Lesson video

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Hi there, I'm Miss Alade, you're computing teacher for this unit, Representations From Clay to Silicon.

In this lesson, you will need a pen and paper.

Pause the lesson and get pen and paper.

Also, remember to remove any distractions before you begin the lesson.

In this lesson, you will uncover the problems we solve through writing.

You will discover how computing is about solving these problems. Consider the question you've got on screen at the moment.

I do not want you to answer this, but keep this in the back of your mind.

If we can express our thoughts and feelings through speech or gestures, why then do we need writing? Right.

So now you're going to have a task and this task is to examine some ancient artefacts from the museum.

They're very, very old pieces of writing.

Think about what they might be about.

Now, do not worry about getting an accurate answer.

This is all about you using some imagination and some reasoning.

Pause the video and continue when you're completed.

Well done.

Good try.

So what are these? These are artefacts, some of the oldest pieces of writing that could be found.

Right, before we go into that, think about what happened thousands of years ago, a very long time ago, before writing ever began.

There was what was called the oral tradition.

It meant that everything we learnt was through speech, or was passed on verbally.

So all of the art, all of the knowledge and all of the culture was being told or received verbally, but through storytelling.

So there were ways of doing that through storytelling, through songs, through poems. So take, for instance, a king goes to battle.

He comes back victorious.

There will be a song for that king about the battle, documenting or telling the story about the event and how the king got to win.

Now this song will be played or sung in the marketplace.

And the song would go eventually from town to town to town.

And that's how people would get to hear of the kings victorious success in battle.

And you will tell stories, and you will listen.

Entertainment was by storytelling, because there wasn't any television then.

So it was all by oral tradition.

And that's how we actually received information and communicated it.

But think about what problems that might cause.

Imagine you had a birthday party at the weekend, and it was some really, really, really great and awesome birthday party.

And you got to school on Monday, and you told your friend about it.

And then your friend told another friend you know, but this time put his own twist on it or her own twist on it.

Now, that friend now tells somebody else, and it goes from person to person.

Now imagine what happens at the end of the week.

How might your story be the same? Now your story may not even be the same, it might have completely taken a different turn, and not really, really accurately tell what you observed or what happened that weekend when you had your birthday party.

So, oral tradition had its problems in the sense that you cannot accurately remember everything that happened.

So things got changed, as it moved from person to person or generation to generation.

So as humans developed, there was a real need to communicate, not just orally, and to keep record and to preserve cultures and memories, and that's how writing began.

Now, these writings are what we call cuneiform.

And some of them date back thousands of years.

So as far back as 3000 BC.

So if we think back 3000 BC, before Christ, were 2020 AD, 2020 years after Christ, so that goes as far back as 5000 years ago.

Now, these document, different events, different stories, which we're going to find out shortly.

We know we can express our thoughts and feelings through speech and gestures, and even pictures.

So using what you know now, can you think of reasons why writing might have been invented? Pause the video and unpause when ready to continue.

So why do people invent writing? So we have seen from the previous section that oral tradition has its problems. We could not accurately preserve and/or accurately receive information because you could be hearing something else that someone's saying that's not what the person is intending to.

So in ancient times, it was necessary to invent writing, so events and documents can be more accurate.

So that way people could receive, store and communicate information more accurately than through oral tradition.

So writing was used to keep records of taxes, buying and selling, document laws and agreements, and even record calendars.

Now, in ancient times, you would have had roles such as farmers, fishermen, there would be kings, there would be astrologers, there were lots of temples, religious places of worship.

And those temples have priests.

They had prophets, and they had temple activities.

So there was that need to document temple activities.

And in some ancient piece of writing, there were cakes inscribed on tablets.

And those cakes were cakes that were being given in temples.

So all of those activities when necessary to record.

Farmers needed to record how much harvest, how many bags of barley for instance, they harvested, how many bags of barley they sold.

