Monthly Archives: March 2010

the most undesirable question

再说一遍… 现在很烦被人问起类似于工作找得怎么样,要不要读博士,有没有面试,接不接offer,对未来怎么安排的问题…  听够了good luck,我也想找个机会让自己听congratulations…  i know you people care about me, 但我真的只会报喜不报忧,我会有安排,大方向,但具体怎么操作,能到什么程度,我不清楚,编一个你也不信,大胆假设,小心求证?低调假设,高调求证吧。

看到下面这篇文章,把北京换成纽约 or whichever big city,把石家庄换成伊萨卡,很有可能就是我下半年的状态,get ready吧,都是我自找的。

“我在去年来到了我梦寐多年的北京,给足了自己理由却没给自己后路,说服了所有人却没有说服自己,但无论如何,我做了一件我到现在都没有后悔的事

北京有着属于它独特的吸引力使我来到这里,在这里有中国最好的摇滚市场,有说着各种语言的人们,有包容着一切文化和人种的亲和力。在石家庄生活了22年已经无比熟悉,也不是不留恋,只是这里对我来说已经没有任何新鲜感,那是我的家,是我以后要回去的地方,但它此时已经容不下我那颗漂泊的心。北京的确是一个不适合居住的城市,大,物价高,竞争压力沉重,但每天还是有很多人背着沉重的行李来到这里寻找自己新的生活,当然每天也有很多被打击的痛苦不堪选择放弃北漂的人,对生活屈服只不过是一念之间的事,给自己的目标定的太高则更容易灰心失望,没有一颗强大的心脏就很难在这座城市立足。我一直在想,假如有一天我离开这里,那一定是这里原本吸引我的东西不再吸引我,我绝对不可能被生活打垮,我虽然是一个没什么远大目标的人,但我清清楚楚的知道我来到这里是为了什么并且做好了迎接苦难的准备。

现在我的状态是,有一份并不喜欢的工作,并不可观的收入,领导用人如用牲口,我每天过的很辛苦,周一醒来就盼周末,脸上写满疲惫和无奈。但纵使平时这么累,我还是愿意节省日常开支每周末去看喜欢的演出,去见各种朋友,只有这些时候我才能放开自己,彻底的投入,好好的发泄。对我来说,饿肚子,睡麦当劳,或者寒风中走很远的路回家早已经司空见惯,这些都并不可怕,对生活失去热情才可怕,没办法做自己喜欢的事最可怕,我愿意连着两个星期吃大饼卷菜把省下来的钱买The Killers的票,因为我知道我会在现场把这两个月忍饥挨饿的痛苦全部忘掉,有些东西我们应该看的纯粹一些,不必在乎别人的看法,因为只有我们自己才知道自己的需要。

无论选择什么样的生活,时间一样在过,我如果选择朝九晚五庸庸碌碌的生活,为什么要选择北京,我完全可以留在石家庄,也许我放下一切杂念辛勤工作个3、5年,相机、钞票、金表就都有了,然后30岁左右遵从家里的安排结婚生子,一辈子也就交待了。这样的生活意义何在?你又讲如何跟朋友聊起,假如我们用日复一日的操劳、恭维和勾心斗角填满生活,换来的只会是越来越大的肚子和日渐松垮的皮肤,纵使这时已是家财万贯,你也无力去纵横天地,到头来,你会后悔一生就这样匆匆而过么?我坚信每个人的价值观不同,有些人为了可笑的摇滚梦坚持到60岁,有些人则以积攒里程为目标徘徊在云端,而最可怕的是有些人一生不断花天酒地不断换着女人跑车到头来却什么都没有。每天行走在地铁里、街道上,可以看到形形色色的人群,我想这些人中不乏像我一样为了某个目的来到北京的外地人,我们的生活方式肯定是不同的,目标也不同,但相同的是脸上略带忧伤的憔悴和被这个城市寒风吹过的皱纹。我经常在想,在每天早晨伴着日升走在上班路上的人们,有多少是从一个热血青年被活生生摧残成了为苟且生活而打拼的咸鱼,他们是不是已经忘记了来这里的初衷,是否已将那木琴画笔尘封,将追求的心紧锁,随着自己欲望的膨胀扩张着自己的野心版图,却丧失了血性忘记了呐喊,变成了那沉默的大多数。

