Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Communications: the aftermath in Mel's brain

(Note to self: someday, write notes about the end of systems, and about diversity. Carrying on...)

In approximately 45 minutes, Raymond Yim managed to completely metastasize - and I use that word in a positive sense because it was a HAPPY MIND BLOWING VIRUS OF UNDERSTANDING - all six of our minds. We started laughing in recognition halfway through the lecture and couldn't stop. I think we're going to have to go back and explain to him why we were laughing. Hopefully it wasn't to confusing.

He managed to, without knowing it, touch on every single point, every single class, assignment, lecture, EVERYTHING - we had covered with three other professors in three separate modules during the first half of the semester. Everything. On top of it, I was laughing because last semester's Analog and Digital Communications stuff suddenly snapped into focus (not perfect clear focus, but it was definitely a large discontinuous jump towards better understanding) - and beside me, Chandra was scribbling notes down about how to apply this to her AHS capstone - and I can only guess at what the other four were thinking, but I'm going to be observing Marco and Andy tomorrow morning for my anthropology homework and will be doubling that up by observing their transactions from the standpoint of a peer-to-peer communication channel.

Some terms from Diversity, badly mangled
  • epistemic privelege - a receiver that compensates for a lousy channel can appreciate "how much better" it is with a good one, and cope with a good channel.
  • stereotype threat and lift - when transmitting to multiple receivers, you can have a scheme that selectively transmits to the antennaes you "think" will do better... so of course they will do better.
  • admissions criteria and affirmative action - you're going to transmit a certain type of message at your college, you need to get the right kind of receivers so you maximize your throughput.
  • class strata - incompatible communications schemes, like having an FM system trying to pick up an AM signal.

Some ideas from information fluency, similarly mangled

  • Understanding the system of how people decode and deal with a diversity of sources is an information fluency skill. (Heck, that gets all of them.)
  • Moving along the information-to-knowledge spectrum in the pedagogy domain could be facilitated by using engineering concepts to convey pedagogical techniques to engineers.
Definitely one of the most enlightening hours I've ever spent in a classroom. In fact, class excited me so much that I went to the library to read and type about communications because I was just so worked up about it and didn't want to lose momentum. Figured I'd be there for maybe 15 minutes before the steam ran out, would just be a little late to class. Nope. I was in there for three hours. I was learning stuff the entire time.

Okay, so I ended up roaming far, far away from communications (somewhere in the middle of fluid dynamics which turned into chemistry which turned into a dinnertime discussion about low-pass filters which - come to think of it, actually brought me back around into communications) but wow that was good. Once the walls between systems, diversity, information fluency, and communications crumbled, it was like no disciplinary walls existed whatsoever for an afternoon and I just ran around and learned stuff and it was... felt... so... good. Instead of jumping spasmodically between my projection spaces for various disciplines as I switched gears, one sort of morphed slowly into another so that I was understanding things the entire time. This. was. weird.

Alas, this feeling is very much not conducive towards getting homework done, which is what I have to do now. Nap first, though. Nap, then work, and then someday I can tackle the long list of things I now want to learn as a result of this afternoon. Ye gods.


Mel said...

Addendum: as I published this post, I thought "man, my channel is fading. I need sleep."

And then " jitter up the background noise in my brain so I can start recognizing input again. My brain's too dead to do anything, and the signals are coming in too weakly to trigger any sort of response."


And now I'm actually going to sleep. I'm not going to read that paper on stochastic resonance. No. I need bed. Must improve channel by going to bed. Mel is sleeping now.

Mel said...

Looking back on it, stochastic resonance might not be a bad way of explaining how ADHD medications work (the stimulants, anyway).