Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens

Breaking technology news, the latest app, scores of startups launching in beta every day. The incoming wave of technology and media related news keeps increasing by the day with no signs of pause or slowdown. And while many blogs and news sites give plenty of coverage and space to the latest and most promising ventures, very few devote their time to make sense of all that is happening and connecting the dots of the ongoing revolution we are witnessing.

Photo credit: Andres Rodriguez

This is why I have asked George Siemens, one of the elearning and educational technology related authors that I enjoy the most, permission to publish here on Master New Media his weekly sense-making digest.

In this weekly summary George highlights hot issues, new technologies and discoveries he makes along his daily research studies while connecting the dots between apparently unrelated issues and tools. This is the type of work we need more and more of. Individuals making sense, from different perspectives, of the many news, stories and issues happening today. Not more people echoing blindly the news someone else has paid for.

By connecting the dots, by asking important questions and bravely venturing into new, uncharted grounds it is possible to learn and discover a lot more than by merely following the established rules and paradigms.

Making a greater effort to making sense of what is really happening and how to best use is the best contribution that one can do to his fellow media technology journeyman helping you understand how all these new technologies will impact your life, and how you can harness them to your benefit for your own work, education and future.

Here is the first one, I hope in a very long series. Welcome George.



Sense-Making of Technology and Media: a George Siemens Weekly Digest

George Siemens - Photo credit: Robinejay

by George Siemens

Information Overload


Lee Kraus reflects on information overload:

"Some talk about this as the signal to noise ratio. How much information do you have to weed through to get to the highly relevant content that you really want?

What I do to produce "incremental relevancy" which I hope leads to incremental productivity improvement is to try to tweak my daily (continual) information management practices through both automation and structure within these communication tools."

Email Organization


I just received my invite to xobni, a program that organizes email, showing relationships between recipients, frequency of email exchange, people I haven't emailed in a while, visualizations of peak email use, rates email relationships by sent/received exchanges, etc. I must say, I'm impressed.

These developments are very much in keeping with what I've been saying about technology doing the "grunt cognitive" work for us, displaying patterns, revealing relationships, and allowing us to move to more advanced cognitive tasks (such as "what do these patterns mean?").

We can't keep functioning with the explosive information growth with existing tools.

Xobni is a company that understands the need for new methods and approaches based on our changed relationship with information.

Cellular Storytelling


This has been getting a bit of attention - Cellular Storytelling:

"Remarkably, half of Japan's top-10 selling works of fiction in the first six months of the year were composed the same way - on the tiny handset of a mobile phone. They sold an average of 400,000 copies. By August, the president of Goma Books, Masayoshi Yoshino, was declaring in a manifesto that he was determined "to establish this not simply as a fad, but as a new kind of culture"."

The New Value Point for Content


The value point for content has shifted.

With books, magazines, journal articles, and newspapers, the value point was the product itself. We charged for books. For access to journals. Or for the morning newspaper. The content creator negotiated economic value based on the artifact the embodied information.

The internet has largely changed that.

The value point is not found in the product itself. Instead, it's found in reputation and access.

Most authors don't make significant revenue from books. Instead, value is found in the increased reputation, speaking or consulting opportunities, or improved employment options.

This trend is quite strong in the music industry. Artists like Madonna are no longer negotiating only on albums.

Value is found in reputational components - merchandising and concerts.

Scott Karp takes a slightly different slant and states that the the new value point rests in distribution:

"For many people who paid for print publications, including newspapers, magazines, and books, a significant part of the value was in the distribution.

That DOESN'T mean people don't value the content anymore. It means that the value of having it delivered to their doorstep every morning, or having it show up in their mailbox, or carrying it with them on a plane -- in print -- has CHANGED because of the availability of digital distribution as an alternative."

Between Hype and Outright Dismissal


Ideas and tech companies exist on a fine line. On the one hand, you want everyone to know that you exist and that you're cool. On the other hand, if you get too popular too fast, a backlash ensues.

