Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What is Critical Thinking

When I started my BA in Fine Art the subject area I found interesting but baffling was Critical Studies. No one really explained to me what CS was about, to me it was a mix of contextual studies and art history with a bit of philosophy thrown in. No one really explained that it was all about Critical Thinking but what is Critical Thinking?

Here is one definition:-
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following: understand the logical connections between ideas. Link

And another:-

Critical thinking is the process we use to reflect on, access and judge the assumptions underlying our own and others ideas and actions. Link

Ok, that's the what and the why how about the how? As is so often my experience in education you are told what and why but never how. How do you think reflectively and independently?

Well a BA, an MA and half a PhD further down the learning road I think I may have found the answer: Socratic Questioning!

What is Socratic Questioning? To answer the question the best place to start is my favourite PhD mentoring Blog, The Thesis Whisperer where Dr Inger Mewburn, Director of research training at the Australian National University, doles out words of wisdom and support for flagging PhD students. Link

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Zotero Support: How to back up your Zotero library

I nearly had a heart attack this morning when I thought I had lost my Zotero database after resetting Firefox to its default settings. However fortunately it synced to the online backup and all was well but it made me realise that it was a long time since I had done a local backup. Here is a useful link from the Zotero website to guide you through the process of making a  backup.

This link is taken from the Zotero website, click the link or the image to go directly to the page...

  1. To back up your Zotero library you will need to locate the Zotero data directory where your Zotero data is stored on your computer. To do this click on the actions button (gear icon) in the Zotero toolbar and select preferences:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First Day at School Photograph - PhD Project

First Day at School Photomicrograph and Legend on Verso

If the information written on this photograph is correct this is a snapshot of me aged 9 in school uniform taken on the occasion of my first day at school. The photograph was found in one of my mothers many photograph albums. The above reproduction of the photograph shows a caption on the reverse of the photograph in her handwriting.

I am shown standing alongside the Prefab in which we had lived since 1947.The Prefab was on the Belle Vale estate on the edgelands of Liverpool between Childwall and Woolton. The estate of 1500 prefabricated buildings was built to replace the housing stock destroyed during the war. They were intended to house families with one or more children. We are about to move house to Allerton and I was about to move schools.

This photograph is the basis of my art practice research based PhD thesis. My research is concerned with the snapshot photograph and its relationship with memory. The thesis endeavours to answer the question, why do we take snapshots. I am using this photograph as a lens through which to explore this question.

My research is based on an exhibition which takes this photograph as its central theme. Part of the exhibition explores the snapshot pose as represented in this photograph. I am interested in the banality and repetition of the pose in such snapshots and I am curious to understand if there is a fundamental reason why, as individuals, we take such similar snapshots.

I have set up a Facebook page with a view to collecting together at least 50 photographs that reflect the theme "First Day at School". These photographs, with the owners permission, will be used as the basis for an installation within my exhibition.

I hope that people will participate in the project by digging into their shoe boxes, albums and on-line archives to send me copies of snapshots of themselves, offspring, family and or friends, taken on their" First Day at School", or any similar photograph.

I have created a Facebook page specifically for this project. Photographs may be posted on the Project page or your Facebook page or they may be sent via a personal message or as an email attachment.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

PhD Exhibition Draft Proposal

Mock up of Exhibition Space as Camera Obscura

YouTube Video of the Camera Obscura idea for the Exhibition

The video show a simulation of a moving scene of the exterior view from the exhibition space projected by means of a lens embedded in a blanked out window onto the opposite wall of the room to simulate a Camera Obscura. In reality the movement in the image would be limited to people walking past and any movement in the foliage.

The concept behind the installation is a simulation of the originary technicity of the photograph when Henry Fox Talbot viewed the scene of Lake Como from the balcony of his hotel room on the screen of his portable Camera Obscura and dreamt of a way of fixing the image he saw by capturing the light or by painting with the light as he put it. His sole intention being to remember the spectacular view and to be able to share it with others on his return home. The originary moment is contrasted with the reality of his dream, the banal snapshot photograph. Which is represented here by the negative space of a classic snapshot pose, "The first day at school" snapshot.

Monday, March 30, 2015

"The Wayback Machine" - - a resource you should be aware of...

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more...

The Internet Archive also known as "The Wayback Machine" is a San Francisco-based non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books. As of October 2012, its collection topped 10 petabytes. In addition to its archiving function, the Archive is an activist organization, advocating for a free and open Internet.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grammarly | Instant Grammar Check - Plagiarism Checker - Online Proofreader - UPDATED

UPDATE (16.3.15): I have uninstalled Grammarly for a number of reasons. It's grasp of the English language (UK English) was even worse than mine! The WORD plug-in is NOT free and tooo expensive me thinks, particularly when there are free alternatives. There have also been some rather scathing reviews...

A useful one on the Grammarist blog rather supports my experience and identifies a few other short comings, the comments are also of interest...

And another critical review by no less than the Economist, they are less than impressed with Grammarly on a number of counts...

Just glad I did't fork out any cash...

Try Writers Diet its free and it does a similar job. I have an article here.

Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting  up to 10× more mistakes than your word processor.

