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Category Archives: 3-Travelogue

3rd week of 4th travelogue: Network, Network, Network!

We’re all well ahead in our third and rich travelogue, two weeks in, two more to go + Next week’s subject is Network Theory!

I am not giving you any general instructions this week, as you’re each doing your own thing. I do expect one post from you though, for some it would be a weekly audio / video / visual / locative post, and for some just an update on your longer (video/software…) project (ask me if you feel unsure about what’s expected from you). Either way, each of you please comment 4 times this week on your friend’s posts.

Some important tip for video & audio podcast

  • Video / Audio Formats – iTunes (for both Mac & PC) has an option to ’save for ipod & iphone’ (for video) & to ‘convert to MP3′ (for audio). Both of these options will make your podcasts compatible with most podcasting devices and more accessible by all of us. By the way, to subscribe to our podcast feed use this link with iTunes (or other podcast aggregation):
    http://cultureandcommunication.org/f09/tdm/feed/podcast
  • Be casual, not too casual – I found that some of you have written your text in advanced and are simply reading it out. It works for some of you (most of you actually), but less for others. On the other hand some of you were making it up as you went, which again, worked for some, not for all. I think the recommendations on this site might be relevant both for screencasts, vodcasts and for podcasts. Either way, building a bullet-pointed scenario cannot be a bad idea, as it would leave you some more freedom from the tight text while keeping you on the right track. Remember, you are not making an audio-book.
  • You are beautiful – But ask yourselves, do we really need to see your faces? Maybe we do, but maybe the frame can be better used to support your content visually, screencasts are a good example for that, when they fit. If you don’t really have anything to show, maybe video is not the medium you need, maybe stick to voice only… think about it.
  • Support your media – rich media is rich, but it can’t do everything, for example, it usually cannot link to a site. If you want us to get more informed, link to the relevant content in your posts.
  • Share your experiences – Feel free to comment on this post, or even write a whole new one if you think there are other things you’ve learned that others can enjoy from.
  • Add to the Resources page – Some of the titles there are still unpopulated, we want to document the techniques you are using so they can be shared by all. Please edit the page.

Required Listening + Reading:

Recommended Reading:

Sava:

  • Read the excerpt reviews & response and listen & flip through the slides of the talk.
  • Summarize it for us in a nicely accessible post to be published by Sunday 4pm, ideally running some threads between them.
  • Be prepared to present the article and lead the discussion in class.
  • Post to del.icio.us some links that expand the discussion either about the text or about key themes in it.

Enjoy!

Wave Hello!

So, after spending some time on various education-themed Waves (I had to limit myself because it started becoming a little overwhelming), I haven’t changed my mind drastically regarding the future of Wave. Or have I?

Yes it’s kinda cool.

Yes there’s potential.

Yes I’ve spent more time on Wave than on fb the last few days, believe it!

BUT… it’s still seriously early days. There is excitement, there is buzz – but will it come to anything?

I’m still trying to see it as a serious contender to tools currently being used in support of education and knowledge building. Here are some thoughts…

But first, here is an AWESOME indication of how awesome Wave is!

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Collaborative Note-Taking

So far the only strong case that makes sense to me is for collaborative note-taking. I mentioned this in my earlier post, and I still see this as a strong contender. Having a class all take notes in one place and be able to comment/correct/add multimedia in support of content seems like a really really cool idea. At the end, you have this great resource made up of class notes, additional info, commentary, discussion – all in one place. And I think that it being limited by just the class will keep the Wave to a manageable size.

The structure I see working, which is supported by many who are having this conversation in Wave, is this:

  • The teacher can set up the wave and invite students to it. The Wave could include the outline for the lesson that day – maybe even the slide headings and such that the teacher plans to cover.
  • Provide roles to the students: students can individually or in groups play roles like recording what teacher says (note-taker), spell checking, fact checking, supporting evidence gathering, etc.
  • Students and teachers alike can add comments or questions that don’t get addressed as part of the course of the class – maintaining what is also known as a Backchannel.