今天下雪了,今年北京的雪季维持了6个月,深冬时更是遭遇几十年来最冷的天气,这么持久的冬天让人变的慵懒变的无精打采,想起上一场雪时我走在清晨的雪地里,冷冷的阳光把地下的积雪晒成雪水,回过头去我能清晰的看到我留下的泥泞脚印,前方大雾像未来一样看不清楚,但每天走相同的路已经不需要眼睛去辨认,可是有时候,我们走过这么多年,除了留下脚印,还能留下什么呢。

昨天晚上塞着耳机听了一晚上的《Time Flies》,想着来到北京的这半年,种下了什么,得到了什么,潸然泪下。医生那句“秒速捉的紧了,而皮肤却偷偷松了”如同一记闷棍捶在我的心窝,半年时间真快,我还剩多少个半年可以得瑟,我也不知道我还能在这个城市里坚持多久不被同化。这是个没有钱很难生存的城市,我没有钱,我也想要很多很多的钱,可如果要我拿大把时间去换,还要葬送自己喜欢的生活,这便是一单不值得的交易。在我还能控制自己思想和身体的时间里,我就会努力用有限的时间做更多自己喜欢的事,为这张空白胶片涂上更丰富的色彩,有时候想想,自嗨和穷开心才是这世上最难也是最浪漫的事。”

Sense Making of Ubiquitous and Unstructured Information

[The idea is still under revision, but this is sort of the direction we wanted to explore in our final project in the advanced HCI class]

Sitting in CTB, Sally was randomly entering a couple of key words she could remember from the group brainstorming meeting and a couple of online conversations she had with Xuan the other day. It was Saturday morning already, less than 24 hours away from due time of their project proposal and the group still has not settled on a concrete main project idea yet. “Xuan’s anecdote about her information retrieval experience? tagging, sharing? CSCW?… it might be related to Jeremy’s idea from our lab meeting last week, or that CSCW talk I attended in Savannah, or even the TED talk someone shared on Facebook…”, she was trying to remember and put together all separate pieces, “if only I could have a tool to help me cross connect and make sense of all these information, and it is the best that Xuan and Tejas could both see fill in their thoughts and information as well.”

Indeed, either intentionally or unintentionally, we are exposed to a wealth of information in our experience interacting with the world, especially in this digital age with various information sources and communication channels. Information resides in those spontaneous search queries, IM or email conversations, etc. is highly situated and contextualized. Therefore, even with comprehensive information management tools, it eludes or loses its value if not systematically organized and shared in a timely fashion. In this final project, we try to address and seek possible solutions to this problem, that is, how to make sense of the ubiquitous and unstructured information we come across everyday both in terms of individual level information management and group level information sharing.

Previous Research

There has been a substantial amount of research done with regards to personal information management (PIM) in the field of HCI. People’s behavior of informal note taking, creating to-do lists or even composing emails sent to ourselves to record information scraps (e.g.: Bellotti et al., 2005; Lin et al., 2004) have been investigated in a wide variety of ethnographic studies. As reviewed by Truong and Hayes (2007), early PIM systems emphasized on offering users convenient ways to take notes or tag miscellaneous pieces of information. However, users’ lightweight and unstructured note taking behavior hinders the efficiency of such tools in terms of creating meaningful future archiving criteria (Kalnikaité & Whittaker, 2007). As cognitive studies of reminiscence habits inform us that the mechanisms of utilizing and retrieving information are largely related to the situation in which the information is activated (Czerwinski & Horvitz, 2002), recent PIM tools tried to incorporate the function of automatic context association. For instance, a lightweight information capture tool devised by Van Kleek et al (2007) called Jourknow not only enables users to take unstructured notes of information, but also associates a variety of contextual metadata such as time, file location or even background music to facilitate future information retrieval.

