twitter being an example of Logan’s 6th Language. In it we examined Jesse Stommel and Pete Rorabaugh’s hosting/creation of Twitter vs. Zombies and concluded that Twitter is an example of an Internet language.
Given all of this how do I, or should I, approach my thousand plateaus of rhizomatic learning? The scale of the Internet means that, with eyes wide open, I become more and more aware of what it is that I do not know! Through my readings, my personal learning network (PLN), and through collaboration I am beginning to be more fluent in the language of the Internet. I rely more and more on both my mechanical and my human filters. For example two, of many people in my PLN, who were influential in this post were Howard Rheingold and Cathleen Nardi. Howard introduced me to Logan’s work and Cathleen helped me move my thinking forward as a result of her post, Down the Rabbit Hole. As part of the two-way [multiway] communication of the Internet (another Logan qualifier) Cathleen’s thinking has been influenced by my writing – all part of the Thinking Out Loud that characterizes the epistemological shift resulting from and resulting in the Internet being a new leaping meta-language which is producing knowmads!
My father, prior to retirement, was a research scientist, professor, academic – he exemplified what most people think of when they use the term ‘an expert in his field’. My dad was very wary of the term expert. When I was quite young he taught me to be sceptical of people who claimed that they were experts. “True experts never proclaim themselves as such” he would say, “The sign of a genuine expert is someone who knows enough about their field to have some inkling of how little they really understand it.”
I see a parallel between my dad’s view of experts and the concept of networks – the Internet in particular. It is a similarity that can sometime leave me feeling a little bit breathless. (Tanya Lau, a member of my PLN, captured the feeling perfectly in her blog when she described it as, “I’m following lots of interesting links and leads, it’s riveting, like obsessively reading a good novel and wanting to keep going without stopping to find out how it ends”).
The more time I spend on the Internet the more aware I am of how ignorant I am. My sense of what I don’t know is expanding daily! Networks provide ways of accessing information and knowing but simultaneously the Internet is so full of fascinating information that I am continually stumbling upon and dreaming up new questions. Google is an excellent answer generator but the more I connect with my PLN and read their thoughts and questions, the more questions I have.
Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick (what a great job title – I think I now have a new ambition – to be a Senior Maverick) at Wired magazine has noticed this phenomena as well. His pithy capture of the concept is ~
Machines are for answers; humans are for questions.
I think the way I am experiencing the Internet is in fact characteristic of the Internet. It is indicative of how the Internet is causing an epistemological shift. We are moving more and more towards discovering HOW we know what we know through asking questions and consciously expanding our awareness of our own ignorance. Generally we are responding in one of two ways; either we become overwhelmed or we recognize the necessity for collaboration – of capitalizing on the positive aspects of networks (and I would say that often both a sense of being overwhelmed and an urgency for collaboration are at play – like waves of convergent and divergent thinking).
Howard Rheingold introduced me to the thinking of Robert Logan who maintains that the Internet constitutes the 6th human meta-language in man’s evolution of communication. Logan’s theory states that the first 5 languages in oder of appearance are:
Logan contends that the 6th language, the Internet has five characteristic features that distinguish it from the other languages.
two-way communication [I claim that multi-way communication is more accurate]
ease of access of information
alignment and integration
The multi-directional nature of accessing information via the Internet leads to the corollary that accessing Internet information is very different from accessing print information. The language of the Internet is not bound by linear sequencing, either when it is being composed or when it is being consumed. Hyperlinks disrupt top to bottom, left to right, first this then that orientation. The implication and ramifications of all this are challenging, still unfolding, paradigm shifting and will have a major impact on education, business and pretty much all aspects of society.
Considering the Internet as a way of thinking, as a meta-language has really broadened and clarified a great deal of my thinking about networks and communication.
I will be expanding and writing more about the language of the Internet in future posts.
“Together we create a symphony of ideas.” Doesn’t that phrase just perfectly sum up the idea of social networks?
Well sort of – but perhaps our networks are not really a symphony of ideas – perhaps they are more of a jazz riff or as Andrew Sullivan said in Why I Blog, “more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is in many ways, writing out loud.” Networks and blogs are in many ways Thinking Out Loud.
In fact, I think I think a good analogy for a networked blog is the world of the disc jockey with remixes and mashups mixed in with some original work.
I came across an interesting article by Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd called, Leading Virtual Teams to Real Results – the gist of which is that each of us are nodes that are capable of making connections. They illustrate their point by referencing conductor Eric Whitacre and his project with a virtual choir in a performance of “Lux Aurumque“. – Just think 185 individual vocalists, who could not hear each other, from 12 countries.
“Together we create a symphony of ideas.” There is lots of food for thought here – I am going to leave this open to your exploring the implications! (and hopefully sharing your views in the comments section). For a little more to chew on check out Whitacre’s blog filling in some of the history of the project.
Another fascinating Whitacre project “sleep” involved 2052 voices from 58 countries.
For me cheating, learning and ownership mix together and influence one another. In XPLRPLN I grappled with the concept of whether a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can be owned and I claimed that while you might use a possessive term such as ‘my daughter’ in reference to a relationship you do not own or possess your daughter. You simply have a relationship. Networks are all about relationships, not static property. So a PLN is not about ownership. I just read a review of Ronald Burt’s, Neighbor Networks. It parallels my view that one does not own a network but rather you own your actions, who you are and who you become through your interaction with your network.
