Saturday, March 12, 2011

What am I doing on twitter? ...

What am I doing on twitter? Natural Disasters, Agriculture, Education and
Humanitarian engineering.

May have to reduce daily internet access. Reading newpaper articles,
watching videos, slide shows and the likes pointed to on Twitter, is
consuming my data allowance too quickly. Which may be the cause of the
delays that I am experiencing: such as delay when emailing to my blog.

Also whilst I am on twitter I am not programming or building Excel
workbooks, or otherwise programming. Not that I need to be programming
anything. I just like turning hours of work into minutes, for no other
reason than I can. I also like demonstrating that AutoCAD LT can be
programmed via script files, and that a great deal can be achieved using
such scripts: thus no real need for the full version of AutoCAD unless want
to program applications that require interaction with AutoCAD. If primary
interest is automation of work, then script files (*.scr) is all that is
really required. The application that generates the script file can do all
the interaction with a person, then fully automate AutoCAD drawing
generation. May take hours to program, but in long run can also save hours
where there is a high level of repetition.

The other issue is haven't really got into structural design on twitter. Got
side tracked with monitoring recent disasters, agriculture, and education.
Which is all kind of on track. Recent disasters highlight the problems with
dealing with natural hazards, and the risks and uncertainties involved with
selecting suitable design loads. Agriculture needs buildings of various
kinds, along with machines. An important aspect of agriculture being water
supply and irrigation. Water storage involves such structures as tanks and
pipelines. Uncertainty of water supply along with potential flooding is yet
another design issue involving risk in the design process. Risk,
uncertainty, variability and consequential hazards are all things that
people need to be educated about. Their education affects their thought
processes and in turn their unrealistic expectations. But the expectations
of the public are not helped by engineers who claim they can design
earthquake resistant buildings, hurricane resistant buildings, and flood
proof buildings. such is nonsense. We can only design for a low probability
of the design loads being exceeded, the lower the probability, the more
expensive the building, and the more materials typically required, meaning
availability of such buildings is to fewer and fewer people. It is thus a
complicated balance. Further more what ever design load is adopted it always
has the potential to be exceeded. If design for an earthquake magnitude with
a 500 year mean return period, it could still occur tomorrow. For that
matter an earthquake with magnitude having a 1000 year mean return period
could occur tomorrow.

At the end of the day we cannot avoid the possibility of structures being
destroyed by natural hazards. Therefore the buildings need to be designed so
that the mode of failure, or mode of collapse occurs in an acceptable
manner. Such is more of a qualitative design issue than a quantitative
design issue. It requires thinking about the potential hazards, rather than
sticking numbers in formulae and making structure more resistant. There is
thus a need to educate and train engineers and other designers differently.

Computers can crunch the numbers, and engineers never were the people who
crunched numbers, that is a relatively modern approach. In the past
engineers sought the assistance of mathematicians and scientists or
experimentalists and other researchers. Training generation after generation
of people who can crunch numbers manually doesn't produce creative and
igenious people. Training people who push numbers through computer programs
also doesn't produce igenious people. For design the numerical computations
are less important than the relationship between the various physical
characteristics of a system.

[this was just going to be short test checking delay in post]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Essay(3): Purpose of Education ... #purposed

"The Beginning of learning starts with the precise meaning of words."

Therefore the meanings I attribute to words associated with education are:

1) Education provides enabling competencies
2) Training develops proficiency with in the competencies
3) Qualification assesses that required competencies and/or proficiencies
have been attained
4) Certification is formal record that accepted qualification processes have
been completed and that the required competencies and/or proficiencies have
been attained


1) Pupils lack the basic tools and competencies for communication and
participation with in their society/culture. The teacher's role is to impart
these essential competences whether the pupil wants them or not.
2) Students are self-learners guided and assisted by mentors
3) Scholars are independent, free thinking, self-guided, self-learners

The purpose of 10 years of compulsory schooling is to turn pupils into
students, into scholars. People are provided with a 10 year opportunity in
which they can learn as much or as little as they like. A free and healthy
democracy is dependent on a population of scholars.

The question to me thus, is not so much as, what is the purpose of
education, but what are the essential competences that pupils should be
imparted with? Once the pupils have become students then future learning is
their choice.

The environment is dynamic, transformative adaptive. The very presence of
life in the environment changes the environment. Thus the environment today
is not the environment will find self in tomorrow: most especially within
the artificial environment of industrial society. It is a problem if the
teachers are Neanderthals and the children are Homo sapiens. The parents are
hunter/gatherers and the offspring are farmers. Children are "Tomorrow
People" and they need to be educated for tomorrows world, not yesterdays.
But what is tomorrows world going to be like: will it be filled with Eloi
and Morlocks, will the Eloi be wired to the Matrix? To what extent are we to
be considered drones within the hive: a hive provided by the machinery of
industrial society?

Humans are supposed to be the most intelligent and adaptable creature on
earth: yet it seems such capacity is schooled out. Or is it? Every street
kid that steals is adapted and potentially just as independent as any
employee. But their adaptive response to the environment they find
themselves in is not socially acceptable: on the other hand neither entirely
are the actions of business and government. These tribes, these warriors,
are trying to maintain control over the resources that they hold. The
economy does not work on the principle of supply to demand. Each and
everyone is born into the environment with limited access to useful
resources: no access to land from which to gather or grow food. Each
individual therefore has to initiate and sustain a series of transactions
which exchanges the resources they have for the resources they need.

Educating engineers, carpenters, teachers is as useful as making gears for a
machine nobody wants. The dynamic nature of the environment means that
decisions have to be made in the face of risk and uncertainty. It is
potentially easier to find work and create a business than it is to find an
employer that can provide fulltime employment: 95% of businesses are small
business with a signnificant proportion being self-employed persons. The one
benefit animals have over plants is mobility. Cities are plants, humans are
animals. People need to be more mobile, and education needs to enable such
mobility and adaptability.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Essay(2): Purpose Education ...