And also calculations would have been done for instance, that farmer would want to say calculate that or find out how many bags of barley left at the end of the week.

So at the start of the week, the farmer might have had 10 bags and sold seven bags.

So if he had 10 bags, and now there are seven bags, how many bags has he got left at the end of the week? So as you would have rightly listed and put down, it helps us store and remember information.

And this information stored can be processed, and examine in the ways in which humans represent information.

It helps us build on that vital understanding of how computers represent information also.

You will see more representations which you're going to be examining.

These are more modern, so they're more familiar to you.

There are a few examples.

The first you're going to see are these flags semaphores.

So take a good look.

And decide and think who decide what the sequences mean, and where might you use them.

So these are flags for communicating.

The next representation are hand signs.

Again, this is something that would be more familiar to you.

Who decide what the sequences mean and in which situation would you need to use them? Now we've got Braille.

Again, this is familiar to you.

Who decide what the sequences of symbols mean and in which situation would each of these be used? Now, this is our last representation for this section that you're going to examine.

Who decides on these symbols? Where would you see these or use them? By all means, pause the video to complete your task, and when you're done, just continue.

Right, going through the solution then.

You would have seen quite a number of familiar representation such as the flag semaphores and sign language.

And also, you would have actually recognised that some of the representations you came across also in this task, can be read by humans, and some cannot be read by humans, in other words can only be read electronically.

Now, who agrees on these symbols? We have to agree on what they mean.

There is no use actually having a sign language that isn't.

That nobody else can understand and we all have our different meanings.

So we have to agree what a particular type of information means.

So for instance, what does A mean? So we'll have a common meaning across all representation.

So A would mean something in flag semaphores and it would mean something in sign language, and so on and so forth.

Going then on to the next question.

How then would you use these? In which situation would each representation be used? We have seen that it really does depend.

So, each representation is suitable for different types of scenarios.

For instance, the sign language will be suited to communicating with those who cannot hear or communication at a distance.

The flag semaphores also can be used to communicate at distances.

And the bar code for instance can only be read by computers.

So, information held there can only be accessed by computers.

And we know also or you have seen rather, that information in computers is always represented in a form that the computers can conveniently process.

Onto making meaning of symbols.

There are two vital points to note here.

The first one being that different sequences of symbols can represent the same thing.

We have a series of representations that you can see and in each type of representation, a word or a symbol will carry the same meaning.

So, for instance, we can have A and we can represent A in all of the symbols, sorry representation.

So, for instance, as the symbol A will be present in Braille, it will also be present in sign language and also in semaphores.

So, different symbols carry the same meaning.

The other point to note is that the same sequence of symbols can represent different things.

Take for instance the sequence of symbols D-A-B, DAB, it can mean several things depending on the context you use it.

It can mean a kind of fish, or it can also mean a small amount or a skillful person, or it can mean musical notes D, A, and B.

How does this link to computing? Why do you think people need to write information? You have travelled across time and space and have seen various representations.

But before that, you started with learning what oral communication was all about.

We saw the problems of a communication posed, and those problems have been easily resolved through the invention of writing.

With writing, information can now be stored across time more accurately.

That information can also be communicated across distances, and processed also.

This sequences of symbols you've seen, can store any pieces of information.

So whatever the information, it can be represented.

You have also learned that computers also need to store, process and transmit or communicate information just like humans do.

And computers also use sequences of symbols in ones and zeros to actually represent information.

And we saw something called the ASCII coding scheme earlier.

You have come to the end of this lesson.

And during this lesson, you have learned that writing was invented to store information.

Computers also use symbols to represent information too just like humans do.

And symbols are used to communicate, but by humans and by computers.

Patterns of symbols can mean anything we agree on.

And you also saw that some representations are more convenient than others.

It would be nice to see your work.

So if you'd like to share your work with Oak National, please ask your parent or carer to share your work on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @OakNational, with #LearnwithOak.

Hope to see you next lesson.