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Research, Learning, TGL

16 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

I've been asked how we could improve TGL. When you improve something, that implies that you are working toward something. The problem with TGL is that our goals here are vague. Does anyone here actually know what this website is about? Are we just another forum?

I think TGL could be so much more. This place has stagnated, and it seems like it's headed for failure. Maybe that strikes a nerve with some, but that's what I think.

Hugo seems to have been inspired to create TGL after reading Ivan Illich's writings (or some other people)

Recently it occurred to me that I'm not quite sure how to "learn" or conduct "research".

I actually googled "how to do research" to see what would come up. On a website for some university, it said that your graduate thesis research is original, rather than previous undergraduate work which is just repeating what other people said.

Let's just use an example: Say I want to ... "research" the fact that adjectives and verbs are the same thing in Japanese. And I actually think this is true, I didn't just make that up. I'm pretty sure I can prove that adjectives and verbs are the same thing by using relative clauses (it becomes blatantly obvious when use relative clauses as an example). Of course, I'm sure 1000 people have beat me to it, if not 50,000.

So perhaps the first step is to go look up existing literature on the subject of adjectives, nouns, and relative clauses. Then what? I mean, what's the point of my research? To learn something new? What if I want to share my findings with others? What's the proper way to do this? What if I want to collaborate with others? I'm 99.99% certain that someone else has already noticed that adjectives and verbs are the same thing in Japanese, so what's the point of even beginning to research this topic?

So many questions ... To respond to my own last question, I suppose if I start looking up other literature, I may discover some things that will change my views, and perhaps lead me to other areas.

Another way I could approach this is by documenting examples of what I'm talking about in various contexts: spoken language, slang, written language, poems maybe, newspapers... They all have a peculiar style of expression, and maybe I could show examples in each one to demonstrate certain patterns in the language.

The problem is that every field has different methods. Trying to discover a linguistic pattern in a language is different from researching quantum spin or something. Or maybe not, in fact I can see someone responding to that later and saying there is no real difference...

But for practical purposes, I just want to know how to conduct research. But first I need to know what the point of research is, then maybe everything else will fall into place.

Here's another example: How about a postcolonial criticism of Hayao Miyazaki's movie Grave of the Fireflies? I haven't watched the movie in a while (I'll watch it again), but that movie is perfect. A melodramatic flick that follows around a young boy and his little sister in Japan 1945 right at the end of WWII.

So what do I do? Go watch the movie? That might be worthless since if I don't know anything about colonialism, then my active watching won't produce anything. So perhaps a casual viewing of the movie, then go read about some ideas in colonialism, then maybe watch the movie again, then start writing? But how do I properly write about such a thing? I suppose some kind of essay, or perhaps even a small book.

How about writing about how anime challenges the distinction between high and low culture? What should I do? Where do I start? How do I write an essay?

It's stupid that I don't know about any of this. More than half my life in the education system, and I'm probably dumber coming out of it.

Don't let me down, TGL. Can you help me with this stuff? Help me with my research?

Are there any average people out there, not in the oppressive education system, willing to actually go forth with this?

I have a feeling that not even TGL is willing to go that far. Would anyone even read my stuff? At least help me get started?

A couple of months ago, Parody was complaining about how he wasn't getting any responses to his posts. We need more structure here, maybe actually get a discussion going about what the hell the point of this website is.

Frankly I just want to pursue some of these things I'm interested in, and I'm wondering if I can actually get some help doing it。

And I think discussions are too unstructured and don't produce anything. There needs to be more structure. I think discussions should be more casual, and chaotic, after throwing some ideas around, then you go organize them and deepen the ideas exchanged in the discussion.

