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10 Years With RSI [en]

10 Years With RSI [en]

[fr] Plus de 10 ans que mes mains ont commencé à faire mal. Bilan: c'est sous contrôle, même s'il y a certaines choses que je ne peux plus faire. J'ai aussi procédé à des aménagements pour certaines activités.

In September 2002 my hands started hurting really badly at the computer. I had to take three breaks while writing this article. I took some time off, and when I got back to work, within half a day, things were back where they were. I panicked for a few days. A lot of my life revolved around computers. How would I finish my studies? I discovered it was possible to use a computer with speech recognition, and that reassured me a bit. I saw the doctor, spent 5 weeks off work and computers (well, at work but not allowed to type, it was dreadful, actually), the neurologist confirmed my nerves were all right, I got Dragon NaturallySpeaking (version 5 at the time) and started speaking to my computer.

Life resumed, at home and work. I practically stopped using my hands with my computer and dictated for pretty much a whole year, including my university dissertation and my last written exam (they stuck me in my teacher’s office for that).

When I left my job at Orange, I got an iBook, which meant I said goodbye to speech recognition. By then the rest had done its job, and I had also made some changes which certainly helped improve things:

  • I got rid of my old clunky keyboard and moved the computer away from the drafty window
  • I got a laptop, actually, which meant I started varying the positions in which I typed
  • I started paying attention to my hands: was I in pain? was I uncomfortable?
  • I used a break timer to force myself to learn to stop and take breaks
  • I learned to say “no” a bit more, and give a higher priority to myself over others (ie, taking care of my hands became top priority, whereas others’ needs used to be what came first)
  • In general, I started listening to myself more: how was I feeling? was I stressed? was I tired? did I want to do what I was doing? etc.
  • I made sure I continued to get (gentle) exercise; I went easy on my hands at judo for a couple of years.

Where am I at now, 10 years later? Well, I still say I have RSI, because it’s just around the corner, but most of the time it doesn’t bother me. It’s “under control”. Many years ago my osteopath actually managed to do something to make my hands hurt less. Something to do with my arteries, it seems. No guarantee it will be the same for everyone with RSI, but it does it for me. So when my hands start feeling painful again, I head off to my osteo. With the years, I’ve learnt to recognize my hands hurting as a warning sign rather than a problem in itself. They don’t normally hurt. If they hurt and I go to my osteo, she’ll usually find a whole bunch of things that are, let’s say, “out of balance”.

Here’s what my life with RSI is, 10 years later:

  • I type on my Macbook in all sorts of non-ergonomic positions: I vary
  • At my desk though, I make sure that I am sitting high enough that my elbow makes a 90°+ angle (for me the most comfortable place to type is on my knees => laptop)
  • I never use a mouse, and know tons of keyboard shortcuts
  • I have Dragon Dictate but don’t use it enough — I haven’t invested the time to be comfortable with it
  • I have discovered speech recognition on my iPhone and use it whenever I can
  • I cannot carry my groceries very far without taking a break, even though I have plenty of upper-body strength (I have a rollie-bag)
  • I avoid repetitive hand movements: chopping lots of hard stuff, screwing with a manual screwdriver, polishing by hand… if I have to I take breaks, but if possible I’ll let somebody else do that kind of job
  • I’m still doing judo, and can fight “normally”, though it hurts “more than it should” when people rip their sleeves out of my hands or when I’ve been strangling somebody really hard 😉
  • If I feel RSI coming back, I run to the osteo
  • In general, I take much better care of myself than I used to, and I am much “softer” on myself (I used to be the “tough it out” type, RSI cured me from that)
  • I cannot write by hand more than a few lines anymore; this is a combination of lack of practice (I always type) and some loss of fine motor control probably due to RSI. If I try to write, I become illegible after a few lines, and it hurts. So I don’t.

Over the years, I have seen so many people develop RSI in some form or other. Don’t overwork yourself. Take care of your hands before they start hurting.