Contribution to HCI Community

Our work might extend previous work in this area from the following three aspects:

First, previous research in this area has a strong focus on individual information management in terms of how to effectively record and retrieve information. However, even with a database of well archived data, users are still lack of meaningful clues to organically connects and make sense of the data. An academic article read yesterday, a lecture attended a month ago or even an anecdote heard in a conversation, bridges are needed to connect these individual data islands.

Second, individual’s experience of viewing documents or browsing websites is no longer entirely socially isolated. Along with the popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, etc., is the increasing number and bandwidth of channels via which users can both actively seek and share information. How to effectively subtract the context as well as cross-relate shared and exchanged information embedded in social media platforms is crucial to devise a comprehensive information management system.

Third, very few existing studies view the sense making issue of information scraps from a group collaboration level. Even with various group collaboration tools, a fair amount of spontaneous information seeking and exchange are still left uncaptured or unshared. An fluid two-way channel is needed for group members to review each others’ information scrap archives, so as to establish a better common ground and facilitate rich and dynamic collaborations.

Relevant Theories

Our goal of the project is to think about ways to “make sense” of unstructured information users create in daily life. One way we now think of, that could help to “make sense” of these unstructured information scraps is to “structure” them by associating and relating them together using contextual cues around these information. We hope these contextual cues around both individually-created information scraps (e.g. personal notes, or some article or website individuals want to save), and socially-created information scraps (e.g. sporadic IM chat with your group members, etc.) could create some “storylines” behind each pieces of information, which help individuals and groups make sense of these unstructured information, better organize them to aid individual and group memory and information retrieval, and appropriately share these information.

Some work from psychology informs us why people create information scraps, how they manipulate them, and why they need help to make sense of them. Ross and Nisbett (1991) framed this problem in channel factors, as the “small but critical facilitators or barriers” to an action. Ross and Nisbett demonstrated the amplified effects that small difficulties or facilitators will have on human action, just as a pebble placed at the fork of a stream can dramatically divert the course of water. Seemingly small time and effort requirements such as booting up a laptop might thus be perceived as enough of a burden to cause us to use other means of capture such as writing on our hands. Information scraps could serve as a memory prosthesis (Lamming et al. 1994) or exosomatic memory, later used to remind us of the original thought. However, creating information scraps alone might not be enough. Information scraps usually help us index into our memory via a variety of contextual cues. For example, location is a very powerful memory primer (Darken and Sibert 1993); a combination of knowing what and when can also effectively aid recall of the rest of a memory (Wagenaar 1986). We are also able to recall a variety of contextual information about our documents to potentially aid in refinding, such as textual content, visual elements, file type, or implicit narratives around file creation (Blanc-Brude and Scapin 2007).

As mentioned, creating information scraps is not enough for individuals to make sense of these data. Some theories on sensemaking highlighted the importance of “storyline” behind data on both individual and organizational level. On the individual level, sensemaking is the largely cognitive activity of constructing a hypothetical mental model of the current situation and how it might evolve over time, what potential actions can be taken in response, what the projected outcomes of those responses are, and what values drive the choice of future action (Wikipedia). According to Klein et al. (2006), sensemaking is an active two-way process of fitting data into a frame (mental model) and fitting a frame around the data. Neither data nor frame comes first; data evoke frames and frames select and connect data. When there is no adequate fit, the data may be reconsidered or an existing frame may be revised. This description resembles the Recognition-Metacognition model (Cohen et al. 1996), which describes the metacognitive processes that are used by individuals to build, verify, and modify working models (or “stories”) in situational awareness to account for an unrecognised situation. We can interpret sensemaking of a piece of information as putting this information into a current conceptual framework or individual workflow to better understand the information in a larger informational context, or use this piece of information in the future.

