firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
The professor of my Virology MOOC, Vincent Racaniello, spent the first couple of lectures drilling us on how viruses are completely inanimate, are not even alive (depending on how you define "alive"), and definitely can't think or strategize. This week's lectures have been about how viruses get inside cells and how they avoid attaching to the wrong things or being eaten by stuff inside the cell before they are where they need to be. Each time he describes one of the methods he says "It's really a brilliant strategy." (And he's right. I don't believe in a creator deity, so I think it's a strategy not developed on purpose by any consciousness, but it's a strategy, and it's brilliant.)

The professor of my MOOC "A Brief History of Humankind" theorized that Stone Age humans mostly practiced animism, a spiritual system in which everything in the environment is considered to be alive and to have personality, goals, to be able to communicate, etc.

It certainly does seem that animistic metaphors and ways of thinking are built into the language I speak.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
Yesterday the OED added "MOOC" to its "Oxford Dictionaries Online" compository:
Defined as “a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people”.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/mooc-makes-oxford-online-dictionary/2006838.article


A few days ago it added "twerk."

Dinos!

28 Aug 2013 01:07 pm
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
The latest MOOC I've signed up for:

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology
https://www.coursera.org/course/dino101

The course description says that no specific science background is required; all are welcome.

In my experience so far with MOOCs, this sometimes means they really explain everything (e.g. "A Brief History of Humankind"), and other times it means "We don't really grok what background is needed to understand these lectures."

For example, I am taking a course on volcanoes which was advertised as no background needed, but I'm not getting as much out of it as I might, because it assumes a higher-than-I-have level of knowledge about statistics and, oh I don't even know, physics? minerology? I'm continuing it anyway because as a tech writer/editor I am supposed to be able to make sense out of material I don't have a strong background in, and I like the challenge of trying to do so.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
The free MOOC I'm taking through Coursera:
https://www.coursera.org/course/digitalsounddesign
This format works for me because the course happens over a particular time period, and I had to sign up. Both of those make me feel like I committed to something. So I'm actually working on the course instead of just bookmarking it for later. Also it's free, so I didn't talk myself out of signing up with "This is too far outside my area of knowledge to spend money on." And it's not for any kind of official credit (although supposedly I get a "certificate of completion" at the end) so I don't worry about grades. (Although on the forums for the course a lot of people are worrying about what's on the tests. Maybe that's habit, or maybe they're taking it to fulfill a requirement elsewhere and it matters to them how they do.)

I sometimes use NewEgg to buy tech stuff. I didn't know they were patent law heroes.
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/01/how-newegg-crushed-the-shopping-cart-patent-and-saved-online-retail/

Unrelated white people who look alike, especially because they're wearing similar clothes and hairstyles
http://slideshow.nbcnews.com/slideshow/today/strangers-who-look-like-twins-im-not-a-look-alike-50590127/

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