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The web and the real world… Podcast 2

This week’s podcast focuses on Facebook hijackings, social media & the legal system, Google smoke screens and more.


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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.


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.)

We’re ready, are they?

In the realm of local politics , does social media create a stronger link between constituent and representative? In my analysis of Corey Booker use of social media, I can say that it brought Corey Booker closer to his constituents, but I am not entirely sure it brought them closer to him.

In my travelogue, I showed how well Corey Booker broadcast his activities to the citizens of newark. From youtube, to twitter, to facebook, there are so many ways to stay up to date and be inspired by all the hard work that Mayor Booker is putting in to revive the city. But how well can Corey Booker hear his fans? Is that the purpose of the fan page? I contacted the mayors office numerous times regarding these questions but got no reply.

While I did point out in my two previous posts that Booker did respond to certain comments, the response amounted to Booker asking to converse with the individual off of the page. Why is this? This lead me to think that the page is really just a place for people to sing the praises of booker’s work. Again, Im all for positivity as a means to get people excited and involved, but the dialogic potential of social media was missing. It would be wrong to label facebook as a public space in the traditional understanding of the public sphere. As Lauren pointed out in a comment on my last post, facebook is a great way to aggregate opinion, but the comments that the posts illicit are more often than not those that wouldn’t benefit anyone in policy making.

Overall I would say that the introduction of social media into the political realm is a good thing in that it provides another outlet for citizens to be aware of local issues, but for the time being, the potential of social media for garnering useful feedback is being squandered. Maybe the reps just aren’t ready to encourage their constituents to tell them how they feel…

The Internet as Playground and Factory – International conference

Interesting conference at The New School:

From their site:

On November 12 through 14, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts will host an international conference titled, “The Internet as Playground and Factory,” which will explore the meaning and changing face of labor in the digital era.

The event seeks to advance the conversation about digital media beyond technological advances and commercial applications to touch upon vital issues facing the future of Internet users. For three days, 90 theorists, artists, legal scholars, activists, students, programmers, historians, and social media experts will join to re-evaluate what constitutes unpaid labor, value, leisure, play, fun, and exploitation in an economy that is increasingly driven by the expropriation of all our blogging, data entries in online profiles, and submitted photos and videos. The conference will be comprised of discussions, panels, presentations, a film screening, a playroom, a conference game, and a re-enactment of Facebook by a performance artist.

Location: Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 66 Fifth Avenue

Admission: Register online at http://digitallabor.org/registration/.

What is Google Wave good for?

Hello, I am back! And trying to get back into the groove of things. Please bear with me and help me out… Thanks!

SO, for travelogue 3, I’m thinking of looking at Google Wave. I received an invite a couple of weeks ago and have been playing around in it, still learning about the things one can do in there and trying to figure out why and in what contexts one can use it.

I had a friend ‘Wave at me’ and was able to look at these messages. At first I was confused. The Wave seemed to be a giant chat log of messages that everyone included on the Wave had posted. It didn’t make a lot of sense. What I did notice was that my friend posted small polls during the wave regarding what we thought of Google Wave and whether it would turn out to be useful and what kind of impact it would have. And then carried on a ‘conversation’. People replied to each other, or to different posts, and could correct each others’ posts, and add links and such.


Members or participants in a Wave being polled...

I also discovered a cool feature called ‘Playback’ that replays, step by step, every single thing that happened in the wave, including when people were added to the wave and what messages were added or deleted.

You can replay the interactions in a Wave from start to finish!

You can replay the interactions in a Wave from start to finish!

I’m still trying to figure out if the hype is worth it and if this is something that will really catch on. Here’s an interesting comment from one of the Waves:

collaboration tools are interesting & useful, but doubt this will be a “game changer”. mashing up these techs here is A Good Idea, but as the unworkable length of this particular “Wave” responses shows, it can be problematical as well.

