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What Does It Mean To Be Political? TOK

Am I a political human being? What does it mean to be political? Aristotle once said that we are political animals. If so, what makes a person political? He defined political animals as those who live together for a common function. I think that being political is to be able to look at the world “politically,” recognizing that everyone is free to have an opinion about whether something is right or wrong. As a political animal, we all have a choice on whether to speak up or not, encourage others to experience and or to understand what you see, and act to change what we might see as unfair or “wrong.” 

These were my results for the three quizzes:

  • The Political Compass:

 

  • The Political Bias Test:

  • PolQuiz:

 

According to these tests, I have concluded that I am closer to the liberal side than the conservative. Yes, liberals and conservatives have incredibly different views across four political domains (security, economy, environment, and immigration); however, they also differ psychologically. And the differences in their psychology have a significant impact on our beliefs. 

For example, the research found that conservatives tend to display more ordered thinking patterns, whereas liberals have more “aha” moments. In the experiment, scientists gave conservative and liberal college students the same problems to solve. They both successfully arrived at some correct answers through gradual, analytical analysis. However, during the process, when they were struggling with a problem, liberals experience an ‘aha’ moment. At the same time, the conservatives tended to approach the situation with more of a step-by-step approach. I, for sure, have experienced many aha-moments throughout my learning in school, and it is what motivates me to learn more. For example, when I need ideas for an art project, it is usually a sudden burst of insight rather than a step-by-step approach, so I prefer art over math, as math is subject that requires a step-by-step process to conclude. This claim may not be valid in every case, but it impacts our strengths and weaknesses in different learning areas. 

Another research  showed that “Liberals tend to follow the wandering gaze of others more often, while conservative eyes stay more focused on the original subject they’re looking at.” (López) In the experiment, scientists asked multiple individuals to look at a certain point on a screen and wait until a ball comes out in the frame. However, before the ball came out, they showed a human face on the screen. The face’s eyes would look around- the scientists watched their participants see if they followed the gaze from the screen. Results showed a surprising result- liberal participants were more likely to follow the direction of the eyes on the screen. On the other hand, conservatives weren’t as swayed by the human face; instead, they just kept waiting for the ball. I interpreted this result this way: liberals prefer big- pictured learning, and conservatives are detail-driven.

 

The result of the report reminded me of the popular MBTI personality test. Though it might not be necessarily true for everyone, they vary in their political views as what each personality prioritizes varies. In this context, the “N” category- intuitive type (big-picture +visionary) and “S” category- sensing type (detail-driven +practical) applies. The image below shows how the N category leans more towards liberalism, whereas the S category leans more towards conservatism.

Fun fact, my personality type is ENFP, which matches with all four categories for liberalism! As a learner, the N personality type likes ideas and concepts, whereas the S personality type prefers concrete facts. This is why, depending on this, we have different learning styles since we, as learners, learn in different ways. 

Regardless of where you are from, I am sure that all countries are politically divided. We all have different opinions and take a different stances on issues like immigrants, environment, economy, LGBTQ, human rights, politics, and countless others. We also think differently regarding how we should handle and solve these issues. I found the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives as impressive since these explained how there are different learners around the world. 

 

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/ The Social Dilemma

Knowledge Question/Concept Your Notes
Given modern technological advances, how can we distinguish between information and disinformation, deliberate misinformation, and manipulation? You make your choice.

 

– It is almost impossible to distinguish between information, disinformation, deliberate misinformation, and manipulation

-Too much information out there

– fake news on Twitter spreads 6x faster than true news (tilt the floor of human behavior harder)

-businesses make more money from fake news

-interaction on media always involves a sneaky third-person manipulating the two

 

To what extent do social networks reinforce our existing perspective rather than boosting our engagement with diverse perspectives? -Algorithm

-sell their users

-if you are not paying for the product, then you are the product

-platforms are competing for your attention

-keep people engaged on the screen.

-They only want to show you what you like and what you think is right. This disables you from facing different perspectives, making you think that you’re absolutely correct.

 

How has technology had an impact on how we browse, search, and filter data and information? Can algorithms be biased? -I personally would say we have become the “tools’ tools.” The technology is waiting to “use” us. Due to the advanced algorithm, we are directed by them. Instead of searching for the things we want to know more about, the algorithm leads us to the direction we are satisfied with.

