D’Arcy Norman’s 2007/365

Wow, just wow. D’Arcy has inspired me once again.

I just completed my “2007/365″ project, where I took at least one photograph per day for the entire year. I didn’t realize going in just how hard it would be, but it forced me to see things differently and I did learn to be a bit more proficient with the technical aspects of photography.

D’Arcy has produced an amazing collection of photos, and it was addicting watching this presentation. It is really time I dusted off my Canon 30D. Thanks D’Arcy.

Check out D’Arcy’s work here.

A Copyright Carol

Watch this excellent, year-end video from Galacticast which does well to explain some of the basic issues of the proposed DMCA legislation in Canada.

The Galacticast netshow has produced a great little end-of-year short calling on Canadians to fight the Canadian DMCA in the coming year. This is the on-again/off-again US-inspired copyright act that Industry Minister Jim Prentice wrote without any input from Canadian interest groups, making it into a kind of wish-list for US-based entertainment giants.

The episode parodies many, many science fiction classics (and the host sports a nifty DMZ tee from The Secret Headquarters!) and does a good job of laying out the basic issues in funny, easy-to-understand ways.

via BoingBoing.

The Curse of Knowledge

Last October, I spoke to a group of PhD and Masters level students on new and emerging collaborative methods of research (e.g., social software tools) in education. I have done the spiel many times before, and I know that not everyone gets it (or cares to get it for that matter). This time, I approached the session differently. I slowed down, and I limited the many possibilities to just a few, manageable choices. After the session, a colleague, who has seen this same presentation several times, commented to me that it was the best way in which I had ever approached the topic and he had the sense that the majority of students were really excited about the possibilities.

Simple Remote Control

Today’s NYT Article Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike helped consolidate some of the thoughts I’ve had since then.

Andrew S. Grove, the co-founder of Intel, put it well in 2005 when he told an interviewer from Fortune, “When everybody knows that something is so, it means that nobody knows nothin’.” In other words, it becomes nearly impossible to look beyond what you know and think outside the box you’ve built around yourself.

The above concept may sound simple, but I can not assume so. A lot of what I teach sounds simple to me, but I must be deliberate here to say that many of the ideas we find simple are in fact not simple, in both the conceptual understanding and actualization of these concepts. If they were that simple, I would be out of a job. And unless we understand how our ideas sound to others, we may actually be causing more harm than good in creating the changes in schools, pedagogy and practice we seek. Consider the following as it may relate to your educational context.

This so-called curse of knowledge, a phrase used in a 1989 paper in The Journal of Political Economy, means that once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do. Your conversations with others in the field are peppered with catch phrases and jargon that are foreign to the uninitiated. When it’s time to accomplish a task — open a store, build a house, buy new cash registers, sell insurance — those in the know get it done the way it has always been done, stifling innovation as they barrel along the well-worn path.

Other related ideas can be found in The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. The book is a few years old, but the ideas are relevant. If you haven’t watched Schwartz’s TED Talk, do so.

The Paradox of Choice is a popularization of components of decision-theory. The underlying thesis reflects the paradox “that more choices may lead to a poorer decision or a failure to make a decision at all.” Schwartz argues that with so many options to choose from, people find it difficult to choose at all. This paradox produces paralysis rather than liberation.

So what does this all mean in our world of Web 2.0 tools, where there are dozens of ways to blog, wiki, podcasts and screencast?. Does this influence how we facilitate our courses or our professional development opportunities? What does this mean for our own personal practice?

I know I have to think about this more. Help me. What are your thoughts?

Digital Footprint: Where Do You Fit In?

The PEW/Internet report Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency was recently released. In the summary of findings, they divide online adults into four distinct categories based on their online privacy (footprint) concerns.

1) Confident Creatives are the smallest of the four groups, comprising 17% of online adults. They say they do not worry about the availability of their online data, and actively upload content, but still take steps to limit their personal information.

2) The Concerned and Careful fret about the personal information available about them online and take steps to proactively limit their own online data. One in five online adults (21%) fall into this category.

3) Despite being anxious about how much information is available about them, members of the Worried by the Wayside group do not actively limit their online information. This group contains 18% of online adults.

4) The Unfazed and Inactive group is the largest of the four groups—43% of online adults fall into this category. They neither worry about their personal information nor take steps to limit the amount of information that can be found out about them online.

So, where do you fit in?

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I found this great comedic version of the 12 days of Christmas via Kara’s weblog. Kara is a former student of mine, and it’s great to see that she is still posting.

I’m surprisingly busy for this time of year, but I am hoping to get at least one meaninful post out before the New Year. Until then, I’d just like to wish everyone that comes by this post (and of course, all of my regular readers if I have any) a very happy and safe holiday season!

And if you’re really bored, check out Handbell Hero … hours of fun.

Paul Otlet – Tratado de Documentación

This is a short but interesting video describing excerpts from Paul Otlet’s “Tratado de Documentación”, the Book on the Book. This work seems to predict multimedia content distribution much in the way the Internet currently provides.

From Wikipedia:

Paul Otlet also aimed to extract “substance” from books much like we strive to separate content from presentation on the Web, and then cross-link this substance with other contents and automatically provide enriched combinations in ways unforeseen by the original book authors. This vision is strikingly similar to Tim Berners-Lee’s late-1990s concept of the Semantic Web.

The video on Otlet fits really well with this ad from Nokia titled “The Essay”.

Being Familiar With Popular/Internet Media

How many of these videos or references are you familiar with? How many do you think the “average” teenager would recognize?

How familiar should we be with the popular media of our children/students? Does it matter? Did it matter when it was mostly television? Should we bother? How should we (e.g., teachers, parents) approach this topic/issue?

Obviously, I don’t have the answers. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Love Letters

This is a brilliant example of story telling, and one that uses no spoken words. This is quite powerful, wonderfully rich and would be an excellent piece for deconstruction, analysis or reproduction.

An unusually tense game of Scrabble unfolds in this directing exercise for the Columbia University MFA Film program. Directed by Mary Gillen. Starring Sandy Nisson and Harry Shaw. Special Thanks to Thomas Woodrow.

What Makes A Message Compelling?

There’s an interesting article at ars technica titled, “YouTube users prefer lousy science over the real deal“. The article briefly summarizes a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which reports the quality and veracity of information available from Internet-based sources. More specifically, the study focused on the information on immunization found on Youtube.

153 videos related to immunization were identified, categorized and analyzed. Researchers looked for a correlation between the type of message in the video (whether it supported immunization programs, was ambiguous, or was critical of immunization) and the rating and number of comments it received in Youtube. “Compared with positive videos, negative videos were more likely to receive a rating, they had a higher mean star rating and more views.” In other words, videos critical of the official immunization program were more popular and more highly rated.

While I’m more than just a bit skeptical of the conclusion, ars technica summarizes:

The big message in the data, however, appears to be that viewers don’t find the information being put out by public health authorities compelling at all. Even among the positive videos (which were poorly viewed and rated), public service announcements grabbed the smallest audience and the worst ratings; even among videos with a small audience, they stood out as being ignored.

So what makes a message compelling? If the message rejects traditional thinking, is it more likely to be compelling? Is this what make conspiracy theory videos so attractive? If this is true, what does this mean for teaching? Should we put more emphasis on bring alternative messages into our classroom in order to critique and analyze them? Are we already doing this? Sounds like a great opportunity for critical thinking and critical media literacy.