I see no reason why this forum can't be producing even better stuff than the garbage in academia. And getting published in some kind of academic journal is a horrible idea to me. It's unlikely I'll get any kind of feedback. I'd rather post my "research" (like if it was about anime or something) on some kind of anime forum full of teenagers. It's sad that I would actually get more out of doing that than actually getting published in academia. lmao

Edited by Michio
deleting tautology

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Posted

Thanks for posting this also, Michio. As you know, we've been discussing this stuff alongside the moderation issue and I've put together a few things to hopefully help give the site a clearer identity. I think we both can and should help each other; one of the main problems, it seems to me, is the small number of participating members and hence the difficulty in sustaining conversations and projects. Ultimately I'd like to see people using this site instead of trying to go through the academic mill, making the notion of doing research into subjects and ideas that interest us one that's detached from formal schooling, removing the assumptions that we need particular qualifications and can only do research in universities. I have aspirations to do this myself, at least, by undertaking some research on the site and hoping others here and across the web will join in with feedback. We can certainly help each other if we make and sustain commitments to do so.

I put the questions back to you and everyone else: what should this site be about? What should we aim at? How should we try to achieve it?

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Posted

I found this site because after some quick research into self-education, I found advice that philosophy is that place to start. Google did the rest. ~_^ Is it too optimistic to think this site can be more about philosophy?

Take Michio's interests - it's arguable that there is philosophy to be found in every field, but philosophical analysis of the Japanese language probably narrows down one's options considerably.

Why can't we have a sticky somewhere, in each of the forum topics, for example, listing links to threads within those subforums that cover different topics. Michio starts a discussion on adjectives and verbs in the Japanese language, and that becomes THE forum for that discussion, linked in a sticky. Then the thread could contain background information - things others have already researched, facts, encyclopedia articles, etymology, cultural information, explorations and explanations into different, specified research topics and questions. As the questions are identified in this thread, new threads are created to explore those specific questions, with links to these question threads listed in the first post of the original research thread.

Now we've got a thread with information, that is, theoretically, forever growing, and threads investigating the answers to different questions. The ultimate goal in these question threads could be an article, as long or in depth as the participators want. Once an article is created, it can go to another thread that criticizes the article, proofs it, suggests alterations, basically a thorough reviewing process.

The final result? An article that can be published in the Library portion of the website. The proud creation of the community that lives here, and the productive end result to which we may strive to add more direction and purpose to our education.

I rather like this idea because it turns the Library into a place people can come to learn from, instead of a place where people come to chatter philosophically. We don't need to lose the philosophical chatter, I know the ejoyment we get out these things, but I agree with Michio that there also needs to be something of substance, a product, to motivate our educative process.

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Posted

God you win Elys. This. Jesus Christ, I want to do this so bad now. lol

(P.S. Respond to my IMs on AIM kthxbai.)

I think we uphold discussions too much here. Discussions should be the chicken feed. Our "final product" should be the beautiful statue that we build together.

If we're worried about "one-liners", a sort of review process, and continuous touching up will naturally take care of that. So if we add some kind of structure, there will be no more one-liners and dead discussions.

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Posted

You'll both have to take my word for it but this is akin to the model I've been proposing privately over recent weeks. The idea, as I see it, is for each element of the site to feed the others, mutually supporting but aiming ultimately to develop a resource to help people learn on their own terms. The way this would play out is for casual discussions to generate questions, which then become more structured conversations; these in turn should help us develop interviews or more detailed blog posts on our individual blogs, which then feed back into the forum; finally, blogs and forum discussions can be edited together into articles and essays that make up the resource. Additionally, the blogs and articles are themselves open to comments (unlike now) so they can both generate further conversation and be amended as appropriate as new people join and offer their input or as the information and discussion available reshapes the content. We already have a mountain of content that could be put together in this way - the only thing stopping us is the time and effort it requires. For me, all of this facilitates the open and open-ended learning that's the aim of the site.

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Posted

the only thing stopping us is the time and effort it requires.

Nobody will take it seriously because we're on the internet. This isn't school, so obviously we shouldn't take this as seriously as I'm envisioning.

