TOK MidTerm Packet

Although this is located on ManageBac, I thought I’d copy everything here as well.

This document contains everything you need for your MidTerm exploratory packet as a culmination of our Nature of Knowledge Unit (Unit 1). You will have approximately 2 class periods (2 weeks) in which to complete all the requirements to the best of your ability. Because much of the packet involves multi-media elements like videos, you will need to bring headphones to class. The tasks are open-resource, so you are encouraged to use your own blog, your peers’ blogs, the TOK blog, the resources provided, as well as the Internet to assist you.

***All elements are due by Friday, Dec. 14 at midnight. If you do not submit (via your WordPress blog) by that time you will receive an email that you are required to come to TOK class for final exam week EITHER Monday, Dec. 17 (10:30-12:30) or Wed., Dec. 19 (8-10 or 10:30-12:30), and will not be able to earn a 7. Please take advantage of the time given in class so you do not have to do that and can concentrate on your other midterms and holiday preparations.

 FIRST: Read the Intro adapted from Richard van de Lagemaat  and the Overview on the Google doc packet

TASKS: Below are the copied/pasted tasks and resource links.

I. Quotes about Knowledge:

Choose 1 of the following quotes and write a paragraph or two discussing / exploring it further. You should directly refer to things we have studied in this course so far and hyperlink to at least one of your blog posts or relevant resource. Try to include multiple perspectives.

“The greatest obstacle to progress is not the absence of knowledge but the illusion of knowledge” – Daniel Boorstein, 1914

“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is” – Bjagavad Ghita, 500BCE

“To know one’s ignorance is the best part of knowledge” – Lao Tse, c.565 BCE

“There are 2 ways to slide easily through life: believe everything, or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking” – Alfred Korzybski, 1879-1950

“A very popular error- having the courage of one’s own convictions; rather, it is a matter of having the courage for an attack upon one’s own convictions” – Nietzsche, 1844-1900

“By doubting we are led to enquire, and by enquiry we perceive the truth” – Peter Abelard, 1079-1142

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” – Richard Feynman, 1918-88

“Knowledge is the small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify” – Ambrose Pierce, 1842-1914

“We must rise above the obsession with the quantity of information and speed of transmission, and recognize that the key issue for us is our ability to organize this information once it has been amassed – to assimilate it, find meaning in it” – Gregorian Vartan, 1934-

“If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing” – Anatole France, 1844-1924

“If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done” – Peter Ustinov

“Knowledge is of 2 kinds- we know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information on it” – Samuel Johnson, 1709-84

“The more connections and interconnections we ascertain, the more we know the object in question” – John Dewey

“We may be learned with another man’s learning, but we can only be wise with wisdom of our own” – Michel de Montaigne, 1533-92

“There are no whole truths- all truths are half-truths” – Alfred North Whitehead, 1861-1947

“Anyone who makes a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know a thing about either” – Marshall McLuhan, 1911-80

“I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it” – Marshall McLuhan

“The more data banks record about each of us, the less we exist” – Marshal McLuhan

II. Questions About Knowledge.

Some of the following questions address things we’ve studied, while others will become more clear after watching the videos in the playlists and/or reading the provided articles. Choose at least 1 of the following questions and respond in a thoughtful paragraph with specific references to things/ people we’ve studied or the resources provided in this packet (hyperlinking is preferable). ***note: this might be good to save until LAST, so you can have a better , broader understanding after using the resources

1. How do we determine the reliability of information and sources found on the web? What effect does the web have on “authority or expert”-based knowledge?

2. How can we manage the deluge of information and organize it into a meaningful whole?

3. Why does man have an insatiable need for information and a drive to “share”? Is it true to say “We think because we share” (a parody of Descartes’ “I think therefore I am”)?