3rd #back2blog challenge
(7/10), with: Brigitte Djajasasmita (@bibiweb), Baudouin Van Humbeeck (@somebaudy), Mlle Cassis (@mlle_cassis), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Yann Kerveno (@justaboutvelo), Annemarie Fuschetto (@libellula_free), Ewan Spence (@ewan), Kantu (@kantutita), Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Michelle Carrupt (@cmic), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Adam Tinworth (@adders), Mathieu Laferrière (@mlaferriere), Graham Holliday (@noodlepie), Denis Dogvopoliy (@dennydov), Christine Cavalier (@purplecar), Emmanuel Clément (@emmanuelc), Xavier Bertschy (@xavier83). Follow #back2blog.

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F.lux: Better Lighting For Your Screen [en]

F.lux: Better Lighting For Your Screen [en]

[fr] f.lux adapte automatiquement la luminosité de votre écran à l'espace environnant. Fini les écrans surbrillants tard le soir, et possiblement les problèmes d'endormissement liés au fait de baigner dans une forte lumière bleue jusqu'à 2h du mat'. Essayez!

F.luxYou probably know by now that optimal screen brightness is similar brightness to that of your surroundings. My dad recently pointed me to f.lux, which I have installed and started experiencing (happily). From their website (lifted shamelessly):

Ever notice how people texting at night have that eerie blue glow?

Or wake up ready to write down the Next Great Idea, and get blinded by your computer screen?

During the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun.

F.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

It’s even possible that you’re staying up too late because of your computer. You could use f.lux because it makes you sleep better, or you could just use it just because it makes your computer look better.

f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again.

Gone are the days of adjusting brightness so that I’m not looking at a blinding screen when online in the evening! And I love the idea that this might fight the “wide awake at 2am” syndrome by fixing the lighting issue. Of course, you may disable f.lux at any time for an hour, if you need your white balance back for any reason.

Download for OSX, Windows, Linux.

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Today is Backup Awareness Day! [en]

Today is Backup Awareness Day! [en]

Two months ago, on February 24th, I hit the wrong “Drop” button in PhpMyAdmin, resulting in the immediate deletion of the blog you’re reading. I didn’t know when I had last backed it up.

The story ends well, though it cost me (and others) many hours (days, actually) of work to get the whole of Climb to the Stars back online again.

I’ve always been careless about backups. Like many of you, probably. We can afford to be careless because accidents don’t happen very often, and as with Black Swans, we are under the mistaken belief that having been safe in the past will keep us safe in the future. Not so. As I like to repeat, the first time a disaster happens, well, it had never happened till then.

So, I’ve decided to declare the 24th of each month “Backup Awareness Day”. Here’s what it’s about:

  • Back up your files.
  • Back up your website.
  • Blog about the importance of backing up (sharing tips, stories, advice).
  • Tell your friends to back up.
  • Help your friends back up.
  • Put in place automatic backup systems.

Bottom-line: decrease the number of people who never back up, or back up so infrequently they’ll be in a real mess if things go wrong.

Now, perfectionism is the biggest enemy to getting things done. Backup Awareness Day does not mean that you have to do all this. Here are a few ideas to get your started (better a bad backup than no backup at all):

  • If Time Machine (or any other regular backup system you use for your computer) has been telling you it hasn’t done a backup in ages, stop what you’re doing right now and plug it in.
  • If you use WordPress, when was the last time you went to Tools > Export to make a quick backup? It’s not the best way to do it, but in my case, it saved CTTS.
  • Do you use something like Mozy to have a remote backup of your most important files? Time to sign up, maybe.
  • Are you working on important documents that exist only on your computer, which is never backed up? At the minimum, pick up a thumb drive and copy them onto it — or send yourself an e-mail with the files as attachment, if your e-mail is stored outside your computer (Gmail, for example).
  • Do you have an automatic backup set up for your database or website? Set some time aside on Backup Awareness Day to figure out cron.
  • When did you make the last dump of your MySQL database? Head over to PhpMyAdmin, or the command line (it’s mysqldump --opt -u user -p databasename > my-dirty-backup.sql)
  • Do you have the backup thing all figured out? Write a post for your readers with a few tips or tutorials to help them along. (Tag your posts “backupawarenessday” — I thought about “BAD” but that wasn’t really optimal ;-))

I’m hoping to develop the concept more over the coming months. If you have ideas, get in touch, and take note of Backup Awareness Day for the month of May: Sunday 24th!