Check your grammar right from your browser or Microsoft Office. Improve your writing in emails, documents, social media posts, messages, and more.

Grammarly improves communication among the world’s 2+ billion native and non-native English writers. Our flagship product, the Grammarly® Editor, corrects contextual spelling mistakes, checks for more than 250 common grammar errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and provides citation suggestions. More than 4 million registered users worldwide trust Grammarly’s products, which are also licensed by more than 350 leading universities and corporations. Grammarly is a privately-held company with offices in San Francisco and Kiev.

Check out the Grammarly Blog

Friday, February 6, 2015

Writing Your Way to Happiness

Re-blogged from an article by Tara Parker-Hope from The New York Times - Link

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioural changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn't get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health...

A asked married couples to write about a conflict as a neutral observer. Among 120 couples, those who explored their problems through writing showed greater improvement in marital happiness than those who did not write about their problems.

“These writing interventions can really nudge people from a self-defeating way of thinking into a more optimistic cycle that reinforces itself,” said Timothy D. Wilson, a University of Virginia psychology professor and lead author of the Duke study.


Dr. Wilson, whose book “Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By,” was released in paperback this month, believes that while writing doesn’t solve every problem, it can definitely help people cope. “Writing forces people to reconstrue whatever is troubling them and find new meaning in it,” he said.

Alan GelbEast Chatham
I was fascinated to read your article, as I am publishing a book with Tarcher Penguin this August entitled Having the Last Say: Capturing Your Legacy in One Small Story, which encourages older people to write short narratives that in some way reflect an ethic or moral value that they have lived by. With my pilot group of adult writers who participated in this work, I was able to see the therapeutic results of engaging in that kind of life review through the written word...

Daily writing leads to happiness, and one of the best books that I have read on this topic is "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" by Suzette Elgin.

Other links which may be of interest:-
The Benefits of Writing
Setting, Elaborating, and Reflecting on Personal Goals Improves Academic Performance
Self Authoring

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Google Scholar Alerts

This post is re-blogged from the Google Alert Blog

Google Scholar AlertsTuesday, June 15, 2010 | 10:00 AM
Ever since we launched Google Scholar, people have asked us to help them keep up with current research. Over the years, we’ve made several improvements to help find recently published articles, including the "Recent articles" mode, a simple interface to limit search to recent years, and, of course, more frequent index updates. As the next step in this endeavor, we have recently added email alerts. Now you can create alerts for queries of your interest. When new articles that match your alert query are added to Google Scholar, we’ll send you an email update with links to these articles.
To create an alert for a query, just do a search on Google Scholar as usual (e.g., [prion protein]) and click on the envelope icon which appears at the top of the search results. This will take you to a page with recent results for your query and alert options (e.g., alert options for [prion protein]). If the query returns results other than ones you were looking for, you can tweak it right there and view updated results. Adding more specific search terms often works, and so does placing full author names and multi-word concepts in quotes (e.g., [“quantum computing”]). Then, click on “Create alert” - and bingo! If you’re logged into Gmail, your alert will be created right away. If you’re not logged in, you’ll need to enter your email address and we’ll send you a verification message with links to confirm or cancel the alert. Any email address will do, you don’t need a Gmail account to receive Google Scholar Alerts. Once you click on the confirmation link, your alert will be created and you’ll start receiving email updates on your query.
To create an alert for articles citing a particular paper, first, find this paper in Google Scholar, then click on the “Cited by” link below the search result, and, finally, click on the envelope icon that appears at the top of the list of citing articles. To get updates when any of your papers are cited, it’s often easiest to set up an alert for all mentions of your name in text, e.g., [“E Witten”] with the quotes. To learn of new publications by your colleagues, try registering alerts for their names with an “author:” operator, such as [author:”S Hawking”]. If these alerts return too many results related to other people with the same name, try adding more specific search terms, such as the names of their co-authors, the name of the university they are associated with, or plain old keywords.
So, what does it take to provide an alerts service for the largest collection of research papers on the planet? Good question. To implement Google Scholar Alerts, we had to solve several tricky problems. First, we had to figure out how to quickly find newly available scholarly articles over the entire web. They can and do appear on a variety of locations - on publisher web sites, in scholarly repositories, on researchers’ web pages. Second, we had to determine which of the newly available articles were recently written or published. This can be difficult since many publishers and universities provide archival articles (which are not new) whereas early presentations of a work, such as preprints (which are indeed new), often have no dates associated with them. Third, we needed to update the index much more frequently. Updating a search service while it is being used by a large number of users is somewhat like changing tires on a car while it is going sixty miles an hour. We now add new articles to Google Scholar twice a week; we plan to further increase this frequency. Finally, we had to develop a query suggestion mechanism to help users construct effective alert queries. Our goal was to help people bridge the gap between finding key articles in a large collection (as they’re doing when they search Google Scholar) and finding relevant articles in the much smaller collection of recently published articles (as they would be doing with alerts).
We hope Google Scholar Alerts will help researchers everywhere keep up with the discoveries made by their colleagues worldwide.
Posted by Anurag Acharya, Distinguished Engineer