-all algorithm care about is our attention/profit. Thus, it is biased.

 

To what extent have technological developments led to an increase in data being collected without people’s consent or unaware that it is being collected? Ex) Terms of service

-Our group discussed how people usually skip the Terms of service. Yes, companies do include information about the extent to which they’re going to collect our personal information, but people never really read it carefully.

 

-But they collect information without people’s consent to engage with you; to gain more attention.

– great predictions (begins with one imperative: you need a lot of data)

-is being watched, is being tracked (exactly what image + how long you look at it)

-know when people are… (depressed, happy, & their personality…)

-it’s not facebook’s interest to sell your data. They build models that predict us.

-engagement goal (engage you), growth goal (inviting), advertising (making as much $)

-algorithms!

-someone tagged you in a picture: activity increases (comments, responses, likes, etc)

-ellipses (you look at it) (emojis; autofill): growth hacking (hack people’s psychology)

 

What impact has social media had on how we acquire and share political

knowledge?

-Dogmatism (the tendency to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others.)

– increasing polarization in society

 

Ex: Social media always show the content of the political side you support (so you wouldn’t know much about why the other side might possibly be “right.” You only see political issues in your perspective!!)

-tool of persuasion

-If you want to control your country’s population, Facebook is the most effective

-less and less control of who we are and what we believe

-Manipulation by the third party (Russia used legitimate tools and sed it for nefarious purpose)

Are new ethical challenges emerging from the increased use of data analytics in political activity and decision-making? -collecting data without consent is ethically wrong.

-ethical challenges emerge every day, every hour, every second.

Should we hold people responsible for the applications of technologies they

develop/create?

-yes

– Without taking responsibility, platforms take over people’s mind

So many problems will arise (global economy, don’t survive, climate change, civil war, etc.)

-simultaneous utopia and

-business has a problem!

(people are trapped by business models-no regulations (acting like de facto governments; we can regulate ourselves)

-protection for the gigantic companies (users are more important than the profit!)

–Moral responsibility to solve this problem

It is terrifying. It really is.

The documentary “Social Dilemma” made me realized how scary technology could be. As a teenager, it just seems very normal to have Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat, Tiktok, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Youtube, etc. Plus, I use most of these apps, which scares me the most. I have realized that I was being “used” by all these companies for their profit. It does sound dramatic, but unfortunately, it is the truth. And thankfully, some people are standing up, voicing it out for those who might not know about this issue.

I want to focus on the algorithm of social media as I experience it all the time. Before watching Social Dilemma, I was, in fact, thankful for the creation of algorithm- I never get bored! There is just way too much content for me to watch non-stop. The algorithm was very cool back then. Now it is not. I know the truth behind it, thanks to this TOK class. I thought all those contents were there to simply satisfy me, but it turns out that they were trying to seek my attention and eventually looking at the big picture of gaining profit by using me. They track all of my information to force me to watch more, which means there will be more advertisements showing up on my feed. In other words, the companies benefit from that, earning more money. As a user of these apps, I am just a tool for them to gain more profit, which is true! Of course, it upsets me, and their action cannot be justified. They can track everything I do- I do not mind, but it is clearly invading my privacy. And all of my data are for the sole purpose of gaining profit?

In the documentary, they mentioned the harms that social media has on teenagers. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve experienced the damage to its extreme as I’m quite ignorant, but I’ve definitely seen people seeking social approvals, likes, comments, etc. All of these are short term signals, and we put too much effort and thoughts into them. Why? Because companies made it that way. With likes, comments, and other clicks, the companies can get the publics’ attention. And attention= money. This really shocked me in a way because I like and comment on posts all the time. I never thought that it was about earning money. I liked all those engagements because it allowed me to express my feelings and share my thoughts. Yes, that could be a form of pure attention, but using that to gain profit just shocks me.

I know that these paragraphs basically just expressed how I’m very shocked in different ways, but that’s what really happened. I would blame the business model managers, but no. That’s what they were asked to do by the heads of the company- to manipulate us! They run the users, treating us like “lab rats.” The platforms can affect real-life behavior and emotions through addiction-manipulation based technology. They are using our psychology against us.
And us, stupidly, though knowing what was happening behind it, still fall for it.