How does cheating as learning relate to all this? Well, it seems to me that cheating is viewed as stealing or using something that does not belong to you. You use someone else’s answers, or writing or, or, or . . . I think cheating is relational. It is completely dependent on who is making up the rules. The dominant party calls the shots. If you are stealing or using something that does not belong to you it implies that ‘it’ belongs to someone, someone owns it -voila we are talking about ownership! Ownership is about building fences or defending fenced in areas and learning is about removing barriers (i.e. fences). Ownership and learning mix like water and oil. Schooling and ownership have far more in common than learning and ownership (but that is a discussion for another day).
However, I do think that courtesy, consensus and credit play a large role in this conversation. If I use your material, I need to credit you. If we agree upon the rules rather than you unilaterally setting them (consensus), then I need to have the courtesy to follow through on what we agreed to. It is not all a free for all and self-discipline, and courtesy are extremely important.
Thank you Kevin (@dogtrax) and thank you Tanya Lau for bringing Kevin Hodgson’s challenge to my attention.
NO — go on now – make it your own Break it / Fix it Rip it apart / Remix it
I pick blue
Blue to cheat and repeat
A musical genre
Defy my intent
Banjo picking and slide guitar
Feel it in your bones
How can my movement be your meaning?
until all meaning is spent
I rest in the pause between cheating and knowing
and then use your tools and tricks to rebuild it
Knowing my sense and feeling my bones
My structure of YES
Cheat my meaning in ways that make sense to YOU –
Wearing my QWERTY filter and flow
That only I know
Tinker against type don’t believe my hype I’m a painter not a poet using words as ink as I write
Words as colour and image
A dance of relationship that refuses to be shackled
Whether you appear and participate or I crib
From my own reservoir of forgotten memories
Floating like jetsom down the spine of
My internal library
I refuse to shackle this work to paper or screen or that nebulous world in-between in hopes that maybe later YOU’LL appear; watching my words tumble down the spine of my lies – made up only to be broken / spoken / a token of truth
Broken and spoken as in a dream
Borrowed from whom?
No, you’re no cheater you’re a seeker a keeper of stories in this literary landscape just like me
I stole a sip from the stream as it flowed
Cycle of life
Water-like words to nourish and flourish
I give to be read
So, go on: Steal this poem Give it a home I’m already off writing something else and I’ve left these words all alone waiting here for YOU
Enforcing independence is the topic for week two of Rhizo14 ~ an oxymoron if ever there was one. The concept was introduced with the idea of the teacher or facilitator forcing students to be independent but I am going to turn inward and talk about enforcing my own independence/productivity through a mechanical means – my timer.
I sometimes use a timer (harp tone on my iPhone) to assist me in staying on focus and being reflective (I contend that being focused and reflective naturally makes for independence). In digi-world I can easily succumb to spending copious amounts of time going from one interesting link to another on the Internet with very little pause for sense-making, creating, curating, sharing – let alone eating or sleeping! Twitter is particularly dangerous for me. I use my timer in a variety of ways and I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not always use it and I am not slavishly obedient to it.
When I do use it I will set it with the idea that I will allow myself so much time to;
wander aimlessly into areas of interest
Then when the timer goes I consider how much, or what I have accomplished and whether or not I will continue with that particular activity. If I am using Harold Rheingold’s ‘3 goals on a Post-it note’ method I consider my three top goals for a session on the computer, write them on a Post-it note and sticking the note near the screen of my computer so that I see it continually as I work. I try to pause when the timer goes off to ask myself if I have indeed remained focused on my three goals or if I have wandered (and why?). I will check to see how much I have accomplished.
I also use the timer to give me a warning if I have to leave my session for any reason; go to work, make a meal, meet someone etc. It is very easy for me to loose track of time. By using the timer fairly often I have become better and better at both estimating the time it will take me to do certain things and I have become conscious of where I spend time. As I said above I do not always set a timer and I often override the timer – I treat it and myself to a fair amount of flexibility.
My last timer trick has become more and more significant as part of my working process and with it I am far more rigid in my adherence to the dictates of the timer. I almost always set my timer when I am doing some serious writing (longer than a comment type of writing ex. a major paper, a book chapter, an essay, a major blog post etc.) When the timer goes off I STOP writing. It is VERY annoying because usually it goes off when I am in full swing. This is actually very important for two reasons.
it makes it a great deal easier to return to the work at my next session. I do not have to worry about writer’s block or procrastination. I am usually chomping at the bit to get back to work.
even though I physically stop the work, somewhere in the back of my brain the work continues. Often I gain substantial insight in the ‘down’ time between writing sessions, even when I am not consciously thinking about what I am writing about. I doubt this would happen very much if I had finished up and tidied up what I was working on.
A timer – one of my methods of keeping myself on track and being more conscious of how I spend my digital connect time.
I am obviously not the first nor the only one to have thought of these techniques. Check out the faceless Durr watch created by Norwegian designers, Theo Tveterås and Lars Vedeler aka Skrekkøgle and written up in Aaron Souppouris’ blog or Christian Tietze’, Short Knowledge Cycle.