Would The Real ‘Alec Couros’ Please Stand Up?

Last September, I wrote a post about how scammers had been using my photos to lure women into online, romantic relationships for the purpose of ‘borrowing’ or extorting money. Since that time, the scams have continued. I get, on average, one new report a day from women (and occasionally men) who have been tricked, or nearly tricked, into sending money. In many cases, individuals have reported forming deep attachments or even falling in love with these scammers. This has been a frustrating predicament that has been going on for many years now. In this post, I thought I would share a few of the things that I’ve learned about the scams, the scammers, and their potential victims. Here we go.

  1. These scams are likely not perpetrated by a single individual. In fact, they are most likely perpetrated by groups of individuals, or even gangs, most likely situated in Nigeria or Ghana. These are typically known as “romance scams“, and I feel strongly that recognizing and understanding these types of scams are essential skills for digitally literate individuals.
  2. These scams take place over a number of popular social networking and communication tools. While I’ve taken down nearly 50 fake Facebook profiles, I’ve also had my photos appear in profiles set up on dating sites such as eHarmony, Christian Mingle, Match.com, and Plenty Of Fish. There are also dozens of Skype accounts that have been created using my photos. The ones that concern me the most are those that actually use my name and photos. For instance, if you search ‘alec couros’ on Skype, you will get five accounts under my name. Only one of them is mine (‘aleccouros’ is legit, btw), and three have photos of me. It worries me that my friends or professional contacts may connect to one of the fraudulent accounts.
    Searching 'alec couros' on Skype gets these results

    Searching ‘alec couros’ on Skype gets these results

     

  3. Continue reading

EC&I 831 Is Back! Call for Non-Credit Participants & Network Mentors

EC&I 831 - Banner

My popular open-boundary course, EC&I 831 (Social Media & Open Education), is back for the Fall of 2013 and we’d love you to participate as a non-credit student, or possibly, a network mentor. If you’re interested, please use this form to sign up!

Here’s a brief description of the course from the about page:

EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education is an open access graduate course from the Faculty of Education, University of Regina. This course is available to both for-credit and non-credit participants. It features openly available, weekly, interactive presentations with notable educators & theorists. More importantly, the course encourages and nurtures rich interaction through a number of open spaces such as our Twitter hashtag (#eci831), our Google Plus Community, and our student blog hub. The open nature of the course. and the sharing that it inspires, benefits current and former participants, especially as the goal of the course is to foster and develop long-term, authentic, human connections.

Non-credit participation officially begins on September 24, 2013 and the course ends on December 3, 2013. There are many ways to participate, and the commitment is up to you. But, collectively I know that we will make this experience amazing for everyone involved, so it would be great if you could join us.

If you sign up, more details will be sent to you via email as we approach the 24th.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at couros@gmail.com.

Thanks for considering. I hope that we can continue to learn together, but in a different way.

What Does It Mean To Be Literate?

I am working on a keynote presentation for the CEGSA conference coming up July 17, and I am hoping to gather insight from individuals for a crowdsourced portion of the presentation. It is my goal to gather original text/quotes, images, videos, audio, slides, etc. from you, members of my learning network, to answer the question, “What does it meant to be literate today?”  I expect that most responses will come from an information/knowledge/connected society perspective, and that’s great, but I am also happy to receive alternate perspectives on this topic.

I hope to use some of these in the presentation, but expect that I won’t be able to use all of them. However, I will be sure to share all submissions openly for others to see.

I have created a Google Form to streamline the process (click here), but if you would rather just email me your submission (or need help getting it to me), contact me at couros@gmail.com.

Thank you to all of of those willing to help. I truly appreciate your insight and support.

UPDATE: A compilation of data gathered.

“It’s Not Going Away”

My brother George recently wrote the post “Denying Our World” where he recalls a compelling narrative that causes him to reflect upon what it means to live ‘online’ and our associated imperative as educators to teach to this reality. In the comments of this post, ‘Kirsten T.” pushes back with a thoughtful response, and in part states:

I find the argument “It’s not going away” to be neither substantive, nor compelling. It echos to me the feet stamping of educators who say “I’ve always done it this way”.

I’ve used a form of the “it’s not going away” argument in past conversations and presentations, but its meaning for me seems very different than what is described by Kirsten. Since there seems to be discrepancies of understanding, I feel that the statement is worth exploring and further articulating. So what do I mean when I say “it’s not going away”?

First of all, what is the “it” that I am referring to? “It” is a transformed reality where access to new tools, abundant content, and vast networks simultaneously provide countless new affordances and associated challenges. “It” describes:

I could go on …

And what do I mean by “… is not going away”?

Change is constant, so obviously, our current conditions will not remain exactly the same. Rather, there are likely three possible futures related to these new affordances (this is a simplified argument but for real substance, check out Downes’ “Ten Futures“)

  1. Things regress, people get bored with media, and we go back to some pre-telephony version of society. I think this reality may include roller-rinks, dance-halls, and lots and lots of bowling. Actually, bowling may be a bit too high-tech especially if there are those digital scoreboards. In any case, I’m pretty sure this reality isn’t going to happen so there is not much need for further speculation.
  2. Governments, against the will of the majority, sign secret treaties that seriously threaten future innovation and the openness of the Internet. This is a horrifying reality, and unfortunately not very far-fetched. However, online protests to ensure and protect our Internet freedoms have been unprecedented in size and scope. The Internet allows citizens to have their voices heard, and collectively, people have successfully influenced ill-informed government legislation. And, an open and free Internet is the key to our own self-determination.
  3. Things move ahead; new tools are created, more content becomes available, and networks continue to be used to form and sustain important aspects of our relationships (including those of teaching and learning). And the implications of these technologies will continue to shape our world. Think, for instance, of what the impact of this “breakthrough” in spoken-word translation could have on our lives. We will soon have the ability to have accurate, automated live translation of our words into just about any language spoken. What does that mean for second-language learning? What does that mean for opening up our world to different forms of cultural knowledge? What does that mean for creating a more global, and peaceful society? And that is just *one* new technology.

