Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Giving the Devil His Due

OK, trying to teach 'mashups' to my students: what, how and more importantly, why this may be a key new media literacy. They're not enthused. Deep thinking required to create meaningful new content. So I'm looking for ah-hah moments.

And here's where you have to nod to MicroSoft. They're cranking out SilverLight applications without much fanfare, keeping low key, very beta and some have potential.
I'm not going to desert the Google search engines easily (scholar is getting me thru my dissertation research), but take a look at tafiti meta-search engine, powered by SilverLight and Live Search. Newest version is a bit scarey in interface (Halo 3? looking for a market that's not me) but the earlier release had a 'tree view' which was a lovely little mashup.
Visual media. Visual literacy. Visual integration of data across sites and services.
The students get it when it works. We all do, without needing to ponder.

So then the students go over to PopFly and create their own silly, sweet and sometimes compelling mashups. User site and rankings is a mess, but the interface certainly beats the dead Yahoo Pipes project.

So, MS approach is unclear. No promotion or noise. Must be a method to the madness somewhere. (PopFly is often slow, perhaps they're tuning before selling), but if anyone has better idea on how to get learners into mashups, let me know.

Meanwhile, does ANYONE understand why or what is with their clunky OfficeLive site?
Google Docs did it as well as we could ask. I'm all for competition on freeware, but...huh?
But that's a whole nuther post.
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