Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens - Jan.12 08

Sponsored Links

In the near future, are you going to interact with computers without using a keyboard and mouse? Do you know you can get into the video publishing frenzy with just a cool $120 camcorder?

Photo credit: Victor Gmyria - edited by Robin Good

How about mobile phone projectors, have you yet seen one of these? Is the IT department of your organization going to be soon replaced by utility computing companies? These and a lot more are the new media and communication technology-related news that registered the most interest with George Siemens' weekly "making sense of new technologies and media" report.

But there is a lot more interesting stuff indeed:

a) Scott Karp, traditional media need to reinvent itself could serve as model for what is coming next in the world of education.

b) Challenges ahead as the existing and growing pattern seeing third world countries export their brightest to the first world is going to gradually change as access to higher education is provided through the internet.

c) Adoption cycle for new media technologies and their uses getting faster and faster.

d) If you haven't yet heard about it, Google Custom Search allows to create custom search engines that search only the sources you select. Lijit and Rollyo are other similar tools that can help you achieve the same.

Here in more detail, George Siemens analysis and reflections on some of the most interesting media and technologies emerged in the last week:


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


by George Siemens

Online Photo Sharing

Photo credit: Palodurorecords

Not using Flickr or similar online photo sharing service?

Interested in learning how to?

Common Craft just released a new video on Online Photo Sharing in Plain English. We're finding these video resources quite useful for our wiki on using social tools in higher education.

Changing Our Relationship With Computers

Photo credit: Zanetta Hardy

The inefficiencies of the computer keyboard and mouse are frequently highlighted. Discussion then moves to how, in the near future, we will interact much more directly with computers. But nothing much has happened.

Until Apple made touch interfaces not only work, but also cool to own (and Nintendo, with the Wii, changed how we interact with games systems). The iPhone and iPod Touch presented the strengths (and weaknesses - i.e. entering text on either device) of touch computing.

While the vision has been there for several decades, the concept is now found in reality. And it has prompted Bill Gates - with the typical Microsoft way of declaring trends once they are blindingly obvious to declare: "that the keyboard and mouse would gradually give way to more intuitive and natural technologies."

Video and Such

Photo credit: Ayhan Yildiz

We have good software available for accessing/sharing video (YouTube), images (Flickr), and audio (iPod). We also have good tools taking pictures (cameras are cheap and usually available in mobile phones) and recording (a simple addition to your iPod).

What we haven't had in the past is a decent tool for video - video cameras are too expensive and mobile phone recordings too limited (quality and length). Flip Video changes that. While the recording time is limited to about 60 minutes, the price of the device (just over $120) makes it affordable.

The ability to record demonstrations (please, not lectures!), short interviews, student projects, etc could provide value for educators.

And, only marginally related, this mobile phone projector is interesting as well. For those moments when you must deliver a presentation to family.

Is the IT Department Dead?

Photo credit: Dani Simmonds

Is the IT department dead? Nicholas Carr seems to think so:

"Carr's rationale is that utility computing companies will replace corporate IT departments much as electric utilities replaced company-run power plants in the early 1900s.

Carr explains that factory owners originally operated their own power plants. But as electric utilities became more reliable and offered better economies of scale, companies stopped running their own electric generators and instead outsourced that critical function to electric utilities. Carr predicts that the same shift will happen with utility computing."

Boundary-less Living, Working and Learning

Photo credit: Sylvia Bukovac

It's difficult to stay current and informed in a climate where everything is changing. Just trying to stay current in the educational technology field is a challenge, never mind trying to follow global political events, media trends, and related other changes.

I find I need a balance between taking in information and reflecting on what the information means. And, of course, experimenting with and implementing key concepts in actual learning environments.

The frustrating irony of rapid information growth is that the more information we encounter, the more time we need for reflection... but the less time we actually have. Boundary-less living, working and learning:

"Meeting the intellectual and creative challenges of the 21st century demands using every ounce of creativity available.

That means building and sustaining a creative environment for yourself, your employees and your family. As a knowledge worker, you need time to think. To innovate. To experience. To create."

