Google spreadsheets now lets you share editing by sending out a custom form. This is a huge deal. No, really. Huge. It solves so many problems I see happening all the time in schools. This is such a great way to get large amounts of information from all sorts of people of varying technical skill levels so you have it one place to manipulate. No need for the hassle of Adobe PDF and the complications of those forms or the need to create custom web forms of various types. It’s free and dead simple. I’m going to use it to collect testing information on programs for our upcoming Vista move. Previously, I was going to use cforms ii (awesome WordPress plug in by the way- especially if you need to fully customize the CSS- see an example I did for the NSDC here– it is real so don’t fill out fake info please). But there’s no real easy way to share that information. You could give people the password to the blog but that’s no always a good thing and the information that’s there is really just for looking at or exporting. I wanted something more dynamic. I think you could write some custom php pages and pull the info out but that’s a hassle and it takes time. I […]
I thought we posted on this last year. Jason Griffey takes The State of the Union address and remixes the top 75 words into a tag cloud. Now that he’s done it two years in a row, it could be an interesting look at the state of affairs over the last two years. 2008 Address 2007 Address via BoingBoing
I’m bouncing Dan’s post about design and storytelling in my head. His basic message is that it’s all about the story and design is just a tool to convey the story. If two people are telling the same story, the one who knows when and how long to pause, when to raise their voice, when to whisper will seem to tell a much better story. Visual design works the same way. And you get better at it by paying attention to people who are good and then analyzing your own work. Reflection on what you do that works is a key component of design (and just about anything else). It’s a lot like what D’Arcy says here about photography (just replace photography with design). And there’s no easy answer. There isn’t a simple recipe, where if followed dutifully, a person will be transformed into a better photographer. There are two separate but related aspects to photography – the technical, and the aesthetic. I believe that the technical side can be relatively easily addressed – read some books, maybe take a course or two, rtfm, and practice. It’s the aesthetic side of photography that is harder to develop. There isn’t an easy process to do that. Some sense of aesthetics will develop as you shoot more photographs – whether through trial […]
I took Dan’s challenge to explore my 2007 via design. The whole thing really intrigued me. I was amazed by how little I track what I do and, often, how little access I could get to my own data (which I know the companies are tracking). I really wanted better stats once I got going. My goal this year is to keep track of lots of things so 2008’s year in review reaches the next level in data density. I’m also going to work on refining the rss feeds which are out of control and on three different platforms. It also appears I write at least four unpublished posts for everyone one I post. Must stop doing that. So Dan has made me a better man. Things I wanted stats on that I didn’t have- Music- four computers and multiple iPods led to no decent stats (and my family has taken over our home computer so those stats would just be embarrassing. Not sure how to fix that. I’m trying LastFM but I don’t think that’ll take the iPod into account which is about 85% of my listening. Exercise- lbs lifted, avg heartbeat, reps, sets etc. I can do this. I might even do something on a regular basis through the year as an incentive. Food- It’d be really interesting […]
Grand Reportagem magazine (can’t find a link- it’s from Portugal) has an interesting series of info graphics (you can see them here) that illustrating fairly disturbing facts about countries- using the flags of the countries. Interesting idea- using symbols of pride to criticize/inform. You could also do something similar with many logos (companies, sports, universities). If you wanted to go fairly abstract there’s also book/video/cd covers or even caricatures. Here a quick mock up with an old Apple logo- Stat Source – please excuse gross visual misrepresentation of the stats but I don’t have the time/willingness to actually work it out. This would make a really interesting co-curricular project between a math and history/sociology type of class (throw in art as well if you’d like). The math required to calculate the proper area to factually represent the statistics would be fairly decent (especially with more complex shapes and area calculations) and figuring out which statistics about the country/company/person to contrast would require quite a bit of research and processing. I think it’s hook a number of students and in the end you’re teaching them far more than stats or facts. You’re teaching them how to think and how to convey that thinking in a way that’s visually compelling. All the great ideas in the world mean nothing if you can’t […]
Maps of War is a fascinating site of animated maps showing the history of conflict in our world. They include a history of war and leadership (seen above) that walks through American conflicts and links the American President to various wars, a history of religious conquest throughout the world, and an interesting history of imperial occupation of the Middle East. Along with their own maps, the site links out to other animated maps the feature many of the major wars of our time. I remember struggling as I tried to learn history from a textbook. It seemed like months or years would pass by in a matter of paragraphs. These animated maps would have helped foster a sense of continuity as we “marched” through chapters full of events. via Boing Boing
Wiki Mind Map.org This is a really cool free site that’d be great to use in the classroom. You pick a topic from wikipedia and it creates an interactive mind map of the content. Click on the pluses and topics expand. You can even change the “center” topic of the map on the fly. Lots of cool stuff you could do with this and it’d be a great way to get to those visual learners that don’t respond well to outlines or even static mind maps. Too bad you can’t point it at any mediawiki site. That’d really open up some interesting options in the classroom.