My perspective starts with the concepts:

1) Education provides enabling competencies
2) Training develops proficiency with in the competencies
3) Qualification assesses that required competencies and/or proficiences
have been attained
4) Certification is formal record that accepted qualification processes have
determined that required competencies and/or proficiences have been attained


1) Pupils lack the basic tools and competencies for communication and
participation with in their society/culture. The teachers role is to impart
these essential competences whether the pupil wants them or not.
2) Students are self-learners guided and assisted by mentors
3) Scholars are independent self-guided, self-learners

The purpose of compulsory schooling is to turn pupils into students. The
purpose of higher education is to turn students into scholars. I consider
that learning should be split into 5 year blocks. Thus 10 years of
compulsory education is 2 blocks. Whilst 2 years to get international
baccluareate or other matriculation type qualification, plus 3 years of a
degree is collectively another 5 year block. For many this path towards a
degree is a waste of time.

In Australia we have the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) and one of
the principles behind this framework is articulation from one qualification
level to another. It is however some what distorted by the schooling sector
and the secondary school certificates and and grade 12 matriculation.
Personally I think grade 11 and grade 12 should be scrapped: with studies
starting with AQF certificate I, and so grade 12 would be replaced by
something more like an AQF Associate Degree, or AQF Advanced Diploma.
Further more I think it should be required articulation and progressive. So
always start with AQF certificate I, then up to AQF Certificate II, and so
on. So there is no attempting a bachelor degree, failing, dropping back and
having to do extra work to get lower level qualification. Everyone follows
the required journey of learning, no fast track jumping to the destination.
With the requirement that education is separated from training, accepting
that a minimum amount of training is required to develop enabling
competencies. Additionally qualification and certification separated from
the educational institutions with respect to occupations, vocations and
professions. The point here is that the professions have messed up the
universal breadth and depth education, and general investigative research
abilities of degree programmes.

My issue here is that the typical graduate of an engineering programme is a
poor technician, poor scientist, poor mathematician, and poor designer, and
lacking ingenuity: basically unfit to be called an engineer. We have
established technologies and we need competent techncians to apply the
established science to assess the fitness-for-function of variations to
generic technologies. We are experiencing system failures, and so called
engineers are defending to the death their B.Eng programmes and their title
engineer. Telford was an engineer because he was designing and constructing
bridges at the frontiers of science and technology and achieving success:
not because he was designing and constructing bridges. Bridges are and
established technology, and require technicians competent in their design to
design them. Not graduates with a B.Eng covering the breadth of civil
engineering who have the potential to be competent bridge designers, if they
did the scholarly research and acquired the established knowledge. The
problem is increasingly they are not, the B.Eng is considered the end all of
everything so they design without further study, they invent an inferior
version of the wheel and industrial accidents occur: and the value of
engineering is diminished as the predictable and avoidable occurs. the
result is imposed licensing, requirements to extend to masters degrees, and
more time spent in university. None of which is really necessary, the
required knowledge was developed and evolved on the job in the first
instance, it is held by various businesses and industry organisations.
Finding the right answers may have taken years, but learning the solutions
found only takes hours. Most can be learnt on the job by the dedicated and
interested, and does not justify a masters programme. The problem is with
the B.Eng programmes in major engineering disciplines. Engineering went from
single discipline of military to civil, and then split into multiple
branches: each of the major disciplines are further split into 5 areas of
practice if refer to the NCEES examination breakdowns. { NCEES : }

Most people only operate with proficiency in a single area of practice to
any extensive depth. So for example civil may become structural designers or
stormwater drainage designers, whilst mechanical may become machine
designers or HVAC designers. They can operate across most areas of practice
if project not requiring of depth and time is available to do the scholarly
studies of the estabished science and technology. It is thus potentially
more correct to refer to the equivalent 1 year AQF Diploma 2 year AQF
Associate degree in the breadth of the engineering sciences as the defining
education of an engineer rather than the 4 year B.Eng. After the engineering
sciences or fundamentals of engineering there are 2 to 3 years remaining to
cover the 5 areas of practice. Which means they do not acquire much depth in
any area of practice, and there is much to learn on the job.

However not all the fundamentals of engineering are required for a given
area of practice, and therefore academic programmes shorter than 4 years
plus a masters programme can be developed to pass on the necessary
competencies. But the universities do not appear to be doing this, nor the
engineering institutions. Instead they accredit 2 year associate degrees and
3 years bachelor of technology degrees in the major disciplines. These
graduates are then seen as inferior to those with a B.Eng and then typically
stuck on a drawing board as a drafter: wasting resources, and falsely
declaring a shortage of engineers.

I am not interested professions: work has to be done by competent people
what ever trite title they are given. The tradional passage to engineer was
from tracer, through drafter to designer, with designer then having to
acquire increasing scientific knowledge to assess the fitness-for-function
of the technologies they designed. Each having passed through the same path,
were aware of the skills of other members of the design team. Academic
qualifications imposed on the system along with imposed professions, remove
this awareness. An engineer is an invention just like a wheel: and may or
may not be useful for a given purpose. Business buys engineers just like it
buys wheels. Similarly it can equally well buy engineering associates or
engineering technologists: but these other professions are inventions of
institutions of engineers and thus classed as inferior {and they would take
objection to me calling them professions}. As a consequence businesses do
not really build a sustainable work team, partially due to lack of
flexibility in the education and qualification system.