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Posted

Why all the fuss in the OP if you think nobody will take anything on the internet seriously?

Kids these days. :lol:

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Posted

Why all the fuss in the OP if you think nobody will take anything on the internet seriously?

Kids these days. :lol:

I was trying to start a revolution. O__O

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Posted

I think I'm thinking along your line, Michio, and I've already offered my own ideas to Hugo and others along a more structured path. My main hesitancy was that I was concerned that I might be the only one who wanted a different structure to the site but I found that Hugo and others were welcome to the ideas I presented, or at least it's direction, and it's nice to see that you've had similar thoughts. Really, I think there's a certain timeliness to the transition that this site is about to make. The internet is certainly becoming serious business, but only insofar as it undermines the seriousness of everything else. There are institutions that have long existed that have been taken far too seriously, and perhaps our education system is one of them. By bringing education online we make it less serious yet hopefully, at the same time, more fruitful; and we have to ask the questions you're asking now, the why and how of it. The education system has thought it's had these answers, but not many that we can use. We wonder if they really knew.

Even the term "education" I think has been tainted by it's seriousness, it is only by want of a better term that I equivocate this as being like that. Because, what we have on this site now, which I agree with you on, is basically a social club for people with common interests. This has been the model that has been successful so far on the internet*. There is, not only this site, but sites like Philosophy Forums, Physics Forum, and all sorts of other sites that are dedicated to various specialties, and many of them are obviously successful at what they do. Indeed, if these sorts of sites weren't successful there would be plenty of reason to doubt what is being contemplated here would have any success at all. But it is obvious that there are plenty of people online who are interested in intellectual subjects and willing to discuss them online. I also think it is true that not a vast majority of them are college students which means people are not just discussing subjects that they are learning elsewhere.

If I read you guys right, I think there are many of us who are interested in the prospect of transitioning from being a social club for people with similar interests to becoming fora for online education. Seriously, though hopefully in a less than business-like fashion. This isn't just the continuation of what we've been doing but, I think, a discrete step toward having a more substantial purpose and reason for being. But with this, no one wants the social club that we now have to go away, so we want a platform that accommodates both. There is no tension here, I think both functions complement each other nicely. But this is certainly an extension of our mission and our brand.

In response to another point you're making, let me say this. Some people value informed opinions and criticize baseless opinions. Some people defer to education and attack ignorance. I'm not one of those people, nor do I think you should be either. Education, or what I would rather call inquiry, is a process, not some state of being. You should be careful what the above rhetoric denotes and what affect the rhetoric of "informed opinion" and even "educated" can have on people who want to promote a culture of genuine inquiry.

The goal should be, not to ensure that informed opinions are expressed and baseless opinions stay silent, but that current opinions are replaced with better ones. But this can only happen if people feel free to say what they think is the true. Similarly, I hope we never develop a culture where we freely use "ignorant" as an insult, and when I see that I'll be the first to gladly admit that I am ignorant, that there are plenty of things that I don't know, and that's why I'm here. But of all the time I've been here I've never seen that, I've had to wander around other blogs and fora to see at other places this abuse is still quite common, and I'm pleased to report we have good people here :)

So that's the goal of research (to use another all too serious word), in my opinion, and that is simply to replace our beliefs with better beliefs, and opinions with better opinions. As to how to conduct research, I think you're right to desire that this site function as more of a guide towards doing that. For instance, people who are interested in a particular subject, such as the subject you brought up, shouldn't feel like they have to all engage in study on their own. But this is exactly where this site, as it currently exists, falls short and that is expressly because it fills the role of being a social club and little beyond that. If you learn something from this site it is through a sort of osmosis by listening to discussions and asking questions. I think the "Ask the Librarian" forum of this site is supposed to sort of act in a more research role but I think it's limited by it's breadth.

