Blogs and Brains and Bookshops

Blogs and Brains and Bookshops

Imagine this blog as a bookshop. As my bookshop for you. And imagine every post here as a book I offer to you, dear customer.

In my bookshop, you will find three sections: The Weekly Reviews, The Recommended Posts and the Lifestream. Each section offers a different selection of books.

The Weekly Reviews

Let me be honest with you. I guess I would not have this shelf of Weekly Reviews in my shop. But I must. The man makes me. The man is James Lamb. And let me tell you this, too: I am damn sure happy he makes me do it. First of all, I would not even have the whole shop without him. And secondly, I love this Weekly Review section which I keep for him. I get the impression it makes me a better bookshop owner. So cheers, James!

The Recommended Posts

Do you know these tables in bookshops where they put their recommended books? Those the shop thinks you should buy and read? This is exactly what this section is all about. Hand picked staff favourites from our vast collection of books. A kind of “best of” section. Don’t leave my shop without at least looking at the covers.

But there is this third section of the shop. A kind of a black sheep bookshop section:

The Lifestream.

See, this is a massive part right at the back of the shop. Thousands of books, on shelves, on tables, yes even piled up on the floor, some big, most small, covering all kinds of topics. Some have pictures, others have not, it is quite a variety. But, well… this part of the shop is a mess. Whatever book I like, it goes there. But there is no structure. If you browse the section, you might stumble upon something which catches your interest. You might as well not. It is a pure chaos. And although I like every single book back there, the chaos of the Lifestream frustrates me greatly.

I have thought about ways to sort it out. Not to much avail. Yet I want to be a good shop. I want to be service orientated. And, I admit, I want you, dear customers, to see all the clever little books I have. But oh dear, it’s not working.

And our minds?

Now what if all our minds where like this bookshop of mine? And what if teachers were to assess the quality of our shop and our books? How could we, the students, make sure they get the best possible and accurate impression of all the books we call thoughts? And what can they, the teachers, do, to make this happen? And maybe even help us a bit organizing our little shop?

Especially in an online learning environment, when most and sometimes all we can show is text. When there is no water cooler talk, no random running into each other while communiting to school, just words, typed into a machine and uploaded at this or that part of the internet.

Maybe this is education. More and more books, some sort of structure, a lot of mess, too. And the teacher as the customer, coming to see and giving us valuable tips how to make the best out of it.

If algorithms could possibly help everyone involved on this massive task? Not adding but recognizing structure. Summarizing. Highlighting. After all ther might be a grrat little book nack there in the back and it might be a shame not finding it. And there might be a trend of topics, not even the bookshop owner is aware of. Help is needed ot at least very welcome.

One thought on “Blogs and Brains and Bookshops

  1. A great post this, Dirk. Although I’m sure how I feel about being framed as ‘The Man’ 😉

    ‘Especially in an online learning environment, when most and sometimes all we can show is text. When there is no water cooler talk, no random running into each other while communiting to school, just words, typed into a machine and uploaded at this or that part of the internet.’

    At the same time as reading your blog, I have the sound of Audrey Watters talking about automation in education. With serendipity, your ideas and those of Watters have just fallen perfectly in step. I’m thinking about what is lost around efficiency in education. For all that I’m an advocate of online learning, I would have to be honest and say that, like you, I do miss the corridor that directly and indirectly contributes to learning. I’m not convinced we can adequately recapture or orchestrate those experiences online. And I wonder whether automation and algorithm in education further puts at risk the impromptu learning that takes place around the water cooler?

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