The civil engineer is the principl on the project, only need one principal,
so we do not need universities churning out graduates with degrees in civil
engineering. Industries are established, so we know that we need steel
designers, and stormwater drainage designers, rather than civil engineers. I
am not saying people don't get a degree in civil engineering, I am
suggesting that the first requirement for most is getting a job: further
study is either a matter of personal interest or necessary career
development. A 2 year associate degree in engineering science would provide
the basic competencies to get in a design office, on the drawing board and
involved with engineering projects. From there can then determine whether
take that to next level of B.Tech in stormwater drainage design or structual
steel design. But even that is not all that flexible. Better to drop the
engineering science qualification back, so that get a 1 year AQF Diploma in
structural steel design, stormwater drainage design, machine design or HVAC
design. More over everyone in the industry should have a common AQF
Certificate I in technical science: so that the trades and higher level
designers have a common foundation: and are more aware of where their
education diverges and who knows more about what.

{The perspective taken here for articulation is that: an AQF Diploma is 1
year in duration, and Certicates I to IV are a fraction of a year. (eg. each
adds 1/5 of a year towards the diploma), the Advanced Diploma is taken as
1.5 years, after the 2 year Associate Degree everyting seen as incresing in
1 year blocks. The bachelor degree is 3 years, and the masters 2 years,
aligned with the Bologna process.}

The objective is that everything below the 2 year Associate Degree becomes
increasingly generic in nature, and that jobs are described in terms of
multiple AQF qualifications rather than a single qualification. So people
start with the AQF that gets them an entry level job in an industry, from
there they determine direction of further eduation. Life long learning is to
become a cultural habit. The basic tool of the engineering industries is
technical drawing and engineering graphics. Therefore an AQF Certificate I,
has to impart competencies in reading and producing technical drawings and
solving problems using engineering graphics: the basics of dimension and
geometry. The AQF Certificate I, gets a person in drawing, planning, and
design offices. From there can either take further education towards general
engineering science, or in a more specific technology. We do need
qualifications in specific technologies. This teaching general engineering
science, and no specfic technology, because technology is advancing rapidly
is nonsense. First competent technicians to deal with the established and
maintain our existing systems, and then onto the frontiers. The result is a
person likely to have say: an Associate Degree in Structral Steel Design
plus an Associate Degree in Engineering Science. As to which of the two
qualifications they take first will be dependent on the individual. If
engineering science is considered a subject having breadth, then those with
qualification in will be easily able to complete associate degrees in more
specific areas of practice. Those who take a specific area of practice less
able to move over to other areas of practice. From another perspective 80%
of all projects should only require a 1 year Diploma to tackle the project
competently {this is a design requirement of the study programmes}. The
minimum general fundamentals of engineering being considered say Certificate
III, with Certificate IV providing discipline specific fundamentals
dependent on the Certificate III. The diploma then fills in the specifics
for the area of practice. Moving to other areas of practice at the same
level only requires 1/5 of a year of study within the discipline. To move to
an area of practice in another discipline would require 2/5 of a year of
study to cover discipline specific fundamentals and the specific area of
practice. Additionally there is always some overlap in content: for example
moving from structural steel design to structural timber design. The first
material covered introduces generic skills that require specific examples to
present. So the duration of the study programmes for other material can be
collapsed, or even replaced with simple training and assessment programmes
(develop profeciency and test attainment). The qualification however remains
diploma: so people collect multiple diplomas. Also we differentiate from
that which is required to design and specify, from the more advanced
analytical requirements.

For example correctly caluclating values from code formula does not require
knowledge of the mathematical derivation of those formula. Either the
formula in the codes reflect reality and can be validated by physical
experiment, or they are mathematical rubbish. Many of the formual have no
theoretical basis and are simply empirical results: and can only be verfied
by testing. Printing errors in codes where formula are based on mathematical
theory can be checked and audited from first principles by users of the
code: empirical formula cannot be validated and therefore important to avoid
errors in the publication of codes. Additionally it is generally not
practical to conduct extensive calculations on the specfic project, and so
have capacity tables, span tables and other design aids. Such design
aids/tools need to be used efficiently and correctly. It is not in anyway
smarter to be wasting time calculating point-values from mathematical
formula, when maxima or minima capabilities can be determined, or simple
curves and tables produced. A value taken from a curve makes it clear where
the designer is with in the realm of possibilities. A point value can be
calculated from an expression with no awareness that it is in error.

Productivity and efficiency are generated by knowing the answer rather than
having the potential to work it out. Minimum error and defect is achieved by
understanding the basis of the known solutions, but applying the known
solutions. Training people in the use of the timber framing code for
example, shouldn't just involve problems that can be solved by the code but
also problems beyond the scope of the code, so that users are more clearly
aware of its limitations. these limitations are why then pursue the next
level and learn the timber structures code and validate the content of the
timber framing code. This acquiring further knowledge and more fundamental
design-science which is used to validate prescriptive design-solutions is an
important quality check on those design-solutions. Thus every generation of
structural designers, as part of their education and training, has validated
the content of the timber framing code. Given that the timber framing code
is a commonly used code, it would thus form the foundations of training for
all structural designers. Timber thus becomes the first material they learn
how to design. The industry may require steel designers or concrete
designers: but timber still remains the starting point for development of a
structural designer. Now as more prescriptive solutions become available,
then have issue of structural designer versus building designer. Can also
consider house designer versus building designer. Many house builders have
the ability to design houses, but not the ability to design buildings in a
more generic class: nor design houses from alternative materials.

This concerns the knowledge of a specific technology, versus knowledge of a
more generic technology and its critical characteritics along with the
science required to assess those characteristics. For example construction
of brick veneer wall, versus fundamental characteristics of building fabric.

Once again can address this with respect to common foundations in
engineering science and the divergence across to a specific technology.
Knowledge in a specfic technology is important for its proper design,
assessment and fabrication. Knowledge in engineering science is important
for pushing the frontiers of technology. Knowledge in science is important
for pushing the frontiers of science. The fundamental requirement for
industrial society is to train competent technicians who can carry out the
proper design, assessment and fabrication of the established technologies
based on the established scientific knowledge.

