January 18th, 2006

Class and dancing...

COM 487 Internet & Society class was quite interesting tonight.

I was struck by how technology is changing the way we learn in the classroom, especially when you compare it to 25 years ago when I was working on my undergraduate degree.

There is a "command," or "control" center for the teacher. In the course of class tonight, we saw PowerPoint slides, looked at websites, and watched clips from DVDs -- all on the large screen in the upper left corner of the room. Last week, we drew something in class, and she placed it on this other machine that projected what we'd drawn on paper onto the screen -- without scanning it.

Another thing we did in class tonight was to look at some maps from a website called "An Atlas of Cyberspaces."

These two maps give pause to when you, or anyone, says rather flippantly, "Everybody has access to the Internet these days."

The red dots on this map show the distribution of websites with a GeoURL, which is a tag that links web space to geographic space, and enables web searches by location and proximity. The project is run by Joshua Schachter and as of April 2003 there were over ten thousand websites registered.

John S. Quarterman has long been mapping and analyzing the topology and geography of the Internet. The cartographic approach employed by MIDS is to map the geographic locations of the Internet hardware (networked computers, known as hosts) as symbols on a world map. The number of hosts is aggregated for major cities and countries and then represented on the map by the colored circles. The circles are proportionally sized so the larger the circle becomes, the greater the value it represents, which is intuitive and a widely used convention in cartography and statistical graphics.

Another point that she made was to note the people-to-connection ratio in various countries. In some cases, such as in the case of China, there is an inordinately high number of people relative to the number of connections. We discussed the implications of that.

Walking back from class, as I approached the Reynolds Coliseum tunnel, I took all of my cash out of my wallet, and stuck it in my sock, because of this crime alert.

After I did it, I thought, "They will probably find my wallet empty, and rip my iPod out of my ears, and take that instead."

Dancing was fun tonight. Once again, the lesson was for Corina, Corina, which isn't bad, really. It's a hard dance, and it's taking people a while to learn it.

Robert, Joe, and I stopped by Shanghai Express on the way home. An oddity for a Wednesday night. I got an order of Crab Rangoon and an order of Steamed Dumplings. Yum.