A place where stories, thoughts and ideas come together

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Coincidences, music and constructivism

Exactly one month ago, at the February full moon, short time before leaving Luxembourg, a friend of mine invited me to a less common concert organised by the Embassy of Japan at the
Bourglinster Castle. Mayumi Miyata was playing Shô (mouth organ), an ancient instrument with a very unusual sound. The sound was continuous, it had a special resonance and it did not ressemble to any of our European mental schemes about music and harmony. It wasn’t addressed particularly to the ears, it made the whole room vibrate and it gave me a unique state of bliss and fulfilment. It felt like I was listening to it with my whole body: instead of perceiving it as something external to me, I became that music, vibrating at unison with it. At the end, I tried to guess if the others were feeling more or less the same. Most of the faces were expressing politeness, attention, but there were only few reflecting enchantment. I guess being a big fan of organ music, tibetan bells and monocord prepared me for that very special experience, and the special ambience and companions did the rest.

At the March full moon this Friday (I only realised the coincidence when leaving the concert hall!), I attended a classical music concert in my hometown, Timisoara. The local symphony orchestra played Stabat Mater of Pergolese, an opus I learnt to love when I was 13. Every sound was so familiar! - it brought me emotionally closer to home and to my old self than being physically here. And it reminded me of a talk I had with a friend long time ago: he couldn’t understand my passion for classical music, for him this was only meaningless noise, and rock was the only true music in the world. I shared his passion for rock, but I enjoyed several other genres too. My advice to him was to listen several times to a sole concerto till the sounds will get to mean something to him and he will start resonating with it. After one week, he came to see me in high spirits – it worked! He suceeded to tune himself to the frequency of that music and started to actually enjoy it!

That made me think of the learning process: ideally, when we are learning something new, we tune ourselves to a new frequency: learner, learning and the object of learning are becoming one, as in the old zen archer tale, and there isn’t any effort involved, but a state of flow. In reality, tuning ourselves to a new frequency is not an easy process – it could take quite an amount of time, and it could involve passing through several intermediary frequencies, needed to fill the skills gap and to bring us closer to the particular field. A good book, an experienced mentor or simply a knowledgeable peer (writing a weblog?!) could ease the process, but personal efforts are to make the real difference.

And of course, the parallel is far from being perfect: listening to music is not compulsory, and it is usually done for fun, while learning is most of the times compulsory – at least in formal education.

Not that I'm not looking for ways of bringing the fun factor into learning anymore...

|| Gabriela 12:58:00 AM
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Monday, March 14, 2005

Back in Romania

Well, I'm home. And it was supposed to be a vacation ;-)
Pretty frustrated because of the Internet connection - dial up, expensive enough, sloooow...
I guess I was spoiled abroad. Switching to an off-line working style isn't easy. I'm postponing things for the time when I'll get on-line, but then I forget...

And I was so naive to believe that I could catch up with all my mailing lists and blog subscriptions... No way! I will have to do some radical changes soon, otherwise the feeling of guilt will follow me day and night.

Yesterday I had finally some quiet moments to work on my report to ERCIM. After half an hour or so, I got into flow and I couldn't stop for about 8 hours. At the end of it, my report was almost done. There were so many things to tell, so many links to add, that I was amazed myself. The funny part is that I couldn't prevent adding few links to my blog posts about conferences - rather unusual for an official report, but I believe organisations should get accustomed to this way of documenting things. I know there's a clash here between formal and informal - an official report is supposed to be formal, while the tone of my blog isn't! -but people could cope with it for the sake of the contained information .

It was an extremely rich period of my life. A lot of hard work, but a lot of satisfactions too. So many people I met, so many places I went to, so many events I attended.
Few encounters that made quite a difference in my life... The balance I found... The fact I'm not afraid of being myself anymore...

I was always attracted to research, but finished by considering it a hard-affordable hobby.
People around me find difficult to understand it, because the results are not tangible. Some people build houses, others fly planes or sell something. I find it so hard to explain to my mom what is it all about what I'm doing and what I'm after! And that I am decided to continue in the years to come!
After drawing the line, I believe this was the major gain: to find out what I'm good at, and how to make a living out of it. To recognise how much I enjoy doing it. To dare pursuing such a dream.

Hope I'll find the time to post an outline of my report in the next few days!
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Get ready for Wikimania!

A friend of mine asked me weeks ago if I'd volunteer as interpreter for an event organised by Wikipedia. Sure, I said. I love to use my language skills, especially in the service of open-everything.

This is how I got in contact with sj, who gave me few more details. And here comes the announcement:
Wikimania 2005: The First International Wikimedia Conference—a conference for all users of Wikimedia projects—will be held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany from 4 August 2005 to 8 August 2005. The event will include speakers from within Wikipedia and from outside Wikipedia as well. One of the purposes of the conference will be to have people meet and learn about other language projects.
The meeting should be fully international in terms of languages used, although for practical reasons a lot of stuff will need to be in English.

Translation requests/Wikimania has been set up, please join translation. Not only German, French, Spanish, Esperanto and Japanese translators, but other language translations are welcome. The main stuffs for translation, register form and its content is coming soon.
Many other languages, like Dutch, Italian, or Chinese will also available, if translators volunteer.
If you are interested in contribution, please list yourself to the translation team.

The volunteers will benefit from:

    * free accomodation and meal passes;
    * basic travel expenses (within Europe).
I'll do my best to be there. Sounds like it's going to be a great event - why won't you start spreading the word?!
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Saturday, March 05, 2005


A bright and exciting period of my life ended this week: the post-doctoral research stage sponsored by ERCIM came to its end this Monday. A lot of thoughts to share and conclusions to draw... Unfortunately, there was no time for blogging.

In the last three weeks, I made huge efforts to finish my papers and reports, to keep up with OSN2005, to find a new job, to empty my apartment in Luxembourg and to enjoy a tiny bit of personal life. I am really amazed that I am still on my feet - it's been a tough, but rewarding period!

I hope to catch up in the following weeks, during my vacation in Romania - there are so many drafts on my blog I would like to finish and publish!

I've spent the last few days in Volmarstein, Germany, attending a Leonardo project meeting. One of the Romanian students attending my blogging course was there too, so naturally we couldn't stop from giving the others a 5 minutes lecture about blogs and what are they good for. The conclusion? Claudia created a project blog in less than 3 minutes and invited all the team members to join. I am curious to see if the initial enthusiasm will last, and we will live to see most of them posting!

The first thing I discovered in Volmarstein was the wi fi in our hotel. It was really great to be able to stay in touch with the world while working with our colleagues located in the Ruhr valley.

And now that I'm spending one more night in Stuttgart before taking a Carpatair flight to Romania, I discovered another wi fi spot in this not-so-classy hotel found on the Internet.
I am not sure if I woke up at 4 am tempted by the wi fi, or it only made my sleepless half of the night more enjoyable.
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