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Google Scholar says that that Beedlow article has been cited in other scholarly articles 43 times. I certainly feel that I will get a lot of use out of citing this article. It is such a well written and compelling article. It is a summary of many other avenues of research that drives their value into a single important message: don't mess with the forests that we still have because heightened atmospheric C levels aren't going to increase their efficiency of sequestering C.

The graphs are great. One idea that caught my attention was that C might not result in increase bio mass prodution because there wasn't enough N in the soil to catalyze the reactions that made the growth. This 'because' was a generalization, since there appeared to be plenty of N in the soil in the Northeast, Northwest and right here in the Upper Penninsula. Maybe there will be increased growth in these areas. TBD……

Beedlow Article by jseaverjseaver, 20 Sep 2010 01:52

Thanks for starting this conversation – I have found myself similarly postponing my wiki contributions for a variety of reasons, mostly because I haven’t felt that additional material would add tremendously to the knowledge or understanding of the class (based on my own experience, the limited number of times I visited the site were simply to see what types of things had been posted, not necessarily because I was looking for material to supplement the course). In retrospect, I suspect that non-participation is probably even less helpful than over-participation in terms of bringing net benefit to the class, in the sense that I haven’t even provided material for other wiki users to object to or improve upon. As Brymz mentions, Kudos indeed to those who have been proactive, especially those who have clarified the layout and combined similar documents.

That said, given that I haven’t had time to complete even all the assigned readings, I’ve had trouble getting behind the wiki as a source of additional, relevant knowledge. I very much appreciate the value of the experiment; the main idea – encouraging extra-curricular exploration and conversation, and distilling key points – is definitely laudable and should be continued. I hope that the next generation of the wiki, or any similar collaborative efforts in other classes, will experiment with clearer guidelines and objectives; I also think it would be just as valuable to pursue the same sort of collaborative conversation offline, by setting up real conversations with real people to talk about course concepts outside the context of the classroom, section, or lab.

On a more curmudgeonly note, I’ve been surprised by the extent of the migration to digital media since my undergraduate years, and although I may be the lone opposition voice, I don’t think the shift has necessarily been a good thing. [update: while I understand and agree with Professor Currie’s comment in class that “Web 2.0 is not going away,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to embrace it; as part of our training to be change agents, I would love to see more emphasis on thinking critically about the real utility of the systems in which we are “expected” to participate]. We live in a world of exponentially increasing information volume and decreasing quality, thanks to blogging and Twittering and wikis; the real challenge, and one that I would love to see future course websites address, lies in filtering and reducing the available information to increase its quality and relevance, while providing access to further reading if people want (a single well-organized page of links should be enough, I’d think). Although I don’t agree with all his points, Andrew Keen makes some astute observations in “The Cult of the Amateur” with regard to the downsides of the so-called “democratization of information:” when everyone can post with equal authority, it becomes extremely difficult to distinguish expert knowledge and opinion from inaccurate or untrained speculation [update part 2: I am particularly excited by Professor Currie’s proposal to make future wiki submissions team-based and grade them on their accuracy and relevance – knowing that pages had been subject to expert review would greatly increase my faith in their usefulness].

While I’m complaining about amateur science, I should probably do my bit to add to the confusion: here’s some very inconclusive evidence in loose support of two related arguments, namely that printing course materials is not as unequivocally “anti-environmental” as it is portrayed, and that reading digital documents may in fact be detrimental to overall retention of concepts:

1. The jury’s still out with regard to the relative greenness of paper vs digital; even the Swedes aren’t sure, but certainly when we consider the energy costs, particularly in coal-burning Michigan, and the non-renewable materials embedded in our constantly-becoming-obsolete digital devices, reading digitized documents certainly isn’t a perfect alternative. Perhaps the key takeaway is that reading in general is bad for the planet.

2. I’ve gradually lost patience with chronic overuse of CTools, because my eyeballs just can’t take another fuzzy scanned PDF; as it turns out it’s also worse for your brain, according to a couple of studies (the Journal of Research in Reading, Volume 31, Issue 4, 2008, pp 404–419 says, among other things, “One main effect of the intangibility of the digital text is that of making us read in a shallower, less focused way.”) (Yes, I read the Journal of RiR all the time. Don’t you?) The main point of the article is that the portion of the cerebral cortex that is dedicated to mouse work – scrolling, highlighting, whatever – seems to occupy more mental bandwidth than its pen-and-paper equivalent, leading to a lower retention rate from digital readings.

I know it’s a bit late to weigh in, and I apologize to the GSIs for adding more relatively meaningless material to your grading load – but for those of us who are interested in the transfer of knowledge, which I suspect includes most of the class, it’s been an interesting experiment and certainly bears further examination. Thanks for an interesting course.

Originally Posted by brymz

Re-posted by colindonihue for ease of discussion. Content entirely unchanged.

I would like to apologize for being one of those people that waited until the last week to be involved with the wiki. We were warned against problems that could arise with this collective action, but from the start it seemed an inevitable outcome of the assignment. I surmise that this post is quite different from other last minute additions to this community website. It will serve to provide a forum for general feedback of the feasibility and functionality of this class tool and explore the reason that this activity was pushed off until this point of the semester.

