I often toyed with the notion of incorporating computer games in the classroom but never got very far due to various constraints. Luckily, Mr. Mackenty has provided an excellent resource for those wanting to use computer games in their teaching. There are some excellent ideas here, and it’s something I’d love to incorporate into my ECMP 355 technology integration course.
I’ve been busy … and I notice that when I am busy, my “I’ve gotta blog this!” threshold increases to the point that very few things become “blog-worthy” to me. However, after looking at a recent article in Wired titled “Web 2.0 Cracks Start To Show” and then coming across the comical “Web Two Point Oh!” create-your-own-Web-2.0-company generator, a couple of ideas started to form.
Although I’ve embraced and promoted many of the ideals of Web 2.0, I’ve generally been avoiding the term. I’m not sure why, but I have been. Perhaps, it’s about the rapid change that it causes. Think about it. In the past couple of years I’ve:
– moved from Moveable Type to WordPress, while toying with Drupal, Elgg, Manilla, and using services such as Edublogs, Blogger, Blogs.com …
– shared photos and information on Flickr, Shutterbook, Yahoo 360, Hi5, MySpace …
– tried and adopted social bookmarking services such as del.icio.us, Furl, Spurl, Jots, Memestream, Stumbleupon …
– documented/published my personal library holdings through services such as LibraryThing and Delicious Monster …
– organized my life and data through services such as RememberTheMilk and gDisk …
– participated and setup various Wikis for courses using MediaWiki and PBWiki, as well as participated with online sharing apps such as Writely, Writeboard …
– moved to and from many distros of Linux including Fedora, Suse, Ubuntu, Edubuntu, Knoppix, LiveLamp …
– attempted several recording hacks for recording podcast conversations via Skype with the EdTech Posse …
– experimented with soooooo much more … I am sure I have many lost accounts, and failed attempts at social-ness sprawled all over the Web 2.0-osphere.
So yea … I’ve been busy. Has Web 2.0 made my life easier? Definitely not. Only, much more complicated. Does Web 2.0 have the potential to make my life better? Yes, I still think so.
The Wired article reports the potential cracks in Web 2.0, most of the things we already know and cringe about, such as wikispam, splogs, googlebombing, abuse of Google Adsense. The article goes on to blame most of these issues primarily on “human nature, and less with the qualities of bottom-up, online media.” But several other “cracks” come to mind, such as:
– Redundant/similar services: I never thought I’d say it, but choice CAN be a bad thing. I think this is sort of what Dean was getting at in one of his latest podcasts, and I have to agree. For instance, I could never commit myself to one social bookmark manager … I’ve tried them all … and for me, because of two many choices, in this case, I’ve also abandoned them all.
– Rapid /Redesign: In some cases, just when I get to know a particular program/service, the design changes, or new features emerge.
– Keeping Up With The Hacks: In other cases, when the necessary features in a program aren’t available soon enough, someone writes a hack that gives the additionally functionality. This is great, however, trying to keep up with this all can be tough. I’ve long given up trying to keep up with all the Google Maps hacks, for instance.
– Updates: Keeping a “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” lifestyle can be difficult when you have to update all of your server-installed components. For instance, I probably have a dozen WordPress blogs which I haven’t fully updated or applied the latest spam filters. Updating software, keeping everything up-to-date, and keeping everything secure is very time-consuming.
– Forking: Whether it’s software forking or content forking, the results can be confusing, and frustrating. For instance, we’ve recently adopted Etomite as our in-house web content manager. It’s been good, and we’re happy so far. However, our developers have just recently noticed a fork of Etomite called MODx CMS which may be a solution to some of Etomite’s shortfalls, but still remains light in other areas. So, do we make the migration? And if so, what impact does that make on our developers and users? And of course, who is to say that something entirely better does not come around the corner two minutes later. Change is good, but utterly exhausting to implement and manage.
As I click through the “Web Two Point Oh!” generator I mentioned above, I humour myself in thinking that a lot of these generated terms and companies actually make sense. For me, although Web 2.0 is radically different in it’s approach than it’s predecessor/co-exister, what seems to be familiar is the rapid influx of companies and products, often reminiscent of the dot com era. Will we see the same type of bust in interest, development and revenue? I doubt if, this time, it will be anything close to the previous disaster. However, if anything busts, it may simply break at the level of human interest, cognition and more so, attention.
It’s still interesting to read the article by Goldhaber titled “The Attention Economy and the Net“. In the article, the author posits â€œAttention, at least the kind we care about, is an intrinsically scarce resourceâ€. He continues, â€œInformation Economyâ€ is inaccurate, and that the Internet economyâ€™s greatest commodity is in fact, attention. With the rapid development that Web 2.0 pushes forth, the many new services/products/forks developed each day, and the the confusion that this may bring, I would have to agree.
