So the G3 conference by and for grad students now has a wiki for the continued collaboration around the presentations. I set one up with SeedWiki, which is much improved since the last time I used it. The grad students who attended seem to be interested in continuing to talk and share... let's see where it goes! I posted some of the notes I took at the various presentations up there... I suggest checking them all out, and for the social software anonymous bunch, particularly David Shaenfield's talk "Share and Share Alike? A “People Knowledge” Approach to a Collaborative Resource Sharing Process" - people knowledge, Friendster, ethnoclassification, and sharing research among grad students. It's about 1/2 way down the page.
October 2004 Archives
Today and tomorrow I'm attending (and presenting at) Gigabytes, Ghouls, & Grad Students, the first CCTE doctoral conference on tech and education. It was orgainzed by a couple of grad students in my department - Dana and Manu - and professors are verboten, so it's really a way for grad students to present their work (and especially works in progress) to fellow students and get feedback, which is a great idea in the spirit of sharing. Sadly, no conference backchannel discussions going on - wireless in the room is spotty (at least for me), and anyway only 5 students out of 30 or so have laptops with them. Which, given that these are all tech students and were alerted to the fact that they'd have wireless access, is a little weird. Or maybe not... my presentation tomorrow is actually going to deal with some preliminary results from data that I collected over the summer on the technology practices of liberal arts college students, and the most interesting thing that's popped out at me so far is that not only do the students not use technology in the space of the classroom, that's ok with them. More on this later.
This morning I woke up thinking politics (hard not to do these days). It is just so horribly frightening to think of the message that will be sent if we, the American people, sanction another four years of the Bush regime. Alex is thinking along the same lines. Hod sent me a link to Votergate, his friend's documentary on the voting machine scandal. It's getting some good buzz around the web. The website sums it up thus:
Votergate is the investigative documentary feature film uncovering the truth about new computer voting systems, which allow a few powerful corporations to record our votes in secret. But Votergate is not just a warning. The film strongly concludes that elections are harder to defraud when voters turn out in big numbers.
The moral of the story being, vote! (and wouldn't it be nice if TC gave us election day off, to encourage people to do so, like the freakin' rest of Columbia?) And maybe it won't be politics as usual.
Update: if all of this has got you feeling down, play the Give Bush a Brain Game. It's a riot! One good thing in all this is the outpouring from the artistic community in recent months. :)
'til ski season begins. The snow is already falling at Killington:
One of the things I miss the most about living in Vermont is being able to ski every weekend. I did most of my skiing at a little place called the Middlebury Snow Bowl - as an employee of the college, I got a cheap season pass, and would often ski both days on the weekend (yes yes, I had nothing else to do. but anyway.). Skiing is for me as much about the pristine silence of the snow and the mountain - being a part of the mountain - as going fast downhill.
Anyway, since moving to the city I only get on the mountain a couple of times a winter. I'll be in Vermont for at least a week in January and plan to ski as much as possible. Skiing partners welcome! :)
Brian Lehrer is interviewing Adam Curry about podcasting right now on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Adam says that it makes sense for conventional broadcasters to starting podcasting: "it fuctions as Tivo on the radio." Brian asks: how does making mp3 audio available on websites differ from podcasting? Adam: have to click on the link and get it to download, then sit and listen to it at the computer, or transfer it to your mp3 player. podcasting just streamlines that process.
I was introduced to the concept of ethnoclassification over the weekend, and so was pleased to run across this ethnoclassification primer (via MANE IT News): Metadata for the masses. From what I understand, ethnoclassifcation refers to metadata tags that arise from the data (actually, are imposed by those who create the data) rather than tags that are imposed from above. Del.icio.us (ex. CCTE Distributed Research) and Flickr (ex. my photos) are the two sites that are being pointed to as employing this method, and from the sounds of it, we'll be seeing more soon.
Just back from two wildly stimulating days in LA (intellectually stimulating, where is your mind?), where I got to chat about social software with a lot of cool, clueful people. My head's still spinning (partly from jet lag, I imagine) but I feel reinvigorated which is a great thing indeed. Will have more to say once I have some time to digest. In the meantime, peruse the very few photos that I took. Jason has some photos up here, and Richard's are here.
And this week, on to the next conference...
I was just taking a break from reading to do a little websurfing, when I came across this article about Vermont blogger Jerome Armstrong via Jessymn. Along with a story about the myDD blogger, the article runs a sidebar with 4 interesting Vermont bloggers (including the aforementioned Jessymn). The last blogger on the list caught my attention:
Morgan Brown is prolific for a blogger who posts only on public terminals. The 48-year-old Montpelier man has been homeless, off and on, for 31 years.
Brown blogs at several sites, including his home blog, Norsehorse's Home Turf: Living Homeless, Yet Never Hopeless... Recent posts on his blog talk about local and national politics, art, people he meets in his travels, and a course of study at a local college. Certainly gives me another perspective on blogging, and an appreciation for public libraries (ask your representatives about why e-Rate has been frozen!).
So I'm in two classes this semester that require me to post to a CMS-style discussion board. One class requires that I post 3 "items" a week; the other asks that students answer a specific question every two weeks. For the class that requires 3 postings, we've been told that it's really a "space for students" that the professor won't engage in or really even look at much, if at all - although participation apparently does make up a part of our grade. On the face of it, that sounds pretty good, right? "A space for students," how pedagogically sound, how constructivist even! A place for students to explore their own knowledge, to collaborate with others!
