Purge/Binge & Some Ephemera

I’m purging my RSS feeds again. The last time I did it completely was 2008. It has been far too long.  Currently I’m sitting at 248 feeds and have been using Google Reader since 2007- roughly 6 years and 203,731 items read. That’s about 93 items a day, every day for 6 years. Clearly, I read most things from 6:00 PM until 11:00 PM.  Getting an iPhone has evened some of the reading time out some. And with that self indulgent surface level data done with, here’s some strange Internet ephemera. That is a terrifying glimpse into someone’s house built in 1724 that happens to be full of partially dismembered mannequins.  My wife found this one. Both of the clips above are just two recent examples of things continuing to move after people have died.  Package deliveries are pretty common (and hopefully positive) but the second endorsement by a man who passed away earlier in the week felt pretty unpleasant.   Sadly, I collect screenshots of odd wireless network names. I don’t know why edtech is fascinated with bananas but it is.  I took this shot at ISTE. This is from my hometown.  It’s pretty much sums up how things went in high school. Hawking. The world is strange. So if a teacher on a social network stumbles across something […]

It Could Be Beautiful: VSTE12 Presentation

This was an Ignite style session where I expressed my own personal frustration with educational technology at scale and attempted to then offer some redeeming alternatives actively being pursued by others. Below are a few of the slides and roughly what I tried to get across. On the left is good education/learning etc. The middle is roughly what we have now, suffering from extensive damage and quite vulnerable to being completely destroyed. The far right is what a lot of technology integration does. It is covering up gaping holes and damage but at the same time utterly destroying what it purports to be protecting and conserving. Not only do we do that but we hold up that distorted monstrosity as best practice. We put it on t-shirts and brag about what we’ve done. We continue to create structures that pretend that a certain level of learning/teaching lives inside a technology without any regard to the instructional context. It depresses me this has been around since at least 2009 and is now migrating to peacocks and umbrellas. Our society is so desperate for educational alternatives that we lionize a man who put video tutorials on the Internet as the second coming of Gutenberg. This Forbes story was shared 15,000 times when I last checked. Not that this is without value but […]

Internet Culture as Digital Content: VSTE12 Presentation

This presentation is essentially a pitch for the idea that we ought to be looking at the world with open eyes and paying attention to the content that is exciting to ourselves and others- the things we read/watch/listen to without being coerced. The introduction it is a rehash of the RSS aggregator pitch that I’ve given off and on since 2002. I know Twitter is much cooler and RSS is pronounced dead on a regular basis but Twitter fills a very different niche for me and I think the RSS aggregator still has a lot of value. I also stressed the idea that you have to aggregate feeds you actually want to read. That’s very different than feeds you feel you ought to want to read. Make this unpleasant for yourself and you will never, ever, read them. Build feeds that rejuvenate and interest you and then bring that into your instruction.1 My goal was to point out the huge swathe of low hanging fruit waiting for the right teacher to look at it in the right way- essentially the antipode of most of the content we use in education. This is really more of a change in philosophy than anything else. I’m hoping people open their minds to a larger idea of what might qualify as digital content. I […]

From Dog Food to Drug Dealers to Poetry (or a typical internet search)

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by quiiver WARNING: Many of the rap lyrics in the linked site are explicit. Expect frequent NSFW references and other lines that, while necessarily profane, will offend people. I will also move from something fairly tangible and real into a semi-philosophical discussion which is likely to be less pleasant than any explicit lyrics. While searching for a picture of Alpo dog food to use in a presentation, I noticed that there appears to be a (relatively) well known Harlem drug dealer named Alpo who was referenced in this rap lyric– that happens to be annotated through Rap Genius. Rap Genius is your guide to the meaning of rap lyrics (basically the internet version of the nerd-*** “rap dictionary” dorm-mate you had in college). You can listen to songs, read their lyrics, and click the lines that interest you for pop-up explanations – we have thousands of canonical rap songs explained (2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z – even the beginning of the Torah..) Our aim is not to translate rap into “nerdspeak”,1 but rather to critique rap as poetry. The quality of the critiques vary considerably- some are just restatements in less oblique terms, others actually reference factual elements2, but there are plenty of examples of analysis and research in there that […]

Pop Culture Omnibus

An aggregation of strange things that interested me in one way or another. tl;dr and government communication in the age of the hipster SPD seized a bunch of my marijuana before I-502 passed. Can I have it back? No. Seattle PD’s information on marijuana legalization is an interesting piece with a tl;dr reference and an embedded Lord of the Rings “finest weed” video clip. Compare the voice and audience of this government communication to other state communications. We will kill you so fast We need doctors because people grow up and you fall down and go boom. Everyone’s going to need a doctor. Let’s have 3 doctors per floor of every apartment building in this town. How about that as a good idea? Like that is a good idea. OK. So let’s make college tuition either free or really low. And if you have a country full of whip-crack-smart-people, you have a country the rest of the world will fear. They will not invade a country of educated people because we are so smart. We’ll build a laser that will burn you, the enemy, in your sleep before you can even mobilize your air force to kill us. We will kill you so fast because we are so smart. –Henry Rollins Henry Rollins gives a whole new side of STEM […]

