29 09 2007

ICanHasAirlineTickets — originally uploaded to flickr by cogdogblog

If you have not caught the I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER craze, you are about 1 meme behind. It is a subset of the broader genre of LOL CATS.

I created my oen with the ICanHazCheezBurger Factory, a site where you can browse a vast set of uploaded cat images, and then annotate them, to create your own. Mine has its own URL.

It helped me since I have a severe deficit of cat photos.

Yes, like many things on the net it is surficially, well silly. Maybe stupid. And easy for people to snub noses at.

But dig past the content, and what yuo have is (a) a user generated collection of media about a topic; (b) a web 2.0 tool for remixing the images with text to create new content; (c) a network of tools for voting, sharing, etc.

So swap out cat content with something, say, more academic. This is the way I am suggesting we need to be in terms of "being there" with technology, looking past the way web tools are used for silly things, and looking at the affordances they offer.

My tickets have been booked.

How Not to Tell A Story

27 09 2007

It seems obvious that bullet-pointing a story is wrong, deadly, yet it happens again, and again. And again.

Break the trend. Tell your story in spoken word, in images, as an audience wants a performance, wants a bit of mystery, humor, not to read a screen while a marionette parrots.

Too Much Social Networking? Try NOSO

27 09 2007

Too many “friends” (who are not really friends)? Can’t make toast w/o posting that as a twitter update? yourInbox full of bacn? Perhaps you are coming down with Social Network Fatigue… I lost track of some links form some recent edu bloggers mentioning the dread of “too much stuff”.

I’m writing to tell you… I really do not have an answer or a cure. And even worse, the torrent of new “stuff” is going to continue to flow at faster rates. This topic is right at the heart of my “Being There” presentations coming to several of my stops (have no fears, if you miss it, I will have slides and audio posted).

I face the situation daily myself- bottom line, you do not have to “keep up”- what you ought to do is “keep up” on a segment, a topic, a technology that matters to you now, and “keep up” your network of other people looking elsewhere. And find that balance in your lives. Go offline. Go outside.

With that, I had a smile coming across the “NOSO” project

NOSO icon

NOSO is a real-world platform for temporary disengagement from social networking environments. The NOSO experience offers a unique opportunity to create NO Connections by scheduling NO Events with other NO Friends.

These “NO” events, called NOSOs, take place in designated cafe’s, parks, libraries, bookstores, and other public spaces. Participants –whose identities remain unknown to one another — agree to arrive at an assigned time and remain alone, quiet and un-connected, while at the same time knowing that another “Friend” is present in the space.

NOSOs are scheduled by users through the NOSO website. They last for a duration of 1 – 30 minutes, after which participants disperse and return to their regular activities.

So it is a social network about not social networking!

A tip of the blog hat to Beth Kanter for this link -Beth is a tireless web 2.0 user, presenter, and evangleist in the realm of using technology to support the efforts of non-profit organizations. Beth’s Blog is well worth tossing in the aggregator. Uh oh, something else online to take up your time!

I may mention this somewhere in the stream of presentations- when you see some of us glitzy technology champion presentations, and if we talk about “technology saving you time”, it is a lie.

Picnik! Play with Photos

25 09 2007

Picnik Let’s Us Really PLay With Photos — originally uploaded to flickr by cogdogblog

Fresa and Kasha are rather excited about the new features in picnik, the free online photo editor that lets you modify images from flickr, facebook, photobucket, your desktop, and then save back to these sites.

The new tools allow text and shape overlays, new color effects, and more. Some of these are tools that are going to be part of their premium package (US$24.95 per year), but this week, for the launch, they are all free.

So if it were me, I’d play a lot this week with picnik, more fun and creative than chasing cats,

One of the Small Precious Web Gems I plan to tout for my workshops is picnik, a web app for editing and adding effects to photos. I had a small chance to participate in the beta that led to this week’s public release of the full version.