(Now stop reading and go do a few backups.)

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Against Threaded Conversations on Blogs [en]

Against Threaded Conversations on Blogs [en]

[fr] J'avoue une préférence marquée pour les conversations linéaires plutôt que hierarchiques (en arbre). Les conversations linéaires génèrent peut-être moins de commentaires, mais elles ont un rapport signal/bruit plus favorable, n'encourageant pas le hors-sujet. Elles sont plus faciles à suivre et me semblent plus adaptées aux blogs.

So, now that [Going Solo Lausanne is behind me](http://going-solo.net/2008/05/17/going-solo-lausanne-was-a-hit/) and I can come back to a slightly more sane pace of life (and blogging here, hopefully), I’m starting to read blogs again, a little. Don’t hold your breath too long though, contrary to popular belief, I’ve never been much of a blog-reader.

**Blog commenting**

One topic I’ve read about a bit, and which is of particular interest for me, is blog commenting. Aside from the fascinating topic (I’m not kidding) of blog comment ownership, which I touched upon myself more than 18 months ago, there is the age-old debate: threaded vs. non-threaded comments.

On the backdrop of my [break-up with coComment](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/04/19/more-on-cocomment-advertising/) (impending, in the process, fresh) and their post about [commenter’s rights](http://blog.disqus.net/2008/05/30/a-commenters-rights/), I’ve taken a closer look at [Disqus](http://disqus.com). It looks promising, it does some stuff I like, but also stuff I really don’t like, like the dreaded threaded comments.

So, here’s an attempt to try to explain why I think that threaded comments in a blog context are not necessarily a good thing — although popular wisdom would have that they are “better” than normal, flat, conversations.

I did a little research to see if I could find anything solid to back up my claims (if anyone knows of [proper research](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/825117034) on these issues, let me know), but I didn’t find anything really solid. So, I’ll just have to try to make this logical enough that it can be convincing.

**The appeal of threaded conversations**

Threaded conversations are as old as the internet itself. Usenet, e-mail discussion list archives. So, they’re nothing new, and have been around a while.

When blogs started including comments — oh yes, there were blogs way before there were comments, and the commenting script I used on this blog was for many years a popular destination — so, when blog started including comments, those comments were not threaded (in the sense that they allowed hierarchy in the comments, or branching off, or a tree-like view).

For many years, all I saw on blogs was linear conversations, as opposed to threaded, tree-like conversations. Most forum software also functions like that.

Then, of course, with some regularity, I’ve heard people asking for plugins to make the conversations on their blogs “threaded”. And I wondered. Why the attraction to hierarchical conversations?

When we have a conversation, be it with a single other person, or around a big table, it flows in one direction: the direction of time. There is before, and there is after. One might say “you said something 10 minutes ago that I’d like to answer” — and we’re quite capable of following this kind of conversation. We do it every day.

If we chat, be it on IRC or on IM, or any other kind of chatroom, we know that there are often multiple intertwined conversations going on at the same time. With a bit of practice, it doesn’t bother us too much. But the important point remains: the conversation is ordered chronologically.

So, be it offline or online, most of the conversations we have are time-ordered.

I think the appeal of threaded hierarchical conversations lies in the fact that they seem more “orderly” than one long stream of posts, ordered not necessarily by the logic of the conversation topic, but by the flow of time in which it takes place. It’s hierarchical. It’s organized. It’s neat, mathematical, logical. Algorithmic. Computer-friendly.

But is it brain-friendly?

**Human-friendly conversations**

Human beings do not think like computers. Though some human beings who spend lots of time programming or give excessive importance to logico-mathematical thinking might like approaching problems and the rest of life in a binary way, that is simply not how most people function. (Literary backdrop for this paragraph: [A Perfect Mess](http://www.aperfectmess.com/).)