 

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Technology and Knowledge -TOK interview

Technology and knowledge

Due to the fast development and extensive use of technology today, we can see an unbreakable relationship between the two. Most information can be easily found and recorded on the internet. For the theory of knowledge class, we were asked to interview our parents and or grandparents about their experiences on what the “technology” was like during their school years. I have realized that technology has brought us a drastic change in most aspects, whether positive or negative.

What tools did you use when they were going to school to learn and/or to produce knowledge?
-I can definitely tell you that my school years were very different from yours. All we had was pencils, pens, and books. There was absolutely no screens or advanced technology. Everything had to be remembered or written down.

What were your experiences in school like, and how do they compare with mine?
-no screens, so they will use chalkboards.
-for homework, they will have a separate homework agenda to record it. All homework had to be filled out with pencils
-all worksheets were printed papers/ printed from textbooks
-cannot contact teachers (ask everything in the class or ask friends; when cannot meet, you use phones (home phones) or do study groups)
-red pencil to mark on the paper
-checks who did not do their homework by individually crossing out on lists of names
-callout one’s name to do attendance
-use cash to pay for lunch (sometimes they would tell the lunch ladies that they will bring the money tomorrow, and the lunch ladies will jot down their names)
-use actual BELLS to announce that classes are over
-when recess/ break time, they tend to go out and run around. (jump ropes…)
-when you got something wrong on the test, the teacher will ask you to resolve it 100+ times.

As you can see, their experiences and my life at school is very different. Nothing has changed except for the advancement of technology. After this interview, I thought to myself, has technology made our (school) life better? Honestly, sometimes, I can find myself exhausted, surrounded by all the screens. I have to stare into computers, screens, phones all the time because that is where we will be able to find information. Of course, it is much efficient, more accessible, and organized, but I do feel overwhelmed. When I was in elementary school, I remember taking notes on notebooks, writing homework on my agenda, and erasing the chalkboard. Now, it is very different. I think that technology has positive changes, too; it is just that I do not enjoy it as much. There is way too much information out there, and it is tough to find valuable things.

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Is ignorance bliss? (TOK)

For the TOK mini-debate session, we were asked to talk about whether the statement “ignorance is bliss” is true or not. I was on the side arguing for the claim “ignorance is not bliss.” Before I get deeper into reflecting upon the debate, I would like to point out that I felt like ignorance was bliss before the discussion. I changed my mind as our team discussed, and as I watch the debate. 

As mentioned above, I agreed with the claim: Ignorance is bliss. This was the reason why. “Ignorance is bliss. The more you know about something, the more you will think about it and focus on the negative sides. For example, you might think that you have a nice personality, and everyone likes you. But once you know that there’s someone who dislikes you, there are consequences or thoughts that come with it. You will want to know why the person doesn’t like you, or it might lead you to think that you are not good enough. It’s better to ignore/not know.” I thought that this was a pretty good example, as it is what I usually do. Even when I heard that someone doesn’t like me for some reason, I would be very ignorant bout it rather than overthinking it all day and night. So I thought that ignorance was bliss. 

Throughout the debate, our team has successfully convinced me with these points:

  1. Ignorance causes more trouble than bliss. It will exclude certain people from society, thus forming different groups. This will lead us to feel something opposite from joy as we are biologically social creatures. 
  2. Ignorance can cause pain and danger.
  3. Merely knowing that one is ignorant about something is enough to make someone who seeks knowledge to be dissatisfied.
  4. Being informed and not ignorant can allow us to find what makes us happy.

For the affirmative side, they were talking more about situational ignorance. Here are some of their points:

  1. Gaining knowledge doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Whether you learn happy things or sad things, you’re going to focus on the negatives. 
  2. Happiness is instinctual and subjective. Only you can define what makes you happy and what doesn’t 
  3. We are all mortals. We will die at some point; we can always try and prolong our happiness through ignorance. 

Overall, I thought our side won because they have managed to convince me, who believed that ignorance was bliss. Though I believe the opposing team’s crossfire was pretty strong, our side’s individual speeches and points were clear and very convincing. 

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TOK: Are some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth?

