Value Openness: Twitter On CSI

There’s a video clip of Twitter on CSI that has been making its rounds. I don’t watch the show (I watch very little television), but the scene features the dialogue between two detectives as they search the Twitter account of a homicide victim.

From the Clip:
Detective 1 – “Some people just don’t value privacy.”
Detective 2 – “They don’t expect privacy. They value openness.”

As I’m preparing for a digital citizenship/media literacy presentation with Dean Shareski tomorrow, I’ve been thinking about how differently youth may view privacy vs. openness. With social networks, blogging and services like Twitter, we are certainly seeing a distinct change. There is not much to the transaction above, but in some ways, it may help people glimpse differing views on issues of personal privacy and openness.

Canada’s New Copyright Act May Be Most Restrictive Yet

On his recent speech to the Canadian Federation of Students, Michael Geist writes,

After highlighting the remarkable array of new developments for content creation, content sharing, and knowledge sharing, I have emphasized the need for copyright laws that look ahead, rather than behind. In particular, I have pointed to the dangers associated with anti-circumvention legislation, to the need for more flexible fair dealing, to the desirability of eliminating crown copyright, and to the benefits of open access and open licensing. I typically conclude by stating that this can be Canada’s choice and that we must choose wisely.

In case you are unaware, anti-circumvention legislation would mean that a if the manufacturer has implemented a copy protection scheme, any attempt to bypass such a copy prevention scheme may be actionable. This could mean just about anything, simply creating backups for your music (ripping to .mp3) or making your purchased music playable on other devices, could be against the law. If you missed Lessig’s “How Creativity is Strangled By The Law“, this would be a good time to review this important message.

Then Geist warns,

Sometime over the next two or three weeks, Industry Minister Jim Prentice will rise in the House of Commons and introduce copyright reform legislation. We can no longer speak of choices because those choices have already been made. There is every indication (see the Globe’s latest coverage) this legislation will be a complete sell-out to U.S. government and lobbyist demands. The industry may be abandoning DRM, the evidence may show a correlation between file sharing and music purchasing, Statistics Canada may say that music industry profits are doing fine, Canadian musicians, filmmakers, and artists may warn against this copyright approach, and the reality may be that Canadian copyright law is stronger in some areas than U.S. law, yet none of that seems to matter. In the current environment and with the current Ministers, politics trumps policy.

I just noticed Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing is also covering this story. He warns,

If this law passes, it will mean that as soon as a device has any anti-copying stuff in it (say, a Vista PC, a set-top cable box, a console, an iPod, a Kindle, etc), it will be illegal for Canadians to modify it, improve it, or make products that interact with it unless they have permission from the (almost always US-based) manufacturer. This puts the whole Canadian tech industry at the mercy of the US industry, unable to innovate or start new businesses that interact with the existing pool of devices and media without getting a license from the States.

If this law passes, it will render all of the made-in-Canada exceptions to copyright for education, archiving, free speech and personal use will be irrelevant: if a technology has a lock that prohibits a use, your right to make that use falls by the wayside. Nevermind that you’ve got the right to record a show to watch later — or to record a politician’s speech so you can hold him to account later — the policeman in the device can take that right away with no appeal.

If this law passes, it will make Canada into a backwards nation, lagging behind the UK, Israel and other countries that are passing new copyright laws that dismantle the idea of maximum copyright forever and in all things.

What can you do about this? Last year Geist wrote a letter listing 30 things you could do to stop the former bil from passing. The specifics may be a bit different now, but the strategies are the same. Geist stresses that the most important of these is to write a letter (not an email) to your Member of Parliament, the Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage, and the Prime Minister. I know I will be.

Fight for these freedoms while we still have them.

Google’s Highly Open Participation Contest

Google’s Highly Open Participation Contest was announced today at the Open Source Developers’ Conference in Brisbane, Australia.

Following on from the success of the Google Summer of Code program, Google is pleased to announce this new effort to get young people involved in open source development. We’ve teamed up with the open source projects listed here to give student contestants the opportunity to learn more about and contribute to all aspects of open source software development, from writing code and documentation to preparing training materials and conducting user experience research.

If you’re a student age 13 or older who has not yet begun university studies, we’d love to see you help out these projects. In return, you’ll learn more about all aspects of developing software – not just programming – and you’ll be eligible to win cash prizes and the all important t-shirt! You will, of course, need your parent or guardian’s permission to participate where applicable.