I think people who like threaded conversations like them because they have a higher order of organisation than non-threaded conversations. And better organised should be… better.

You won’t be surprised that I disagree with this. A good conversation online, for me, is one that can be easily followed, caught up with, and participated in. In that respect, a linear suite of comments is much easier to read or catch up with than a huge tree. When it comes to participating, the linear conversation offers only one option: add a comment at the end. In the tree, you first have to decide where in the tree you’re going to post. (Literary backdrop for this paragraph: [The Paradox of Choice](http://www.amazon.com/Paradox-Choice-Why-More-Less/dp/0060005696/).)

**How the format impacts the conversation**

Another way to tackle this is to examine what impact hierarchical and linear comment threads have on the conversations they host.

Hierarchical – Threaded:

– off-topic comments branch off into separate conversations
– overall, more comments
– lots of parallel conversations

Linear:

– conversation stays reasonably focused
– less comments
– limited number of parallel conversations

I personally do not think that “more comments = better”. On a blog post, I like to see the conversation stay reasonably focused on the initial topic. For that reason, I think that linear comments are best on a blog.

**More conversation is not always better**

Of course, there are always parallel conversations going on. On Twitter, on FriendFeed, in IM windows I’ll never know about. As a blogger, I would like a way to point to these conversations from my post, so that a person reading could then have access easily to all the public conversations going on about what they read. [Conversation fragmentation](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/04/27/diigo-i-think-i-like-the-idea-bonus-content-conversation-fragmentation/) is not something we’re going to get rid of, but we can try to minimize it.

Increasingly, our problem is becoming one of signal-to-noise ratio and chatter. These are subjective notions. My signal is somebody else’s noise, and vice versa. I’m happy that there is chatter and small talk in the world and online (it’s a big part of human interaction and what relationships can be made of), also about what I write. But on my blog, I’d like to keep the chatter somewhat down, even if that means my “number of comments per post” or “conversational index” is not high. I’d rather have less conversation here, and give it a chance to be more interesting and accessible to outsiders, than huge 50+ comment threads that nobody is going to read besides the hardcore die-hard social media types.

**More reading and listening**

You’ll find some of the links I found on del.icio.us. If you’re into videos, the topic was raised about 6 months ago on Seesmic. Here’s what I had to say at the time:

– [threading encourages the conversation to go all over the place](http://seesmic.com/v/n03MEC9S1U)
– [threading changes the nature of discussion](http://seesmic.com/v/aDDiGJWdw5)
– [conversations are chronological](http://seesmic.com/v/PWt1wmig5I)

I’ve also dug up a few quotes I found in some old discussions on MeFi. They’re in my Tumblr, but as Tumblr tumbles along, I’m reproducing them here:

> If you’re trying to build community, it is clear that linear, non-threaded discussions are superior. There is a good body of research on this – it’s not new, it’s not a novel idea. For tech support stuff, hierarchical tree structures are better, in general.

Micheal Boyle (mikel)

> One of the arguments for adding any feature that is designed to hide noise is that it gives it a permanent home. When Slashdot added moderation and auto-hiding to their threads, they gave the -1 NATALIE PORTMAN’S BOOBS brigade a permanent home on the site.

> I checked out digg’s new setup earlier this week and 75% of all the comments were complaining about mod points. I don’t know if that’s an improvement.

Matt Haughey

> This place is like a pub.

> One does not have threaded conversations in a pub.

five fresh fish

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Addicted to Technology! [en]

Addicted to Technology! [en]

[fr] Une longue tirade, malheureusement pas vraiment traduisible vu l'heure et la longueur, sur la dépendance à internet, qui est à mon avis un faux problème. J'y parle de notre définition de la technologie (une voiture, c'est aussi de la technologie, et on ne s'alarme pas des gens qui seraient "dépendants de leur voiture" comme on le fait de ceux qui sont "dépendants de leur ordinateur"), de la valeur (petite) généralement accordée aux rapports humains qui passent à travers un ordinateur, de l'insuffisance de la "déconnexion" pour résoudre un problème d'utilisation excessive de cet outil, puisqu'il reste un outil valable et même indispensable pour certains, même si c'est un lieu privilégié de fuite.