We live in complex, media-rich, connected environments. As adults, we have built these spaces for our kids and set them up in situations where I’ve heard members of our generation exclaim, “I’m sure glad Youtube or Facebook didn’t exist when I was a kid!” But these do exist. And no one – no one – really understands the full implications of what these devices and spaces have on the future of our children. So what are our *obligations* in all of this as administrators, parents, and educators? Do we selfishly ignore “it” because it feels uncomfortable and complex? Or do we roll-up our sleeves, embrace this discomfort, and live up to our ethical responsibilities for our kids?

We don’t need to have all of the answers. But we need to model what it means to try.

Literacy Gangnam Style

I’ve been discussing memes such as Gangnam Style in my recent presentations. I’m particularly interested in memes as an emerging information literacy and their study is important for comprehending the way in which information flows through systems. Dae Ryun Chang wrote that one of reasons why Gangnam Style has taken off is that “the song intentionally lacked a copyright so that people would be encouraged to create their own online parodies, in essence their own ‘XYZ Style’”. It’s not quite factual (as argued elsewhere) that the song ‘lacked’ a copyright, but it is certainly clear that Psy has encouraged the remix and reuse of the song which has led to some incredible statistics (such as being the first video to reach 1 billion views). And, besides the ability to reuse/remix, the song is just downright catchy.

There have been hundreds of great remixes. Bill Nye Science Style, Minecraft Style, Baby Gangnam, and the Gangnam Halloween Lightshow rank among my favorites. But when I see schools participate, THAT’S where I think this gets so very relevant and exciting. Students and teachers at Okanagan Missionary Secondary (Kelowna, BC) recently put together this lip-sync version of the song. The video has achieved around 33,000 hits, and created a great buzz at the school.

The video was shot over a two week period at various locations around the school. Once all the post production work was completed, the school held a ‘spirit assembly’ last Thursday and the reception was astounding. Not only was the crowd entertained, laughing and cheering to the on screen antics, but for the rest of the day students could be heard excitedly talking about it or mimicking dance moves.

Creating such joyful events at school are vitally important for an overall healthy learning environment. Combine this with complex, project-based work that seamlessly integrates new literacies through media development and your institution has just made great strides toward the development and modelling of a positive digital footprint (for the institution and for the individuals involved). And these sorts of activities can go a long way to ease some of unwarranted fears regarding social media felt amongst parents, teachers, administrators and students.

And the Grade 11 French immersion students at Holy Trinity Catholic High School (from the Ottawa Catholic School Board) have taken the Gangnam craze even further by creating a French version of the song. Even if you are not a French speaker, you will quickly notice the creative effort that has gone into this parody. That, and the students look like they are having so much fun!

These last two examples demonstrate the successful intersection of emerging media and school learning. It can also be seen as an example of what Thomas and Brown describe as “The New Culture of Learning“.

The new culture of learning actually comprises two elements. The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything. The second is a bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries.

So how is your educational institution embracing this new culture of learning? Or, how are you as a teacher, administrator, or learner creating opportunities to critically discuss and/or participate in these new media environments? I’d love to hear from you.

But for now, enjoy Holy Trinity Style:

10 Ideas for Classroom Video Projects

“… ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today.” (Stephen Downes)

If you follow my Twitter-stream, you know that I spend a lot of time viewing, collecting & sharing videos. In this post, I share ideas on certain types of videos that I’ve gathered and how educators might use related methods or styles to engage students in constructing and deconstructing media while becoming critical consumers and producers of digital media.

1) Conversation with Future Me/You:

“A Conversation with My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition” is a recently popular video by Jeremiah McDonald. In the video, McDonald has created an interview with himself through the use of 2 decade old footage that he created as a 12 year old. The video had me kicking myself for not having the forethought to have produced something like this, but I suppose there’s always interviewing my 60 year old self at some point.

While presenting with my brother George (he’s likely blogged about this somewhere) in Australia this past Summer, I remember him discussing how this activity would be an excellent beginning/end of year exercise that students of all ages could enjoy and learn from. I agree. If done well, this type of activity could provide a student with not only a rich assessment of learning/growth throughout the year, but provide individuals with a precious artefact to be collected, shared, and cherished.

Another angle for this activity could be to create a video or a dialogue with a literary, historical or popular media character. This Vader/Skywalker version of McDonald’s video may give you some ideas.

2) Genre Shifting Movie Trailers:

One of my favourite types of video projects are the genre-shifted movie trailers where creators take movie clips and retell the plot of the story in a different genre than the original. Popular examples include The Shining as a romantic comedy, Mary Poppins as a dark horror film, Home Alone as a horror/thriller, Superbad as a thriller, Ferris Bueller’s Day off as an indie “coming of age” film and Mrs. Doubtfire as a horror film.