4. Why and how has man attempted to collect and archive all of humanity’s knowledge and what does the future hold?

5. What place does Artificial Intelligence have in the acquisition or management of knowledge?

6. Is collective knowledge and crowdsourcing the new paradigm?

7. Who “owns” knowledge and can ownership be protected (intellectual property) in the digital age?

8. Can there be a true “democratization of knowledge”? What are the constraints and implications?

9. Why and how can we look for multiple perspectives in media? What effect do “filter bubbles” have?

10. Why and how can we contribute to the production and curation of knowledge, using technology?

11. How should schools/ education (all levels) change to adapt to new technology? (think time, physical, instructional)

12. What will be the major paradigm shifts in the acquisition and transmission of knowledge and what role do “alternative”, non-print-based knowledge sources (outside of the Gutenberg parenthesis) play?

13. What are the implications of moving from a knowledge-based workforce to an innovation/insight-based workforce? When you see yourself your future career, what do you envision?

III. Readings.

Read the 2 readings in Diigo and reply in the comment stream provided. (we will not be using the Diigolet annotation tool, as one of the readings is a pdf.) The directions and sample are in the post. Feel free to respond to others. You are required to make at least 2 comments/questions with quotations for each article.

Knowing Knowledge:

***If the link in Diigo doesn’t work, access this pdf here:


How the Internet is Changing What We Think We Know:

IV. Must-See Video Playlists and Articles (5 themes).

Choose 3 of the 5 themes. Read through the provided articles. Then access the playlists linked and watch the video resources. As you watch take notes, because you will need to directly refer to / quote from the videos. You are asked to pose questions and offer commentary on the theme as a whole in 1 of the of the following ways (you choose!):

a. as a video blog (a vlog)

b. in writing in paragraph form

c. in writing as bulleted lists

1. Thinking

YouTube playlist:


Is Google Making Us Stupid?:

Google is Making Us Stupid and Smart at the Same Time:

Google is Not Making You Stupid:

Where have All the Geniuses Gone?:

2. Indigenous Knowledge

YouTube playlist:


People Are Knowledge:


Database for Indigenous Knowledge:

3. Digitization

YouTube playlist:


Digital Preservation, An Unsolved Problem:

What is Project Gutenberg?:

The Real Death of Print:

Collaborative Digitization Project at U. of Mich:

Why Preserve Books”

4. Encyclopedia

YouTube playlist:


Why Wikipedia is as Important as the Pyramids:

The Encyclopedia of Life:

Explore the Encyclopedia of Life:


5. Libraries

YouTube playlist:


History of Libraries:

Disruptive Change at Harvard U. Library:

Rethinking Libraries for a Digital Future:

The Future of Libraries Interview:

V. VLOG- My 10 Ideas for Rethinking Education and School.

For this last task, you are asked to make a video blog discussing your top 10 ideas for making school and education better. You should already have an understanding of the changes in society, media, and the acquisition, transmission, collection, curation, and archiving of “knowledge” and information in the 21st century due to rapid, exponential technological change. The resources (videos and articles) should really help you develop some ideas of your own. What would be the top 10 things you would recommend in schools (any level)?

– you can include images and a voiceover if you do not want to appear on camera

– your vlog should be 5-10 minutes in length

– you must directly reference at least 4 of the videos in the playlist

– you may discuss all aspects of school, including curriculum, nuts-and-bolts (bells, time, organization), physical space / environment, etc.

Resources for the Vlog:

YouTube Playlist:

Some TOK 2013 Rethinking Education Vlogs (slightly different assignment):


My Teacher is an APP:

Defining the Designer Workspace (inspiration?):

Designing School Buildings for 21st century Learning:

Goodbye Knowledge Workers, Hello Insight Workers:

Demanding Google 20% Time at School:

Do We Need Teachers Anymore?”

Who Owns Knowledge?:

100 Blog Posts on the Future of Learning:

George Lucas and Edutopia: Hope for Ed:

Cool Copenhagen School:

Reinventing the High School Experience:

Project Dream School (video):

Beautiful Learning Spaces (TUMBLR)

Google Offices Around the World (inspiration)

Gallery: Google London


_____ I have written 1-2 paragraphs about 1 quote and have hyperlinked to at least 1 of my blog posts or other relevant resource.

_____ I have written a 1-2 thoughtful paragraphs about at least 1 of the knowledge questions and have directly referred to things/ people we’ve discussed in class or are in the resources provided in this packet.

