Saturday, 7 September 2013

Marshall McLuhan

We learn in lecture that Canadian technology theorist Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) is our grounding in a scientific approach to technology: one half of the titular subject of LIBS 7007.

Here are some introductory links (reproduced here from the Course 'Reading & Resources' section) , and a list of the assigned chapters of his Understanding Media. (You will understand once you read the text that the word 'media' is a strictly precise and enlightening synonym for the word 'technology.')
  1. Read the brief web biography of Marshall McLuhan at
  2. Follow the avatar Marshall McLuhan on Twitter.
  3. Watch (and laugh with) McLuhan's legendary cameo appearance on Woody Allen's classic film "Annie Hall".
  4. Read the following sections on Marshall McLuhan's I "Understanding Media", (online .pdf):
    • All of Part I (Chapters 1-7)
    • In Part II, the following chapters:
      • Chapter 10, "Roads and Paper Routes"
      • Chapter 15, "Clocks: the Scent of Time"
      • Chapter 18, "The Printed Word: The Architect of Nationalism"
      • Chapter 19, "Wheel, Bicycle, and Airplane."
      • Chapter 22, "Motorcar: the Mechanical Bride"
McLuhan is a writer of significance, creativity, immense technological insight, and wide erudiction. Time spent reading him returns great value to the Engineering student.

How To Take Notes

"Learn how to listen and you will prosper even from those who talk badly.” Plutarch (AD 46-120) Greek Biographer & Philosopher.
The Student Learning Commons at the W.A.C. Bennett Library at Simon Fraser University has an exceptionally helpful on-line guide to effective note-taking at lecture. (It is a trifle disconcerting reading for the Lecturers themselves, because it implies--indeed, all-but declares--that many of us are dull, confused, inarticulate, habituated and otherwise deficient in our craft.)

The guide is available online in .pdf format at this hotlink.

The Student Learning Commons additionally has an entire page of links to on-line resources to improve the student's "Listening & Note-Taking" at this hotlink.

Note-taking in lecture is one of the skills that one learns at post-secondary institutions that has material applicability in life. Arguably, learning how to take written notes from oral delivery is one of the most practically valuable benefits of a post-Secondary education.

In professional, governmental, community appointments, inability to properly take notes in meetings is a significant handicap to success. Leaning now the art and skill of note-taking will position you to rise above the many and, in brute language, succeed.

Thaink about what proper note-taking actually is. It is the learned ability to listen and observe the speaker's body language and then recognise, record, and reorganise to your own requirements the truly valuable information, insight, and intelligence that the speaker is giving. This is money--free, found money-- simply picked up for nothing by those  who have taken the trouble to learn note-taking.

It is the wisdom beside the famous Shelrock Holmes rebuke to Watson: "you see, but you do not observe." Holmes has trained hmself in that skill and so takes for himself all the value that lesser others are unable to access. Be Holmes: raise yourself above the many

These resources linked here are immensely valuable: especially as it is increasingly common for undergraduates to confuse note-taking with copying down PowerPoint slides. It is rule worth learning that nowhere is PowerPoint the Lecture: lectures are what happen when you are distracted by copying down PowerPoint slides.

The Queen's English

Here is a Public Service Announcement on the Queen's English.

Instructor Contact Information

Instructor, Liberal Studies
BCIT, SW2, Room 108,
3700 Willingdon Ave.
Burnaby, B.C. V5G 3H2

Office Hours: Thursday 21:00-21:30 SW1 2590

I began my IT career in 1979 as a Computer Operator: by 1986, Mananger of Computer Operations, Western Region, for Geac Computers International, which was a great Canadian corporate success story 'back in the day'—the company effectively created on-line banking technology. In 1987 I moved to SFU to take my Ph.D., working also full-time as an IT technician.

From 2003 to 2011 I was full time Lecturer in the Department of English at SFU, teaching and publishing in scholarly fields relating to Victorian literature, 20th C. British literature, and Japanese literature, classical & modern. This year I moved here to Liberal Studies at BCIT.

I have a very great deal of practical and academic experience in two areas pertinent to IT, Business expectations, and digital Course delivery.
  • Professional writing and Technical writing. Example, from 1992 to 2002 I was Chairman of the Advisory Committe to the Professional Writing Program—"Print Futures"—at Douglas College.
  • Online course incorporation, and development of pedagogy that advances individual independence as a necessary faculty for higher professional excellence. I began writing online course at Geac for staff at our international banking clients as early as 1981, and I worked for several years on Distance Education modules at SFU.
My expertise is available to help your own professional development through LIBS 7007.

On Writing Well

From the Nota Bene section of the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily is a useful article which encourages plain English by offering "some thoughts on writing well."
At my local recycling center, the first bin is labeled “commingled containers.” Whoever dreamed up this term could have taken the easy way out and just written “cans and bottles.” But no, the author opted for words out of the bureaucrat’s style book, and chose the raised-pinky elegance of a phrase distant from normal English. He also added poor spelling (“comingled,” also a correct spelling, would have been clearer) and pointless redundancy (the concept of “co” is already embedded in the word “mingled”). How did they pack so many errors into two words of modern environmental prose?