Genre-shifting video projects are valuable in a number of ways. As video creation projects, they would not require a high-level of technical ability. In fact, I would argue that students with basic video editing capabilities could create videos like these from a purely technical perspective. However, if done well, such projects could challenge students to think deeply about the grammar of storytelling while considering essential elements of creating video (e.g., music, timing, edits/cuts, effects, pauses/silence, etc.) for various genres . As well, students would have to acquire a keen eye for the curation involved in finding & gathering elements that would support a chosen genre. But, even without offering students a hands-on component, these videos would be great for discussing questions around how film directors/producers make us feel a certain way through the thoughtful use of various edits & visual/auditory/stylistic elements.

3) Storytelling Lip-Syncs:

I’ve recently discovered BoredShortsTV, a Youtube channel where kids write & record audio stories and adults reenact the stories while lip-syncing the original audio. My favourite video so far is this “Salesman” clip, but see also “Principal’s Office”, “Dance Class” and “Basketball Class”.

I would love to see schools take on a video project such as this where elementary school students were responsible for writing, narrating and recording audio stories and then had middle school or high school students act out and lip-sync the video in creative ways. This could provide an onramp for greater collaboration amongst teachers, across grade levels, and also provide a project that would be humorous and fun for the entire school community to view.

4) Plot Synopsis in 60 Seconds:

There are a number fun plot synopses videos available on Youtube (and other video sharing services) that do well to provide summaries of Hollywood movies or novels in 60 seconds. Notable examples include “Forrest Gump in One Minute, One Take”, “60 Second Fight Club”, “Jaws in 60 Seconds”, “Kill Bill 1 & 2 in One Minute, One Take” and “Lord of the Rings in 60 Seconds”. There is also the excellent 60 Second Recaps site that is a great resource for students and educators needing comprehensive and enjoyable plot summaries.

Projects like this could help students gain skills needed to become more effective communicators with digital technologies, skills that are essential in our attention-scarce reality, while providing entry points into a wider comprehension of literature & popular media.

5) Stop Motion:

I’ve been enamoured with stop motion films since I first saw Norman McLaren’s anti-war classic ‘Neighbours’ when I was a boy. In the last several years, I’ve seen countless examples of conventional stop motion videos such as “Tony vs. Paul”, “Western Spaghetti”, “Rwandan Grand Prix”, ““Sorry I’m Late”“, ““Human Skateboard”” and “PEN Story”. I’ve also noticed a number of stop motion music videos such as “Wildlife Control”, “Dream Music 2″, “Against the Grain” and the incredible “Her Morning Elegance”.

What I like about these videos is that there is so much variation and creativity among these pieces. There is no simple recipe or formula and from a technical standpoint, the method for creating stop motion effects is done in a number of unique ways. And, if you consider a video like “Amateur” by Lasse Gjertsen, you will realize that stop motion is more than just choppy video. Rather, it’s a method of construction that allows artists to create things that could not be formed similarly through other methods. Gjertsen states at the end of his video, “I can neither play the drums nor play the piano”, yet through his video editing mastery, he is transformed into a talented musician.

6) Course Trailers:

Back in 2007, I used a course trailer to provide information and to get potential students interested in the open online course I was introducing. It was a fun experiment and I’ve since had many people interested in taking on the idea. I just noticed this Vimeo Channel from Harvard where there are a number of good examples.

The conciseness of the course trailer has similar advantages to what was expressed above about the plot synopses. However, I also think that educators taking on projects like this not only learn a lot from creating the project (e.g., technical skills, core focus), but also, it can provide a message to students that you are willing to push your own learning and have some fun while doing it.

7) Summaries of Learning:

For the past several years, I’ve been asking my students to create a “Summary of Learning” that captures and describes growth and key learnings throughout our course. Students have utilized a number of different formats of video to take on this task (e.g., stop motion, vlogging, podcasts), but the most popular format has been screencasting. Popular screencasting tools used include Screenr, Screencast-o-matic, and Camtasia (and a bunch more here). Dozens of examples of these summaries of learning can be found here but to get a sense of the different types, I’ll point you specifically to Leslie’s (stop motion), Lauren’s (video on identity), Kevin’s (traditional video cast) and Matt’s (stop motion + Photoshop).

This assignment has been very popular with mystudents and I’ve been quite pleased with the results. Our students need the opportunity to reflect on their learning, and providing them with alternatives to written summaries helps to improve their communication abilities while providing potentially rich artefacts of and for learning.

8) Kutiman-Style Mashups:

Kutiman’s 2009 Thru-You project was a great inspiration to me and many others. In the project, Kutiman curated samples of music from various amateur musicians on Youtube to create original musical pieces. Time Magazine named the project one of the best 50 inventions for 2009 as it was an unique way to both curate and combine samples. Recently, Gotye, inspired by Kutiman’s project, released a mashup encompassing samples from dozens of covers from his own song, “Somebody I Used to Know”.

There are two major things I like about these projects. First, I see this as moving beyond the ‘digital essay’, to achieve what we’ve always wanted to do in classrooms, to take and build upon the work of others and while doing so, to create something uniquely original and new. And second, this type of project allows student to play within the boundaries of fair use/dealing, not to only better understand copyright, but to execute our rights in current/emerging copyright legislation. If we do not act upon our rights, we are sure to lose them.

9) Video Re-creations:

My brother George introduced me to Ton Do-Nguyen, the sixteen year old who recently created the Snuggie version of a Beyonce music video. If you watch the side-by-side comparison, it is easy to see the incredible skill and attention to detail of this young man. And to know that he learned this on his own without any formal instruction makes this even more amazing.

