I’ve been thinking of finding some folks to “take” one of MIT’s OpenCourseware classes together.
After thinking through various possibilities (face-to-face bookclub, social networks, listserv, etc), here’s my proposal:
- Use my blog as the meeting place and record of conversation for the MIT course: SP.258 / ESG.SP258 Gödel, Escher, Bach
- Here’s the course description:
How are math, art, music, and language intertwined? How does intelligent behavior arise from its component parts? Can computers think? Can brains compute? Douglas Hofstadter probes very cleverly at these questions and more in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Gödel, Escher, Bach”. In this seminar, we will read and discuss the book in depth, taking the time to solve its puzzles, appreciate the Bach pieces that inspired its dialogues, and discover its hidden tricks along the way.
- In the bricks-and-mortar version of the course, they met twice a week for an hour. In our virtual version, we’ll discuss two sections in a week starting after Labor Day. We’ll follow this reading/listening schedule which follows the same order of the original MIT course. I’ll create a post for each of the reading and listening assignments (one on Mondays and the second on Thursdays). You can join in the discussion at any time during that week but make sure you have done the reading/listening first! It will be most productive if we move through the material together as much as possible. I reserve the option to close comments after a week, so that we keep moving forward and focus on the discussion for the most current reading/listening. However, if you get behind, you should feel free to jump back in later in the semester.
- There will be an optional chat discussion once a week. We’ll figure out the format (iChat, AIM, Google chat, etc) and the day and time once I know who is interested.
The Penrose triangle, also known as the tribar, is an impossible object. It appears to be a solid triangle made of three straight beams of square cross-section which meet at right angles. It is featured prominently in the works of artist M.C. Escher, whose earlier depictions of impossible objects partly inspired it. (Image by MIT OCW.)
UPDATE: There is now a page (see tab in the blue bar above) for the “Gödel, Escher, Bach” Course Schedule. This page has the reading and listening schedule and links to MP3 files for the music referenced. The dates listed are for when the discussion on the reading/listening will commence (so be prepared ahead of time). If you cannot keep up with the full schedule, you are welcome to participate in whatever chapters you are able to prepare for.
Another resource: MIT’s Highlights for High School recorded six lectures from a summer course (2007): Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey. A good overview of the main concepts in the book. You need RealPlayer to view the one-hour lectures.