Knowledge for knowledge’s sake

22 02 2010

I really want to get learning again. I felt a touch of yearning to start focusing back on educating myself over the past couple days, but I don’t want to go back to school because of the expense and career setback involved. This might sound a bit odd, but I got to thinking that an interesting compromise would be to put myself through a “school” of my own design. Devising some independent-study courses would be a creative project that I could test and evaluate and turn into a cool experiment, itself a form of study on our educational system.

If you know me, you know I go through phases where I seek to learn certain things for a short while. It’s sort of like a class, just done independently. Having this structured format, I think, would help me become more interested in things going on around me and would help me be more creative in my daily life, and have more things to talk about as an unplanned consequence. Here’s a few courses I’d like to take (some of which I never imagined I would want to take in my school days):

  • European historical geography
  • Language (Spanish, French)
  • Film/TV philosophy
  • Modern television series
  • U.S. travel and tourism
  • Independent music
  • Game theory and its applications to business
  • Social networks and game theory
  • Beginning computer programming principles
  • Geometry
  • U.S. history
  • Newspapers throughout the world
  • Science fiction in film
  • Reggae and society
  • Electronic musical instruments
  • Physical education
  • Origins of English
  • The Big Three Religions
  • Ancient History
  • Human Migration
  • Urban planning and city design
  • Cartography
  • Photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Video animation techniques
  • Video editing
  • Social media and journalism
  • Psychology

That should give you an idea. I think I might be serious about this, and I wonder if this will pan out. I was thinking of having a “course schedule” of sorts on a monthly basis with a topical course, a scientific or technological course and an “elective,” as well as some sort of “physical education” for my health’s sake. I dunno, maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. I thought I’d start out in March with my first set of courses. In the meantime, I may take a mini-course or devote some time to researching independent study and curriculum development.

The downsides to this approach are that I would not have the guidance and expertise of a teacher or the social interaction with classmates. There would be no formal evaluation process. I might lose interest or focus. The upside is I can just do it with minimal overhead and interruption of my current routines.

So stay tuned; I’ll be posting my conclusions here on my blog. The first step, as I mentioned, will be to study curriculum development and learning techniques. On March 1, we’ll get started with the official courses if my interest in this project persists. Check back in and let’s see how it goes.





Podcasting experiment

6 02 2010


The Big Chicken

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This here is the Big Chicken in Marietta, Georgia. I’m doing a little podcasting experiment since I was in GarageBand messing around with the hats project. It’s called “14 Miles From the Big Chicken.” I’m totally stressing out about whether that’s “14 miles from” or “14 miles to.”

Anyways. Here is an experimental audio podcast that I did (and even a little tumblr I started for it so it would have an RSS feed associated with it).

Weird, huh? I don’t know if I’ll do another one, but I thought it’d be fun.





365 Hats Trailer!

6 02 2010


365 Hats Trailer

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

I’ve just put out the trailer for the 365 Hats project. Going through this process has been lots of fun. As you may gather, this project has been more about being creative than adhering to strict rules. I’ve violated pretty much every principle I started with, but at the same time, I’ve also stuck better to the plan than I expected I would. A few notes/lessons learned through the process:

  • This is nutz, baby. Nutz. But so much fun.
  • My definition of a “hat” is somewhat loose in many cases, but that’s OK. It’s all creativity.
  • I don’t need to OWN the hat. A few of these were “found” in the environment.
  • Some of the hats are handmade or improvised.
  • The vast majority of the hats are actual hats that I own.
  • Headbands, bows and the like count as hats for the sake of simplicity.
  • I got a late start at dailymugshot. I’ll be posting a link to that soon, thanks to a pointer from a coworker.
  • Currently the images are stored in a Picasa Web Album, which allows me a lot of freedom to upload in batches and change photos in and out.
  • In some cases I’ve had to bend or break the time interval rules due to breaking news at my day job (Haiti coverage for example).
  • The only strict rule I’m setting is that I must upload at once per week (multiple images from that week are OK, individual daily posts are ideal) and that I must have 365 different hat or headgear arrangements by the end of 2010.
  • Multiple poses/shots with the same hat are ideal because it allows me to animate the scene. I may do some videos, too, just to mix things up a bit.
  • Don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually a few days ahead in my photo-taking. I’m trying to stash those aside and stay in pace.
  • It’s super-awesomer if the hat has some meaning for the events of that day.

Overally, I’m surprised at how fun and not-tedious this process has been. While I haven’t been able to do updates every single day that I’ve been doing this, I’ve stuck with it through most of the thick and thin moments that have come along, and there’s been quite a bit to distract from my resolve. In many cases my hats or headgear match up with current events so that helps. I can document the day by showing what hat I am wearing.

View high-quality version on YouTube if you like. The video clip here is from Flickr.

So the big question is, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? ARE YOU INSANE? Well I’m doing it mainly because it’s fun and because it will be something I can look back on at the end of the year. It will be something simply awesome and fun. And, it gives me a chance to play around and experiment with new ideas and technology and software. In short, it’s just a lot of awesome. I do wear a lot of hats in this world and sometimes it’s nice to just do something fun.

PRODUCTION NOTES: All the photos shown here were taken with an iPhone or with Photo Booth on my MacBook. Visual arrangement for this piece was done on free video editor HyperEngine-AV v. 1.5. I experimented with iMovie but found it too limiting in some respects and far superior in other ways. Overall, I’m finding that a combined approach of HyperEngine-AV and iMovie may be the way to go unless I spring for Final Cut at home. More to come on that. The music is an exported GarageBand sound clip.