I don’t have many examples of this type of thing, not that I don’t think there are any, but that I just haven’t been looking until now. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the process of discovering, recreating and reverse-engineering complex editing processes like seen in this video must lead to deep learning, and thus I do believe this is a worthwhile type of project to pursue.

10) Social Commentary & Critique:

9 year old blogger Martha Payne recently made headlines when her Scottish school district tried shutting down her NeverSeconds daily food blog, one that critiqued the quality of food at her school cafeteria. Ewan McIntosh outlines the series of events in his blog which eventually led to the school district backing down from the ban after increased media pressure and bad PR.

This type of social commentary and critique is greatly lacking in our schools. I would love to see more students take on social causes of interest, to speak their minds in support of change, and to learn how to do it with candour, respect and persuasion. We have the ability to look into a camera and record our words and to be heard locally or globally. Yet, is this happening in school? Let’s make sure it is – let’s be sure to educate this generation to take advantage of these new forms of empowerment. If we are not heard, if we do not engage in these participatory forms of media, I fear these freedoms will not be around for long.

Student Work – Winter 2012

As I’ve done previously (see 20092010 and 2011), I wanted to share some of the best examples of student work from my ECMP 355 (Technology in Education) undergraduate course. These students are all preservice teachers and they range from being in the first to the fourth (final) year of our program. If you have any questions about the work featured here, please comment below or email me. I hope that you will find these projects valuable.

Final Projects: The goal of these projects varied – essentially, they were either of the ‘build a learning resource’ or ‘learn something of significance using the Internet’ variety.

Blogfolios: Students were tasked to create blogfolios in the class as a means to strengthen their digital identities, and experience an important form of alternative assessment.
Summaries of Learning: These summaries of learning are typically a 3-5 minutes reflection/presentation/celebration of what students learned throughout the course.

90+ Videos for Tech. & Media Literacy

Update December 3/09: There has been much interest in this list so I have transferred this resource to a wiki. This post will remain, but I would be happy if others contributed to the wiki version found here. Thanks for your interest in media education.

Over the past few years, I have been collecting interesting Internet videos that would be appropriate for lessons and presentations, or personal research, related to technological and media literacy. Here are 70+ videos organized into various sub-categories. These videos are of varying quality, cross several genres, and are of varied suitability for classroom use.

Child Computing

Conversation Starters:

1. Everything is Amazing, Nobody is Happy – Comedian Louis CK’s appearance on Conan O’Brian was brilliant, humorous and really sets the stage for discussing societal changes due to the progress of technology.

2. Trendspotting: Social Networking – Comedian Dimitri Martin will make you laugh as he discusses social networking. This video is useful in deconstructing concepts of friendship and interaction in the age of social networks.

3. Did You Know 3.0 – Widely viewed video by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod that gives light to the changes imminent in our emerging knowledge-based society. This is an excellent video for framing and introducing the the new reality to students, teachers, faculty, and administrators.

4. Introducing the Book – This comedic portrayal of a medieval helpdesk relays the point that each new technology will bring with it challenges of user adoption and a steep learning curve.

5. Mr. Winkle Wakes – A great video by Matthew Needleman retelling a classic story about the resistance of schools to change.

6. The Human Network – This advertisement from Cisco projects a connected world that is likely only several years away. What seemed like fiction a few years ago, is a new digital reality.

7. The Essay – A 10 year girl recites an essay about the future while her parents are deeply concerned about her sanity. This Telenor commercial helps us to understand how far technology has come.

8. Web Crash 2007 – This is an excellent, very funny video from The Onion that describes the horrible Internet crash of 2007.

9. Five Minute University – This is a classic clip from Father Guido Sarducci from Saturday Night Live fame. The video gives humorous critique to learning in higher education. (Suggested by ZaidLearn).

21st Century Learning:

10. An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube – Professor Michael Wesch’s presentation to the Library of Congress, June 23rd, 2008. The video is over 55 minutes long but is informative and engaging throughout.

11. The Machine is Us/ing Us – “Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes”, explained by the Digital Ethnography Project at Kansas State University (Wesch). The video helps to illustrate important changes brought by Web 2.0 (read/write web, social web) as content and form became separated.

12. A Vision of Students Today – Another excellent video by Michael Wesch and his group that summarizes some of the most important characteristics of students today.

13. The Networked Student – This video by Wendy Drexler describes an emerging learning environment for the connected student. It depicts an actual project completed by her high school students and provides a tangible example of a well-connected learner.

14. We Think – This is an interesting and novel animation that stresses and acknowledges the importance of social networks in developing shared knowledge.

15. A Vision of K12 Students Today – Inspired by Wesch’s A Vision of Students Today, this project approaches the subject of 21st Century Learning from a K12 approach. (Suggested by Cindy Seibel)

16. 21st Century Schools – This is a video prepared by the Department of Children, Schools and Families in the United Kingdom. It gives a vision for the 21st Century School and features Stephen Heppell.

17. Brave New World-Wide Web – An excellent video by David Truss highlighting his journey to become a connected teacher.

18. A Portal To Media Literacy – This is an excellent presentation by Michael Wesch held at the University of Manitoba. “During his presentation, the Kansas State University professor breaks down his attempts to integrate Facebook, Netvibes, Diigo, Google Apps, Jott, Twitter, and other emerging technologies to create an education portal of the future.”