Almost any initiative the exposes students to collaboration and sharing while helping them build technical skill is all right by me.

More information.

Student Project in Common Craft Style

One of my students, Veronique, has just completed a mini-project for a first-year undergraduate course I teach. She used the Common Craft format to produce a neat little video on the Angel Hair for Kids program.

We didn’t allot much class time to work on this, but I’m really happy with what she was able to produce in a short period of time. Certainly it’s not perfect, but I particularly appreciate her adoption of this instructional format. I think there is so much potential here.

Differentiated Instruction: Observations of a Preservice Teacher

I’m very lucky to be a big part of the Digital Internship Project. The Digital Internship Project is a government-sponsored project which enables my colleagues and I to connect our preservice teachers to tools, resources and ideas related to the integration of technology and media in the classroom. For instance, we are able to provide each of our interns with a laptop, assorted hardware and software (e.g, digital video cameras, projectors, interactive whiteboards), an online collaborative community and formal professional development opportunities. The project isn’t perfect, but it has come a long way, and I’m happy to see the insights, abilities and growth evident in our interns as they become practicing teachers.

I was able to observe Tyler, one of these interns, about a week ago. Tyler is teaching physics and math, and I am happy to say that I am very impressed with his work so far. Here’s why:

Tyler prepared a lessons on waves. Students gathered in available spaces using real coils, observing wave patterns, writing and analyzing their results. Pretty standard so far. As we went back into the classroom, Tyler had a number of approaches to simulate and model the same phenomenon. He used various applets and videos to help explain wave interference. He had students create an iMovie video to record the motion of waves in water. He posted all of these resources to his course wiki. Beyond the use of the newer technologies, Tyler also engaged in the use of the chalkboard and even the overhead projector.

Obviously, using many different tools doesn’t automatically make a lesson great. This fact alone does not engage students. What was important in all of this was how Tyler moved from one resource to the next in response to his students questioning or their lack of understanding. Tyler’s movement from chalkboard, to applet, to wiki, to overhead, etc., demonstrated a deep empathy with the needs of his learners. Simply stated, Tyler was able to choose the most appropriate tool, at the correct moment, in order to engage students and help them best understand very difficult concepts.

While it’s not a new concept, this was a wonderful example of differentiated instruction.

Differentiating instruction means creating multiple paths so that students of different abilities, interest or learning needs experience equally appropriate ways to absorb, use, develop and present concepts as a part of the daily learning process. It allows students to take greater responsibility and ownership for their own learning, and provides opportunities for peer teaching and cooperative learning.

This is a skill that is very difficult, if possible, to master. I’m feeling very good to know that it’s happening in our young teacher population. I’m happy to know that the wise use of technology can help make these experiences happen.

Amnesty International’s Powerful “Unsubscribe” Campaign

Amnesty International have just released a truly powerful film to coincide with the official launch of the unsubscribe campaign.

Waiting For The Guards is the first of 3 films commissioned by Amnesty to highlight the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the “War on Terror”.

The Directors approached the making of the film in a way that has never been done before, choosing to show the reality of Stress Positions in as authentic a way as possible. They filmed a person being put into Stress Positions over a 6 hour period. There is no acting on the part of the “prisoner” – his pain and anguish is for real.

This powerful film shows without doubt that what the US administrations say is interrogation is in reality, torture and must be stopped.

We’ve released the film on the Internet before going to theatrical release in independent cinemas in early 2008. We believe this film is a great introduction to what the unsubscribe movement is all about, so we ask you to get the movie out there, in any way you can.

The more people see it. The more people will be compelled to unsubscribe.

See full quality video here.

Lingro – Interactive Language Learning Tool

Ewan McIntosh points to Lingro, a service which “takes any webpage and then allows you to click on any word in that page to get its translation back into English, Spanish, French, Polish, German or Italian.”

It’s the free, real-world, webpage equivalent of the interactive texts CD-Roms that we used to find handy when I was a pupil at school, but it’s got a far more interactive interface that allows you some real flexibility:

* Zip between languages in a click;
* Listen to the pronunciation of every word;
* Multiple definitions, and examples in use;
* Where a word does not exist, the social media kicks in: you suggest a translation;
* It keeps a record of all the words you’ve had to look up in your wordlist, so that you can go off and learn them yourself.

Very cool! Check out my blog via Lingro, or try Lingro for yourself. This may be the greatest website translation tool since the Web 1.0 Dialectizer.