Monday, December 03, 2007

Abstract. This paper describes a community of practice on concept mapping that has been established in Turin, Italy by
DSCHOLA. The main purpose of the community is to differentiate the various forms of knowledge representation from each other and to recover the general function of the knowledge representation connected with the learning environment. As a starting
point, the community defined and shared a set of founding documents, which includes the Manifesto and the Documentation template. The community aims at structuring and organizing selective criteria in order to produce and make available documentations dealing with good practices on concept mapping.

Not necessarily a rigorous paper, but it shows what I call "nucleation" pretty well.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Positive Unconditional Regard

Positive unconditional regard is a neat thing if we manage it well. Most people facing an active listener think that the listener actually agrees with them, while s/he is only saying "it's ok to have those feelings" and "you are not a bad person even if you've made many mistakes".

However, it does not mean "it's ok to be messed up".

The point is, how do you convey positive unconditional regard without passing the "I agree with everything you say" message?

To tell you the truth, I don't think it can be done. What people perceive drastically depends on what they want to perceive. If they want to hear that their MH professional actually agrees with them, there isn't much that can be done.

Am I wrong?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

7 Tesla Professionals

I've always thought that a person, before being able to perform medical acts (which is something one acquires through learning and practice), needed to be a healer. Similarly, I thought that, before being able to perform facilitation acts, one needed to be a facilitator and, before being able to perform volunteer management acts, one needed to be a manager, ontologically speaking.

Somehow in my mind (and it might very well have been the 3 years of Philosophy in High School), I thought that people, in order to be able to do what they wanted to do, needed to be whoever it takes to to be in order to do those things. To my amazement, Parmenides influenced me more than I would have guessed he did. I bought his "for never shall this prevail, that things that are not are" entirely. As a logic (as in formal logic) corollary, I thought that things that are will prevail. So, I couldn't possibly make sense of doctors not being healers, facilitators not being listeners, volunteer managers not being organizers of people and resources.

Among the many lines from Parmenides, this one "For thought and being are the same" is the one I love the most. It's probably because, as a Myers-Briggs ENTJ, I like to look at the world with logic.

I didn't say I only look at logic stuff, discounting feelings and intuition. I did say I look at the world with logic and infer meaning through logic. For example: my heart beats faster all of a sudden so I think that I either feel threatened or I'm somewhat sick. I don't waste time wondering "do I like it or not", "what do I think of it" and the like. I live on the outside, so I FIRST try to understand the world around me and what it means, then I try to understand what my behaviors give away about my feelings about it, then I figure out what my feelings tell me about my inner beliefs. Finally, I try to figure out if I am a fit for that given situation and, if I am not, I move elsewhere. I detect what I feel basing on how I behave, and I figure out what I should believe basing on what the world is.

I don't live my life inside of myself thinking about what I like/dislike or feel all the day long, I don't think that everything I dislike is wrong and everything I like is right, I don't feel insulted if someone disagrees with me, dislikes me or even insults me, I don't live in my head constantly preoccupied about making arguments to prove I'm right or impress the audience, and who does looks to me like a person that is so weak that s/he can't take to look at his/her flaws without having to sweep them under the carpet and pretend s/he never fails.

I needed this digression to explain more of the topic I chose today.

If I were one of those non-healer doctors, I would give up medicine. Granted, it would be painful. It was when I gave it up sooner, when I thought that my bipolar disorder was too much of a hindrance. But because of the way I am, I can't lie to myself and I can't do something useless. In this case, I would look at my interactions with the world, think "you are no healer therefore it makes no sense for you to practice medicine" and would do something else. Also because, in all frankness, there is nobody I think less of the Emperor without clothes. Not because he was stupid but because he was pretending to see what wasn't there JUST not to acknowledge his stupidity. For this reason, I have a hard time understanding how people can choose to "be" doctors, facilitators, volunteer managers when their actions prove that they are not one. I constantly think they might be able to fool themselves, but they won't be able to fool others.

How do they do it?

They live in their head (or, as Parmenides would call it, doxa, the way of opinions) while I live in aletheia (the way of truth). Not because I'm always right, and not even because I'm smart. It's just because that's the way I am: I just look at facts, and I look at actions, feelings and beliefs as if they were facts (ie: observable, reproduceable, enacted). That's why I want to practice science: I am a scientist.

But there are many "Emperors" among scientists.

I saw evidence-based scientists saying they want to "spread the message" of EBM as if it were a religion (have you ever noticed how many scientists workship since as if it were God, just to proudly claim to have no God? Another appalling nonsense). A psychiatrist told me, before my eyes, that there was no point for me to get a Master in Neuroscience since the name "Neuroscience" was already in the name of the PhD program I intended to apply to after I was done with my MSc in Neuroscience. He also added he was going to get a "7 tesla MRI for neuroscience" as if neuroscience = MRI and as if MRI (structural and functional) were enough to unravel the mysteries of the brain! Another doctor I know pretended not to receive emails from one of his patients in order to push a person close to his patient to contact him.