19. Joe’s Non Netbook – This video comes from Chris Lehmann from Science Leadership Academy in Philadephia. In the video, one of the students contemplates the affordances inherent in digital media vs. traditional media. (Suggested by Scott Floyd)

20. Learning to Change, Changing to Learn (Kid’s Tech) – A video featuring students talking about their passionate for technology, and their use of media, technology, and social networks. See other videos from this group at High Tech High. (Thanks Heidi)

Copyright, Copyleft & Remix/Mashup Culture:

21. RiP: A Remix Manifesto – This is an inspiring, open source documentary that explores copyright and remix culture. Individuals are able to contribute to the film, or just enjoy the information and stories it has to offer. This is an important film for those wishing to understand the battleground of intellectual property as it relates to our emerging generation.

22. Laws That Choke Creativity – Larry Lessig’s must-see TED Talk verifies the dire need for thoughtful copyright reform. Lessig is a talented presenter, and there is much to learn here about engaging audiences beyond the information within.

23. The Most Important 6-Sec Drum Loop – This fascinating 20 minute video explains “the history of the ‘Amen Break,’ a six-second drum sample from the b-side of a chart-topping single from 1969.” The story of this drum loop informs our emerging notions of the nature creativity and the ownership of culture.

24. The Wilhelm Scream – This is short compilation of the Wilhelm Scream in popular movies. Once you identify it, you will notice it everywhere.

25. Wanna Work Together? – This promotional video for the Creative Commons does well to explain copyright, copyleft, and details reasons why one would choose a Creative Commons license.

Influence of Media on Society:

26. Killing Us Softly 3 – Jean Kilbourne’s popular presentation on women in advertising.

27. Dove Evolution – This is a popular advertisement from Dove’s ‘Campaign For Real Beauty’. While the video is well done, there has since been some criticism of Dove’s ownership of Axe with it’s very contradictory style of advertising.

28. Dove Onslaught – Also from Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, this video illustrates the incredible impact of advertising on adolescent girls.

29. Birth Control: Current – Comedian Sarah Haskins has developed an excellent series of videos that take a humorous look at ads targeting women. For a complete list of Haskins’ videos, view this previous post on the subject.

30. Video Games & Sex – This is an excellent presentation by Daniel Floyd regarding the place of sex and sexuality in video games as a media genre. The video covers a brief history of sex in gaming which has been primarily exploitative and superficial. Floyd then argues, if video games are to be seen as an emerging artistic medium, the treatment of sex in video games needs to be more sophisticated and mature. (Note: this video may not be suitable for minors.)

31. Boys Beware – This was an anti-homosexual propaganda film from the 1950′s. In light of recent anti-gay marriage ads, it (unfortunately) appears similar propaganda continues to be broadcast.

32. How Cellphones, Twitter, Facebook Can Make History – This is an excellent TED Talk by Clay Shirky that demonstrates how emerging social tools “help citizens in repressive regimes to report on real news, bypassing censors.”

33. Story of Stuff – This video doesn’t directly look at how media affects society. Rather, it takes a very critical and eye-opening look at the life cycle of goods and services. It is definitely worth watching and sharing.

History of Technology & Media:

34. The Growing Phenomenon of Internet – This is a 1993 CBC report on the emergence of the Internet. It is interesting to watch this early media account of the Internet and to think about how much has changed in only 16 years. Additionally, the techno-utopianism of this report is striking.

35. A Communications Primer – The ephemeral piece is an instructional film created in 1953 for IBM by Ray & Charles Eames with music by Elmer Bernstein. The video presents communications theory that is remarkably accurate, even before the age of the Internet.

36. Internet Power – This is a 1995 educational video about the entertainment value of the Internet. While parts of the video demonstrate the great technological gains we have made, other parts make me question the gains regarding the mindset of the majority of Internet users.

37. How the News Works – This is a short, anti-corporate explanation of how the mainstream media functions.

38. The Internet in 1969 – This is a late 1960′s video describing futuristic technologies that resemble today’s Internet affordances.

39. Television Delivers People – This video is purported as “a seminal work in the now well-established critique of popular media as an instrument of social control that asserts itself subtly on the populace through ‘entertainments’, for the benefit of those in power-the corporations that maintain and profit from the status quo.” The style of this video is just ripe to be emulated.

Social Networks & Identity:

40. Digital Dossier – Individuals must become more aware of the digital footprints they leave behind. This fictional story of Andy demonstrates the importance of understanding one’s digital identity.

41. Identity 2.0 – Dick Hardt’s excellent Keynote at OSCON 2005 is a brilliant introduction to the concept of digital identity, and what this may mean in the future.

42. Social Networks in Plain English – This is one of many excellent Common Craft ‘explanation’ videos. It does a great job of explaining digital social networks to those unfamiliar.

43. Tweenbots – What would happen if you release a human dependent robot into a New York park with the single goal of getting to the other side of the park? Would the human network get the robot to its destination? The video is interesting because in some ways it challenges the techno-determinist mindset that society has had for at least a century, and reflects an emerging emphasis; the power of humans in human networks.

44. Ze Frank: The Show – Comedia Ze Frank’s “The Show” was a year long experiment in vodcasting, full of creativity, humor, and insight. This particular episode (12-14-06) was interesting as he discusses the effects of environment (open, closed, rules) on interactions of participants and perceived security/safety.

45. Rocketboom: The Twitter Global Mind – Rocketboom is an ongoing, daily vlog that has been online since 2004. This newer episode discusses Twitter and the produced thoughtstream of its users, and how this phenomenon will effect the development and understanding of search.