Amalgamation

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by hjhipster After being inspired by William Berry’s interesting idea around making current event memes I decided to sketch out an idea I’ve been thinking about for a long time but never got around to. Scottish psychologists, after failing to find evidence that humans could see into the future, urged their colleagues “not to venture too far down the rabbit hole,” and Til, a rare earless rabbit born at a small zoo in eastern Germany, was crushed under a cameraman’s shoe shortly before a press conference that had been scheduled in the rabbit’s honor. “We are all shocked,” said the zoo’s director, Uwe Dempewolf. “No one could have foreseen this.” -Harper’s I’ve wondered about ways to mesh current events and English/Civics by juxtaposing news events and quotes similar to Harper’s Weekly Review (when it’s done well). I struggle with the high bar for entry but it opens up some interesting ideas about context, quoting, humor, juxtaposition, irony etc. that would be interesting to apply. There’s a lot there but it would also require some real work to make it accessible. It’s hard to show good examples in our district because the Harper’s stuff tends to be politically charged and fairly sophisticated. To do it right would require widespread reading, memory and […]

Strange Screenshots

I take screenshots of things I think are strange or perhaps illuminate something about the strange world we now inhabit. Think of it as my personal take on The New Aesthetic. All of these images are pulled from my actual life and interactions with former classmates, friends, coworkers etc. There are a blurred out series of iffy pictures down there if you’re easily offended you might opt to skip this post. Laser toe fungus available now. Social media makes some really awkward conversations permanent. I am influential in Zoolander, very, very influential. This happened shortly before I deleted all of my authority. Some things you shouldn’t tweet from Harper’s Weekly Review(which would also make a great project). Laptops don’t even make the list any more. Strange times. The app-ification of education is proceeding at full speed. Reality doesn’t matter much and we’re losing the war of perception. These four images are someone’s Instagram likes posted in Facebook.I can’t believe he realized this would happen, yet here it is.Social media makes for some really uncomfortable juxtapositions. Modern day job benefits are not what they once were. Geek desks and monster monitors are pretty attractive to me though. Someone I follow re-tweeting CNN’s coverage of Greek issues showing up right next to Real Time WWII Tweets also dealing with Greek issues. Everything […]

Bending Google Earth To My Will

This post is going to be a somewhat functional (how to get this to work) but will also attempt to sketch out some of the ways I problem solve as roadblocks occur. I don’t know that sketching out problem solving in this way will help anyone but I hope that it might. It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious work in Google Earth. I’m reorienting myself and learning a few things in the process. My initial goal was to get some easy content from Google Earth Layers (and now the integrated “Earth Gallery”) into folders and associated with some of our history standards- essentially easy interactive content for teachers who don’t want to search for it. Google Earth has never caught on like I believed it would/should and I’d like to jumpstart use of the program and provide more digital content for social studies in general. Roadblocks I found the addition of the “Earth Gallery” to be a mixed blessing, with the mix leaning heavily towards unfortunate. There is lots of good content there but it seems to be meant to stay there. I can’t find any way to copy that content to “My Places”- dragging it didn’t work, nor did control-clicking (right click equivalent) give me any options that would help at the folder or individual item […]

Scrolling Text

We seem to have a need to take names and create scrolling text for various things (honor roll, Veteran’s Day, etc.). It was making me unhappy to have people spending time adding these names to PowerPoints or doing other manually intensive ways things to make this happen. I figured the Internet would have to have a better way. Here is one. After a search or two, I ended up at Max Vergelli’s jquery scroller. Down at the bottom on the examples page, I found the vertical scrolling option I wanted. I downloaded the files. I took my usual path, which is to open up the file and delete the stuff I didn’t want. I focused mainly on the HTML portion figuring it wouldn’t matter if the javascript loaded if it didn’t display. After a few tries, it turns out that I was wrong and that stuff does matter. So I also deleted all the unnecessary javascript pieces, or at least enough so that things worked. You can get a fairly clean version of the file that focuses on vertical scrolling by saving this webpage. You could also view the source etc.View source ought to be a good friend in most situations where you’re trying to figure this kind of thing out. Do keep in mind you’ll need the additional files […]

Social Media Talk

I’ve spoken to the PTA at Tuckahoe Middle School for the last two years about social media. It’s been pretty interesting both times in that I take a closer look at things that I tend to take for granted. I think both conversations have gone pretty well. I’ll document the conversation below (mixed with a few things I did with our principals a while back) for anyone who might have to do the same. Introduction I start with a slide that mixes the pictures of as many radically different people with Twitter accounts as I can find. I get the audience to try to identify the people. The one I’m using now has the Dali Lama, Rupert Murdoch, Sarah Palin and a few others. My goal was to have a few easily identifiable people and a few that took a tiny bit more effort.1 I wanted a wide diversity in political views, ages, etc. After we’ve ID’d the people, I ask “What do these people have in common?”2 I mention that you’ve probably heard references to Twitter after shows like Good Morning America, etc. Hopefully this gets people into the mindset that Twitter (and social media in general) is becoming more broadly adopted and is being used by mainstream media. My next move is to argue against polarizing social media. […]