Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens - Dec.23 07
Facebook and the use of social media in the enterprise, user-generated content, newly reported UGC production trends, mobile learning platforms and the evolution of personal publishing are among some of the insightful selections that George Siemens has picked for you this week.
Photo credit: Innovicity.com
In this weekly digest, George really opens up lots of important doors for thinking more and better about the changes happening all around you. If you are student of new media or someone wanting to better understand how the dots of this new technological universe all connect together, I sincerely think that his reflections and comments on a small but carefully picked story selection can help you understand a great deal more. Of course you have to take his pointers and go dig for more. But having already such a skilled and qualified guide makes the whole path a lot easier.
Designing around people, making your organization understand what the "2.0" organizational revolution is all about, are some of the other fascinating topics he brings to this making-sense round-up this week.
Sense-Making of Technology and Media: a George Siemens Weekly Digest
by George Siemens
Facebook in the Enterprise
When we look back, decisions we made/should have made seem obvious. When we look forward, everything is viewed through a lens of conflicting and competing information and ultimately converges on uncertainty.
Think back 10-15 years to what now seems very obvious, but at the time may have been a bit loony: the teacher eager to use this thing called the internet for teaching, the librarian wanting to put information online, the person in the office cubicle next to you wanting to register the company's domain name.
Or more recently: Google's IPO, Apple stock three years ago, the iPod.
AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy, after all, sought initially to lock down their service to subscribers.
History often provides clear winners and precise insights. When lived forward, life fails to offer such clear demarcations between what we ought to do and what we ought not to do.
In a few years, we may see the wise insights of leaders who eagerly pursued the organizational use of Facebook or the educational use of SecondLife. Or we might find that both have slipped into obscurity and are remembered with the same passing indifference or sense of oddity now reserved for Newtons and Webvan.
Several weeks ago, I was interviewed by Stephen Walsh of Kineo.
We chatted about how organizations need to change to take advantage of the distributed nature of knowledge, newer technologies, networks, and the increased need for innovation in designing learning models. The interview is available here.
More Teens Creating and Sharing Content
Pew Internet just released a report on how teens are creating and sharing content online: "Content creation by teenagers continues to grow, with 64% of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation, up from 57% of online teens in 2004.
Fueled by new technologies, websites, and social network domains such as Facebook and MySpace, large numbers of teens share and create materials online."
Mobile Media Platform
The last few years have seen significant change in how we relate to information and each other through the web. This interaction, however, has occurred largely on the desktop.
Blogs, wikis, facebook, YouTube, SecondLife, and so on, are largely laptop/desktop dependent. The next few years I suspect will produce the greatest shift to date in the form of mobile devices.
The interactions now tethered to a computer will be mobile based.
For this trend to take hold, we will need to see more sites like Treemo - sites that do for mobile content what Blogger did for blogs and YouTube did for video (TechCrunch lists a few other mobile content sites)
The Evolution of Personal Publishing
The evolution of personal publishing: "The personal publishing market evolved from cumbersome web sites to online diaries called blogs to social networks and more recently to microblogs."
Don't quite agree with blogs being equated with diaries (thought we worked through that view a few years ago), but the article is an useful exploration of how microblogging tools (like Twitter and Tumblr) fit into the established blog and social network space.
Design - whether software, physical items such as a classroom, or something as nebulous as learning and knowledge - has many entry points.
For example, if an organization decides to design an online course, numerous approaches exist: determine content required, determine outcomes or skills needed, design for tools to be used, etc.
David Armano emphasizes a people-driven design approach: "People-driven design starts with real people in mind. What they do, how they think, what their pain points are, why they like and dislike things and how they'll use what you create for them."
This approach is not suited as a sole approach (content, software, and other aspects need to be considered), but it is an important starting point and thread that should run through the entire design approach, and in the case of learning, right through to the end of the course.
The problem in asking people what they want is that we then have to sacrifice our own assumptions.
I had an experience of this nature in a recent course I taught. We (Peter Tittenberger and I) asked students to blog and user wikis for interaction and reflection. We discovered rather quickly that students didn't share our affinity for blogging.
They were uncomfortable with the experience of writing publicly. One group - due to the nature of their discussions (government employees) asked if they could hold their discussion in WebCT.
What then is the role of user-based design?
Do we "force" learners to continue with our approach because we know (so we think) that what we are asking them to do will be important in the long run?
Or do we acquiesce when they provide resistance to the design we have imposed on their learning?
Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft
"The challenge for Microsoft is not the ability to do much of what Google does. Instead, the company faces a business quandary. The Microsoft approach is largely to try to link the Web to its desktop business -- "software plus Internet services," in its formulation. It will embrace the Web, while striving to maintain the revenue and profits from its desktop software businesses, the corporate gold mine."
I personally enjoy the increased competition in software and technology.
After over a decade of Microsoft dominance (and as a result, decreased innovation on the desktop and the experiences of end users), the last few years have been exciting. Innovation after innovation has opened options for software use.
The "wow, that's cool" factor has been scarce over the last ten years. Now, I encounter it almost weekly - often from Google and other companies finally able to innovate outside the rigid framework controlled by Microsoft, and even from Microsoft itself. The consumer will be the clear winner.
Computer History Museum
What a great use of a service like YouTube to promote a message, and more importantly, introduce the next generation to some of the legends involved in developing the internet.
A good example for other museums to consider as they seek to capture the interest of today's youth (and, for that matter, make their services more accessible to everyone).
Like other 2.0 terms (learning, school, web, education), enterprise 2.0 is a catch-all term expressing something foundational is changing in how organizations function.
My ongoing resistance to the "2.0" tag is that it sets up each subsequent small iteration as "3.0, 4.0" and so on. It's great for consultants and pundits. But rather irritating for actual practitioners in, or new comers to, a field.
While many of my presentations over the last few years have been directed to more technologically aware audiences, the last few have been directed to educators or trainers who are not necessarily involved with technology.
Terms like wikis, blogs, podcasts, and web 2.0 are absolutely foreign. They do, however, recognize something is changing. They just aren't as burdened with buzzwords as many of us are to describe the phenomenon.
Our terminology and vision for change needs to be revisited if we expect our message to be heard.
Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on December 21th 2007.
To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out www.elearnspace.org. Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge" .