46. Behind Every Tweet – This was a video teaser developed for my K12 Online Conference presentation in 2008. It helps to describe how Twitter can be used by educators for solving problems or asking questions. The entire presentation can be viewed here.

Mashups, Stop Motion, Animations & Short Films

47. Mother of All Funk Chords – This amazing mashup by Ophir Kutiel (known as Kutiman) is part of the thru-you project. The mashup consists of dozens of youtube clips aligned together to create original music.

48. Shining: Recut – What if The Shining were set as a romantic comedy? This was one of the first movie trailer remixes I had ever seen, and now there have been many excellent productions in the style. It also inspired the trailer for my Grad course.

49. Forest Gump, 1 Minute, 1 Take – There would be a lot of skill that goes into taking a movie, condensing it into one minute, one take. I think this video, and others like it, would be a great inspiration for similar student project. See also Sweded films on Youtube.

50. Tony vs. Paul – I fell in love with stop motion film the first time I view the classic Mclaren film Neighbours as a child. Tony vs. Paul was almost certainly inspired by Mclaren’s work more than 50 years previous, and is very well done.

51. We Didn’t Start the Viral – How many viral videos can you identify in this short video (in the tune of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire)? Now, how many can your students (or children) identify? Understanding media means being able to recognize and identify much of what are youth are consuming and producing.

52. Amateur – Lasse Gjertsen became Internet famous after he masterfully edited this brilliant piece. He claims he cannot play drums or piano, but through careful digital editing, he is able to create an innovative composition. After watching this piece, I realized that new digital literacies occur where new skills allow one to compensate for the lack of the old.

53. Big Mac Rap – You’d think that a couple of kids going through a drive-in would be uneventful. Yet, this video has been seen millions of times and has spawned the drive-through song genre. Creativity is everywhere, even at your local fast-food restaurant.

54. Firekites – What strikes me about this chalkboard, stop-motion animation is that certain elements of old forms can not easily be replicated through new media. The smudgy shadows of the chalkboard add a beautiful dimension to this piece.

55. The Story of a Sign – This is a beautiful, award-winning short film. Other than being an excellent piece for studying film grammar, it also portrays a wonderful message about the importance of carefully framing and designing one’s message.

56. Free Hugs – This video and Juan Mann spawned the Free Hugs Movement. It is wonderfully produced and provides a wonderful, loving message for humanity.

57. Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out – This video portrays a bride on her wedding day so upset with her hair that she cuts much of it off in front of her bridesmaids. The video was viewed millions of times, but it was later revealed that it was a hoax set up by a group of actors. The event creates an important point regarding deception possibilities within democratic media. See also LonelyGirl15.

58. Sorry I’m Late – This is a wonderful stop-motion piece that includes several videos and commentary regarding the ‘making-of’ the video. This would be excellent for students who want to understand some of the complexities involved in doing stop-motion.

59. Bathtub IV – This is a wonderful music video featuring tilt/shift photography. In other words, these are real scenes videoed in a way that make them look as if the objects are fake miniatures. (Suggested by Dani Watkins)

60. Last Day Dream – This is a powerful short video that flashes a person’s entire life in 42 seconds. This would be a terrific video for a discussion of its style/grammar, or for a discussion topic related to those things most important in our lives. (Language/content warning)

61. Little Bribes – This video for a Death Cab for Cutie song is exceptional in that it uses many excellent stop-motion, time-lapse, and other videography techniques to create a beautiful, coherent piece. This would an excellent video for studying video technique and grammar.

62. Her Morning Elegance – This is a brilliant stop motion video. It is soft, smooth, and romantic, and accompanies the soundtrack beautifully.

63. The PEN Story – This a beautiful, nostalgic stop motion video celebrating the Olympus PEN series of cameras. Two things strike me here. First, we are beginning to see an increase by advertisers as they push the boundaries of marketing through the creation of emotional, artistic productions. Second, the video reminds me of how much influence the camera has on our society, and how it ultimately frames our messages and our memories.

64. United Breaks Guitars – Canadian musicians, Sons of Maxwell, produced a song and music video that described their bad luck flying with United Airlines and how their baggage was mishandled which led to a broken guitar. The song and video is a great example of a digital story, but most importantly, the resulting drama demonstrates how consumers can be heard in the connected age.

65. SOUR (Hibi no neiro) – This Japanese music video demonstrates innovation through its use of webcams as primary recording devices. You do not need to understand Japanese to appreciate this video.

Public Service Announcements and Political Messages

66. Top Chef – Ontario’s Workplace Safety Insurance Board released a number of gruesome safety ads that really pushed the boundaries of the PSA. This ad was one of the more popular (and gruesome) of the series.

67. U.N. Landmine Commercial – This startling commercial brings home the reality of landmines. It calls out for action from those with privilege with the message “If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere?”

68. Belt Up In the Back – A surprising and horrendous seat belt safety commercial from the UK.

69. Doubt – This eerie video was produced by the Israeli AIDS Task Force.

70. Children See, Children Do – This is an effective Australian PSA regarding the imitation of behaviors by children of their parents.

71. Clean House: Meth – This is an interesting (and strangely catchy) meth prevention PSA, typical of those provided by A Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

72. Beware the Fridge – This British PSA from the 1970′s attempts to make parents aware of the danger of old refrigerators.