I tend to be a relatively busy soul, and enjoy having activities to fill my day. Throughout my undergraduate career, I devised a system of priorities to ensure satisfaction with my progress. Accomplishing the task that I considered most important first, gives me a sense of motivation and urgency that often makes me work more efficiently. Since I have not yet gotten to the wiki post by employing this thought process, I might claim that it is then not a priority. But this, of course, would lessen the importance of what this new course tool has to offer. There is no doubt that with full participation from the class we could build a coherent and provocative study tool for future classes. So then, why has the wiki fallen so far on my list of priorities? Is it just that most of us have not had experience with website design and are flustered by the possible frustration of unknown technology? Or is there something deeper going on here?

First off, I am sure a number of people had doubts about interacting with a wiki. Having had some limited web design experience, this is one of the easiest platforms to use and allows for a free form end result. This is as the professors originally intended. So, from my perspective, it would seem that the wiki is an ideal place for that open forum for class discussion. So then, is class discussion taking place?

I think there are a number of study groups and impromptu lunch tables that discuss at depth a number of concepts we have touched on in class. Students in SNRE readily share resources and ideas with their peers and increase the community’s capacity for knowledge and learning tremendously. Why is this not reflected on the wiki?

With the extremely fast pace of my life it is difficult to get anything accomplished that is not immediately relevant. The wiki posts has a due date that was, until now, extremely far away and the impact it has on my grade is not determined based on the timeliness with which I complete the assignment. And in relation to other factors of my grade, the wiki does not have a large enough impact to get it done early. Exams, papers, grant writing, and personal research all took priority when considering my workload for the week. Often I had great ideas to contribute, but couldn’t find the time to get them on a post. I appreciated a mention for the Metabolic Theory of Ecology by Prof. Currie one day in class as I wrote a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship application on this relatively young concept of community assemblage and wish to get more of my peers thinking about ecology in this way. Unfortunately, while focusing on writing that very grant, the post had to wait until the last minute as I go slightly crazy preparing for exams and finishing up late semester class assignments. At the announcement of this assignment, it was difficult to imagine a wiki that would have enough traffic to ensure accurate information sharing and even more difficult to see it spurring virtual academic debate.

Bravo, to all of you who have consistently followed updates on the wiki and to those who have taken extra time to make the site look more professional and function more efficiently. I am interested to hear your feedback as to what motivated you to take charge of this pilot project.

Also, for those of you like me, chime in and identify what it was that had you behind the eightball. As this is a working website, we have not lost our opportunity to create a well-collaborated course tool for future classes. Perhaps this job is best served at the end or just following the semester when the information is most forward in our minds following exams and we can better identify what concepts are most important and how they are related throughout the course material.

The critic by colindonihuecolindonihue, 10 Dec 2009 23:53

The extra info tab is a most-recent-first collection of all pages that have a tag "extra_info" In other words, you can't edit that list in this page, simply add "extra_info" to the page you created and it will update at the top of the list (hopefully). If that doesn't work send another note.

Every time I try it just lets me edit the main page. What I want to do is create a link to a new page on the "extra info" page. I'm a noob at this. Can someone help?

I've had trouble figuring out how to delete pages too. The easiest way to remove it from the Lecture 15 section is to remove the tag (done). You can also "mark it as deleted" or some other such tagging, but it still floats around in the "list all pages" view. Not a big issue as there haven't been all that many that have been deleted but it could get messy. I think the only real way is for an admin to completely wipe it.

I deleted the tag though so it won't clutter the Lecture 15 section.

Re: How to delete pages? by colindonihuecolindonihue, 23 Nov 2009 20:47

I'm thinking of deleting that blank page in the Lecture 15 section—anyone know how?

How to delete pages? by 3m1ly3m1ly, 23 Nov 2009 19:05

This is great! I'm glad someone took the initiative!!! Thanks, lauren cotter

Re: New Interface by Lauren CotterLauren Cotter, 19 Nov 2009 19:21

These forum postings have some pretty good potential for dialogue. Start a new thread by typing in a "Post Title" or if you'd like to respond to an already existing thread click on the "reply" link under the latest posting.

Important note: once you've posted something you can't delete it (case in point: somewhere hiding in the wiki I have a bunch of very silly test posts back and forth to myself and I still can't figure out how to get rid of all of them).

You can put these dialogue boxes anywhere on the wiki though so be thinking of creative reasons for discussion - test questions, philosophical/existential debates, Stella rants etc. Let's try to keep this page focused on topics pertinent to the wiki as a whole - we can add as many others as you'd like everywhere else. All you have to do is write [[module Comments]] when editing a page.

So what do you think? My goal was to design an interface that we could all use to more easily navigate to target pages of interest. The "Extra Info" tab is still a bit messy and I'd love other suggestions for organizing it - does most recent post first make sense? The syllabus isn't all that helpful - do you want it up or is it better just taken off? Is this layout easier? Do you have suggestions to make it better?

I'm going to need some help keeping all of these pages current. If you're so inclined send me an e-mail (cdonihue) and I'll show you how I made the site, or you can just look through the code.

Hope y'all don't mind the huge change and I especially hope we find it a bit easier to visit and post on. Good night!

New Interface by colindonihuecolindonihue, 11 Nov 2009 05:44


are you sure?


Hurrah! I think it did! by colindonihuecolindonihue, 10 Nov 2009 23:32
What about this??
colindonihuecolindonihue 10 Nov 2009 23:31
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions »

Yup, perhaps…

What about this?? by colindonihuecolindonihue, 10 Nov 2009 23:31
I have an idea
colindonihuecolindonihue 10 Nov 2009 23:31
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions »

That this might work

I have an idea by colindonihuecolindonihue, 10 Nov 2009 23:31
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