It’s not exactly Photoshop in a browser (though photoflexer comes close), but picnik has a very clean and easy to use interface. I use it directly linked to my flickr account, so I can pull pictures from there, add effects, frames, text, and then save back to flickr as a new photo.

I also use it to clean up the often poorly exposed photos from my lame Motorolo camera phone (about 2 years old) – the picnik “one click fix” tool often boost the color end exposure to a much richer tone.

It has a rotate and straighten tool that works exactly as the ones i use often in iPhoto.

But to me, the real gain, and why this might be useful for educators, is the ability to add text, or even annotate photos.

Actually I had hope to run a workshop on how to create the stunning kind of image / word /caption sets that LynnetteR posts in her Interesting Snippets collection. This are powerful one screen messages composed of a compelling or metaphorical photo, which she overlays with text, and than rounds it out as a solid piece of media with a caption contains a few paragraphs of written text, much of it citing resources that support the message.

Until now, the web tools for adding text to images were less than simple to use, but picnik has changed all of that.

I’m a fan of this tool, but am eager to hear what others think. How might you use a web based photo editor? What can you do by annotating existing images?


24 09 2007

I am sure people range quite widely over their feelings on the “value” or “dangers” of YouTube, probably as polarizing as the take on WikiPedia. But let’s cast aside the value judgment, and recognize in terms of technology and a social phenomena how it changes our concept and expectations of video.

Tonight I am in a hotel room in Dallas, Texas (I am here for the Pachyderm Conference the NMC is running this week); my normal television viewing habits are rather minimal, but while on the road alone, it just makes for nice background noise. For some reason, I was distracted by one of the new, quirky commercials for Geico (auto insurance company, known for its off-beat ads) – where it mocks a news documentary pointing at one of my formative cultural influences, The Flinstones (as a kid, my TV habits were a bit more “on”).

In the era I am now defining as BYT (Before Youtube), there was no easy way for me to share, re-publish television content- but now, in the flash of a Google Search I have something I can now re-watch (again and again), and share with you:

I have this strange flashback to my very first experiences with digital video, in fact, it was the first weeks of my employment in 1992 at the Maricopa Community Colleges, that I found myself at the QuickTime 1.0 conference in San Francisco, being mesmerized by those herky jerky tiny video clips that look just horrible by today’s standards. In fact, I still have the CD full of those first clips (they still work 15 years later, a testament to file formats)- I forget the name of the guy who did the comedy clips like Mac Aerobics:



And wouldn’t you know it- this video too is on YouTube.

But back to that Geico commercial. AsI re-watch I am struck by how the commercial form itself has evolved into something more complex than a product pitch – it is tapping into pop cultural references, and playing off in a form that might give question to, “is this a commercial”? Sometimes I am wondering the strategy of the Geico commercials as they really tell you nothing of the product (yes, I know its all abouts stamping by brain with a brand) — but these 30 second spots are very well produced, demonstrated modeern editing techniques (all of which are available in desktop/webtop software) effective as “short stories”. What else can we learn from them?

And for those still tsk-tsking the use of YouTube- take a look at Learning From You Tube– a college course in media studies that is using YouTube itself as a platform for the course content. For more, see Andy Carvin’s post on this project, YouTube 101, Yes It’s a Real Class. No, this may not convince the YT Skeptics, but to me, demonstrates the philosophy I aim to bring in my Being There presentations – that we can really only fully probe the potential of new technologies by R&D, experimentation, taking some risks.

Actually, as often the case, I started this blog post inspired by something else, and actually more trivial. When I was sitting here wondering, “is that commercial in YouTube”, my natural reflex was, like many others, to Google It — http://www.google.com/search?q=geico+flintstones+commercial The first two results are YT videos, and what I did not notice before was that Google search results allow you to watch this video right in the pages of the search results “click the “Watch Video” link and it unfolds in Ajaxy glory right there in the Google search results page:

And this is the hallmark of the YT era- the ability to easily embed rich media in the context of content we create, not forcing us to go to the “home” site, not shoving ads in our face (yet).