The AQF qualifications are supposed to be based on generic competences, yet
if take a look at the available training packages there is significant
overlap and repetition. There is a distinct lack of industrial engineering,
systems analysis, information technology and knowledge engineering being
used to develop these qualifications. The starting point should be the human
knowledge base and its relationship to the essential functions with in the
machinery of industrial society. It should not be based on existing
industrial award, unions, or professional associations or learned


National Training Information Service (NTIS)

Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF)

Sure learned institutions and technical societies want to present advanced
topics and therefore there is a minimum knowledge base required to be able
to participate. However at present that minimum knowledge base is based on
flawed perspectives on the nature of existing academic awards. A person with
a degree in applied mechanics is likely to know more than a person with a
degree in civil or mechanical engineering. Also consider that those with a
degree in engineering are educated by persons with degrees in a larger
variety of subjects, such as science degrees in mathematics, physics, or
chemistry. So engineers do not have a 3 year degree in mathematics, they
have only covered a small portion of the field of mathematics. But there is
overlap and much that either can learn on the job. Does person with degree
in mathematics stick to pure mathematics, or move into applied mathematics,
at what point does applied mathematics become engineering? At what point
does engineering become applied mathematics? Engineering is not mathematics:
mathematics is a tool used by engineers and other science based designers.

Matriculation certificate is not all that useful, the UK O-levels and
A-levels seem to be more useful, as does an international bacclaurate. On
the otherhand such qualifications do not mesh well with a qualification
framework like AQF.

Mathematics is a common tool that many things are dependent upon.
Mathematics in turn deals with dimension and geometry: and technical drawing
provides an important tool for the study of such. Technical drawing is an
other language of communication, and general problem solving tool. Physics
is important strand through many subject areas, but should it start as an
initial strand at AQF Certificate I. Physics can be considered as applied
mathematics, additionally it is is also dependent on the sketching of
systems being analysed, along with charts and graphs. Thus a more generic
strand would be to start with technical drawing at AQF Certificate I, move
onto applied mathematics, then at some point branch into design, pure
mathematics or pure physics. The focus at certificate I being communication
along with methods of recording observations and measurements, along with
knowledge of dimension and geometry. Noting that this is replacing grade 11:
and represents 1/5 of a year, thus those going into a technical/scientific
field, start studying for such straight after grade 10. They all have a
common educational and qualification foundation, from which they can move
over into other areas with relative ease. The common spine of the whole area
being applied mathematics. The applications being clearly defined as the
depth in the broad area of applied mathematics increases. So the applied
mathematics starts of with a more business, accounting, and production
management orientation and moves more into physics as climb the ladder. That
is it starts with basic mathematical needs in a business oriented society
and moves to the more abstract. From societies viewpoint most things have
been designed already and simply need to manage the production, distribution
and operation of the technology. From societies view most of the
technologies are also defective so the technology either needs to be
improved or replaced by newly developed alternative technologies. Now cannot
altogether teach imagination, innovation and creation: though can learn how
to use various tools to assist with developing alternative perspectives
which lead to innovative ideas. One important aspect of which is not simply
being a trained technician in a specific area of practice. Someone who comes
from outside a discipline into another is usually the one who comes up with
innovations: because they are not locked into the one knowledge base and
have a broader knowledge base. Professions lock the knowledge base in,
stifling innovation in the profession, they start to become part of the

At present people are becoming cross-disciplined with Masters degrees, or
gaining professional practice skills through masters. I consider this to be
unwarranted inflation of qualifications in the various areas of practice. On
top of which it is not backed by proper training to develop the equivalent
proficiency as aquired by those with years of experience, who otherwise have
lower academic qualifications.

My proposal is based on there being significant overlap between various
occupational bachelor programmes, and also that the programmes lack depth
and cover more breadth. So the concept is to rip them back to 2 year
Associate Degrees and lower level AQF qualifications, and define professions
on the basis of multiple AQF qualifications rather than a single
qualification. So engineer can be defined by 3 year Bachelor of Engineering
Science (scrap the 4 year B.Eng), plus 2 year masters in specific area of
practice. But only if the masters content is based on the 3 year bachelor
degree. Otherwise all specific areas of practice are covered by 2 Associate
degrees, to 3 year bachelor technology degrees. Those taking the engineering
science route are being trained for the frontiers of technology, that is
they are otherwise expected to move onto masters or doctrate by research.

Now those working at the coalface are more likely to hit the frontiers of
science and technology than those working elsewhere, however those at the
coal face need to be competent technicians in the established science and
technology. Thus most likely route is: a 2 associate degree in specific area
of practice, plus 3 year Bachelor of engineering science, followed by
masters on literature research, followed by doctrate conducting empirical
research. That is the technician identifies a frontier and then pursues the
task of removing that frontier. {Noting that the 2 years to matriculate,
replaced by 2 year Associate degree, and then a 3 year Bachelor of
engineering science is pursued: and most likely whilst working.}

From another perspective innovation is lacking because those at the coal
face are not moving upwards, and those with the higher qualifications
haven't experience the coal face as they would most likely have done in more
traditional settings. There is thus benefit to take those with a B.Eng and
put them on the coal face: problem is they are not qualified and could get
injured or cause an accident. My proposal attempts to ensure that those at
the higher level have the qualifications for the coal face, there is no
other way to the higher level qualifications: they have to start at AQF
certificate I.

The issue is the point of divergence, back tracking and completing an
alternative pathway: with minimum repetition of that already done. Since
enabling competence is separated from development of proficency, and in turn
separated from assessment, qualification and certification. Where feasible
can simply assess, qualify and certify: skipping education and training.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Purpose of Education: do I have any idea, does anyone else?

(The missing post: maybe title was too long.)

Purpose of Education: do I have any idea, does anyone else? Is it concerned
with society, and the whole of humanity?