Help! we’re all becoming [addicted to technology](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/09/technological-overload-panel/ “Panel on technological overload which concluded by asking for the best way to unplug.”)! Think of it… we’re soon going to be merged to our computers and cellphones, and we already have a hard time living without them. Heck, we can’t even spend a day without chatting or checking our e-mail! Or our blog comments! Where is the world going?

#### What technology?

Let’s take a few steps back, shall we? First of all, please define technology. Do we consider that we are “addicted” on our cars? Our clothes? Our flats? The postal system, goods manufacturing and distribution, the newspaper? Oh, but those things are actually *necessary*, not superfluous like all this internet/computer/techy stuff. *That’s* what we mean by “technology”. People could communicate very well without IM and cellphones and e-mail, couldn’t they? So, shouldn’t we strive to remember that “real” human relationships happen outside the realm of all this “technology-mediated” communication?

Wrong.

Cars are technology. The banking system, and similar infrastructures our world relies on, are in their way a form of technology, and certainly, built upon technology. People who argue that cars, fixed landlines, or shoes are more “necessary” than IM are simply stuck with [views on what “technology” is and its value that are dictated by the state of the world when they came into it](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/11/11/you-and-technology/). (Read [original material by Douglas Adams](http://www.douglasadams.com/dna/19990901-00-a.html).)

We consider things like fixed phones and the postal system like something we *need* because they have been around for so long that our society and the individuals inside it have completely adapted to having them around, relying upon them, and using them. It is “normal” to feel uncomfortable or jittery if your phone landline is cut or if your watch breaks down. But somehow, it is not “normal” to feel uncomfortable or jittery when we can’t check our e-mail for 24 hours.

Computers, the internet, and the various programs we use are *tools*, like the phone and our vehicles. They allow us to get things done, interact and connect with others, and also enjoy some recreation. Of course, they can be over-used. Of course, some people will have an unhealthy or even pathological utilisation of them. But they differ from the classical objects of “addiction”, like drugs, which (usually) do not serve a directly constructive purpose.

#### Addicted to our cars

I find it very problematic to speak about “addiction” regarding computers or the internet, partly because it makes it look like the problem is with the tool (instead of the person), and partly because it is very difficult to draw the line between healthy and unhealthy use of the tool without taking in many environmental and personal factors.

I think that making a comparison between computer and car usage is quite enlightening in that respect. They have in common that they are a form of technology, they have a use, and can be abused. Yet we worry about addiction to computers, but not so much about addiction to cars. Let’s have a closer look.

A car is not a vital necessity. Before cars existed, humanity managed to survive for quite a long time, and wasn’t necessarily worse off (I guess that judgement depends on one’s view of progress). However, nowadays, depending on where you live and what your lifestyle is, it’s hard to get by without a car (though [possible](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/5426092) by making some arrangements). Would we consider somebody who uses their car everyday “addicted”? Most certainly not, because probably the main reason the car is needed is to commute to work. But what if one likes going to drive around in the countryside every week-end? Or takes the car to drive to the store when it is 5 minutes away on foot? Or uses the car for comfort, when public transport could be used? What about the distress one can end up when a car breaks down and has to be taken to the garage? Would anybody dream of speaking of addiction here?

Just as the car allows us to easily cover long distances, the computer allows us to do things we could not normally do without. It’s technology. Now, if the way we live tends to require or expect us to do these things, the technology becomes “necessary”, and not “superfluous”. Makes sense?