On the group level, sensemaking is a collaborative process of creating shared awareness and understanding out of different individuals’ perspectives and varied interests. The process of moving from situational awareness in individuals to shared awareness and understanding to collaborative decision-making can be considered a socio-cognitive activity in that the individual’s cognitive activities are directly impacted by the social nature of the exchange and vice versa. (Wikipedia). Consider two members of a three-person group randomly chatted via email about part of the project plans, or some local members of a distributed project team informally talked with each other about some new project ideas, these recorded information scraps could be shared with other members in the group to help with collaborative sensemaking of the group work.

Therefore, creating contextual cues around information scraps is more than just aiding individual and group memory. It could potentially promote self-awareness about your workflow, or your communication style with others, and a group-level situational awareness. We defined two kinds of information scraps (IS) in our proposal: individually-created IS, and socially-created IS. One thing to notice is that we aim to aid sensemaking of both individually-created IS and socially-created IS on the individual level and on the group level. As seen in this table:

Individidually-created information scraps Individual level

(way of sensemaking: relating)

e.g. relating one article about shopping tips retrieved from a website, and one personal note about shopping
Group level

(way of sensemaking: sharing)

e.g. sharing one article you retrieved with other group members.
Socially-created information scraps Individual level

(way of sensemaking: relating)

e.g. relating an email with a friend that contain some important information about a job opportunity with your personal note about looking for a job.
Group level

(way of sensemaking: sharing)

e.g. sharing a chat history with one group member A, with other members like B and C.

User Studies

The targeted users for this application could be anyone who has needs for better organizing, structuring, and sharing information scraps on both individual and group level. For this project, we’ll focus on studying people who work in a collaborative environment. We plan to conduct user studies with two groups, each group consisting at least two members.

In the first phase, we will conduct user interviews with open-ended questions, focusing on how they created information scraps, how they organize and make sense of these information scraps on both individual level and group level, and the potential information management needs that have not been satisfied by current systems and collaborative tools.

In the second phase, we will perform a contextual enquiry process and observe the needs and existing ways our target group used for collaboration and information sharing within the group. We will ask our target group members to share their conversations in the form of chat logs, emails and other digital forms with rich context information such as location, people involved, and topics/tags. This information will be used to analyze the current practices in information sharing and retrieval.

In the third phase, we will analyze the individual and group information scraps we collected and try to map the internal information patterns via various context cues. We base on our observation and users’ need we identified in the first phase to come up with design mock-ups to justify/satisfy users’ requirements. Then a second-round interview will be conducted to ask users to reflect on the design mock-ups. Finally we’ll present design implications from the user study.

Project Plan:

Week 1: Background reading, IRB (?)

Week 2 (spring break): More reading, data collection in progress

Week 3: User interview, writing progress report, data collection

Week 4: Report due. Analyzing data

Week 5: Design mock-up, user testing

Week 6: User interview and feedback, writing results up

Week 7: Writing the draft paper

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensemaking

Bellotti, V., Ducheneaut, N., Howard, M., Smith, I., & Grinter, R. E. (2005). Quality versus quantity: E-mail-centric task management and its relation with overload. Human-Computer Interaction, 20(1), 89–138.

Blanc-brude, T., & Scapin, D. (2007). What do people recall about their documents? Implications for desktop search tools. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI’07). ACM Press, 102–111.

Cohen, M., Freeman, J., & Wolf S. (1996) Meta-recognition in time stressed decision making: Recognizing, critiquing, and correcting. Human Factors, 38, 206-219.

Czerwinski, M., & Horvitz, E. (2002). An investigation of memory for daily computing events. People and computers XVI: memorable yet invisible, 229.

Darken, R., & Sibert, J. (1993). A toolset for navigation in virtual environments. In Proceedings of the 6th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST’93). ACM Press, 157–165.