Needless to say, I haven't posted often to that board, and I'll tell you the reason that occured to me this morning. Each week, in addition to the discussion assignment, we're assigned to read 4 lengthy, often dense, articles, and write a short paper on the reading in the form of a research proposal. And I have 3 other classes to prepare for as well, on top of all of the other things that this way overcommitted grad student has gotten herself into. But I'll tell ya what. I think the biggest reason that I'm not posting isn't the time committment in and of itself; it's that in the context of this classroom, books and lectures are still seen as the primary, most important mode of learning, as evidenced by the proportion of time spent on that as opposed to discussion (online or offline). Learning in this mode is a solitary endeavor, all too familiar from years and years of learning from books and lectures. If this prof really wanted us to spend time on the discussion board, I think 2 things would have to change: 1) he'd have to balance it out with the other assignments in terms of time, which would entail 2) valuing the discussion board component and collaborative knowledge building as much as the books and lecture component. And there's the issue, of course; belief structures a devil to change. I know this is pretty much old hat to a lot of people - well, duh, Sarah! I hear the 3 people who read this blog saying - but it's enlightening when these themes connect to personal experience. Really drives it home, like Ortiz for the Red Sox last night. (sorry, couldn't help it. Go Sox!)
Skype is free Internet telephony that just works. Skype is for calling other people on their computers or phones. Download Skype and start calling for free all over the world.
It does more than voice chat, however; from the full description on the website, it seems to include all of the features that come with a full-blown IM app: text chat, file transfer, etc. Interesting that they're pushing the Internet telephony angle... I wonder if they're considering that as the hook that would entice people away from popular IM services. Well, and it does include a service that lets you talk to landlines and cell phones using Skype, for a fee. It's available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Pocket PC, which is cool. If nothing else, it looks super slick:
Let me know if you decide to start Skyping!
By examining the many terms used to describe today's 'social software' we can also explore the origins of social software itself, and see how there exists a very real life cycle concerning the use of technical terminology.
So I was poking around the Daypop Top 40 to see what interesting things bloggers have been talking about when I came across a blog called Boycott Sinclair Advertisers. It's a meta-blog of sorts, pointing to stories in the mainstream media and on blogs and rallying the troops around Sinclair Broadcasting's intent to air an anti-Kerry film right before the election. I was particularly interested to see the list of advertisers promised in the title, and found it via a link in the blogroll to Sinclair Advertiser Database. If one were to boycott every corporation on the extensive list, one would have to walk around, barefoot, unwashed and covered in a nature-provided material of their choosing (I hear that woven grass loinclothes are making a comeback), eat roots and berries, and tend to their own medical needs. I know about the relationship between the media and advertisers, but it's always quite an eye opener to see it spelled out in front of you.
Interestingly, Sinclair has posted a short comment regarding the Kerry film on the front of its website:
Characterizations regarding the content are premature and are based on ill-informed sources.
Given Sinclair's support of the Bush campaign, I kind of find this hard to believe. We shall see.
Tonight is the night. I can feel it.
I've heard both Kerry and Bush say on several occasions - the first debate comes to mind - that we (he, they) will hunt down terrorists where they are and kill them. This makes me horribly uncomfortable - not only the thought of killing people (yes, I'm anti-death penalty) but because this rhetoric has become so pervasive in daily life, spoken by our national leaders, spread by the media, and repeated by the people. I can't remember another moment in my lifetime when such a morally ambiguous sentiment was thrown about in public, virtually unquestioned. I know this is a sensitive subject, particularly in the shadow of 9/11. I don't want to make a statement about the content in particular, but just to make a meta-observation and wonder about the effects of such a rhetoric on the citizens of this country.
About a week ago, my fellow CCTE doc student Ulises introduced me to the notion of social bookmarking when he sent around an email inviting a group of CCTE doc students to contribute to a newly-minted del.iciou.us site, CCTE Distributed Research. Why?
at the graduate program where I am studying (Communication, Computing and Technology in Education, or CCTE), we usually share links by email or through classroom discussion boards. This means things don't get archived collectively, and only some people benefit from such knowledge. Some of us have blogs, but we don't really use them to share bookmarks.
Reading the email and trying out the site, I had an "oh!" moment, quickly followed by a "duh" moment, as in - brilliant but obvious, why didn't we think of it sooner?
Here's the catch though, as with any new technology I guess - how do we convince fellow doc students to contribute? Surfing the web and saving bookmarks is already a culturally embedded practice, so it's not a matter of convincing people to start up something completely new. Posting to the del.icio.us site is really easy with the bookmarklet feature, you don't have to leave the interface of the browser. Is it "just" a time issue, or are there bigger issues around sharing knowledge, which we're not necessarily trained to do - or at least, are only trained to do in certain contexts and in certain formats (completed research at conferences, for example).
Anywhoo. Check out the CCTE Distributed Research site, it's got a great collection of links related to education, technology, and society.
I'm in the process of installing Virutal PC on my lovely Apple Powerbook G4. My poor laptop is now sullied by the presence of Evil. Yes, yes, I know that Micro$oft has shares in Apple. But still. Why oh why won't someone make a qualitative analysis tool for Mac OS X?? (and no, I can't run NUD*IST, I haven't run OS 9 in a couple of years now.) I'm going to try out Transana... has anyone had experience with it that they'd like to share? Ah well... on the upside, at least I will know mine enemy. ;)
Maybe it's not such a bad day. I just got a yummy free cup of coffee (after having bought 12 previous cups, of course) from Oren's Daily Roast, which is a small chain of coffee stores here in New York. Things are shaping up.
(And for more random fun, a search for Office Space on Google turned up VirtualStapler.com, complete with stapler poetry, stapler gear, and an Office Space stapler gallery. Be sure to click on the big ol' stapler on the main page for some fun stapler noises!)