So there is a debate. No not really a debate. A sharing of ideas taking
place on twitter, centred around the purpose of education. Each contribution
is 500 words in length. So can I write and stick to 500 words, avoid usual
lecturing and tirade, and stick to the topic, and then all that first person
third person stuff. So I guess the first point is that education should
develop the ability to communicate and be critical in a socially
constructive manner.

My interest in education, stems from childhood. Moving from England to
Zambia, to Australia, to England and back to Australia, I fell behind in
some subjects and was in front in others. All commonwealth countries and no
consistency in curriculum: start and end school at different times of day,
differing amounts of homework, and different order in presentation of
subjects. So for example at age 8 in Zambia, French was taught as 2nd
language, at age 11 back in England French was taught as 2nd language, back
in Australia at age 13 German was available as 2nd language but not French.
Clearly subject matter presented has little to do with the ability to learn.
On top of which my dad was some what disappointed that calculus wasn't
presented here in Australia until grade 12 (17/18): but he went to a
technical high school in the UK to learn calculus at 13 not ordinary state
school. On top of which I don't think my parents understood the Australian
system, so the pressure was on to get to university via grade 12 at school
rather than via TAFE. It has become apparent that the path via TAFE is
becoming increasingly faster and more productive, under the articulation
requirements of the AQF. Grade 11 and grade 12 seem to be a waste of time:
if can get into university and then get through university and get a job
afterwards then an extra 2 years at school may be useful. But otherwise
completing grade 12 is wasteful, even if pass the matriculation exams, it
doesn't mean will actually get a place at university. So to me the education
system has always been defective, at odds with the need to fit in and be
part of society. What happens if a person acquires their education entirely
with in the one system? Do those educated within the one system assimilate
better with the society and culture they find when they leave the confines
of education? Do kids in the city or otherwise next to the noise of industry
fare better than those in isolated and remote suburb or still more remote
rural town?

To change the system requires political change. To achieve political change
requires information, and in turn communication and education. Thus to
change the education system requires a change to the education of the
population : which needs to be brought about by a change to the education
system. But education for what purpose?

The natural world is dynamic and adaptive: it evolves. But our education
system is built around a mechanical concept of industrial society. Though
with capitalist competition does society even come into it? Society as a
machine as cogs, bolts and other parts which have to be maintained and
replaced. We thus become focused on accountants, lawyers, carpenters,
builders, architects, engineers and teachers. But none of these cogs are
really needed and few are really well defined. To the IEAust I am an
engineering technologist, to IIE I am an industrial engineer, and to APESMA
I am a professional scientist. Whilst my formal education covered
industrial, manufacturing and mechanical engineering: I make my living
designing building structures not machine structures. And design is some
what questionable: it is more along the lines of assessing
fitness-for-function against mandated codes of practice. I can attempt to
advise people that their proposal has problems based on my continuous
learning as a designer, but in general if the regulations will permit their
preferences, then their preferences get the go ahead. Or as is often the
case they have built without regulatory approval, and so the task is to
provide evidence-of-compliance, or identify modifications required to make
compliant and avoid demolition. These people complain about the need for
approval to build on their own property, yet would also be amongst the first
to ask where is the government when their neighbours build without approval.
It seems to be a common perspective: people don't want government
interference, but at the first sign of trouble they want a parental
government to help them out. They, them, the system are the problem. An
intangible non-entity is the problem and therefore don't have to participate
to fix: or where and what would they be participating in fixing.

{exceeded the 500: so this ain't it}

People seem confused about what government is. What is the role of
government in the modern world? We talk about public servants: but they seem
to have more an attitude of being our managers and masters. What is it in
our education that makes us subservient to those who are meant to serve? Yet
at the same time highly critical of what they supply. They are to serve us
and yet we cannot control what they supply.

Design and engineering are not all about science: the fundamental basis of
all design is a subjective human judgment. Engineering design has to resolve
issues of high variability, uncertainty and risk: in a culture that believes
that problems can be solved with mathematical exactness and certainty. That
buildings can be made earthquake resistant, hurricane resistant, and flood
proof. That all products can be "safe" and free from design defects and
faults. Such is not possible. Once a product is released to the market it
becomes raw material, and it will be put to uses well beyond the intents of
the original designer: many of these alternative uses will result in
failure. Some people will jump up and down and demand regulations be put in
place to improve the performance of the product. Other businesses however
will take note of alternative use and release a version of the product
optimsed for that alternate use: a vast array of alternative products will
arise. It is the end-users responsibility to properly assess the various
products available and select that best suited to their needs.

Wild flora do not have labels on them identifying them as toxic to eat. At
school I was taught that the berries along bird cage walk along side my
school were poisonous even if the birds did eat them. Some years later I
watched the movie "walkabout", and the kids decided that berries on the
trees were safe to eat because birds were eating them. All swans are white,
until you come to Australia where they are black. What is rational in one
environment could kill you in another. Our ancestors aquired knowledge, and
that provides us with an important collective memory: someone else doesn't
have to get sick or die to discover what berries are safe to eat. But the
artificial environment of industrial society is constantly changing. The
fruit that was "safe" to eat last week may kill you next week. How much
testing do we need to do as individuals to determine what is suitable for
our needs? Who can we trust to make the assessments for us? There is the
practicality of time to consider.

We have these concepts of life expectancy, and defined periods of our lifes
such as childhood: from which we can start to talk about being robbed off.
Strange concepts like: get a life. Is ignoring work, and needs of society
and having fun and otherwise enjoying self really a life? These will be the
people that will be first to complain: why didn't the government do
something about it? When "it", what ever catastrophic event it may be,
eventually impacts on their so called lives. Learning is important to
participatory democracy, but so also is the ability to actually participate.
Electing a dictator for a short period of time is not real democracy: nor is
a party political system where political philosophy of parties takes
precedence over the needs of the population.