Kalnikaité, V., & Whittaker, S. (2007). Software or wetware?: discovering when and why people use digital prosthetic memory. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (p. 80).

Klein, G., Moon, B., & Hoffman, R. (2006). Making sense of sensemaking Ii: a macro-cognitive model. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 21, 88-92

Lamming, M., Brown, P., Carter, K., Eldridge, M., Flynn, M., Louie, G., Robinson, P., & Sellen, A. (1994). The design of a human memory prosthesis. Comput. J. 37, 153–163.

Lin, M., Lutters, W. G., & Kim, T. S. (2004). Understanding the micronote lifecycle: improving mobile support for informal note taking. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 687–694).

Ross , L., & Nisbett, R. (1991). The person and the situation: Perspectives of social psychology.McGraw-Hill. New York, NY.

Truong, K. N., & Hayes, G. R. (2007). Ubiquitous Computing for Capture and Access. Foundations and Trends® in Human–Computer Interaction, 2(2), 95–171.

Van Kleek, M., Bernstein, M., & Karger, D. R. (2007). Gui—phooey!: the case for text input. In Proceedings of the 20th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology (p. 202).

Wagenaar, W. (1986). My memory: A study of autobiographical memory over six years. Cognitive Psych. 18, 225–252.

Letter to my Wendy

[with so many homework and paper deadline… i couldn’t believe i just spent an hour on this… but for my dearest Wendy… this is all worth it 🙂 ]

Hey, my dearest Wendy,

It’s so good to hear from you! Just to read those happy, sad or
“dull” moments of you and Peggy’s life 🙂 The snow in Ithaca has been
pretty bad in the last a couple of weeks. However, the weather actually did clear up for most of the days of this week, so I am able  to “dig” and create a little path in front of my house to go to school
everyday. HAHA~

It’s hilarious that, right after Fidel and I’s dinner during the weekend, I met her three times yesterday! Twice in Mann Library, and once on our way back home taking the 92 bus. And for all these days (like 2 months) she came back from D.C., we have never bumped into  each other, not even once either in library or bus, even if we are taking a same bus home EVERYDAY! She’s now living in Edgecliff~ Remember your friend (the one  from Canada who has another crazy friend lives there who will go to other people’s apartment to ask for food or something?) LOL~ She said she’s pretty happy living in her new place though, so that’s good 🙂

So~~~~~~~~~~~ back to your question! Glad to hear that you and K
are still together, it’s been a while since you guys left Ithaca, which means both of you have experienced and learned a lot from this relationship, so both of you should be proud of yourself! The question you raised is indeed very very hard to answer… whether to give up on someone you love but has got some “annoying” parts that you don’t like… it is good to aim at a life long companion even when you just start dating with someone (which a lot of people don’t normally do nowadays…), which means you have a much higher standard in terms of beginning a relationship, and being really devoted in it.

I don’t really know how to answer your question..apparently it’s
because i am still trying to figure out an answer myself  LOL, however
i might be able just to share some of my personal experience with you
🙂  So I started my first relationship in my sophomore year of college. He’s a really really nice guy, and we dated for almost a year. I ended the
relationship, largely because i just don’t see him as my husband in the future. I like his personality a lot, but I want a guy who are in tune with me in more ways and takes more rational control in a relationship…  i think it’s definitely a thing that varies from person to person. I value this part, which he doesn’t have (not in a short term), then I have to leave…

S is definitely more mature in terms of knowing  how much freedom and control he could and should take in a relationship, and how to balance the interaction. However, that doesn’t mean that we two are perfectly agree with each other on everything. He watches boring TV shows which I dare not to waste my time on, and I am very stubborn
on a lot of issues that he’s not comfortable with. Then I have to think, whether these things are major issues which will cause painful consequences for us in the future, or just minor ones that I could stand. Different people have their different values, standard and threshold of tolerance. I guess for now, I cannot say to myself that I can definitely work out these issues with him… what I CAN say is that, I haven’t met a guy (yet) who don’t have those issues, and at the same time have all other precious personalities that I see in him (and available plus willing to bravely start with me LOL). It’s the overall score that you have to look at … in a very practical sense.

