New Year's Resolutions
December 28, 2001 4:40 AM   Subscribe

New Year's Resolutions 4 days to go, can't start the year without it, so here goes - yet another one which will make me feel good but I will inevitably break: learn something new by taking all the free seminars at Fathom, the best learning site I could find. And you?
posted by Voyageman (23 comments total)
Thanks for the Fathom link, first time I've ever eard of them.
Most online e-learning centers are pay-per-use and free ones are generally pretty low-level, as in their courses are obsolete.
posted by ( . )( . ) at 5:09 AM on December 28, 2001

I want to become a better, nicer peson. But I can find no role models.
posted by Postroad at 6:02 AM on December 28, 2001

postroad - you are too funny.
posted by goneill at 6:21 AM on December 28, 2001

Fathom is fantastic! I downloaded some papers and ended up on Oliver Sack's website. Thanks Voyageman.
posted by rotifer at 6:34 AM on December 28, 2001

That should be Sacks' of course.
posted by rotifer at 6:41 AM on December 28, 2001

I think I'll be taking some of the free seminars Fathom offers too. Thanks for the link.
The Guardian post below about the Seven Wonders of the Web didn't have any distance learning sites on it, and that seems to be one of the best uses for the web. Maybe it is because there are no clearly defined leaders. Anyway, I prefer resolutions to do something for the new year instead of ones to stop doing something. I think it is easier to pursue a positive activity rather than try to give up a negative one.
posted by bragadocchio at 6:50 AM on December 28, 2001

So far for me it has been a focusing on what exactly I want to do the next year while putting some off for another year. I always end up not doing much since there is so much I want to do and learn that all my attention is spread thin. So this year my resolution is simply: simplify and focus on a couple of my interests, leave the others in the backburner.

Thank you very much for that Fathom link!. First time I hear of them and I will be searching through it to see if I find something immediately relevant. (hey I can't break that simplify and focus resolution so damn quickly can I??). But regardless, I feel its going to be quite a handy resource in the future.
posted by oneiros at 7:15 AM on December 28, 2001

Thanks for posting this Fathom link! Such a slow day at the office I've gone through George Washington and the Lindisfarne Gospels already.
posted by revbrian at 7:24 AM on December 28, 2001

Thank you for the link. Instant bookmark.
posted by yesster at 7:33 AM on December 28, 2001

bragadocchio, I agree completely, learning via the net can help poorer countries educate its people. You only need one cable running through that country anyway.
posted by HoldenParis at 7:36 AM on December 28, 2001

New Year's Resolutions are always a difficult point in the year for me... the whole concept rather uncomfortably reminds me of my own broken promises. Life habits are hard to change. I've always got great admiration for someone who can set laudable goals and then stick with them for the follow-through.
Good luck to anyone trying this year.
posted by RokkitNite at 8:06 AM on December 28, 2001

My resolution is to not use the "I'm too busy" excuse to avoid or put off doing worthwhile things. Simple, yes, but a big deal.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:12 AM on December 28, 2001

Thanks for the Fathom link...this will remind me that I eventually want to go back to school (which, incidentally, is one of my New Year's resolutions).
posted by Spinderella56 at 8:33 AM on December 28, 2001

I am going to travel around the world, even if India/Pakistan decide to start shooting at each other (thereby completely ruining my plans for that region).

I may also pick up a few new vices, and I'm also trying to be more pointlessly generous to friends.

Finally, UncleFes and I are going to conquer the world, divide it down the middle, and begin the most fantastically overwrought reign of horror ever conceived. Prepare for great-looking uniforms and unnecessarily dangerous industrial facilities everyone!
posted by aramaic at 8:49 AM on December 28, 2001

Hey, aramaic, can I join your cabal? As Minister of Hideously Over-complicated and Horrendously Expensive Plots to Destroy Enemies of The Realm That Never Work But Never Have Any Negative Feedback On Their Creator?
posted by Samizdata at 10:19 AM on December 28, 2001

I'm not a big believer in new-years' resolutions. If you can't make a needed change in your life at any time of the year, what's the point in making a pithy statement usually forgotten by the third of January?

That having been said, my only resolution is to keep on making change when it's needed, and not to make silly new-years' resolutions ;-)
posted by sammy at 10:42 AM on December 28, 2001

What sammy said...

I made a resolution not to make a resolution.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 11:01 AM on December 28, 2001

skallas, some barriers do have to come down brick-by-brick, and the impediments that you detail are difficult ones to overcome. Some countries might be able to leapfrog upon technolgy developed in other places. For example, what sense would it make to put copper telephone cables in places that don't have them now? A wireless system would involve much less cost in infrastructure.

At some point, many governments are going to realize that access to information, and citizens who have the skills to use that information are the greatest resources they have. Brazil is a country that seems to have come to that conclusion within the last year or so. Brazil's approach to some of the problems that you pose as challenging distance learning is described in a pdf page called Improving Public Internet Access in Brazil: Moving Beyond Connectivity... There also has been an effort to make access to the net cheaper there with the development of a low cost internet applicance. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has a collection of links regarding access to the internet in other countries.

Maybe creativity can help overcome problems with access to information. Many peoples' New Year's resolutions are focused inward. But, just as you can make a promise to learn something new, you can also make a promise to reach out and try to help someone else learn something new. An optimistic approach? Maybe. But, keep in mind that people who aren't aware of limitations described by others, are less likely to be shackled by them.
posted by bragadocchio at 12:09 PM on December 28, 2001

" only resolution is to keep on making change when it's needed..."

sammy, you work at McDonald's or Starbuck's?

Kidding of course. I'm with you. No resolutions for me.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:54 PM on December 28, 2001

Thanks for the link to Fathom, I just took the one on public speaking. This is the first year I'm doing resolutions so I thought I'd start off simple:

1. 50 pushups and situps a day.
2. Run 2 miles a day.
3. Take more Fathom courses!

I'm doing most of this already; I just need to stick with it.
posted by bloggboy at 2:25 PM on December 28, 2001

I've just looked at Fathom too, and was impressed, but I have one reservation--the course material I looked at was copyright Columbia University; are the contributors being paid for their work? I don't want to stir the pot unecessarily, but I seem to remember some recent case over the ownership of this type of academic work in relation to distance education courses on the web. The idea was to put up the lectures, but they would be owned by the institution, not the instructor who had written them.
posted by jokeefe at 2:27 PM on December 28, 2001

That's a touchy issue, and it's not resolved yet. My lecture notes are technically property of the institution I work at, last I heard. We're actually a member of the Fathom consortium (though nobody asked the faculty). This was announced with great fanfare a while back, and not another word has been heard about it since. I think it's in part because the intellectual property issues have yet to be sorted out. I know several colleagues who are reluctant to put their course notes on the web because they are worried that they will no longer have any ownership of them. So far the university has not been helpful in straightening this out.
posted by rodii at 2:46 PM on December 28, 2001

My resolution: try to become more attuned to other human beings.
posted by kindall at 4:10 PM on December 28, 2001

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