This would allow for the whole class to have a great reference in terms of notes for when they need to go over notes for an exam or paper or what-have-you. While the most construction would take place during class, this is something that could continue outside of class – but it isn’t imperative that it does.

A problem that some of the Waves foresee and I agree with, is that there will be slackers who benefit from this. But I think that as with all or most 2.0 stuff, there are always slackers or non-contributors who benefit from things (how many of us have actually done anything on Wikipedia?) Also, some educators talked about forcing kids to participate but others were quick to note that kids don’t like being ‘forced’ into anything.

Whatever the drawbacks, I do think that this is a more productive collaboration tool. I had to contribute to a Wiki for a class and it was really really boring. Even contributing to a blog is not as rewarding (no offense to this class) – the only way I feel engaged is if I have an RSS feed or turn on email notifications for comments. In a Wave – you can see people doing things in real time. There is something extremely compelling about that and I would like to think that it adds to a sense of community and could potentially act as a motivating factor in the collaborative note-taking scenario.

(There doesn’t seem to be a way for updates to a Wave to get to me other than just keeping my Wave window open and monitoring it. As a time-effective method this fails. The only way I can think of is similar to getting email updates, but that is the same as a blog. I’m sure something will come up – or we’ll get as addicted to Wave as we are to FB and keep it open all the time!)

I really really want to test this out in a real life situation and plan to test it with 4 of my classmates in another class. The output of that might be too late to report on in terms of this travelogue (some of them just got their accounts), but I will post my findings and feelings if there’s something interesting.

Assessment

This is a term that is so so so important in education – not always because teachers and educators think it is, but, um, NCLB (and check this and this out too if you’re interested). I won’t say anything more on the subject.

Regardless of the reasons for assessments, they are still a part of our educational reality today. How can Wave support this? I have one word for you: Playback.

Let’s take the collaborative note-taking example. After class, a teacher could playback the Wave to see how students collaborated and which ones did what and how much. A lot of our classes have 10% or 15% of our grade alloted to ‘active class participation’. I still haven’t clearly figured out what that means, but it still seems like a judgement call on the teacher’s (or TA’s) part.

Having said that, the Playback function of a Wave can indicated which students are actively participating in a discussion or as part of the whole Wave. But what about someone who’s role is merely ’spell-checker’ or ‘fact-checker’ you ask? Who said that students had to have the same roles for every class?? Over a period of time, one would be able to see what the dynamics of the whole year or semester look like. I think there is a LOT of potential to this approach.

Overall Comments

I have to say that since my last post, my skepticism is decreasing. But it won’t go away entirely until we can see and show how useful a tool Google Wave is. People were talking about how useful this could be for other uses in business – there was a lawyer who commented about how they could use it to collaboratively build a case file and such. I’m also seeing potential as an ethnographic or qualitative research tool. I do believe that there’s something to Google Wave.

Is it a game changer? I don’t know.

Google Docs was a game changer.

Gmail was a game changer.

Wikis were a game changer.

Blogs were a game changer.

All these tools helped us do what we already do… but better. Google Wave definitely has the potential to add to the general educational environment, but how much? There are already so many tools that support learning in similar ways. I think one of the key characteristics of Wave is that it is real time. Whether it is a serious game changer or not is yet to be seen.

Will I continue to use it? Hells yeah. Maybe even more than FB!

(Note: The interview with the educator using Wave was cancelled because he’s at the EDUCAUSE conference in Denver.)

Concluding Travelogue 3: “Behind the Scenes” or the secondary goals (effects?) of information dissemination

In wrapping up the travelogue, I am trying to think of what lessons I can pull from reading, watching, thinking, and talking with people about new media based campaigns around particular issues, like the case with Mohammad Othman.

Mushon summed up my last musings with this equation:

awareness != solidarity != change

This is obvious, of course, but it doesn’t mean that many activists and others don’t fall into the trap of this formula by thinking that if there is no change it means that not enough awareness has been built.  Just look at NYU student groups as an example. How often are you handed a flyer with an event called “What’s Really Going on in_____?” Of course, we do need and want more information on lots of things, and attending events is one way to get some, but we know its not that simple, and we feel resentful towards the implicit condescension that assumes that we don’t “really know what’s going on in X,” or that we are just empty cars waiting to be filled with informational petrol so that we can drive. Read More »

Wait, Did 4chan Just Enlighten Me? I Feel Dirty.