If I won’t have any more choices in terms of dating other guys (omg… so sad… >_<), which means I’ll stick with S for the rest of my life (“horribly”). I cannot say that I’ve found my perfect match, but at least a fairly good one.

Indeed you are still young, and it’s a hard question to answer, even for people who have married for years, about what to value and when to
give up in a relationship… just follow your heart, if you are feeling unhappy, figure out the reason and whether this is an unsolvable issue, whether you love this person so that you can put up with the problem, or whether this is just a minor issue you will just be annoyed rather than hurt…

i know i said a lot… which perhaps won’t help that much in terms of
solving your doubts 🙂  I don’t know K that much, so it’s very hard for me to help you make any decision, hehe, but always to think in your relationship (which you are doing now :P), cherish everyday you
spent with K and …  keep your eyes open, cause you are really still young…

so what had happened to my first one… i met him a couple of months ago in the States. So yeah, he has grown up a lot compared to the old him 3 or 4 years ago (i am glad that a lot of good qualities in him remain unchanged). A lot of things that I didn’t like back then have gone… life, work, time has changed him, trained him to be a better man. I couldn’t imagine and don’t want to imagine what if i am still with this guy, how different his and my life would be … will he still change this much, or will I be happy or happier than now? No one can tell me the answer… i guess what i have to say is… K is also young… so don’t expect him too much (if that’s why you are feeling uncomfortable in your relationship with him), he’ll change in some day, with or without you. It’s all about how much you love this guy…

So,

do you want to grow up, mature, experience and move every step forward with him, or you wanna find someone who’s a better fit for you before you start loving …

Yours

Sally

Bravo! … and the “sketch” homework again…

Just got back from a friend’s piano recital from Barns  hall.  The performance totally blew me away. From Chopin’s Mazurka to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata to the last piece, the classical Piano Concerto No.1 from Tchaikovsky, his delivery was steady and yet very emotional. Having been entangled in a few life and future choices, it has been a while from the last time that I so “mindlessly” immersed myself in the flow of pure music. As a CSCW/CMC person, I guess I have already been well trained to make this comparison: would I still be so moved and feeling attached to the music and performance if I were watching the performance on a computer remotely? How can we, in this digital world, still preserve the original feeling and inspirations we get from a face to face performance, a live concert or music in general.

Have been reading the piece on the gap between social requirements and technical feasibility on and off during the weekend. The socio-technical gap mentioned by Ackerman et al is closely related to the social need in the field of CSCW, the need for collaborators to keep being aware of each other, to socially interact with each other. No matter how advance the collaboration system is, how many awareness channels it provides to distributed teams, this great divide between social needs and technical needs still gets in the way, limiting the possibility for us to build tangible social rapport via technology. CSCW or collaboration in general is still to some extent goal-oriented. However, the appreciation to music  or arts in general requires high personal involvement and reflections, which sets even a higher barrier for technology to come into play. I remember when I failed to get a ticket for Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera House, the staff there told me that I could go online, register an online account so that I could watch the HD live performance video of Carmen online. I did not even consider that is an option. I would rather wait then wasting my enjoyment of the performance in front of a computer. The intellectual challenge in terms of using technology to support arts or creating a art technology crossover raises even more challenging issues as the appreciation to arts is highly self-motivated and varies from person to person.

Inspired by my friend’s recital and this artistic-technical gap, my first two sketch ideas are aiming at creating an awareness to the appreciation of music on Cornell Campus.