So life expectancy: something which is highly uncertain: is given a sense of
certainty, and then people complain about unsafe products decreasing life
expectancy. But are they decreasing: or what is it they are really
decreasing? More and more of the planets biomass in being converted into
human form, thus less and less will be available for food. We are becoming
increasingly dependent on one another. Compare the quaint idealistic
surrounds of a country cottage, against an ultimate future inhabiting a
space station on the way to a new star system. But that new suitable star
system is may be thousands, even millions of years away. If we can survive
in space to get to it, then we don't really need to reach such destination.
would such destination become the promised land: paradise? Such space
station would be a higher form of life: and the human inhabitatants little
more than blood cells. But not expendable blood cells, for no biomass can be
lost from the system: no traditional naval burial and casting the dead into
space. Just how meshed into the system will we be: drones in a hive:
cybermen: the Borg: and wired into the matrix. Just how controlled would our
lifes be: what sense of freedom would we have?

We are told our recent ancestors fought wars for our democratic freedom: no
they didn't: they fought for their freedom: their freedoms are our prison.
Each generation has to fight for their own freedom. But if we know that
there will emerge an anti-thesis to the thesis of the status quo, and the
resulting conflict will result in synthesis of a future new status quo: then
perhaps government could take action to prevent the conflict. No! The
conflict is unavoidable: it is the response of a dynamic adaptive system.
but we can determine the form of the conflict: we can avoid it becoming a
bloody battle. Our society is full of judgment and bias. Teachers
traditionally were required to avoid expressing personal views in an attempt
to remove bias from the classroom. Now teachers are more likely to
deliberately educate bias out off certain judgments. At the same time there
is some bias instilled by the education system: or the schooling system.
That is kids pick up discriminatory judgments from others at school, and
parents have to educate the bias out. Kids can turn up at school with or
with out the bias and be bullied at school for having or not having. It is a
world of conflicts that we have to learn to deal with.

Education imparts skills for a future world not the world of our parents.
Consider that parents are effectively neanderthals and we are homosapiens.
Wisdom from the elders is not the same as their knowledge and experience. We
need wisdom to deal with the knowledge and experience of a different
environment to that of our parents. What does it mean to be human, and what
will the future human be? Will the Chrysalids of the tomorrow people be cast
into the outlands? Our original tools were an extension of our humanity, we
were not dependent upon them, they merely assisted. But the industrial city
is not an extension of ourselves nor an option: it is essential to our
survival: we are part of it. The human components of the industrial machine
have to be replaced with humans: but that makes the operation of the system
unreliable to other humans: so increasingly we replace the human components
with more machine components. There is thus less need for humans within the
system, but the system is able to support more humans. But we still have
archaic concepts of contributing to society. But what is this society? If we
are competing against each other where is the society? If I cannot join in,
and cannot participate why would I follow the rules: why not break the
existing rules and make new rules? If competing in the monetary economy
doesn't work for the individual, why should they tie their hands behind
their back and attempt to compete? The sensible thing would be to do what
they can do best: and that may be taking what they want from whom they want,
when they want and as much as they want: and little that anyone else can do
to stop them. It is fundamental to a contract that there is an exchange:
mutual compensation. The social contract cannot be biased and one sided: it
has to be social.

We are to a significant extent descended from warfaring tribal villages. But
our education is no longer restricted to those villages, our loyalties have
changed from being geographical centred to global enterprises. Yet we still
argue for locality: buy Australian, but British, buy American. But hey
everyone else open up your markets and import. Don't subsidize inefficient
local producers import: become dependent on a global village and politics in
far off land which you have no democratic control over. Why don't you have
any sugar: because there were floods and tropical cyclones on otherside of
world. Why don't you have any bread: because on the other side of world they
figured biofuels sold locally were more important. You are pressured into
changing and then they change the rules. The world is dynamic, decisions
have to take variability, uncertainty and risk into consideration: along
with the consequential hazards.

Each nation is talking about it winning the race. They have to improve their
education systems so that they get the technological lead over other nations
and they dominate the export markets. Why? That sounds like a declaration of
war. But it is not a war on nations it is war against humanity. Governments
are no different than any other business enterprise, and more over they
largely represent cities not nations. Industrial cities like London, New
York, Tokyo. Resources drawn from all over the world to feed these cities
and build them higher and higher. They are plants, and they lack the
mobility of animals. They are consequently inefficient, as resources are
drawn from ever distant places, consuming more and more resources to do so.
Are people to be schooled to be cogs in these dieing machines? If a city is
taken to be a higher form of life: then it has to be born, grow old and die,
and possibly reproduce at some point. If people are blood cells within these
higher forms of life then their production needs to be regulated. To what
extent can education be about personal freedom and happiness, when
ultimately a cog in a machine or a blood cell in a higher form of life. To
have freedom, need to be able to do more than talk freely: need to be able
to act freely.

But we have a locked in dependence, we are part of the industrial system.
The unemployed cannot go and hunt and gather or farm their own food. They
are locked into the artificial environment of an industrial ecosystem, they
have to develop as niche species. It is a strange concept: come buy me: or
is that come eat me? What antelope says: hey lion, you need me for food? But
basically industrial products are food, for highly specialised lifeforms of
industrial system. The system does not work on supply to the demands or
needs. It works on the principle of these are the resources I was born with
access to, these resources are of no use to me, but may be others will find
them useful so that I can gain access to the resources that I really need to
survive. For many those resources essential for survival are on the other
side of the world. In the distant future those resources could be on the
other side of the solar system as we travel further outwards into space.
We have the imagination to do many things and develop all kinds of
technology, even the resources. But just because we can dream, does not mean
that we should or would want to realise such dreams. Humanity has survived
past changes in the planets environment because we were mobile. But now tied
into our cities or villages we lack mobility. We are locked into preserving
and conserving: when the environment is dynamic, adaptive and evolving.
Businesses are not locked to geography: people who provide labour inputs and
the market are locked to geography.

