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A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages

Overview. As a pointy-headed university professor, my weekend project of bridge photography and building these web pages generated many questions and introduced me to just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Learning usually requires repetition while forgetting occurs when I infrequently use information. Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. Weekly visits to the bridge provided the repetition necessary to detect changes in the bridge and consequently generated many questions and opportunities for learning. Over the course of the bridge project, I had access to few experts for answering questions. Rather than a liability, this became an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I found that answers to questions encountered during my weekly photo shoots were often only a Google-search away - (see Restoring the Joy in Learning). Consequently Google + Internet became dependable extensions of my memory.

The bridge story is a work in progress and is evolving from a simple collections of photographs to an experiment with Internet-centric just-in-time learning. Insights I gain from you will find their way into the learning centers of MUSC. Palmetto Bridge Constructors, a joint venture between Tidewater Skanska and Flatiron Constructors, as well as High Steel Structures, Freyssinet, the SCDOT and the Federal Highway Commission Office of Bridge Technology guided much of my learning. I also learn from many of you and from Google-linked resources. More important is the e-mail encouragement I receive from many of you.

Thu, 10 Mar 2005

March 10, 2005 Unseen tal
I suppose that some of you will think I've completely flipped out. Thinking about where to go with the web pages and the images that I have acquired over the past 20 months has led me down many paths. One suggestion by a friend is to take a group of photos and make an art show. Knowing very little about formal art (except what I learn from Josh and Bibi), Ellen played the idea of our friend Debra Bieber, now in Dhaka Bangladesh. We met Debra and her husband, Glen, while I was a visiting professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (now Chennai). We were there from 1993 - 1994 and had the cultural experience of our life. During this time, I was successful in managing my lab at Duke via the Internet, one of my early experiences with Internet-centric life.

Anyway, I was considering three segments of an exhibit: time sequence of the bridge growth, people and processes. As many of you know, I enjoy learning from anyone and the bridge has provided many opportunities to learn something of bridge technology. So Debra suggests the title "Unseen tal". I am thinking, Deb has surely flipped out. Then Debra goes on to remind me that tal is the rhythmic basis of classical (Carnatic (south) and Hindustani (north) ) Indian music. I remembered going to my first classical music performance at IIT (in the OAT). It was my first encounter with classical Indian music and not at all what I expected. After the first few numbers, I was ready to leave since it was completely not understandable. There was a singer, drummer (tabla), violinist and veena and just as I was about to give up, I suddenly realized that there was a rhythm (from the tabla and veena) and a violin echo of what the singer was singing. And the singing was not what I thought of as western singing but rather the singer was playing his voice. All was suddenly understandable and enjoyable when I escaped from my western paradigm of singing words and harmony and saw that the singer was playing his instrument just as the violinist was echoing the improvised composition with his instrument.

Tal (see the references below) is all about rhythm and Debra saw in my photos a rhythm that is unseen by those viewing the bridge from afar. So she composed the word, Unseen tal. I thought this was brilliant and felt that Deb had caught the driving force of my bridge curiosity and my passion for capturing the rhythm of the building of the bridge. So I am thinking and playing with some ideas for a presentation.

posted at: 08:01 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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