This is by no means exclusive to doctors, by the way. I also know of facilitators who don't facilitate their own groups out of "I'm tired to be a facilitator" (which I would agree with IF such group had in fact another moderator, otherwise it's just inconsistent... it's like touting the virtues of the product you sell while you refuse using it in your life!), as well as volunteer managers who train people on volunteer management but heavily suck at it.

I am positive that all these people should follow who they are deep within, rather than who they (or their parents, or friends) want them to be. Maybe they wouldn't be nearly as rich or as famous, but they would be better persons and after all that is the only thing that people are going to really cherish about us.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Putnam's Latest Work and the Left

Few days ago Robert Putnam (yes, the one of Bowling Alone) published a study that was disparaged in most left-leaning journals and blogs.

In a recent post on JISCmail listserv, Putnam himself points out how many many people criticized his paper without having read the original, but only basing on the press interpretation of his study.

As a left-leaning person, I can attest how this is a quintessential "regular lefty" behavior... Rather than reading the sources, lefties trust "reputable sources of information" - read: some left-leaning newspapers - that, by blindly attacking (or defending) this or that person, scholar, politician, etc manipulate the audience into believing that the newspaper's opinion or a preference is, in fact, a fact.

Will the "let me tell you what you think tovarish" ever end? Will the left (and the lefties) ever stop patronizing, "educating" people and shaming dissenters and critical thinkers into submission via a partisan use of science?

I hope so... the World desperately needs the Left. But, not this one!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Open Access News

For the many of you all into knowledge management, open software or any combination of the two, here's something you might love:
Open Access News.

Of particular notice is the Kronenberg Declaration. One would almost believe it if s/he didn't know the roster of UN bidders (and accepted bids) and understood either they can't possibly mean what they say or their hypofrontality takes over and they hire the cheapest unqualified Johnny who presents a bid.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Recently, scientific studies claim a deterrent effect for death penalty.

Supposing it were true and correct, I ask: sterilizing people who carries genes for potentially lethal disorders presumably lowers the rate of overall disabilities. But... does this make forced mass sterilization right?

It's time for people to start thinking beyond mere convenience, effectiveness, efficiency, and the like!

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Emerging Technology: New Opportunities for the Community Sector

CALL FOR PAPERS -- Academic Paper Submissions now close 1 July 2007

Making Links 2007
Emerging Technology: New Opportunities for the Community Sector

Tuesday 30th - Wednesday 31st October 2007 NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre, Surry Hills, Sydney

The 4th annual Making Links conference is one of Australia’s leading forums for workers in the not-for-profit and community sectors to showcase their work and to explore current and emerging new media and information and communications technology (ICT). This two-day conference has regularly attracted delegates and presenters from many fields including health, environment, education, business, government, philanthropy and human services to discuss their experiences with ICT, multimedia and web technology. This year we are adding a peer reviewed academic stream to the conference and look forward to also welcoming practitioners, researchers, academics and students from a wide range of disciplines.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
.. Community networking, community development, community capacity building .. Technology for social action, transformation and community activism, including online campaigning .. Social capital .. Open source software for non-profit and community organisations .. Online deliberation, community consultation and engagement .. Web-based training, education, e-learning and professional development .. New Media, community arts and community cultural development .. Client / constituent relationship management .. Fundraising .. Technology infrastructure, implementation and maintenance .. Strategies of using ICT to give marginalised communities a voice .. Practical workshops in IT, web development and/or multimedia

Academic paper submissions (max 5000 words, APA 5th style) will be subject to a double blind review process and evaluated on the basis of their significance, originality, and clarity of writing in accordance with DEST E1 requirements. This review will be based on the full text of the submitted paper. Selected papers will be published in a special issue of the academic journal 3CMedia. It is necessary for at least one author of any accepted submission to register and attend the conference to have the paper published in the proceedings. Submissions should be emailed to Dr Marcus Foth at

01 July 2007 Full academic paper submissions due: NOW DUE 01 JULY 2007
20 August 2007 Notification of acceptance and review reports sent to
01 October 2007 Revised, camera ready papers due
Program announcement and close of early bird registration

We seek proposals for non-peer-reviewed oral paper presentations, workshops and interactive multimedia displays. A computer lab and video lounge will be available for multimedia and film presentations.
Abstracts and proposals should be submitted here and will be reviewed by the conference committee.
02 July 2007 Abstracts and proposal submissions due
03 September 2007 Notification of acceptance
01 October 2007 Program announcement and close of early bird

Conference Chair
Jill Sergeant, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO)

Academic Program Chair
Marcus Foth, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Organising Committee
Simon Gee, CommunIT, Community Information Strategies Australia (CISA) Jonathan Hallett (Western Australian Centre for Health Promotion Research, Curtin University of Technology) Liz Landray, Infoxchange Australia Liliana Ruti, Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) Juan Salazar, Media Studies and Production, University of Western Sydney (UWS)