_____  I have read “Knowing Knowledge” pdf and have commented at least twice in the Diigo stream (questions and thoughts)

_____ I have read “How the Internet is Changing What We Think We Know” in Diigo and have commented at least twice in the stream (questions and thoughts)

_____ I have written a commentary in paragraph or bulleted list form OR filmed a vlog in response to 1 of 3 themes, using the video playlists and articles to guide my questioning and commentary.

_____ I have written a commentary in paragraph or bulleted list form OR filmed a vlog in response to 1 of 3 themes, using the video playlists and articles to guide my questioning and commentary. (2nd one)

_____ I have written a commentary in paragraph or bulleted list form OR filmed a vlog in response to 1 of 3 themes, using the video playlists and articles to guide my questioning and commentary. (3rd one)

_____ I have produced a 5-10 minute vlog (uploaded to YouTube as public or unlisted  and embedded on WordPress) regarding my top 10 ideas to make school/education better. I have also directly referenced 4 of the videos in the corresponding playlist.

_____ I have created a post on my WordPress with all of the above elements, checked my hyperlinks, and linked my YouTUbe video(s) [also checked to see if they work]

_____ I have submitted the post by Friday, Dec. 14 at midnight.

Harnessing the World’s Knowledge?

We’ve already taken a look at Wolfram Alpha, but there are other entities trying to democratize knowledge, or at least make a great deal of knowledge/ information available to a great deal of people.

After watching these videos and playing around with the tools, compose a short essay on your blog discussing the implications and limitations (i.e. “knowledge issues”) of these endeavors. Use specifics you discovered after playing with them, and pose pertinent questions. What are your own personal thoughts about where knowledge is headed?

“EVI” (formerly “TRUE KNOWLEDGE”) – the A.I. Answering Platform

You can add a fact to its data base here:

“Our goal is to power a new kind of search experience where users can access the world’s knowledge simply by asking for the information they need in a way that is completely natural to them; just as if they were talking to another human being”

What powers “Evi”? The company claims to offer a unified representation of the world’s knowledge containing factual, common sense, and lexical knowledge …and then build on that base as it gets contributions from users.

1. Who is behind it? (read about the developer who created the famous anagrams featured in the Da Vinci Code book)

2. How does it work?

3. How is Evi different (better?) than Siri?

***What makes True Knowledge different from Google, Wikipedia, and even Wolfram Alpha?

4. FIND AN ARTICLE in the PRESS SECTION, read it, and comment on it on your blog. What are some “knowledge issues” related to this service?

Tweet @trueknowledge

QUORA- “A continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it”..

…”When knowledge is put into Quora, it is there forever to be shared with anyone in the future who is interested”…

…”People who read the question pages rate the different answers so that the best ones can rise to the top of the page and make it better”…

…”Inverse blogging (follow topics and questions)”…

…”author’s perspective” is taken into account, as revision logs are transparent and people use their own names/photos.

1. WHO is behind it (hint- Facebook connections!)? (fun fact: employees get free team yoga)

Below is a sample, from none other than the founder of Wikipedia:

2. MOST VIEWED QUESTIONS – have some fun and explore these (I loved the “Coolest looking animal” query and the “Most epic iconic photo” since I am into photography, as well as “Worst design ever” )

3. Check out ANSWERS WITH 40+ UPVOTES – why do you think that is?

4. And of course you can always check out what some famous person, like Ashton Kutcher, has to say in Quora.

TWEET @Quora

RECAPTCHA – Professor Luis von Ahn (brilliant!) explains how CAPTCHA became RECAPTCHA, and how he can harness the world’s brainpower for archiving all the world’s literature.

WE ARE ALL WORKING FOR HIM, and most of us don’t realize it!

TWEET @LuisvonAhn , @reCAPTCHA , @duolingo

Below: More about Luis and how he came up with the ReCaptcha idea (endearing!) – His learning and thinking style is definitely unique. Luis is also Chair of the “COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE” conference 2012. Read more about the topics and speakers HERE.

