Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz/Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico/Chico, CA 95929-0400
PHONE: 916-898-6220 [and voice mail]; 916-898-6192 [Dept.] FAX: 916-898-6824
Mail to: ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
15 September 1995 (c) For the "Master Classroom Utilization" session at the "Excellence in Learning And Teaching" Conference sponsored by CELT (The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching) at California State University, Chico. Incidentally, S2T2W3 stands for "Structured Serendipity Through The World Wide Web."
"This day we fashion Destiny, our Web of Fate we spin." (John Greenleaf Whittier [1807-1892], The Crisis. St. 10)
INTRODUCTION: CUMULATIVE ASPECTS OF LIVING
"It's the writer who makes a fool of himself [or herself!] and reveals how shallow he is by putting every thought he has on paper, where everyone can see it, read it and put it away to read again tomorrow. Those who merely speak their thoughts are safe. The spoken word drifts away and evaporates in the air, never to be held against the speaker. 'You know what I mean?' the speaker asks, as a substitute for thinking it out and putting it down on paper. The writer may not think much but he [and she!!] has to know what little he thinks to get it down on paper at all. If someone knows what he's doing, he ought to be able to tell you, and if someone knows what he thinks, he ought to be able to write it down. If he can't, the chances are he doesn't have a thought" (A. Rooney, 1986, Word For Word, pp. 2-3).
Life is organized, cumulative, and exciting; we build upon our successes and learn from our failures. I utilized "multimedia" in classes before the term was coined. (Segment from Why Man Creates, 1968 [CSUC #12280 and BF/408/W92] plus transparencies and slides.) As a character of Poquelin (Molière [1622-1673]) stated: "Good heavens! For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing it" (Jean Baptiste Poquelin, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, 1670, act II, sc. iv.). I am now moving from "traditional" lectures (with videos and transparencies) to cyberspace.
CYBERSPACE: INTERNET AND THE WWW (WORLD WIDE WEB)
In 1984, Gibson (Neuromancer) coined "cyberspace" to describe interactions in a world of computers and humans. In 1994, cyberspace was defined as "the mental construct a person generates from experiencing online communication and information retrieval" (John December and Neil Randall, 1984, The World Wide Web Unleashed (SAMS Publishing), page 284). In June 1995, the Internet was succinctly defined as:
"much less like a 'giant library' or a 'giant data-base' than it is like several million ... libraries, or bookstores, classrooms, newsstands, conference centers, mailboxes, locker-rooms, lecture halls, academic journals, self-help groups and more, for all of these activities take place on the Internet as well" ( I. T. Hardy, 1995, Censorship of cyberspace a personal choice. SF Examiner, June 4, pp. B-5 and B-7; p. B-5.).
Polanyi wrote (The Tacit Dimension, 1966:79) that "the creative thrust of the imagination is fed by various sources." Today we have more information than ever available in Cyberspace and information increases options and options are increasing exponentially through cyberspace and those who know how to use the information (and know how to utilize cyberspace) will profit! Please remember, that we invented the WWW to help us process what we call information; now the WWW can shape our knowledge.
COMMUNICATION AND SERENDIPITY
The WWW provides us with discoveries and to get into the habit of using "the web" as a communication tool (remembering that "communication" comes from communico or "to share"), I follow Whitehead:
"It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like calvary charges in a battle--they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments" (Alfred North Whitehead [1861-1947]).
Please consider the words of Arthur C. Clarke on "serendipity" in his The View From Serendip (1978: 5):
"Serendip (or Serendib) is one of the many ancient names for Ceylon; it derives from the Muslim traders' Sarandib. ... The word [serendipity] was invented, or at least put on paper, by the essayist Horace Walpole in 1754.... Walpole told one of his numerous correspondents that 'he had formed it upon the title of the fairy-tale The Three Princes of Serendip, the heroes of which were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of."
PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTS, CONCLUSIONS, AND THE NEED TO AVOID COBWEBS OF LEARNING
We must continuously learn and strive to learn more. James Burke has a striking phrase in his 1985 The Day The Universe Changed which I share with every-single-class I teach: "You are what you know" and I point out that the real significance of this phrase must be followed by an even more frightening statement which I personally believe: You are also what you don't know. If you do not know about cultural diversity (in a world of cultural diversity), I do not believe you to be a whole person. As Montaigne (1533-1592) wrote (in translation): "The barbarous heathen are nothing more strange to us than we are to them." If you do not know what Sir Charles P. Snow (1905-1980) meant concerning the "two cultures" you are not (in my opinion) a whole person in today's ever-changing world. If you do not know about the impact of today's technology, the implications of cyberspace and the WWW (and the potential for growth and abuse) you are in trouble. Briefly stated, if we are not aware of what is happening around us right now, how can we hope to be curious, competent, and courteous colleagues, researchers, and teachers?
At California State University, Chico (http://www.csuchico.edu), we already have a "presence" on the Web and we should consider the words of President Esteban: "In order to enhance learning, nurture the community that is the Electronic village, and increase our productivity in learning and teaching, we will aggressively expand our leadership in information technology." I believe this is similar to Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) when he wrote of "a community of continuous learning, a single campus in which everybody irrespective of age, is involved in learning a living [stress added]." The computer is only the latest tool which allows human beings to explore (and create) environments and we personally "weave" our own patterns with our own individualized "web" searches. The latest environmental changes are developing through (and as a result of) cyberspace and there will eventually be new tools in the future! Metaphor is appropriate with the WWW and consider the following:
"Marianne Moore wrote that poems are imaginary gardens with real toads in them. The Net is an imaginary web providing real connections with real people, in a remarkably new way. On the net, the absence of visual cues for race, gender, disability, and age enables us to create personae that simultaneously hide and disclose who we are, making community on the Net remarkably inclusive. By disarming the usual cues that trigger exclusions [by human beings], the Net becomes a come-as-you-are party, a cultural feast to which everyone is invited [stress added]" (Richard Thieme, 1995, In Search of the Grail. Wired, July (3.07), page 117)
McLuhan is associated with the "medium is the message" phrase but let us always remember the significance of the messenger! Lest one be taken too much with positive poetic metaphor and "playing" with the WWW (even though play is important to life), the WWW must contribute to living. As Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote of the spider that "worketh" the web: if we do not do something positive with it, then "it is endless, and brings forth indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for their fineness of thread and work, but of no substance of profit" (In Jean Fuller, 1981, Sir Francis Bacon: A Biography (London), page 185).
"Whatever resolves uncertainty is information. Power will accrue to the man [or woman!] who can handle information" (R. Buckminster Fuller [with J. Agel and Q. Fiore], 1970, I Seem To Be A Verb (Bantam), page 97A.).
PS: I also follow Clifford Stoll who writes in his eminently readable 1995 publication entitled Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts On The Information Highway: ""information is not knowledge [stress added]" (1995: 190).
PLEASE SEE THE URL (UNIVERSAL RESOURCE LOCATOR) FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Anthropology 13 Fall 1995 Syllabus (http://www.csuchico.edu/anth/curban/Anth 13.html)
This page created Saturday afternoon (September 16, 1995) by Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz, beginning with rtftohtml2.7.3. and then going to other sources (such as A Beginner's Guide to HTML and various publications).
Format edited by Nanci Ellis, September 23, 1995