#### Nurturing online relationships has little value (not)

One problem with applying the reasoning I did for the car to the computer has in my opinion been touched upon in the [LIFT’07 panel I mentioned previously](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/09/technological-overload-panel/): the blurring of the distinction between what is “work” (ie, “necessary”) and “personal” (“not that necessary”). Aimlessly chatting on IRC can actually be very important for my professional life. In general, taking care of one’s network (really: taking care of the relationships we have with other human beings we know) is something which should not be considered “superfluous”. During the panel, Stefana Broadbent mentioned that technology allowed us to actually keep alive (“manage”) a greater number of relationships than what we would be capable of without. Which leads us to the second problem: human relationships which take place “through the internet” are less valued in today’s world than the “real” ones which take place face-to-face.

What’s missing here is that “virtual” (how I hate that word in this context) interaction is not there to “replace” face-to-face interaction, or traditional communication technologies like the written letter, the fax, or the phone. IM, chat, blogging and e-mail most often keeps people in touch when they would *not* be communicating at all. I would not be keeping friendships alive across the Atlantic without my computer. And some of these friendships are no less valuable than the relationships I have with people I get to see in the flesh more often because they live in my hometown.

But more than that, these “poorer” channels of communication open up different dimensions in the way we relate to others. I’ve heard this said twice recently (though I’ve been aware of it through personal experience for years). First by [Regina Lynn](http://www.reginalynn.com/wordpress/) in her (well worth reading) book [The Sexual Revolution 2.0](http://www.reginalynn.com/wordpress/?page%20id=2). At some point, she explains that for those who are used to texting and IMing in the context of a romantic relationship, the absence of these “channels” makes it feel like there is something missing in the relationship. Second, Stefana Broadbent (again on the LIFT’07 panel, link above) mentioned that the arrival of Skype and VoiP did not kill chat — people are still chatting even though they could use the richer communication channel and actually talk.

This is not surprising. We know that some things are easier to say or more adapted to this or that communication channel. It’s not news either — using letters or the phone rather than face-to-face is not always a choice made for questions of distance or availability.

#### If not addiction, then what?

Of course, as I mentioned, there are unhealthy uses of computer technology. And computer technology has [characteristics that help us get “hooked”](http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2006/03/clicker_trained.html), so it won’t be surprising that people might use it compulsively or excessively. And for people who for a reason or another (and I at times can include myself in that lot) need to “escape” life/reality/pain, goofing around aimlessly online or chatting for hours with random strangers can be used as an alternative to getting drunk/stoned/passing out in front of the TV/reading all Harry Potter books cover-to-cover without interruption. But is it right to talk about “addiction” in such cases?

Whatever you call it, the problem here is that you can’t just tell the people to “unplug” as a solution. For most people who have built part of their life around the internet, the computer is a valuable tool for work and social life. And anyway, even with substance abuse addictions, [going “cold turkey” does not solve the real problem](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/09/22/games-people-play-alcoholicaddict/), though it’s usually better for your health. (I have personal experience from “the other side”, here: I have never in my whole life even tried smoking a cigarette, because I sense that if I did, there are high chances I would turn into a heavy smoker. I’m not free. One could say I have an addiction problem, even though it is not manifest in substance abuse. It’s latent and finds an expression in total abstinence.)

If the computer is used excessively, it is necessary to address the *real* underlying problem. The “thing” that makes people need to escape to somewhere. Because the line between “normal use of the tool” (I need to chat to some extent to keep in touch with my friends/family/collegues) and “excessive use” (I spend all my free time chatting, forget to eat, and don’t go out anymore) is drawn in *quality* rather than *quantity* and does not comprise a clear border like a different environment, schedule, or tool, the “easy” solution of “quitting” does not work.

Then, how does one determine if one’s use of the computer is *excessive*? I like to say that the main defining criteria for this kind of problem is **pain**. Is the intensity with which one uses the computer (or cellphone, or whatever) a source of suffering? Does the person feel that it’s out of control, and would like to do something about it? Is it having concrete effects like work loss, strain on relationships, or is there dissimulation regarding the time spent at it, hinting at a general unease about the time that is used on the computer? The secondary criteria would be **purpose**. Addiction or escape serve a purpose (shields one from something). Is it the case? What is this purpose? It’s not a simple question, and it often doesn’t have a simple answer, and addressing it might even involve a therapist.