1. Cornell’s most wanted song

I read a book called American’s most wanted painting last semester. Two artists Komar and Melamid did a national wide survey to collect American people’s preference on color, foreground object, background scene, arrangements, etc, and created a painting which is “in theory” a composition and representation of American artistic taste and preferences.  A similar technique can be applied to music preference. If we quantify music by the following criteria:

Genre / Tempo / Arrangement / Pitch / Accompany Instrument / Vocal Singer / lyrics …

A display can be place in Willard Straight Hall, or just a building with a high student flow-rate. The display will show a dynamically changing music score of Cornell’s Alma mater.  The dynamic changes come from the collective contribution from Cornell students. The idea is that, when a student place his or her mp3, iPod, music phone or just any device contains music files onto the surface of the display,  even iTune or Pandora account , the display will automatically subtract and import all the music features (tempo, pitch, etc.) of those files into the music database. Except for the lyrics part, every time the song starts over, it is based on a refreshed music database with updated tempo, pitch, etc.  The new song is collectively composed by Cornell students’ music collection, representing their music experience and preferences. For each individual contributor, right after he or she imported the music collection, a newly generated song will be send to his or her music player, ensuring he or she is the last contributor of this unique Alma mater.

I realize the visual display is a bit difficult to be applied in a situation of music appreciation. However, the same idea can surely be applied to photos.  Students can import the photos in their phones or cameras to generate a Cornell students’ most wanted picture.  However, compared to music, importing photos involves more privacy concerns. Advanced image processing techniques are required here to subtract objects from the photo so as to avoid showing any private visual information.

2. What’s in your music collection <> What your music taste is

Usually one’s music collection is exactly a representation of one’s music preferences. We all have those songs we listen to for tens or even hundreds of times, whereas some other songs are left alone in our collections and we seldom play them. The second sketch idea also involves importing individual music files to represent a collective music preference. However, instead of purely importing the song lists, the statistics of the times a song has been played will also be taken into consideration.

The display will be a collection of singer or artist names. The size of the name represents the frequency of it is appeared in one’s music collection, whereas the darker the color shows its actual popularity (how many times it has been played), which is a more accurate representation of one’s music preferences. Once a person’s music library is sync-ed with the display, as one’s music collection and playlist change, they’ll automatically be reflected on the display as well.  The display is a way to create the awareness of the variety of music. Cornell can use the information to arrange the on campus music performance accordingly, to both meet students’ music needs, and offer opportunities for students to learn and appreciate music that they less frequently listen to.

3. The Outreach of Kennedy Hall

With the help of various communication technologies, the scope of our communication can go beyond the physical limitation of a building. If use Kennedy Hall as an example, a professor can collaborate with some researchers from Canada via video conferencing system, students can text their high school friends in California, international students can even call their family members in other countries. If a system can subtract the location information from all the telecommunication activities (telephone conversations, text messages, emails, SNS communication, etc.) going on in the building, a follow visualization can tell us how the building is connected to the entire world. Different colors of those lines can refer to different telecommunication connections.

为什么我们缺少脱离务实层面的思辨(1)

早上起来在九点上念到这篇文章,太长的文章就难免字字珠玑,针针见血,但其中所映射的国人身上的功利与务实,确是我一直想写却没有下笔的题。萧功秦着重的是“特立独行的人生态度”,我想强调的更多的是脱离务实层面的思辨,思索和思考。

去年春季跟风选了一门商学院的课,满屋子的亚洲和印度面孔,上课讨论case做project自然也是热火朝天,但满耳满眼的customer analysis,revenue和monetization难免让人心生浮躁。或许是business school和授课制项目的特点,恨不得站起来发言的gg mm大有人在,真正静下心来写文章,除了列数据也只会列数据,对事实的分析无非是转载别人的评论和事实而已,少了广泛研究(literature review)和定性分析(qualitative analysis)的过程,没有给自己留下多少特立独行的思辨空间。即使有,可能也淹没在不断追赶的deadline中了。