RageGuy

Rageguy has never been more appropriate in my e-life than right now. This morning, I crafted the most beautiful, brief 4chan post, which generated some great responses from other females on the /b/ forum. I refreshed my page for about a half hour, reading the accumulating responses, and then left my computer for 20 minutes to let the responses build up. When I returned, I was greeted by a lovely 404 message. My post, after a brief life, had died quickly from a lack of interest. It wasn’t receiving enough responses, which meant it wasn’t relevant. Eaten up by posts of boobies and “Where can I find more pictures of this girl?”

I did not take any screen caps of my original post, so it may as well have never existed. Epic Internet fail. Read More »

Travelogue 3 Conclusion – The Future of Wave

News: Google Wave Sandbox is now open for federation

Our Experiences With the Wave

In previous Travelogue entries, we’ve twitted our way into Google Wave, gauged the public’s reaction to it, and tried to critically expose the sociocultural implications of it.  Now that I’ve used Wave a fair amount, I thought it proper to speak about my own experiences in this concluding entry.

I’ve started and joined a number of public waves to interact with/understand Wave’s users as much as to understand the software itself. Using Wave is like starting your freshman year of high school; you’re not quite sure what to expect although you have a preconceived notion that things should be better and new, and after a few visits you realize that its going to be quite a while before you (and your freshman classmates) completely figure things out. In short, this means that there is a serious learning curve.

As Google Wave is currently in preview version, many people do not have familiar users with which they can communicate or collaborate. The average user has to simply follow and create public waves; it seems that the general discourse is about how to use this new tool and what it might mean.

(H-Man)

I tend to slightly disagree with Jason in some respects, although there is a learning curve, I find it fairly easy to use Wave, especially considering the 2.0 IQ of many users nowadays. Eve my grandma (in her late 80’s) has incorporated e-mail into her everyday life (including more complex function such as MP3 attachments and what have you), there is no reason that most of the Internet surfing population would be unable to figure out Google Wave and use it to their advantage in a great number of circumstances. When one thinks of the complicated functions we are able to achieve online now, there is no doubt in my mind that Wave will not be that difficult to figure out.

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Will Wave Catch On?

Ultimately, I think that wave will catch on. However with the “tl;dr” mind state of the internet, people may  put off learning to use Google Wave – or possibly ignore it all together. In the introduction of “The Complete Guide to Google Wave,” (a helpful guide manual by Gina Trapani and Adam Pash), the author(s) explain that “because Wave is mostly a document collaboration tool, the oversimplified email metaphor can mislead new users. The initial Wave experience can feel chaotic and confusing.” I think this echoes a lot of users’ sentiments – especially because of the need to use public waves.

While there is a certain level of convenience with Wave because it takes place in the browser, it seems to be incredibly taxing on my computer’s functionality (a 2-yr-old Macbook). Other programs and browser windows that are simultaneously running with Wave are constantly stalling or freezing. This might serve as a barrier to would-be users.

The conversations in Wave seem to be very cluttered. While the philosophy behind the real-time chatting seems very sound, I would probably advise Google to do away with it. You have people responding to IMs that are unfinished and often changed after responses already come.

Just as any other product, I think that Wave will need to be improved and even simplified via its early adopters.  Perhaps we’ll see a wave platform (the wave version of outlook or thunderbird). Wave will not develop best user practices and standard functions until it’s released to the public, and people begin interacting with “real life” acquaintances that they have the need for functional collaboration with (I for one see Wave monopolizing the process of collaborative note taking).  Make no mistake, because Wave is open source and readily available, I think its widespread adoption is a matter of when rather than if. I’m excited to observe Wave’s evolution.