Facebook, Twitter, and Second Life are all examples. Somewhere between hype and outright dismissal lies a more accurate picture, as reflected in this article: Hype and Backlash for Second Life Miss the Bigger Picture



Well, I think I want one: Violin-playing robot. The dexterity required to play a violin demonstrates how quickly robotics have advanced in the last decade. My first reaction is more to the effect of "that has to be a person!". And why do robots have to look like us? Why arms, legs, and a head? Is it for comfort, so we don't get too concerned that machines are overtaking us? I want a robot that looks completely unlike people. Where's the creativity?

Strategy Execution


Strategy execution presents two opposing perspectives on how to set and achieve strategy in an organization.

The first - more traditional - involves leaders determining strategy and "cascading" it through the organization.

The second is more informal and involves leadership getting out the way and letting people innovate. Context plays a key role in which model to use and when.

Personally, I'm increasingly uncomfortable with "point-based" thinking where we create positions and contrast them (how many times haven't we seen the table in conference presentations comparing lecturing to learner-centered teaching, or web 1.0 to web 2.0).

Continuum-based thinking is more reflective of reality. The clear distinctions often made between two separate ideas serve very little practical value beyond an introduction to new ideas. Eventually, we need to recognize a gradient exists, and context determines where on the gradient our actions or strategies lie.

Games and Education


Slashdot - still one of the best places online to dissect ideas with humor and offensiveness - is currently discussing games and education.

As typical, the comments range from silly to provocative, centering largely on the huge development costs of games and the challenges of "making games fun". A similar discussion was held earlier this year: "Can a game be made that is fun and educational? Sure but I'm just not sure that making it would be an effective use of time."

Games fit the typical profile of academic envy, namely the condition where we see many people doing something and desire to then use the same tools or processes for teaching and learning.

Sometimes it works very well...other times the effort required exceeds the potential outcome. Especially when the work requires developing an entire game from scratch.

Developed games - like WoW and Second Life - enable learners to develop specific skills somewhat constrained by game design, but don't require educators to invest significant efforts and resources in actually creating the game.

Where I've seen academic games used well are in the focus on single activities - like a Jeopardy game for testing basic knowledge. Complex games - such as IBM's INNOV8 require substantial costs and are rarely successful if undertaken by a single institution (IBM can afford to develop the game, but most university departments or research grant recipients do not have the resources). As noted in the slashdot discussion, MMORPG games take a long time to develop.

Death to the Syllabus


A course outline or syllabus is a staple in college and university courses. It serves as a central document to direct instructional activities. An interesting perspective on the role it plays in courses today: Death to the Syllabus "The implicit message of the modern course syllabus is that the student will not do anything unless bribed by grades or forced by threats."

Radio Gets Social


Two-way interaction is now increasingly evident in media which has long been one-way. Consider radio. Few would see it as a social media (beyond the odd person calling in to report traffic problems or play the joys of radio contests).

But that's changing quickly Radio Gets Social:

"The on-demand nature of the Internet -- getting what I want when I want it -- is what has gradually pulled me away from traditional media like print and radio, which I stopped listening to consistently back in the '90s...Traditional radio was always hit-or-miss for hearing music that I liked, but these services have made it so much easier, as they allow you to filter out what you don't want to hear and discover new things you might not ever hear on the radio."

Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on December 7th 2007.


To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge" .

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2007-12-12 20:24:46

Joan Vinall-Cox

Stephen Downes says:
This link is to a Robin Good adaptation of George Siemens's eLearnSpace. It is visually attractive, with better spacing and nice images. Mike Powers (language warning) states, "Robin Good republishes the same material but in a much more presentable form making the very same ideas seem far more interesting." Is this so?

I answer:
Of course it's so. We make decisions about what we are about to read that directly influence how we perceive /receive the text. Then we read through that, usually unreflected-on, frame. Our culture has been growing increasingly style-conscious and -impacted, especially since word -processing has made text formatting so easy. I recommend Robin Williams' The Non-Designer's Design Book.

posted by Robin Good on Sunday, December 9 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




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