73. VD Is For Everybody – This is a very cheery venereal disease PSA from 1969.

74. Child-Swinging – This is one of the strangest anti-alcohol PSAs I have ever seen. I am not quite sure why the incessant child-swinging was tolerated even sober.

Cyberbullying and Internet Safety

75. Star Wars Kid – The Star Wars kid is likely the best known cyberbullying event ever documented. This original leaked video spawned dozens of users on the web to create parodies, seen by millions, which ultimately resulted in the boy featured in the videos to quit school and enter a psychiatric ward.

76. ABC on Bullying – This ABC news report looks at the occurrences of bullying that led to the suicide of a young boy.

77. Let’s Fight It Together – This is a well produced video by digizen.org detailing student bullying and possible outcomes.

78. Talent Show – This is one of several, similar anti-bullying messages from the Ad Council.

79. Think Before You Post – This is an Internet safety PSA from Ad Council, one that I have always thought to be a bit overboard/creepy. See also “Everyone Knows Your Name“.

80. Virtual Global Task Force – This is a promotional video for the Virtual Global Task Force, made up of police forces and agencies around the world working to prevent child abuse.

81. Duck & Cover – To think that a generation of children (and adults) were taught that the ‘duck and cover’ would really protect them from a nuclear blast still blows my mind. This is from the makers of “Our Cities Must Fight“, another famous propaganda film from the era.

82. Terrible Truth, Addicted, Pit of Despair – This is a clip compiling three early PSAs regarding drug and alcohol addiction.

Documentaries

83. Century of the Self – This acclaimed documentary tracks the work of Freud throughout the 20th century as it changed the perception of the human mind, spawned applications of public relations, and formed the roots of consumerism. This is an excellent backgrounder for teachers of media.

84. The World According to Monsanto – This is an excellent documentary that looks at the control and domination of agriculture by the Monsanto corporation. The video deals closely with the control and shaping of information, messages, and media, and would fit into many areas of a school curriculum.

85. Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey – This is an excellent documentary on the history and progression of heavy metal music. It is narrated and produced by Canadian, Sam Dunn, who has been a metal fan since the age of 12. It is an excellent piece on the influence of metal (and music) on kids and in greater society. Language warning – and the video would have to be viewed in 10 chunks, all available on Youtube.

86. The World According to Sesame Street – From Independent Lens (PBS), this documentary serves to answer the question, “with today’s global landscape dominated by such pressing issues as poverty, human rights, AIDS and ethnic genocide, how can the world’s most-watched children’s television show bridge cultures while remaining socially relevant?” The video can be viewed in 9 parts on Youtube.

87. Manufacturing Consent – This Canadian documentary, based on the Chomsky/Herman book by the same name, explores the propaganda model of media.

88. Steal This Film – Steal this film is a series of short videos documenting the movement against intellectual property. “Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow called it ‘an amazing, funny, enraging and inspiring documentary series.’” See also Part II and the Pirate Bay Trial Edition.

89. Sex: The Revolution – This is a VH1, 4 part documentary that chronicles the rise of American interest in sexuality from the 1950′s to the turn of the millennium. This video is available on the VH1, but only to those in the US. However, there are ways around this limitation.

90. Orwell Rolls In His Grave – This documentary explores the relationship between corporations, government, and the media. The film posits that “media no longer report news, but only manage it, deciding what makes the headlines and what is conveniently ignored.”

91. Good Copy, Bad Copy – This is a documentary that describes the current state of copyright, piracy, and free culture.

92. Outfoxed – This Robert Greenwald documentary criticizes Fox News Channel and its owner Rupert Murdoch, “claiming that the channel is used to promote and advocate right-wing views.” The documentary argues that through contradicting their own mantra of being “Fair and Balanced”, Fox is engaging in “consumer fraud”.

93. Us Now (10 Translations) – “Us Now tells the stories of online networks that are challenging the existing notion of hierarchy. For the first time, it brings together the fore-most thinkers in the field of participative governance to describe the future of government.” See the official Us Now site for more details.

94. Super Size Me – This 2004 documentary, nominated for an Academy Award, follows Morgan Spurlock’s 30 day journey as he discontinues exercise and eats only at McDonald’s restaurants. While the movie’s primary focus is chronicling Spurlock’s physical and psychological degeneration, it poses a strong commentary on the corporate influence of McDonalds and other fast food companies.

95. Burp: Pepsi vs. Coke – The Ice Cold War – This a dated and relatively obscure documentary that details the histories and rivalries of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola companies. The classic advertising and related commentary gives a better understanding of the influence of the companies throughout the world.

If there are videos or categories that you would like added here, please let me know. I will work to move this list over to a wiki so that if people are interested, additions and edits can be easily made. Also, I wrote this post in a hurry, so I apologize in advance for any errors re: spelling, grammar, or hyperlinks. Please report any problems that you run into.

I hope these are useful!

The 100 Most Iconic Internet Videos

The 100 Most Iconic Internet Videos Banner

Anyone studying social media should have a solid understanding of memes, or how ideas spread over networks. This list of “The 100 Most Iconic Internet Videos” is useful that it gives the general context for each of these viral videos, and gives some insight into how they became so popular (hundreds of millions of views in some cases).

For instance, I have often wondered why Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend music video was at the top of the Youtube all-time viewed list (but really not THAT interested in doing any research on it). It turns out, the video had a lot of technical help.