(H-Man)

Right now, there is little to point to Wave actually becoming the true dominant platform online (as it is still at the trial stage, it is not nearly perfected yet), but it does show some serious promise. By combining pretty much all aspects of Internet communication (email, chatting, blogging, picture sharing) on one open source platform, Google certainly provides an incentive for people to sign up for it.  After messing around with the platform and watching the introduction presentation, it is not as complicated as it may seem. Once the concept of inviting everyone to the same conversation or project rather than sending out individual messages to each member is understood, the rest seemed to fall in place for me.  It is definitely more complicated than email, but by now even our grandmothers have incorporated email into their daily lives, so the incorporation of Google Wave would be fairly swift if it were to take off.

Of course, as advantageous as this may be for users (if the platform becomes more mainstream and users are accustomed to it), it is immensely advantageous to Google, as they would have a virtual monopoly, forcing companies to compete with them using their own software.  By creating such a potentially revolutionary platform, Google is trying to force the Internet to follow them, rather than the other way around. As afore mentioned, Google would be seen as a real pioneer in the (so far quite short) history of the Internet.

In short, Wave is still a pipe dream, and there are critics (Google did hype it as the 2.0 coming of Christ…), but despite Google’s plan for Internet (or world…) domination through it, it seems to be a very effective tool that truly could revolutionize online social interaction and collaborative document creation.

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Tips:

  • To find a public wave search with:public in your wave-search window
  • To begin a public wave, add public@a.googlewave.com as a contact; begin a new wave and give that username access.

Wanted: An iPhone + More Friends

 

Foursquare has arrived (a Foursquare Halloween costume).

Foursquare has arrived (a Foursquare Halloween costume).

Before I go make my concluding remarks about Foursquare, I want to first mention another development I learned of this week, very relevant to our class (not necessarily brand new, but this was reported on two weeks ago by TechCrunch):

Foursquare is implementing more and more peer-production! Very active Foursquare users can earn the label “Superuser,” made up of three levels – each allowing greater access to participate in the development of certain aspects of the site.

- Level 1: Users are able to edit venues (including names and cross streets), mark places as “closed,” and note duplicates. 

- Level 2 (added two weeks ago): Users are able to merge venues themselves when there are duplicates. 

- Level 3 (not added yet): Likely to contain elements such as adding badges and policing other users. 

According to TechCrunch: “Shortly after the group of users got upgraded to Level 2, founder Crowley noted that ’we had some 2000+ duplicate venues in the system 30 mins ago. We’re [now] down to 400.’ He followed up shortly after that noting, ‘it took less than 2 hours for users to go thru 90% of our merge queue.” 

Benkler (and the new media elite) would be proud. This seems like an efficient use of user participation for a start-up with only four employees. With users willing to help edit and produce Foursquare content, Foursquare themselves can focus on bigger issues. 

Now some concluding remarks on my adventures with Foursquare:

Read More »

History Repeats Itself: Microsoft to Apple, Apple to Google

Although my travelogue has sought to establish a grounding for the battle between Verizon’s new Android phone and At&t’s Apple iPhone, I think that that there are so many minute aspects that contribute to the battle to encompase it in such a short travelogue.  Especially without extensive reviewing of the new device  by both the public and the media, it’s hard to see where the larger populous stands.  I’ve found it strange that I seem to have witnessed myself becoming more of a spokesperson for the Droid device even though I haven’t seen or played with the actual device myself.  I have had the chance to use the iPhone extensively and do understand the appeal to such a device, and have bought into the hype only to the extent to which I own its little brother, the iPod Touch.  Read More »

#lettertomyex: Goodnight Twitter Trending Topics

Humor me and listen to the video below as you read my last installment of Twitter Trending Topics (TTT) hell.

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Picture that the singer is actually TTT, insisting in a very creepy way that I just don’t understand him.  He lurks outside my computer window(s) and I reject his advances.  He won’t let me let him down so easily.  No, I’ve gotta spend some time.