#### Not that addicted…

I find that the mainstream press and certain specialists (doctors or teachers I’ve met) are a bit quick to shout “addiction” when faced with the importance the computer and the internet have taken in our lives. I’m not an “addict” because I get uncomfortable if I haven’t accessed my e-mail in 24 hours. I’m not an “addict” because I chat to my friends from the other side of the pond every day. I’m not an addict because when I think of something interesting, I feel an urge to write about it on my blog. I’m not an addict because I need my computer to take notes during a conference, rather than a paper and pen with which I’m illegible and which [hurts me](http://climbtothestars.org/tms “I can type OK and be readable if I have very mild pain, but handwriting hurts a lot and is just useless.”). I’m not an addict because I sometimes choose to stay in and catch up with what people I know are saying on their blogs rather than go out clubbing.

Yes, when I’m not doing too well I will easily turn to my computer to escape from the world or myself. Before I had a computer and a social life on the internet, I used to turn to the TV in such occasions, or drown myself in books or music. One isn’t better than the other. But here, clearly, the problem is me, and not the nasty technology.

*If you’ve read all this, let me know what you think. I suspect I might have taken a few shortcuts here and there, and I’ll be more than happy to make them explicit if you point out what isn’t convincing.*

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Sugata Mitra: Outdoctrination (Hole in the Wall) [en]

Sugata Mitra: Outdoctrination (Hole in the Wall) [en]

*As always, these are just my notes and I may have misunderstood stuff. And as always too, check out [Bruno’s writeup](http://www.lunchoverip.com/2007/02/lift07_sugata_m.html).*

Build an argument for family eduction. 4 ideas.

Sugata Mitra

#### Remoteness of quality of education

– as you go further from the centre, you can… ?
– socially/economically remote from the rest of the society

Guess: schools in remote areas don’t have good enough teachers, and if they do, they can’t retain them.

Test taken by students, plotted against remoteness from Delhi. More remote = worse, but did not correlate with infrastructure (?).

Pilots for educational technology are usually the best schools => usually perceived as over-hyped and under-performant. ET should reach underpriviledged schools first, and not the other way around. Improvements at the bottom of the scale are proportionally higher at the bottom of the scale.

So… alternative primary education where there are no schools, not good enough, no teachers, teachers not good enough (“can be replaced by a machine”!!)

#### Children and self-organisation

The Hole in the Wall experiment. 1999-2004 (HIWEL project)

The Kalkaji Experiment. Hole in the wall of the office and pretty powerful computer with touchpad and internet connection, altavista etc in it. Within eight hours, one of the kids was teaching a younger one how to browse.

Second: Shivpuri. Children in groups can self-instruct themselves to use a computer and the internet.

Madantusi experiment, 2000-2001 (village near Lucknow). No internet, just CDs. 3 months later: “we need a faster processer and better mouse.” They were using 200 english words they had “learnt” from the computer.

=> language is not a barrier, it could even teach them some of the language.

Many other experiments in other places. *steph-note: lots of footage shown*

6-13-year-olds can self-instruct, irrespective of background, in *groups*

300 children become computer literate in 3 months (windows, browsing, chatting, e-mail, painting, games, educational material, music downloads, playing video), with one computer. Usually, one at the computer, 2-3 around advising, often wrongly… but they learn.

Letting it happen. [Hole in the Wall site.](http://niitholeinthewall.com)

#### Children and Values

Example of confusion: sometimes it is necessary to tell lies: 50% yes, 50% no.

Natural self-organising systems: galaxies, molecules, cells, etc. traffic jams, stock markets, society…

– remoteness affects the quality of education
– educational technology should be introduced into remote areas first
– values are acquired, doctrine and dogma are imposed
– learning is a self-organising system

A digital, automatic, fault-tolerant, minimally invasive, connected, and self-organised educational technology. To address remoteness, values, and violence.

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