Or maybe it’s because I am on “this” side of Web 2.0. I am not simply a user looking for “the good enough” or the “it works” solution. For some reason, I am bent on finding the best-of-breed solutions, the products or services that supercede all … the Ginsu of all tools. Yet, sometimes I long for those days when I simply used what worked … when PowerPoint was simply a tool, and using it was not a contradictory gesture to my position on proprietary software. And I guess that’s the difference. It’s all about perspective, and perhaps those that are the most confused, are simply those who need to be.
OpenOffice.org 2.0 (formerly known as OpenOffice) has been officially released today.
OpenOffice.org 2.0 is the productivity suite that individuals, governments, and corporations around the world have been expecting for the last two years. Easy to use and fluidly interoperable with every major office suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0 realises the potential of open source.
With new features, advanced XML capabilities and native support for the OASIS Standard OpenDocument format, OpenOffice.org 2.0 gives users around the globe the tools to be engaged and productive members of their society.
Download OpenOffice.org here.
MicroPersuasion’s list of Ten RSS Hacks has been a fairly popular hit in the blogosphere over the last couple of days, and for those wanting to make more of their RSS utilization, there are some good tips here.
A couple of my favorites include:
3) Merge Several RSS Feeds Into One, Then Stick it on Your Firefox Bar
Like most bloggers, I subscribe to PubSub, Google Blog Search and Technorati search feeds for my name. I combine these all into a single feed using FeedShake and then stick the feed in my Firefox bookmarks toolbar as a Live Bookmark. The result is this nice drop down.
On that note, for a great list of RSS mixers (including FeedShake), be sure to check out Alan’s great post on this topic.
6) Build a Library of Search Feeds in a Heartbeat with gada.be
Last week I talked about gada.be – a new metasearch tool. Gada.be is terrific for setting up a series of blog, news and web search feeds with just a single step instead of ten. I am going to use this method for every new client we sign. Simply type the search term and tack on gada.be/opml. For example, microsoft.gada.be/opml. Save this page to your desktop as an OPML file (be sure to add an â€œ.opmlâ€ extension). Then just import this file into your favorite aggregator and bingo, you’re set.
I’m really liking that gada.be service, so if you don’t use it specifically for this, it’s worth checking out regardless.
I’ve been waiting on this for a while now, and thanks to Peter Rock for giving me the heads up. The first release of Edubuntu, an educational version of Ubuntu Linux, is now available for download.
Edubuntu is a flavour of the [WWW] Ubuntu operating system, which is optimised for classroom use. It has been developed in collaboration with teachers and technologists around the world. The aim of Edubuntu is that an educator with limited technical knowledge and skill should be able to set up a computer lab, or establish an on-line learning environment, in an hour or less, and then administer that environment without having to become a fully-fledged Linux geek. This is our first step towards that goal.
Ubuntu is one of my favorite distributions of Linux, and I have great expectations for this educationalized version. If you are looking for an excuse to try Linux for the classroom, do yourself a favour and download/install Edubuntu. It may be one of the easiest steps into the Linux environment.
On one of our Edtech Posse podcasts, I mentioned that I use my Gmail account less for mail, and moreso for its file storage capacity. As I am primarily a Mac user, I use a neat little application called gDisk.
gDisk is a software that turns your GMail account into a portable hard drive so you can always have your important files accessible accross the Internet.
Remember The Milk was released yesterday as a beta, and I’m really impressed so far. The application allows you to manage To-Do Lists online, and automate reminders via RSS, SMS, instant messaging, email or iCal synchronization (I probably need all of the above). Of course, with any good social-based application, the to-do lists can be shared and published.
I’m liking the functionality of Remember The Milk, and the interface is clean and user-friendly. Oh yea, it’s free as well, and certainly worth a look.
Google has released an RSS reader service titled Google Reader. Well I imported my feeds in from my Shrook account, and maybe it’s the initial user demand, but so far it’s dreadfully slow. And now that I take a look at the interface, and while it’s somewhat Gmail-like, I’m not liking this approach at all in regards to aggregator usability.
Maybe I will come back next week to take a better look. For now, I’ll stick with Shrook.
There’s been several web applications mentioned recently in the blogosphere. Rick Schwier notes that Writeboard is useful for creating collaborative content. Writely and Jotspot Live look like similar services. SynchroEdit looks promising as well as it’s an open source synchronous editing tool which acts similarly to the previously mentioned. So many to choose from.
There’s the useful Web Applications List which features many other web-based applications. Many of these may be familiar, and some are sure to be new to most readers.
I didn’t noticed Ning on the list, a new online service focused on building social applications. Alan Levine has a useful description of the Ning service.
So many tools, coming out so quickly, with so many commonalities. How about someone develop a tool that helps my brain actually keep this stuff in order?