My Twitter Evolution – Episode 1

I joined Twitter in November of 2007 which is roughly seven and half years ago. That’s a fairly long time and both my use and my thoughts about Twitter changed quite a bit over that time. Consider that Twitter only produced about 5,000 tweets a day back 1 then compared to 50 million a day now. I thought it’d be interesting to look back at my blog and see what I thought about Twitter in those early days.2 The first post I can find is from a few months after I joined and the post was titled My Secret Shame (best of twitter 1-30-08). The title alone lets you know I really was kind of embarrassed to be on Twitter. Clearly not too embarrassed to write about it in public but it still felt like it could be a waste of time. Back in those days you couldn’t embed the tweets like you can now so I hand-copied in the text and attributed them but I linked to the author’s blog instead of the tweet itself. That shows pretty clearly that I saw the Twitter element as much less important. Surely you’d want to go to the blog itself. Other than liking three specific tweets I had this to say- *I’m not advocating for twitter, I’m still debating it. Today […]

#UVaTeach Reflection

I had an interesting day at UVA a few days ago as part of their Innovation in Pedagogy Summit. I got the chance to talk to UVA’s Teaching Resource Center group and listen to some interesting educators talk about their practice. I was the closing keynote and I talked, as I have before, about what educational technology might be versus what it is. Essentially this was an extension and deepening of the It Could be Beautiful concept I did at VSTE a few years ago. It helps to see the depth of the perversion and misuse of educational technology before looking at ways it is working. Otherwise people tend to pretend it all sucks or it’s all going great (depending on their own stance). We seem to have created a populace, in the USA at least, that has a great deal of difficulty with things that are not stark examples of black and white. I don’t know if I should blame the media, capitalism, or standardized testing.1 What made this particular iteration a bit stronger was starting off by asking the audience to do something right away that set the scale of what we’re endeavoring to do in education. I asked them to go and read their college/university/departmental mission and vision statements and talk about them at their tables. What […]

Catfish Literacy?

To play off a bit of David’s post on social justice MOOCs, there seems to be a base need for tools for helping identify evil people on the web. That’s not in a dox type of way but more like a way to guide people in determining if accounts have ill intentions.1 That’s probably a messy description but it was brought about by a post I saw on Facebook last night. Essentially,2 it was a conversation between two people I know- one black male (in Richmond) and one white male (in Baltimore). It was a passionate conversation. The white guy added a screenshot from a Twitter account (included below) into the mix that seemed to confirm all his greatest fears about what was happening in Baltimore.3 It’s a high emotion situation in lots of ways which never helps people critically evaluate items that confirm their fears but I felt like this account had to be fake. Then I wondered if I could prove that? I did a couple of things4 when I looked at this account which are second nature to me now but which could be built into a tool or made into some sort of guide. Step one– I looked to see when the account was created. This account, @brothertooturnt, was started on 3/27/15. Recent creation and total […]

From “On the Internet” towards “Of the Internet”

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Sean MacEntee We’ve talking a lot in our group about how people move towards more complex uses of the Internet. We started with a discussion around Internet1 search skills and dispositions. It’s simple stuff2 in a lot of ways but putting it in writing might help someone else and it tends to help me get it straight in my head. It’s not sexy but I think there’s value in thinking it through. Reactive/Algorithmic > Proactive/Human > Participatory/Reciprocal The initial orientation for search tends to be reactive. You have a need for something. You go look for it. It’s a one time act. The finding of the item often has no real longterm benefit. Google3 is your sole opaque lens on the web. The search is driven entirely by your interaction with algorithms. Limited curation/bookmarking occurs in browser providing no benefit beyond the individual. I want to call this inefficient but that’s not quite the right word. Maybe it’s an Internet mind monoculture. I think that getting people from this point to something else starts with getting better at searching. If you help people improve their search strategies they can find better things faster. The Internet becomes more interesting. That’s an initial pragmatic step that helps people justify spending further time/energy […]

In the beginning there was search

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by Bramus! We’re playing around with some online content for instructors to access on their own or to use as part of some guided online learning we’ll be doing. We started the building some elements around search because it is a place where most people are comfortable but where there’s often decent room for growth. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before in terms of the goals but I hope we’ll be able to make it more approachable and really target the things that will be attractive to instructors in higher ed. I also want to see it as continuum that will lead people more deeply into the wild world of the web. We opted to focus mainly, although not exclusively, on the Google search realm because that’s what most people use and they have a pretty extensive variety of options that are attractive to higher ed instructors.1 The content isn’t finalized nor is the presentation but I figured writing it up would force me into articulating my choices and maybe one of you would give me better ideas or point out flaws. General Ideas The content is meant to be as succinct as possible and glaringly pragmatic for the average college instructor. There will be a number of real-life scenarios/rationales […]

