Back to the early days of the web with Docker and Jupyter Notebook

Since I love all things virtual, I really looked forward to the video conversation between Stephen Downes, the facilitator of our course E-learning 3.0 (#el30), and Tony Hirst from the Open University in the UK about virtual boxes and containers.

The Open University is all about distance learning. People bring their own devices, only constrained by modest minimum specifications. Using technologies such as containers more things become possible and life for students and professors becomes easier.

Hirst and Downes talked about Docker, used to run software packages called “containers”. As Wikipedia explains, containers are isolated from each other and bundle their own tools,¬†libraries and configuration files; they can communicate with each other through well-defined channels.

The other interesting product they discussed is Jupyter notebook,a web-based interactive computational environment for creating “Jupyter notebooks documents”. Jupyter combined with Docker allows for powerful
digital media assets which contain their own code, which can be modified by the user. One can change any aspect of a program and run it, without the need for installing software.

In the video you’ll see Hirst demonstrating it with music code. This evolution is like revisiting the beginning of the web, when you could easily see the source code of documents and understand it, so one could modify it without too much trouble.

But is this technology something a single user, not necessarily a coder, could set up? We’ll have to find out. Maybe we’ll experiment with Docker and Jupyter during the #el30 course. Personally, I’d love to stand in a virtual environment, VR-enabled, using a virtual screen to interact with digital assets powered by virtual software environments.

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