Why We Do Dumb or Irrational Things: 10 Brilliant Social Psychology Studies

Photo credit: Gilles DeCrouyenaere

Nice way to burn off a few hours: Why We do Dumb or Irrational Things: 10 Brilliant Social Psychology Studies.

The studies are summarized and quite readable. Included are classics: Stanford Prison, cognitive dissonance, bystander apathy, and others.

Dropping DRM


Sony BMG announces plans to drop DRM:

"The impetus to lift copyright protection represents a sea change for the recording industry, which for the better part of a decade has used DRM to guard against what it considers illegal distribution and duplication of songs purchased online."

Politicians...and Twitter


In 2004, when Howard Dean's web fundraising platform did not translate into as many votes as supports had hoped, critics cited it as an example of the limited influence the web had on many traditional processes and aspects of society.

Now, only four short years later, the election hype is again relying on technology ...but with the perspective of connecting and forming existing networks rather than forming new ones (as evident in the 2004 campaign). MediaShift also offers a short commentary on the use of Twitter during the Iowa Caucuses.

Is the Future of Education Lived Now in Journalism?


Industries and fields which are largely reliant on information have been experiencing a long, slow burn which threatens to ignite into a full blaze at any moment. We see flare ups in music, movie, and other media industries.

But the music/movie industries still retain much of their shape - top YouTube videos are mainstream artists like Avril Lavigne. To a certain degree, it's the old product expressed in a new distribution channel.

But journalism and news fields are different. Their product ("the paper" or "the radio talk show") has been subject to change for over a decade. And many have moved online to varying levels.

The challenge they have faced recently - and which Scott Karp alludes to briefly as being of a change-or-die nature (be sure to read the comments section - some good points made on both sides) - is with the core of journalism.

Karp calls for journalism to reinvent itself. With sites like ohmynews and tools like blogs and podcasts driven by user contributions, the change to journalism may be more profound than even those who are calling for change wish to see.

As stated before, I follow these media trends with an eye on their suitability as an indication of what we'll face in education. As so many elements are unsettled (copyright, access, ownership, LMS vs. PLEs and so on), any model that serves to guide is valuable, even if it is found in the slow burn of traditional media industries.



Photo credit: Benjamin Earwicker

I live in a small community south of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The complexion of our community has changed drastically over the last decade due to immigration (just like it changed drastically 80 years ago due to another wave of immigration).

The change within our community raises the relevance (for me) of the Economist's overview of global immigration trends.

The educational opportunities (and challenges) are significant. Often migrants are those with skill sets most in need, and are therefore most likely to be accepted, by host countries. Challenges, however, exist when emerging countries export their brightest.

It will be interesting, over the coming decades, to see how immigration patterns change as greater access to higher education is provided through the internet.

Mashups on the Mainstream


Photo credit: ABC News

Peter Tittenberger just sent me a link to a CBC sports hockey mashup. Having spent my weekend in frigid arenas watching my children play, drinking poor quality coffee, and suffering defeat and tasting victory, mashing up hockey clips with audio is a perfect way to start the week!

It appears that the cycle of adoption is much shorter for new technologies and ideas than it was five years ago. What used to take years to gain traction (i.e. blogs and wikis) now happens in months (i.e. Facebook and content mashups).

Personal Search


Personal search (based on preselected sites, not the whole web) has been around for a while. Rollyo was one of the first I came across.

Basically, a person enters sites they want to search, and when some enters a query into the text box, it search only those sources.

Google now offers a similar service (where Google once was an innovator, they are increasingly becoming an imitator - bookmarks, reader, iGoogle, Orkut, etc.): Google Custom Search.

Stephen Downes has created a custom edublog search tool from about 450 sources.

Lijit is a similar service - you can add all your sites, bookmarks, digg submissions, and so on. The Lijit search of my online identity is here.


Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on January 11th 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
Readers' Comments    
blog comments powered by Disqus
posted by Patricia Mayo on Saturday, January 12 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Search this site for more with 








    Curated by

    New media explorer
    Communication designer


    POP Newsletter

    Robin Good's Newsletter for Professional Online Publishers  



    Real Time Web Analytics