There are loads of other, independent software services taking advantage of TTT’s apparently polyamorous and obsessive ways.  Some are devoted only to TTT and not his mother, Twitter.  I checked out brizzly.com at the urging of one Mushon, but you need an invite (I’ve applied.)  By the looks of what they show in the preview area, the most useful feature is a follower mute button, whereby you may shut someone up, but not completely stop following them.  Might be useful for your mother, or maybe Jay Rosen.

Another site, this one hopelessly devoted to TTT, comes from an ex of mine–the wonderful PR agency, Waggener Edstrom.  Their site, Twendz, attempts to measure tweet sentiment.  Here is a nearly real-time screenshot:

PR agency, Waggener Edstrom, gets intimate with the TTT hive.

PR agency, Waggener Edstrom, gets intimate with the TTT hive.

The topic I selected to examine from the list of “hot topics” (seemed fairly synced with TTT) was #theworst. Since Twendz measures by positive (green bar), neutral (white) and negative (red), I thought a topic about “the worst” would be funny. Would the algorithm read anything positive about “the worst”? To be fair, Wagged makes it clear that this puppy is in beta (sounds like Google!) and that, much like the Turing Test we’ve read about, the Twendz brain does not recognize sarcasm. So my choice of topic is rather torturous.

I froze the Twendz screen after I clicked on the neutral bar which highlighted the neutral tweets essentially occurring “right now” on that topic.  Notice the final “neutral” tweet: trending topics…boring.  That tweet says it all.  The idea of Twendz is cool though, in the same way I thought this travelogue topic would be cool.

Steven Levy at Wired might think TTT is cool, too…

“It [tweet search] means anyone can monitor the hottest current topic of discussion or simply get a sense of what people are saying, in real time…” (149).

Funny, he doesn’t touch on why this ability might be important.  He calls the hack of the search functionality  ”the most transformative” for Twitter and backs it up with some economic proof, but not what we can DO with the hack.  I took this for granted, too.  In fact, I chose to ignore search news last week (Google, Bing partner with Twitter) in favor of TTT.  Yet, the time I’ve spent with TTT makes me realize this was a poor choice.  Search is interesting, and many aspects of Twitter are interesting.  A window into the hive mind is the opposite of interesting.

I’m not even sure “the sense” of trends generated by the users of Twitter, and measured by so many, provide any real economic value.  It seems more direct forms of research (focus groups, surveys, real-time viewing meters, etc.), although flawed in well-studied ways, would be more effective.  The stupidity of the mass is just too strong to overcome in TTT.  I say this with a deep affection for Twitter, as a whole.

The services I use around Twitter (mostly TweetDeck) are valued most for their ability to let me get more granular with my tweet stream.  I categorize, search, read and tweet all from one friendly interface.  I do not, in my normal usage, look at TTT.  Now, I know why.

One last disturbing note, in the form of a desperate plea from Twitter founder Ev Williams :

“We want to make Twitter indispensable, so it tells people what they want to know and hopefully not much else” (151).

That doesn’t sound desperate.  In fact, kind of like the Death Cab for Cutie song, it sounds nice.  The melody of the words fit the sweet strains of the simple interface we love in Twitter.  Listen closely though, and you might think about the Greenfield video from Picnic.  The technology is telling us what we need and want, not the other way around.  Perhaps this is why I reject TTT.

I’ve known plenty of smart audiences or masses.  Ask anyone who loves live theater.  The Twitter technology is telling us we are dumb, and this is tough to see because it is using our collective inputs.  That phrase “collective input” is also a key difference from other “smart mass” scenarios.  Basically, I’m swimming in Lanier water here, and find it cold, as well.  Time to dry off and file a restraining order against TTT.

Levy, Steven. “Twitter’s founders created a simple messaging service.  Its users turned it into something huge.  So the question now: Who’s in charge?” Wired Nov. 2009: 146-151.

Concluding remarks on kaChing

I liked the way this travelogue turned out, even though my method of inquiry kept changing from week to week. I suppose that was the point; I seem to recall Mushon telling us that we should refrain from having it too mapped-out beforehand, and to be open to opportunities to derive… This travelogue was, in my mind, a success, because events in real-time had an immediate impact on the direction of my inquiry. I would not have created the mash-up had I not been forced to reevaluate my stance on the mirage of permeability (explained in my previous post); I would not have reevaluated this stance were it not for the sudden attention my 2nd post attracted from the co-founder; and I wouldn’t have written the 2nd post at all if the markets were in my favor that very morning! (That was the day that Google and Apple stocks tanked– my virtual portfolio lost about $100,000 in value that day.)