Business could operate from ships at sea, and such ships could be located in
regions where there is potential for solar power and wind power: to drive
industrial production. Workers could live on the ships, no different really
than a box in a multistorey building. The ships could travel and pick up
materials in one place and set down finished goods in another. Workers can
get on or off for vacations at various ports of call. But why dock at land?
Why travel so far? Ships could meet at sea, and exchange goods. Why doesn't
this happen in a major way? Because the major cities, the homes of national
governments are locked geographically: and can only tax within their
geographical realm. People are not free, they are not citizens of the world
or children of the universe: they are trapped and chained citizens of
nations. Why are people trapped in places of drought and low potential for
growing food? Why do we have problems with refugees? Why are we still
effectively engaging in tribal warfare? These businesses, these governments,
these nations: these tribes.

Why do we waste time on who said what and did what, and who was first? This
nation was first, this person said that first. Whilst concerned about who
rather than what, we have a problem. Knowledge is classified and still
largely presented as a tree though a chaotic tangled 3D sphere of spaghetti
is probably more appropriate. The universe cannot be nicely divided up into
isolated junks, which added together define the whole. Synergy and
emergence, inform that the whole is different than the sum of the parts:
either more of less. We are not taught about the world, nor really observe
the world, we are taught models of the world, named after someone who is
accepted as the one who first thought it up. But these models are not
reality, and some are down right confusing to understand when reality is
thrown in. But the fame of those that created seems to take precedence over
reality. So that one major difference from schooling and learning from
experience: is the schooled have a language to describe, they can name and
they can indentify who apparently first named and observed. Often those
attributed as the first are little more than the first to record in a
permenant and public document. It may have otherwise been common knowledge
and taken for granted. Books themselves could be considered an invasive
technology. Rather than sharing they invaded, captured and stole knowledge
from the common people. Knowledge become property to be traded. Therefore
being the first is the claim to ownership. Our very language I guess is
owned by some entity: the nation state I guess. There you go: if want to
teach English as a langauge then have to pay royalities to England. Likewise
for any other langauge. If want to use langauge, then I guess user fee as
well. Then comes in dialects. But what dialects: regional, social, or even
individual. I think I have something of a mongrel dialect: Lancashire,
Cheshire, Yorkshire, Lusaka, Adelaide. Potentially a unique derivative of an
otherwise existing product: got to get raw material, original product to
create. Ownership pushed to limit becomes a problem.

Our view of the world is largely through the abstraction of spoken, written
and graphics languages. these language only describe critical
characteristics of the object or system we observe, not the object in total:
a mere caricature of the real thing. Our observations and science is not of
the whole nor of the real: we hypothesise about the limited abstraction of
the real. This in turn is reflected by different cultures and different
languages. German for example may be preferable language in which to study
mathematics. If want to study snow, then the langauge of the
eskimo's(Inuit?) may be best for the task.

The people of the global village have different ideas of society, culture,
politics, religion, coloured by the abstraction of the languages they use.
The dynamics of the natural environment require a population with mobility.
But the geographically constrained want to protect national identity. But
what national identity? Do these nations really exist? Are not the local
tribes still at war with the dominant tribe of the imposed kingdom or other
system of nation state? Are we individuals or are we part of a collective?
Are we schizophrenic? Humanity has to survive: not the UK not the USA nor
any other nation state.

People of the world need to be mobile. And that means a complex and dynamic
balancing act has to take place. It is not just a matter of refugees
assimilating into a new nation and new culture: the host nation also has to
adjust and change. Whether a flood of water or a flood of people nations
have to adapt. So far the adaptation has largely been to defend and protect
borders. But the industrial city states can support large populations, much
larger than the people who work within. So have issues of what is work, what
is and how can an individual contribute to society? Unions can only fight
against so called scabs if their is an under class below that of the union
membership. Language turns the unemployed into a burden on the community,
and the retired are rapidly approaching the label of burden. As population
ages and more people become pensioners. But we have this industrial machine
that can produce, and supply. Where is the real burden? The burden lies
within our monetary economy and our perceptions of fair exchange.
The next generation never enters the same environment of their parents. Life
changes the environment, it always has and always will, it is the nature of
life. Life has to adapt to a continuously changing environment. The children
of hunter gatherers entered a world or farming. The children of farmers
entered a world of factories. And always it is likely that there were
outcasts, those who could not or did not want to participate. Progress, and
continuous improvement are myths. Evolution is more dynamic and adaptive
than a march towards some ideal. But still we aim for an ideal, in which
there are fewer outcasts, of the kind that cannot participate but would like

Education has as part of its purpose to ensure that those who do not want to
participate, do so without causing unwarranted disruption to the rest of
society. Survival is a never ending learning process, and survival in
society is a continuous balancing act of learning, informing and educating
each other through communication.

And modern graduates through professional degrees, have been holding
knowledge secret, or patronising: there is only one way to gain this
knowledge and thats to spend so many years at university, more especially if
purchased degree. The more traditional scholars more likely to go out into
the world and share their knowledge: every graduate was a teacher. Not
everyone has time to waste at university to attend to their needs: and they
don't need all the knowledge contained in a specfic bachelor degree. However
there are issues of required journey, before being permitted to have access
to cetain knowledge. But this is where need to be guiding and helping each
other. So have an issue that this isolated limited set of knowledge has an
associated bachelor degree, but that definable set of knowledge over there
doesn't. So that only a small portion of the entire knowledgebase, which
itself is a small portion of the whole of the universe, is considered as a
qualification: to define the bolts of the industrial society machine.

But to survive, society doesn't need the old niche sub species of humanity,
it needs new niche species. These new niche species are frowned upon and
otherwise outcast. These species cannot participate as employees they can
only participate as businesses. They have to graduate from studies and form
new businesses, their education has to be broader and deeper than that of
previous generations, to operate in the industrial system. Business will not
support schools producing competitors, it wants schools to produce
employees, even when they have no positions for employees. But such new
businesses wouldn't really be providing substitute products more
complementary products. It should also be noted that it is somewhat easier
to find work, than it is to find an employer who can supply fulltime
employment: if have more than one employer: then they are clients/customers
and you are a business.