Pop-punk songstress Avril Lavigne’s anthem to girlfriend-hating and man-stealing holds the top spot on YouTube for the most viewed video of all time, but it didn’t get there truly organically. Avril’s die-hard fans at AvrilBandAids.com were the first to successfully game YouTube view counts in a massive way by using a complex scheme to cheat the system by opening browsers that refreshed every 15 seconds to repeatedly play the video. They then used the publicity from their cheating scheme to push the clip over the top virally.

Recognizing the power of networks and nodes and understanding why certain messages become more wide-spread than others (whether by merit, messenger, or manipulation) are important media literacy skills.

Is This Forever?

One of the videos I showed last night during my Media Literacy presentation was the recent “David After Dentist” video. The scene is of a seven year old boy who just left the Dentist’s office and was still feeling the effects of sedation. I’ve posted the video to Twitter, and while most people report it to be quite funny, others were more critical of this scene being posted to Youtube for all to see. The original video (posted below) was posted January 30, 2009, and has already been viewed over 7 million times.

Boing Boing, a highly influential group blog, posted the video on September 3. At that time, there had already been a few remixes. Since the Boing Boing mention, the number of remixes has exploded. Two of my favourite are found below:

Remix:

Chad (Vader) After Dentist

There are dozens more!

How does this relate to media literacy? During his state of sedation, the boy asks “is this forever?” While the dad reassures him that it isn’t, in the (digital) media sense, it is forever. Whether the boy likes it or not, he is now an Internet star. The scene will likely follow him into classrooms, into careers, into relationships; it will forever be part of his identity. Whether he accepts his fame as mostly positive (see Gary Brolsma) or especially negative (see Ghyslain Raza) is yet to be seen. What is certain is that the distribution of this video, a piece of David’s identity, is no longer in anyone’s full control.

Media Literacy Presentation

Tonight I presented “Popular Issues in (Digital) Media Literacy” to my EC&I 831 students. The presentation covered various topics such as: offensive content (bad taste, sexuality), viral videos & memes, misinformation (satire, hoaxes, scams, phishing), safety & cyberbullying, hate (racism & violence), social networks & privacy. It was very much a survey approach to the topic in hopes that my students will understand the broad scope of related issues.

The slide deck is available below:

The Elluminate recording is also available for viewing.

Flickr Perversion

Yesterday, I received an email notice saying that a few of my Flickr photos had been favorited. These particular photos were of my children, mostly of my daughter. Every time this happens, I go to see who the Flickr user is, and most of the time, it is a family member, a close friend, or someone I know through Twitter (or other social network). I did not recognize the user in this particular case, and when I went to see their photos, the Flickr message alerted me that none of the user’s photos were available. Seeing as my photos had been favorited, I went to see what other photos had been marked as favorites by this user.

My jaw dropped to the floor.

What I saw was three pages of favorited photos of preteen girls, most shots in bathing suits or with little clothing. Had I viewed any of these photos individually, isolated from the others, I am sure that this same feeling of disgust would not have come over me. But these photos, viewed together, favorited by some anonymous user, told a very different story. These photos of these girls were without a doubt being sexualized, and my four-year-old daughter was amongst these images.

Note: The images I include below are the actual screenshots. My daughter does not appear in these images, and she was the only girl in these photos that was well clothed. I have included these screenshots because I think it is important to get a sense of what happened here. However, I have significantly reduced the size of this image for (hopefully) obvious reasons.

girls 3photo on Flickr

These photos are legal. The actions of the user who favorited these is also legal (although incredibly disgusting). I did not want photos of my child to appear here. So, this is what I did:

1) Blocked the user. This means my photos would no longer appear in the list. However, if your photos are viewable to the public, this means they can still be viewed, just not favorited.
2) Contacted Flickr: I reported this user, and within a couple of hours, the user was taken down.

End of story? Nope.

I get another email, telling me that more of my daughter’s photos had been favorited. Same story. I check out the user, no photos, but many favorites. It gets worse.

Small Screenshot of Photos Favourited by Flickr Pervert

This time, there were four pages of girls favorited by this user. The girls were a bit older, but in the majority of the photos, the subjects were handcuffed, often in sexually provocative poses. Again, my daughter’s photos appeared. I blocked the user, contacted Flickr. Same deal. But obviously, that’s not enough.

I admit, I live my life (in the) Open. I have been lucky that I have never had to block a person from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc., before this time. Sure, there has been the odd griefer here and there, but usually, these problems resolve themselves if you deal with them appropriately, or in some cases, ignore them. My belief is that in all aspects of life, we should not have to live our lives in fear. I’m an idealist. I believe in the power of good people, and I have been lucky enough to have been surrounded by good people in both my temporal and virtual realities.

But these types of incidents shake up everything one believes. So now, rather than provide answers, I want to provide some questions for anyone willing to respond. Here are some of my questions.

1) What must parents know about the realities of the Internet in regards to how we deal with the photos (and identities) of our children?
2) What are the benefits of an open vs. a closed reality? Are the benefits of openness (e.g., in regards to our families) worth the risks? And, what are the credible risks?
3) What precautions should we take, or perhaps, what precautions do you take in the presentation/development of your family’s digital identity?
4) What rights and responsibilities do we have as parents to protect the digital identities of our children?
5) How do we proceed from here? How do we help other parents to understand these important issues?

I’d love to hear from you. While openness will be a continued theme in my educational life, I continue to rethink these philosophies on the most personal of levels. It is also my belief in openness that guides me in telling this story. I believe that we need to face these issues head on, inform others, raise awareness, and work to solve these problems together.