商学院的课堂,当然只是美国大学的一部分,但却可能是整个中国教育甚至是社会的写照。

两年前决定要来念这个研究型的master of science(当然是冲着名号上的media studies和得来不易的stipend,退一万步也不是冲着master后面那个science来的)。两年之中,无数次羡慕意气风发的同学们抱着文件夹,穿着business suite在各个building奔来走去,presentation, interview甚至是拿到offer,而我更多的是抱着自己的小黑,读一叠叠感觉根本不可能在我的中文大脑里make sense的英文社科文献,然后再逼着自己写comment,写critique。我当然更喜欢在大教室享受知识的春风化雨,那让人更有存在感,觉得自己不是一个人在战斗,但现实却常常是,被逼在一个放十个人就坐得满的小教室里,冒着冷汗的拿着读了一个星期也没读懂的reading,跟美国PhD佬们学如何抬杠教授,抬杠同学,直到装B的最高境界,杠到自己身上。

没有那么多所谓的一个program的同学,同学就是我自己,没有人可以借作业给我抄,因为你不能拿着同样的一份paper去和教授说,恩,我大脑跟他一样,所以critique出来的东西恰好没差。不需要coordinate那么多group meeting,因为越长大就越意识到,思考和积累,常常并不需要一个团队。

两年过去了,码了那么多英文单词,被那么多传播学文献荼毒,我仍然没有工作,没有听起来响亮的实习,并且貌似离当初想象光鲜的media和journalism越离越远,离“灭绝师太”却越来越近,我也曾经是一个务实的猪,也曾经bs特立独行的猪们,但现在,我觉得自己戴着一副世俗的笑容,内心却在用一个不成比例的大脑,想要在理想与现实的夹缝中,在懂我的不懂我的人们的目光中,艰难的寻找思辨。

至少到现在,我还很庆幸这个并没有让我secure到任何job offer的文科degree所带给我的时间,空间和感悟。

系里的Shapiro教授说,每年学生们来都想学到新的东西,但那些太快,追逐之后其实什么也学不到,所以我只能回到原本,教些多少年都不会变的东西。什么是思辨,我想这首先源于对生活的观察和总结,无须在前面加上“深刻”或“仔细”之类的形容词,主动的观察总结本身就是弥足珍贵的过程。但这又与觥筹交错之中的高谈阔论有所区别,思辨旨在遁寻个中规律,比较相似事物之不同之处,或平凡事物之不凡之处时,在思索表象下的成因的过程中获得启发,并放到更general的socio-cultural环境下对更广泛的食物加以考虑。

思辨的基础,是与思想者们交流的积累和过程,可以是读书,可以是聊天,也可以是自省,但一定要留出这样的空间给自己。在这个时代,媒体,文字,图像,影像和任何一次性的东西一样,都是可以用后随即丢弃的快速消费品,静下心来交流和筛选是一件奢侈的事情。

所以我想我还是应该感激教授们布置的又厚又重的reading,应该感激olin里那些不和谐的华文书籍,应该感激订阅的这些思索的博客主们的文字。这些知识的积累,想法的串联以及思辨的熏陶,是不无代价的:你会发现未被思索的世界的范围大到之前的无法想象,于是你开始敬仰并感叹人类/性的复杂和难以预测,我不知道这是否会让一个年轻人的锐气被磨平,但在感受到这些未知和难以克服的力量之后,我通常会觉得个人的命运是难以把握的(然后我就马上跳回务实的层面,打开自己的银行账户,觉得仍需与稻粱为谋,hehe)。进而,思维的复杂并不一定能带来决策的明智,可能大多数人凭直觉作出的选择和思辨的选择是殊途同归的,又回到“锐气”概念上,想得太多,会否行动迟缓?

这又需联系到个人的本质价值取向。如果思辨是目的,那么迟缓保证的是思维的完整性,如果思辨是途径,那么就需要考虑思辨所带来的投入产出比了,至于衡量机制是名还是利,那就要各位扪心自问了。

(我发现我真是个没药救的老娭毑…)