Thursday, April 06, 2006

Learning by meandering

I like the Lone Star Learning posts on Xplanazine, they're so... I don't know... readable. Rob Reynolds obviously likes to tell stories, and I like to read them, so we're a good combination. I like the fact that I can often get from start to finish in one of his posts without having to dive off after some or other link to get the context.

This one talks about the different ways people navigate around the web, using navigating around towns as an allegory. As the reigning world champion in the art of getting lost, I found myself chuckling my way through his post. Don't get me wrong: I am an ace navigator, as long as someone else is driving. I am also pretty good at finding a place if I have been given a faultless set of directions. However...

The road by which I currently leave town on my way home from work is closed for repairs. So I tried to leave by an alternative route the other evening. My drive home usually takes 40 minutes or so. After about half an hour of driving, I was thoroughly lost. I pulled off the road and phoned my husband (let's hear it for mobile phones). "I'm in a farming area on a road called Mill Road, near a place called Thurleigh in - I think - Bedfordshire. Could you look it up on Google Maps (let's hear it for Google Maps) and tell me how to get home?" Of course, being a sensible individual, my husband asked me which direction I was facing. It was completely overcast, and I couldn't see the sun. Ergo, not a clue. After a few minutes, the sun peeped through a break in the clouds and I was able to asertain that I was facing north. Between us, we managed to figure out which way to go and I managed to get home an hour later.

Sometimes my journeys around the www are like this. Sometimes I know where I'm going (Google Maps, for example) and I go there, find what I want and get on with my life. Then there are other times. I'll start off reading a post on one of my subscription blogs. There will be mention of something/someone I haven't encountered before. So I follow the link to that post/person. Once there, I'll find some interesting tidbit of news, and follow the link to find out more about that. An hour later, I have no idea how I got where I am and without the wonderful "back" icon, would have no chance of finding my way back.

Perhaps this kind of learning is called serendipity (I think I read that somewhere on one of meanders through cyberspace), but, tipping my hat to the old MBWA (management by walking around), I think it should be called LBWA or LBM - learning by meandering..

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