TOK: Are some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth?

Before diving straight into the question, it is essential to define the nature of “truth” itself. How do we determine if one statement is true or not? Is truth genuinely knowable?

One, truth is objective. It can be proved.

According to Plato, true knowledge is something real, permanent, and everlasting. Truth must be true to everyone and free from one’s beliefs. Take my age as an example. I could say I’m 79 years old. Or 400. Or 2. Out of all of these numbers, what is the truth? 17. The concept of age is something real, permanent, and everlasting. It is a standard numerical language designated by everyone, which means it is true to everyone; therefore, it’s the truth. 

Two, truth is subjective. Subjective truth would be based on a person’s perspective, feelings, or opinions.

Take this statement as an example: “My favorite food is chocolate.” It is neither right nor wrong, yet it still is the truth. Based on all of my experiences, I have become a person who loves chocolate. The root of the knowledge was formed by the inputs, like senses and perception. Therefore, everything we know is subjective. All truths are subjective.

To answer the question, I would yes, some ways of knowing are more likely to lead to truth than others, but it all depends on how you would define truth. Ways of knowing will often interact with each other to form what we consider truth—for example, language and memory. To learn or understand a language, you must know and memorize how to process, comprehend, and speak the language. To be more specific, you must remember how one word is spelled or used, then apply it to your sentence, which can connect to other ways of knowing, such as intuition. After the stage of memorizing, you will know intuitively know when and in which order to use the word.

When the truth is defined as a universal and objective statement, ways of knowing such as perception and reason would be more likely to lead to truth. For example, math is all about facts. Thus, mathematical rules such as division would rely on deductive reasoning to lead to an accurate conclusion. In deductive reasoning, the general pattern is observed, and it looks explicitly into a particular case. There is a 100% certainty, though nothing new is learned. Though it can be argued that if the general pattern observed is inaccurate, then the smaller argument is incorrect as well, it is essential to note that the process involves making assumptions based on supported ideas. 

But on the other hand, if the truth is defined as an unknowable statement, ways of knowing such as emotion, faith, and intuition would be a more effective way to find the truth. Unlike the objective truth, this case applies inductive reasoning to come to its conclusion. Inductive reasoning looks at a particular subject and assumes the general pattern. It is usually seen in science when scientists hypothesize one specific phenomenon and thus come to a conclusion based on the results. Furthermore, as mentioned above, truths like “I love chocolate” can be unknowable. Still, it is the “unknowable truth” based upon my emotion and intuition. I have decided to feel love for chocolates; thus, the statement is true. Neither of the empirical data nor mathematical formulas can support the statement. Only the ways of knowing as emotions can lead to the conclusion that I love chocolates.

In conclusion, I think that some ways of knowing are more likely to lead to truth. It is a matter of how you define “truth.” Objective truth? Then sense perception and reasoning it is. But subjective truths would lean more towards ways of knowing, such as emotion and intuition.

 

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What do you know for sure, and how do you know it?

My name is Celine, and I’m from Indonesia and Korea. I’ve lived in Beijing for almost 16 years now, and I love it here. I love listening to music, walking, singing, and photography!

What do you know for sure, and how do you know it?

  1. I know for sure that I’m capable of speaking four languages. (memory)
  2. I know for sure that that ice will melt if it’s heated. (reason)
  3. I know for sure that I don’t enjoy mathematics. (emotion)
  4. I know for sure that the earth is enormous. (imagination)

But how do I know that “for sure”? Or how did even come across those ideas?

Some of the information I listed are part of the shared knowledge, also known as common knowledge (2,4). But others are my personal knowledge (1,3). Most knowledge in the world is shared, whether it’s learned from the internet, school, our own observations, or nature itself. But you might ask, not all of us can physically observe and or experience the bits of knowledge we know, so how do you know “for sure”? Today with the help of media outlets, learning can be shared, explained, and spread quickly. They will include descriptions and often multimedia to help visualize things.

There are different ways of knowing and other areas of knowledge. Ways of knowing depend on what area of expertise you ought to know. Ways of knowing include memory, reason, emotion, imagination, etc.