THE FILTER BUBBLE – Eli Pariser explains how the web companies we use tailor their services (including web searches) to our personal tastes. Great, right? Well, actually this “filtering” prevents us from being exposed to ideas that challenge or broaden our world view. (I had the opportunity to see Mr. Pariser speak in person and talk with him afterwards in Boston this summer)

1. Let’s play around with Google in class to see if the filter bubble is really happening on our machines. You can also Skype a friend in a different state or country to see if your same search offers decidedly different results. When you go on your next trip, take a screen shot of a search, then try the same one when you return home. ***Also check on Twitter by clicking #discover in the menu – the results are blatantly “tailored for you”.

WIKIPEDIA – Giving free access to the sum of all “Knowledge” – the democratization of Knowledge

1. How did it start and how does it work? Founder Jimmy Wales explains all..

TWEET @jimmy_wales

PEOPLE ARE KNOWLEDGE – Video exploring how ORAL CITATION should be allowed on Wikipedia.

People are Knowledge (subtitled) from Achal R. Prabhala on Vimeo.

2. Did you know there are various levels of editing “Protection” in Wikipedia? Here’s an image and the link describing them

3. Here’s HOW TO EDIT Wikipedia and how to START AN ARTICLE

4. WIKIPEDIA as important as the Pyramids? Wikipedia joins World Heritage List

Brewster Kahle Seeks to Build a Free Digital Library (books, movies, all web history,etc.) – “UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO ALL KNOWLEDGE IS POSSIBLE”

TWEET @brewster_kahle

Wonders of Wolfram- building a “Knowledge Engine”

TOK Questions:

Can a machine know? Can it be taught to feel?

What counts as knowledge?

What is the difference between “data”, “information”, and “knowledge”?

What are the effects of the digital age on knowledge (creation and sharing)?

Scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey (written by Arthur C. Clarke). In this scene Dave the astronaut tries to deactivate the murderous and human-like computer HAL 9000.

***This video shows the first IBM computer to sing sang the same song as in the film.

The Turing Test

Scene from Bladerunner (Turing Test):

ARTICLE: The Trouble with the Turing Test

What is IBM’s Watson and how did it get here?

“We are trying to produce a deep questioning and answering machine which will change the way people interact with computers and machines”

(visit the Watson YouTube channel if you are interested)

What IS Wolfram Alpha? And what does it have to do with Apple’s “Siri“?

READ: “Latest Perspectives on the Computational Age” (also in our Diigo group)

*Choose a passage to include on your blog and write about

The “goal” on the website is to democratize knowledge, or “make all the world’s knowledge systematically computable and accessible”.

Let’s check out Stephan Wolfram’s TED talk about Wolfram Alpha.

Introducing CDF- Interactive Online Documents (“today’s online documents are like yesterday’s paper – flat, lifeless, inactive”) Here’s a VIDEO about authoring CDF apps.

…and here’s an example of using CDF to show the Orton Effect in Photography

How is Wolfram Alpha like a Matryoshka Doll? It’s in the nesting!

Can a program be creative? musical? Let’s find out:


First watch the INTRO

Access Wolfram Alpha HERE

Examples by Topic

10 Cool things to do with Wolfram/Siri

18 things you can do with Wolfram Alpha

Course Assistant Apps

Facebook Analytics (find out how to do it here) – after doing your own analytics, post some screen shots to your blog (optional) and reflect on the insight you gained from these analytics.


Check out the interesting lesson plans on the educators portal – what do you think?

1. _____Explore your EE topic using Wolfram Alpha- provide an example, post to blog

2. _____Do a frivolous comparison or other kind of search – post to blog.

3. _____Ask at least 2 “knowledge issue” questions related to this tool and the goals of the company (post to blog)

4. Be sure to follow Stephan and Conrad on Twitter- if you feel daring, ask them a relevant question (I heard from a friend of theirs Conrad will more likely answer). Let us know!


On Twitter:






Check out their blog: “Community Newsletter” for what is new

Here’s Conrad’s TEDx talk in Brussels “I Calculate, Therefore I Am” (he actually poses a lot of “Knoweldge Issue” questions in this, including “Is it Cheating to use W. A. in Math homework?”)

READ: Is Siri Really Apple’s Future

BLOG: What do  you think about this article? (post thoughts to blog). ***If you can find an amusing tweet, video or cartoon about Siri please include.


Period 6:

Period 3:

Blog at