Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On the memory lane of the Internet - Paris 8

It's great to be getting older. It turns the Internet into a memory lane, something like cleaning your old cupboards in the place where you grew up, finding old pictures, mails, etc.

I just received a mail from someone asking me if this (updated link to Internet Archive: was something that I have written. It was "mon memoire du DEA" from 1999 in the department of Hypermedia in Paris 8! I have not even put my name on it, but somehow this person was able to find it and associate it to me. Best of all is that she still found it useful for her studies, she wanted to cite it in her own dissertation on language teaching and new technologies, but since the text did not have the author nor the publication date, she found me. You never know, do you now..

So here it:
Riina Vuorikari
Date de parution: septembre 1999
Lieu de publication: L'Universite de Paris 8, Saint-Denis, France.

Notice the way that the title was written, no commas but different lines. Pretty arty, ha? It was mostly influenced by, hm, my really eccentric pormotor, J.Feat. So, I went back to my Yahoo! mail that I used already back then to check the mails between us when studying. Man, he was somewhat strange, but who would not be in Paris 8!

I always joked that the hardest task in it all was to get out of there with a diploma, what a mess. But Fun. A good place to hang out. Check out what the French version of wikipedia says about it. The English version is lame, it's hard to capture that feeling of "papa cools", all the old hippies from the late sixties who had installed themselves there ever since the Youth revolution of 1968. Every day there was (I bet still is) a student "manif", a little protest or signing a petition on this or that. When I read parts of my dissertation I noticed how that radicalism had snuck in..

D’un côté Internet offre " un accès libre au monde ", il est " international, pluriculturel et multilingue ", mais ceci est une image idéalisée d’Internet. D’un autre côté Internet est vu comme un média conditionné par McWorldet par les concepts d’américanisme à l’échelle mondiale. L’homogénéisation culturelle et le commerce électronique comptent sur l’idée que la consommation devient l’unique activité humaine qui uniforme le goût des consommateurs.

..and at the end about the future perspectives:

Une autre piste de recherche sera l’industrialisation de l’enseignement. Les questions soulevées par ces tendances sont multidimensionnelles : Est-ce que l’interaction humaine pourra être remplacée ? Est-ce que les enseignants qualifiés seront remplacés par les moins qualifiés une fois que le contenu du cours est mis en place sur Internet ou sur le cédérom ? Qui aura la propriété des contenus de ces cours qui sont devenus des produits à exploiter, le professeur ou l’administration de la faculté ? Qui aura l’intérêt à vendre ces contenus, qui aura les droits d’auteur et qui va gagner l’argent ?
Outch. Then again, there is lots of good stuff too. I love the translation of knowledge network in to "le tissu de savoir" or calling the whole Internet as " tissu social virtuel"! What a foresight! I remember sitting with my supervisor in the Montmartre graveyard and he was explaining that instead of talking about the Internet, I could use the term " tissu social virtuel", like a web woven in a tissue where the threads are all intervened, to illustrate the use of the Internet. pretty funny in its own way..

This is my opening line:
Internet est souvent associé au concept d’interactivité. Est-il possible d’exploiter cette propriété pour mettre en œuvre des techniques spécifiques pour l’enseignement de langues vivantes étrangères ? Au contraire de l’enfant qui apprend sa langue maternelle dans un environnement naturellement interactif - et de façon permanente - l’étudiant suit régulièrement un cours où l’immersion linguistique est artificielle et de courte durée. Jusqu’à quel point est-il possible de reconstituer, à partir d’un tissu social virtuel (=Internet) les conditions idéales d’apprentissage, particulièrement l’apprentissage des langues étrangères ?
I remember when I finally was writing my dissertation, my promotor was merciless. He really cracked the whip on me. But he knew how far to push, and at the end also I was really pleased with the result. After all, it was mention bien. When I thanked him for this, he said " Please, don't you give no "thank you" -- after all, it's my job...". That's a true educator! But hey, he could have taken some credit for it.

A funny thing was that he's English was perfect, but I only learned about that after we were done with all the writing. He was harsh on my French too. When I had already handed in the first version of my dissertation, he congratulated me on it. But half way down on his mail he says that in its current version no one can read it without lots of difficulties :
Toutefois, tu ne recevras ton diplôme que si tu déposes plus tard un nouvel exemplaire, corrigé de toutes les fautes de français -- il faut comprendre que cet exemplaire est destiné à la bibliothèque, et que, tel qu'il est, personne ne peux le lire sans une grande fatigue...
The final discussions that we had before my defense took place in Montmartre. We once met in that same café where they shot scenes for Amelie, or at the graveyard. I was quite surprised to see them in the movie, I remember.

It was also fun now to check out on some professors from Paris 8. I found Jean-Pierre Balpe who at the time was the head of the department of Hypermedia. Jean Clement who taught us a course on hypermedia. Imad Saleh, one of my "rapporteurs", is now the head of Laboratoire Paragraphe, that's the nickname of the deparment (so French, I love it!). Or Jean-Lois Weissberg - I never understood anything about his lectures, he talked about "telepercence" and such. I only remember that soulful intellectual Greek philosophy student who engaged in discussions with him about things that I could not follow. After all, they all carried the legacy of Pierre Levy who had just left the department year earlier.

I tried to dig out on my Lycos account where this stuff now resides, but I could not find my password and the system does not recognise my username :( But I found some other old stuff, like the index page of the site that I made at that time for Finnish students in Paris, Suomalainen Osakunta, my cool looking CV and the side of akseli that Pia, "Puumatyttö", teki suomalaisille taiteilijoille ja jota autoin jossain vaiheessa. Ihanaa!

Well there, that was a nice moment of memories from Paris and end of the Millennium.

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