Connecting back to the lists, I know #1 because of my memory. I learned it, and I memorized it. Because I can apply it in real life, I know “for sure” that I can. Just like that, I know #2 because of the scientific reason behind it. The scientific reasons were explained by scientists who know for sure since they have observed the phenomenon in person. And the lists go on forever. 

With different ways of knowing, we can know “for sure” and expand our knowledge. We will also often use tools to analyze the knowledge framework. We will use scope and applications, language and concepts, methodology, historical developments, and personal knowledge links. 

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Stage Craft – Stage Configuration

Theatre in round.

Advantages

-not necessarily more opportunities for more people to watch

-different perspectives

-different styles of acting

-very own unique experience

-intimate atmosphere

 

Disadvantages

-when the actors are facing the back, can’t see their facial expressions

-blockings

-actors are pressured

 

Proscenium

Advantages

-Wide range of views

-everyone has a similar view

-easier to change the set

-easily draws your attention

-sets can be 2D as only seen from one angle

 

Disadvantages

-some can have a bit more closer(?) experience depending on their seats

-only one angle to view the stage

– 2D set may feel artificial for the actors

-some audience could feel distant

 

Traverse

Advantages

-intimate atmosphere

-can have own unique experience depending on which side you’re sitting

-small space, so easy projection for the actors

-feel inclusive

 

Disadvantages

-Audience may feel distracted by each other

-Limited entrances and exits

hence, hard to move the sets around

-Can’t really have big sets as it will block one side of the audience’s view

 

Thrust

Advantages

-feel immersed (actors)

-inclusive

-few entrances for the actors?

-can move the sets around freely, although it can seem pretty obvious?

 

Disadvantages

-Different angles for the viewers

-audience at the edge could be distracted by each other

-actors could feel intimidated?

 

BlackBox

Advantages

-flexible

-versatile

-audience can focus on the actors more

-direct interaction between audience and actors

 

Disadvantages

-lighting from above (lots of effort)

-audience can see anything

-not so many audiences at once.

 

Found or Flexible

Advantages

-can be literally anywhere

-can be creative with lighting, can come from anywhere

-easy blocking

 

Disadvantages

-distributing audience seats/ staging

 

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Create & Improve

Video

I finally finished my project! I really enjoyed this process overall, as we all worked on something that we are passionate or care about.

When  creating, I had some troubles along with some successions:) Although I did had some practices before actually working on my pieces, everyday was a challenge for me. During my journey, I would always get really helpful feedbacks from Ms.Larissa; the sewing machine genius!!! For example, she taught me some hacks, like when using the needles, pin them apart from each other so that it doesn’t take as much time and so.

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Product Design: Develop & Plan

This is a design sketch for the previous project, which is pillow. Starting from the right side, those are just lists of possible design ideas which I wanted to use for my pillow. It’s just brainstorming of what I could do and what I was interested. Each pillow design on the left side has different inspirations, which I got from pinterest!  There are no specific things I got inspired by, meaning I was inspired by everything! ( objects, colors, clothes, animals, photographs, etc.) While I was roaming around pinterest for more inspiration, I discovered upcycled fashion. As mentioned in the previous post, upcycled fashion has become something I wanted to work with during Product design class.

Thus, I expanded my research on upcycled fashion. Though I really like the idea of working with pillows and new fabrics, I thought that it wouldn’t really contribute to any categories, since it’s just a new furniture. So the idea of “upcycled fashion” stood out to me, as it’s recycling clothings people do not want, and re-creating those pieces into something creative.

So! my FINAL idea has come along; upcycled fashion. These are just few pieces which I designed and were inspired by some outfits found on pinterest. I will be going to Roundabout to collect some pieces and move on from then. Because I don’t have all the pieces yet, I ‘m not really sure about it the designs i came up with are possible, but when I collect clothings, I will try my best to collect ones that are similar to my designs. After talking to Ms.Larissa, I realized that some designs are hard to work with. For example, the grunge jean is really hard to sew, since we need to be extremely exact with the thigh leather part. And we know that it’s really hard to sew in between pieces. Thus I decided to stick with easy pieces, which are #1 and #3. But depending on the clothes I find in RoundAbout, I will have to shift my designs around a bit.

Prototype/getting used to the swing machine!:

So I learned how to sew, and tried out different types of stitches! Now I know how to start without everything set up!

 

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