An Inventory of My Thoughts

I’m no Myron Helfgott, but I’ve made a few minor changes to my life which have been at least semi-interesting. It’s not about productivity. It’s more about eliminating distractions that have wormed their way into my head. These reflexive actions are scary because they eat into the way you think or in some cases if you think at all. Nothing magical here but it’s often worth looking at how things1 are impacting your life. The drive to work is now silent. No radio. No podcasts. I just let my brain wander. It’s fun. The ride home is much noisier. On my phone I turned off all the notifications for email, Twitter, and Flickr. The only one that remains is for texts. It has surprised me how much happier I am not to see that envelope with the red badge letting me know how many emails I’ve yet to read. I can still do whatever I need should something important arise but I’ve cut the visual cue out of the equation. That has cut down on reflexive checking. Flickr and Twitter were never that busy but neither was important enough to require an instant alert. This has been done by many people, many times but I’m leaving my email program closed 95% of the day. It’s been depressing to see how […]

JavaScript Poetry

I set myself the slightly odd challenge of creating a few interactive poems using JavaScript elements. I plan to do this every so often for a while.1 Each creation will have my own poetry,2 an image, and some element of JavaScript driven interactivity that relates to the poem. The theme came about because I was reading Don’t Bump the Glump to my youngest. I like playing with words and have a long list of strange ideas that I’ve never brought any further. I also want to keep learning JavaScript and to mess with a variety of js libraries. On the art/drawing side, I’m working on my vector drawing skills in Illustrator. The two examples I’ve done so far have just been thrown up as bare bones HTML sites3 and have used completely different js libraries. They’re both built off already existing examples that I modified. I don’t consider that cheating but will probably move more towards from scratch construction as I get better at things. The Grabbit The goal: Eyes that will track mouse movement. It’s iframed in above but the full size page is here. The start: A brief search led me to this Code Pen. It uses jQuery as the main library. I’ve got think more about mobile when doing interactive stuff with js. I think I can […]

Learning JavaScript

For some time now I have achieved things in JavaScript through a combination of examples and brute force persistence. My methods are roughly akin to prisoners digging out of jail with a spoon. You can do it but it’s not something I’d recommend. Given my increasingly more sophisticated goals1 I was finding this to be too slow and too irritating. So I sat down on Monday to learn at least the basics of JavaScript. I watched the videos from Code School with the videos at about 1.5x speed which was pretty bearable. They offer the intro JavaScript course for free but everything beyond that is pay. I also did the Code Academy version. Their version is free in its entirety. Both sites have live editors that allow you to do your work right there in the page. The work’s on the left and a console is on the right. It’s a bit like a stripped down version of Code Pen (which I still find to be amazing). I did hit some points of frustration when I would do something that worked fine but was not exactly how they wanted me to do it. This is one of those perils of machine learning that I don’t see any easy way around for a good while. It’s especially difficult when programming allows […]

Kefitzat Haderech

Do you bring a shortening of the way? 1 I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of speed/energy/enzymes/accelerants at the moment and so as my head churned on my silent drive to work I remembered a sentence about shortening the way. It was actually “Kwisatz Haderach” that was in my head from Dune . . . but my vague memory of the spelling led me to the Kefitzat Haderech entry in Wikipedia and it turns out Herbert based his title on a Kabbalistic reference to something akin to teleportation (literally- contracting the path)- “reaching destinations with unnatural speed.” Sometimes the journey is the destination but in most of education we’re only doing X and Y to get to the magical land of (o)Z where the real payoff lives. The faster we can get there the better. That goal often get confused in both education and certainly ed tech. People become overly focused on tough paths that “build character” or forget that they’re going anywhere beyond the next hill. I have to keep asking myself if what I’m doing will get us to the place we want to be faster. That place might be the journey. It might be a place of ambiguity. I’m not advocating for Chinko learning machines.2 Simply put, if hiking is the goal I want to spend […]

Ed tech on speed. Ed tech at speed.

One of the more1 overlooked aspects of working with faculty around technology integration is speed- that is moving quickly from an idea/dream to working functional reality. Joy/playfulness is high on that list as well (and probably plays into speed) but I’ll focus on speed for the moment. It’s essential that working with a faculty development/ed tech group be the antithesis of the many monumentally lethargic interactions that characterize other institutional engagements. It ought to be agile. It has to be energizing. “If we have an idea, 10 minutes later we’re trying it out,” Mika says. “It’s like improv.” From a from an interesting WIRED article h/t to Enoch. I think that’s why WordPress has been so successful- it’s a flexible (but not overwhelming) platform that gets you 90% of the way to most destinations really quickly. It’s been interesting to see the possibilities around speed and flexibility keep moving. Talking to Tim Owens the other day about Sandstorm and the ability to spin up virtual just-about-everythings in the blink of an eye and maybe only for the moment. This is the opposite of the pattern of movement that has typically occurred in institutions. To that end, I’m playing with this NMC session description that focuses on the things we’ve been using to get things done quickly. A campy, meme-ified, high-speed […]