It’s about 6:40 a.m. and the markets are still closed. However, I can tell some of you have been playing my little mash-up game, because I have 111 queued trades for when the market opens: mostly in buying Google, Motorola, and Nokia stock. Let’s examine this. A brief crawl of the news over the weekend shows that Nokia has been getting a lot of attention over their upcoming lawsuit against Apple (over the patent of the iPhone) and that they are shutting down support for their proprietary mobile game platform, N-Gage. However, the biggest piece of news comes from Google’s announcement that they will be taking over the GPS data market, incorporating the data-gathering methods of the Google Earth project into the open source Android platform, creating powerful competition with companies like Garmin, Tom Tom, and Nokia itself. In fact, the day Google made that announcement, Garmin and Tom Tom stock tanked. (Nokia’s losses this week were not especially alarming, and cannot be attributed to “news shock,” but Nokia is an industry giant with it’s fingers in so many other pies than GPS data trafficking!)

The terrain being outlined, let’s look to Twitter to see if we can make any predictions for today’s market rollercoaster… Checking out the latest Twitter feed on Nokia, we see that 1) people are buzzing about the n97, a new smartphone offering, 2) Nokia has made some improvement to its voice searching capabilities, and 3) a lot of the twitter chatter is in languages other than English (which reflects on just how large Nokia is in markets overseas, even though it no longer has a large chunk of market share here). Breaking news and Twittersphere Chatter seems to infer that today will be a day to watch Nokia on the stock exchange. Given the fact that Nokia closed on Friday at an almost 3-month low, it might be a great time to buy Nokia if we believe that all this buzz generated around the company will put its stock is on the rebound. By visiting my mash-up game, we have collectively made this very decision; let’s see if it pans out!

In response to a few comments. If anything, I have (or rather, had) high hopes for kaChing in teaching about investing. Also, given its origin as a Facebook application, it has situated itself in the ideal spot for such a project. I took a few moments surfing the bulletin boards on kaChing to get a feel for who was discussing, and what their tone of interaction implies about what brings them to kaChing. I do notice a lot of discussion by people with a real stake in the company (co-founders, “genius traders”, etc.) with some response from the community-at-large. However, I don’t have any specific demographic data about the make-up of that community-at-large. I would be curious to know home many of them were students vs. how many were young professionals. It’s unclear.

Thanks a lot, everyone, for your comments/feedback! This was a lot of fun– I hope my next travelogue is equally, if not more, inspiring. :)

Concluding Travelogue 3- FTC Rules on Blogging

Last week, I took a look at the ways in which blog writers have reacted to FTC’s proposed rule changes concerning blogger compensation, paid endorsements and gifts.  The proposed rule changes led to a vocal outcry from many bloggers, and sparked a debate amongst the many voices writing on the web.

Shifting gears this week, I want to explore the reaction of newspapers and cable news outlets to the proposed changes.  In particular, I want to see if these news outlets make any mention of the fact that traditional journalists are exempted from these new regulations.

Lets start with everyone’s favorite go-to news source, the New York Times. In an article dated October 5, 2009- Soon, Bloggers Must Give Full Disclosure.  Most notable about this article is the tone it takes regarding the Internet and regulation.  Whereas many blogs took issue with the FTC rules seemingly applied haphazardly to advertiser and bloggers, while not applying to traditional journalists, the New York Times article believes this move it intended to open the Internet to further scrutiny and regulations more in line with newspaper and television.  The Times quotes Clay Shirky stating, “It crushes the idea that the Internet is separate from the kinds of concerns that have been attached to previous media.”  The article takes the tone that bloggers days of receiving free products or sponsorships are over, and that it the new regulations will increase accountability amongst bloggers.

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