[speaking of which got to work tomorrow. Now 02:28AM]


Why is there now a delay when I email posts to my blog?
This sent whilst logged on in office. Previous 2, one missing, was sent
using mobile broadband modem.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

To Twitter or to Blog ?

Blogging I can definitely say more. I can also write offline and then post
to my blog. Though got to look at formatting headers. That may just be an
issue of my having email setup for plain text so that I can post longer
responses to questions and debates on the SEAint email listserver
(structural engineers association international). With formatted text can
hardly say anything in response. Though occassionally I still send two plain
text emails as a response. So I do often write overly long responses. Though
they do get read, and occassionally requests are made to pass onto others:
building departments etc...

This tends to indicate that creating a twitter account and the 140 character
limit would be stifling. It some what is. Often times twitter is slow, and
tweetdeck hangs up as I attempt to do too many things at once, and faster
than it is able to respond. On the otherhand at school typically known for
being quite all year, and maybe uttering one sentence even one word: which
within the context was all that was needed to astound and transform. As they
say if you are talking you are not learning. So thus far on twitter have
been writing as if writing an essay, but some what in response to the stuff
that I retweet, and what ever is in my timeline. If I don't retweet what I
am responding to then, my tweets may loose context, but retweets may be lost
to others in anycase. So initial idea was to leave the last 20 tweets
visible on profile page when not logged in as a story. But since not
counting the tweets, doesn't actually happen, and my twittering is far
longer than the 20 tweets. When first started also easily exceeded the
hourly limits: as my previous blogs indicate. Essay type tweets, put lots of
words across many topics in my timeline. The result is a high score as a
wordsmith on some application: cannot remember its name, but scanned twitter
account and returned a score. Which is kind off interesting: since when
first got wordperfect, its grammar and style checker, indicated my writing
worst than an insurance policy. So in 20 odd years, since, my writing may
have improved. Though still tends to be all over the place, wandering from
topic to topic. My tweets tend to do the same, wandering from topic to
topic, but maybe having a common thread. Several different ideas going at
once, and maybe I will return and finish off the story on original topic: it
all depends on where my thoughts take me. {Not as entertaining as Billy
Connolly: but multiple stories going and leave audience wondering if will
return and finish original story.}

Tweets though are short independent statements, and need to stand on their
own. For between one tweet and the next, someone following may see tweets
from many different channels.


Got side tracked and went and grabbed todays tweets by using advanced search
and copying and pasting into UltraEdit, deleting rubbish, then copying into
MS Excel, numbering, and then sorting into descending order, then copy back
to UltraEdit. But whilst reading, noticed got into habit of reading from
bottom to top of page, rather than from top to bottom. So instead of making
more sense, made less. Go figure! Adaptation. Well in past I did watch TV in
mirror because it was behind me whilst using computer. Problem was
programmes in foreign language with subtitles, so subtitles reversed in
mirror. Doesn't take long to get used to reading. Though tend only focus on
one thing at a time. So either focus on watching TV or using computer. If
not constantly swapping between one and the other: one gets turned off.

From UltraEdit default print settings about 4 pages of tweets: pasting into
Word and its wrap around formatting about 5 pages with its default margins.
So for the same time frame I could have probably written twice as much.
Anycase really needs rewriting to present as a blog.


So should probably monitor twitter for current topic, but otherwise blog
about it, rather than tweet. Though the twitter stream is potentially better
at attracting an audience, though blog can give others better chance to
respond. Though I turned comments off, was only getting email spam.

One thing I don't like about Blogs is that they are all over the place, and
there is a tendency to require registering and logging into to respond. Such
gets cumbersome. So it seems commenting on own blog is maybe better
approach. After all news papers and journals generally comment about
articles elsewhere are reference. So what is the benefit of commenting
locally? Some have said comments shouldn't be longer than orginal post. Not
sure I agree with that, people have to say what they need to. But do
comments need to be read and responded to? Doing so could become time
consuming, and blogging is not how I make a living. Do not generally read
every journal and newpaper on a topic, even if deliberately researching then
will tend to limit to specific journals. So comments via another blog
pointing to blog being critised is probably better. Since in general they
don't want to tell the author of the critised blog anything, they want to
provide alternative view to the audience. But probably are good reasons for
short local comments, that generate some useful and productive interaction.
But as I say not if have to register and log in to comment.

Anycase at present have no readers and don't promote my Blog, and only
received spam comments. So at present comments have been switched off.

So a matter of changes to implement if actually move from talking to myself
to promoting blog and building an audience. But no real point pursuing that
path if not able to sustain. So this year not been spending time programming
VBA and building Excel workbooks as I normally do: instead been monitoring
twitter. Building Excel workbooks is a more productive thing to be doing,
along with Automating Acad and drawing standard details. But value of these
things is otherwise dependent on the needs of local community, possibly
global community. So at moment at least twitter is an important outlet for
frustration with industry and community, aswell as an important source of
information about.

So got to be able to meld the two together and get back to building Excel
workbooks. It is also now becoming apparent that participation on SEAint
does tend towards becoming repetitive with respect to somethings. So placing
my response on a blog and pointing to that can reduce time spent on
alternative versions of a long responses. So time spent responding to
SEAint, which was getting time consuming, can otherwise be spent blogging
and responding more directly to the industry and community issues I have
with respect to design and engineering.

So need to spend some time building website and blogging and getting
information from mind into communication medium. Already have stacks written
on scrap paper filling boxes around me. So getting from mind not problem,
communicating it is the problem.

Well because just as like now, early hours of the morning I get to writing,
traditionally on paper, when I should be getting to sleep.