I’m also still trying to figure out the correct lingo and a way to connect with other Wave users (I tried looking for Jason on Wave but was unable to find him). Once I figure that out, maybe we can wave at each other? =)

Some questions I’m looking at:

  • How will this benefit interactions between people – this in contrast with what’s already available out there. How does Wave do it differently from Google Docs or Chat or what-have-you?
  • How can Wave work for education? There are many tools used for classes today – wikis, blogs (like this one!), etc. How will Wave compare?
  • Is it a lot of noise or is there a way to make the chaos work? My first wave seemed like an overload – or was that because I started looking at it later?
  • How is Google Wave going to be different from iGoogle? I already have many ‘gadgets’ in iGoogle that show me my mail, docs, rss feeds, etc. Will Google Wave be the ‘one more thing’ that I have to keep track off??

Oh, and an interesting contender?

In the meantime, wave at me if you can: savasaheli@googlewave.com.

(And yes, let me know if you want an invite. Once they send me a message telling me I can invite people, I will definitely pass it on to as many people as I can!)

Can Social Media Change the Relationship Between Representatives and Consituents in Local Politics?

large_Cory Booker tweets all day longThe website TechPresident.com noted on October 16th that Newark mayor Corey Booker has “833,779 Twitter followers, and 14,768 Facebook supporters.
According to the US Census Bureau the Population of Newark is 281,402 (2006 estimate) which means that Booker has more than 3 times the population of Newark following him on Twitter and the equivalent of 5% of the population of Newark as Facebook supporters.”

To answer the question I will embed myself as a fan of the mayor on facebook and I will follow him on twitter to get an idea of how he uses the two platforms. I would also like to connect with his staff regarding their strategy around using social media, and then connect with his constituents to see what they think of the mayors use of facebook and twitter.
What I am interested in seeing is whether or not local politics is using social media to bridge the gap between representative and constituent or if social media is just being coopted as another broadcast medium.

Questioning log#3 & The Cult of Wikipedia

Hi Class,

For the next two weeks we will be charging directly into the third travelogue. We will also be making a serious critique of Wikipedia and the peer production and 2.0 that we just loooove so much.

By this coming Sunday:

  • Based on the feedback you got, decide on your third travel destination.
  • Dive into the new media environment destination through a post laying out the current events or the relevant timely reference that points into your travelogue. Title your post with the initial question you want to inquire into. Include your initial assumptions for the nature of this environment and its culture. Try to define what norms are officially or unofficially defined within this environment and what possible practices might be used to work with or against these norms to learn more about their nature.
  • If you’re into Twitter (or interested to try it out), you might want to experiment with live micro-blogging as a research tool. If you come up with interesting results and methodologies, share them on our blog
  • Comment on at least three posts.

By Tuesday:

  • Optionally keep us in the know about your progress, this can be a short update or a longer one, or even a short reference to your recent travel (new finding based on comments you got, a new building you sketched up on Google Earth, a Google Wave account you got access to, a recent experience with FourSquare, or whatever) and where next does it direct you
    * Posting a second time this week is encouraged but remember not to over saturate your audience’s short attention span and lack of time.
  • Comment a lot more (at this point I hope you don’t need numbers, numbers will always betray you, you can only trust people…)

Required listening / reading / writing / watching:

  • Jaron LanierDigital Maoism
  • Audio Inteview with Jaron Lanier by Andrew Keen (it’s going on and off between his critique of Wikipedia and Virtual Reality, but the relevant part starts 11:48 through):
  • Read Gabriel’s summaries.
  • Choose one of the responses to Jaron Lanier’s Digital Maoism or one of the 10 theses in the recommended reading
  • Write your own response to the response/theses as a comment to Gabriel’s post

Very Recommended Reading:

For Gabriel:

  • Read the articles responses and listen to the interview
  • Summarize it for us in a nicely accessible post to be published by Sunday at 4:00pm, run some threads between them.
  • Be prepared to present the article and lead the discussion in class. (make some notes for yourself, even share them in a post)
  • Post to del.icio.us some links that expand the discussion either about the text or about key themes in it.