What did we do for our short form video fix BYT?

Going Virtual at Go Virtual

23 09 2007

Panel Session at Go Virtual — originally uploaded to flickr by cogdogblog

Anya Ixchel (aka Angela Thomas). me as CDB Barkley, Corwin Carillon (aka Nick Noakes), JoKay Wollongong (aka Jo Kay), and Sean McDonnugh (aka Sean FitzGerald) as panelists for Go Virtual 07 NSW Learnscope Regional Event

We had some great exchange among us and with the audience, and amazingly enough, the audio really worked out very well. It was exciting to hear the excitement from some of the audience who were new to Second Life.

Thanks Jo Kay and Sean for inviting me to be, virtually, part of the NSW Go Virtual Event. It’s not easy at all running these hybrid events where some of the participants are in the same place (their audience in Wollongong) and others dangling at a distance in Second Life. When it works out well, it’s magic. When it doesn’t…. well that’s another blog post.

And its an honor to join my virtual colleagues, some of whom I have met in RL and some I hope to cross of the list when I come to Australia next month. For me, the greatest tangible benefit of my time and experience in Second Life has been the expansion of my professional network, as it has affording new collaborations that likely would not have happened, even on the web.

What sometimes I struggle to keep in mind, and like to remind people, that we are standing on the very beginning thresholds of virtual worlds technologies. The very first baby steps. A few years from now, all of this activity may seem quaint, and we may be in worlds far beyond Second Life, or SL may have morphed into something else. The platform is irrelevant.

But folks out there are already being asked to justify this activity, as if there are measurables yet, or concepts of “ROI”– and will their organizations refuse to even allow some exploration if this is still lacking? Would we have only gone to the moon if someone had been there before? It’s a tough area to address and asks for some leeway based on some educated hunches.

We all had some good words to say about the value of “creativity” in this space– yet I wonder what are the best ways to communicate this, as it seems to be understood best by those who have had a creative experience. And it struck me, as I was reaching for words, that there are many niches of creative potential here that are not just the 3D modeling and making pf impressive builds in Second Life.

There is creativity in how we represent ourselves. How we communicate. How we interact. I cannot build anything except plywood cubes, yet I find creativity in just organizing events and bringing people together.

My favorite creative activity in SL is taking photos. For some, taking snapshots is enough, but I am looking for different angles, lighting, composition, cropping, macro shots, etc, all things that I do with my RL camera.

What I’d like to say is you don’t have to build a thing in SL to be creative. Creativity for teachers, is in the ideas they conjure on how to leverage what is there for something that can help engage learners.

I might be babbling because it is late, and I have 10 minutes left in the day to call this my Sunday blog post.

Thanks again Sean and Jo for inviting me in.

Blog A Day

22 09 2007

With my trip about three weeks from lifting off (ignoring the panic of being “ready”), I’m aiming to start posting at least something here daily, be it ever so trite as a twitter snip. It’s another blog log on the fire, given my primary outlet, several running at NMC (here, there, and way over there).

I do plan to use this blog as the main daily summary of all the amazing events I will see next month, the stunning beautiful and articulate people I will meet, and the electric vibe of being in each of Australia’s capital cities inside a 2 week span.

And just to add a little bit more on top of my schedule (just posted a copy on this blog, I will share that I have yet another blog, a personal one, that I use to chart my training to run a first marathon in January. So I am also needing to get my training runs in while jetting around Australia. I am slow as an ancient wombat, but I just want to finish one of these feats, and cross it off my list.

So this blog post has no epiphanies, no whooping over cool tools (that might be tomorrow), no witty puns, and surprisingly no dog photos.

Oh well, I will break that last one- here are my pups, 6 year old Black Lab Cadu (left) and frisky new Beagle pup Fresa (right), relaxing at home among the dog clutter (toys, chewed up sticks):

Dog Tired

Stay tuned tomorrow for… well something else.