Bits and Bytes explain Digital

The Internet Course is putting together a set of resources explaining how a variety of internet technologies work. You can see their progress thus far on the “How it Works” wiki page, all of this will ultimately be written as HTML pages because they are hardcore! During class today Jessi Clark was talking about the video she discovered to explain the concept of digital, it’s a total gem. After a bit of research I discovered it is from Episode 8 of the 1983 Canadian educational television series Bits and Bytes, which starred Luba Goy and Billy Van. I found their YouTube channel, which has 78 videos with entire episodes, bits of episodes, and other assorted  treasure for explaining how a wide range of technology works to kids. I wonder if this is why the Canadians are so good at edtech. I would pay big money to see a revival of this series starring Stephen Downes and George Siemens 😉

What’s interesting about the video—besides describing digital using fish– is that it defines the advantages of the analog over digital in terms of smooth, graphical representations. Can we still argue that’s the case? We problably crossed that barrier for sound in the 90s, and video in the 00s. What’s the true advantage of analog today? Is there really a purity we’d be missing moving forward? Also, it got me thinking of analog being digital (at least according to this video’s definition) at its core as well. Isn’t 35 MM film the stitching together of fragmented stills to create the illusions of movement?

Reminds me of a tweet I saw early today by William Friedkin in regards to Quentin Tarantino bemoaning the passing of 35 mm films (a reality I can’t help but side with Tarantino).

It’s a digital world, and I feel fine.

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5 Responses to Bits and Bytes explain Digital

  1. I would love to do such a series!

    • Reverend says:

      I actually think it would be a blast, and it would be a pretty interesting approach to explaining connectivism and connected learning to a much broader audience. Right now the students in the Internet Course are doing that, trying to “explain like I’m five” in order to get at the real essence of what this stuff means, and start introducing useful analogies to make it all understandable. I knwo there are limits to this approach when it comes to complexities, but I couldn;t help but think of you and George explaining the web as you see it in this manner. I still think this is bankable!

  2. Alan Levine says:

    Not to weigh in definition landia, but in 35mm film you are stitching together sequences to simulate motion; when something is digitized it is sampled to make slices of something continuous (like motion).

    Analog seems to get a retro connotation. I’ve been thinking about in many of our education conversations we revert to binary framing of ideas (xMOOC vs cMOOC, online vs F2F) where a lot of it is really on a continuous spectrum.

  3. Reverend says:

    I’m not sure I see the difference between simualting mution and like motion for digitize and analog? Aren;t they both simultions of motion? Fact is, it’s the very spectrum between digital and analog that seems to have been highlighted by the short film, whether intentionally or not. It seems the ability to break apart and reconstiture the sequence quickly and easily is a significant difference. Not to mention the phto chemical versus bits and bytes, etc. The coolest thing about the Internet class for me is that it’s pushing me to dig deeper on so many of these topics. I’m loving that.

  4. Did you ever read Analog Computing? Crazy magazine, they’d print out programs to load into your Atari. Here’s the Atari and Education Edition from 1984:

    Now I was a Timex/Sinclair 2000 kid, but there were similar things for us too. Weird to think about now though.

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