Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens - Apr. 15 08

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Knowing, understanding, making sense of how new technology, media and people work, learn and interact together is the focus of this weekly digest authored by George Siemens and reprinted with his benediction here on Master New Media.

Photo credit: Gabriel Moisa

Generally published on Saturday, this weekly report analyzes key issues and technology news as they emerge spontaneously or as they are encountered and discovered during a educational technologist every day research and writing activities.

As always before, also in this issue you will find great pointers, links and suggestions to immerse yourself deeper in discovering the new media and technologies universe that is networking us.

Correct Interpretation?


Dave Snowden makes a statement, that while seeming obvious and intuitive is often misunderstood, summarizes much of what I was trying to communicate with Knowing Knowledge a few years ago: "A very large part of what we know, and how we know it is fluid, evolutionary and context dependent."

Nomads at Last


Seems like mobile technology is the theme this week...the Economist has an article/interview titled Nomads at Last that explores how technology (well, wireless communications) is changing how people live and work. An appropriate quote from Castells sums it up nicely: "Permanent connectivity, not motion, is the critical thing".

I spend more time most days interacting with people in other countries than with people down the hallway. And I suspect the ability for people to interact outside of geographical constraints will replace much of what it means to "be here". Several times this week, I've approached people standing at counters, under the assumption they were there to provide a service for me, only to discover that they were in rather animated conversations with someone on their phone (go Bluetooth). "Here" means less and less. Connected means more and more.

Cellphones and Poverty

Can the Cellphone ok.jpg

While I don't care for the general concept of this article (solving complex issues like poverty requires more than just a new technological tool - it requires a political/ideological shift in thinking) - Can the cellphone help end global poverty - the impact of mobile phones on developing worlds is touch to over emphasize.

The author cites

"a growing number of economists who maintain that cellphones can restructure developing countries...Today, there are more than 3.3 billion mobile-phone subscriptions worldwide, which means that there are at least three billion people who don't own cellphones, the bulk of them to be found in Africa and Asia. Even the smallest improvements in efficiency, amplified across those additional three billion people, could reshape the global economy in ways that we are just beginning to understand."
This is likely true. But the bigger issue for me relates to where the money flows and who will have control over the new infrastructure. As I was reminded by a participant in an online presentation I delivered this morning, technology cuts both ways. It opens and it closes.

It frees and it imprisons
. That's why we an ideological shift in how we interact with developing nations. The article provides a valuable look at how mobile phones are being adopted in developing countries, with growth in ICT expenditures out pacing basics such health and education.

How Much Time Does Web 2.0 Take?


To date, I haven't really considered time elements with regard to the use of social technology for learning. But I just came across a site museum site that explores "how much time does web 2.0 take?." Newcomers to the concept of the participative web sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with the new terms, tools, and concepts. How does a person know where to start? Perhaps, as this article suggests, available time is the best starting point.

Can't commit too much time each week? Well, start by reading a few blogs or tracking themes on technorati (or Google alerts). Have more time? Join/start a Facebook group. Or a Ning community. Start your own blog. Or podcast. From my experience, significant value exists in the gradient approach permissible with distributed, single functionality tools. We don't need to figure out an entire system to get started. Just one tool at a time. And that often only takes a few minutes. Don't try and figure it all out. Try and grow a tool or concept at a time.

The Future of Social Networking


Two of the most significant trends in society today - social networking and mobile phones - are destined to converge. Several concerns still exist (quality of web access via mobile devices...and if you're Canadian, the rather insane data fees), but the convenience of continual access to both data and your network of people is highly desirable.

The Future of Social Networking:

"A few years from now we'll use our mobile devices to help us remember details of people we know, but not well...Once this network is established, you'll know everyone's name who's around you (if they choose to share it), and enough basic information to jog your memory if you know them, or meet them if there's mutual interest."

I've posted the slides from my presentation earlier this week. My focus is increasingly turning to the impact of information flowing in networks and the systemic changes required (and prominent barriers).

Presentation: NY


I've posted the slides from my presentation earlier this week. My focus is increasingly turning to the impact of information flowing in networks and the systemic changes required (and prominent barriers).

Design and the Elastic Mind


I had the opportunity yesterday to visit The Museum of Modern Art. It made me realize the tremendous value museums provide as a way of making sense of the world. Walking between exhibits, moving image artifacts, a touch of history (dueling media of typewriter and 35 mm film), Picasso, van Gogh, and others.

The tour of ideas, concepts, and emotions communicated through art culminated in the sixth floor exhibit: Design and the Elastic Mind. The exploration of how technology impacts who we are as human beings was eye opening. As stated in the exhibit: "Designers give life and voice to objects, and along the way they manifest our visions and aspirations for the future, even those we do not yet know we have." I encountered some familiar tools like data visualizations and Twittervision...and some provocative (frightening?) consideration of our ability to engineer ourselves at a genetic level.


Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on April 12th 2008.


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".

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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, April 15 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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