Dividing the site into easily created and managed groups, which Hugo has in mind, I think is exactly the right idea here. Creating a group signifies your interest in a particular subject. These groups, I suggest, should be relatively narrow in focus. For instance, I would prefer Modern Epistemology to Philosophy, Current Events to Politics, Learn Japanese to Language Studies and so on. Then, anyone else interested in that subject merely has to sign up to your group. Someone needs to be the maintainer for the group and that person has moderating privileges for the group. Different groups can be more or less strict. And the maintainer has the duty of keeping a list of resources, and some more strict groups might have a list of required reading or other prerequisites. The forums we have here are really too broad.

An interest group, I think, represents an obvious truism, that people are going to spend the time and effort studying something they are interested in. I see an interest group as the online equivalent of a classroom, but with a fundamental difference. The significance and importance of the subject is determined completely by the individual, according to one's own evaluative standpoint. This is very different from the classroom where the significance of the subject is determined by a curriculum, which is the government's opinion on what should be studied. So in a very real way the classroom becomes boring and dull, and all sorts of bribes and penalties are devised to ensure that students complete their work, and teachers teach the curriculum.

I don't think anyone is just curious in general, but their are attracted by certain subjects and so seems right to let a person's interests guide them. When you have multiple people who are interested in the same subject, then I think you have a real team for learning about that subject. One thing that the current incarnation of the site constantly runs into is that people are trying to broach topics that others here have very little interest in, and that promotes a culture where people are afraid to speak up. But what if you could evaluate the amount of interest people have in a topic before you start your thread? That's the kind of thing that an interest group will excel in.

I could go on and on but I won't. Just to say that I support the transition at least insofar as I understand it to be.

* Please, could we stop pluralizing this word? It's not funny anymore.

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Posted

Haha! It looks like everyone's been thinking the same thing all along. =p

(Michio, you sent me one AIM message, and I was unable to respond, and now you're not online, so now it's all your fault! =p)

Perhaps we need a decider to make a decision? We're all giving ideas and examples and apparently unanimous support. We simply need a god to say, "So it is written, so it shall be."

And Michio! Stop being to pessimistic! Just because this is the internet, doesn't mean people don't care. Especially us folk, who, I think, take our discussions here rather seriously (according to POL's guidance on use of this word).

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Posted

Perhaps we need a decider to make a decision? We're all giving ideas and examples and apparently unanimous support. We simply need a god to say, "So it is written, so it shall be."

I think it's already being decided. Hugo and others have been working on it for some time now. I'm just advocating :) But I imagine there will be plenty of experimenting to do, just as what happened with this site and the previous incarnation.

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Posted

Michio, reading your OP motivated me to write a few words. Unfortunately, it took me an extra day or two to figure out what I wanted to actually say in that post. Since what I've written is by no means exhaustive (let alone complete!), if anybody wants to help flesh it out as a pilot test of a collaborative essay for the site, please have at 'er!

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Posted

I was hoping something had been done in regards to suggestions made in this thread during my absence. Any changes? Or is TGL the same Ol' TGL that I left in '09?

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Posted

Yes, things are moving on. Have a look here (especially the follow-on posts), here and here for more detail. I'm currently working with new software and we should be ready to move soon. :)

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Posted

TGLings

I have half a dozen mind blowing research projects (aside from my own Phd) that may interest some here

So what I would probably like to have (read this as a requirement perhaps)

is a page in a section where i can outline with a sentence or two, or so, what I have in mind, and where others can decide to jump on board

Also, have come aross half a dozen great people who may do good interviews

Plus -got an idea for an article

I ll be happy for rigorous review/editing from peers before stuff is made live, so perhaps a place where only community members can chip in, before the output becomes public

Let me know how to go about it (other than emailing Hugo privately to discuss the above, or any subset thereof)

P

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Posted

I think the proposed Sandbox/Wiki area would be ideal for this or just an ordinary topic. Feel free to get in touch with the potential interviewees and ask if they're interested. You can also share your article idea here for feedback.

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