Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seeqpod and Everything

Thanks to a simple Scott Leslie tweet, I wandered over to Seeqpod and my head blew off.
How is it possible that every day every day every day there's another site or tool or blog that I can't imagine life without? Yesterday, I was loyal to and my customized, intensely personal and private radio stations. 

Still love Pandora, but seeqpod allows me to listen to any artist I want for as long as I want, while Pandora offers variety (within the channel constraints) that often annoys me. Depends on the mood, but let's skip over my whims and wants and address the technology. 

Everything is at my finger tips all the time. Ideas, images, music, facts, figures, and more. 
I'm never lonely and more often, never alone. I start to 'jones' if removed for long from life on the digital stream. 

& I can't help but wonder, if this is my life today, what will it look like next year? In five years? In ten years? My professional life depends on understanding emerging technologies and I will openly admit that I'm hitting my limits. Incredible, exciting, overwhelming and how do we keep up, sort, make meaning, categorize, and shed what's not of value?

Seeqpod? Too cool for school. Add it to the list. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Think less, be more

Odd post title from me, known for dismissively claiming that "the mind should transcend the body" as I make my way through the plastic noses, breasts, lips and even (yes, it's true) buttocks now, here in the kingdom of surgical vanity procedures. The Phoenix/Scottsdale/Tempe triangle is an odd place for a natural, food-loving soul like myself to land, but I stay aligned to sanity by holding tight to the values of university life.

cognition uber alas!

And here, this becomes the coin of the realm and the smarty-pants are the vanity crowd. But everywhere, everywhere everywhere it's becoming not how well we think but how busy we stay in managing the task of thinking itself. Thinking as demonstrated in emails, v-mails, text, calendar meetings, and rushing from place to place.

Not good. Turns out, not even smart. (Gasp)

Read the BBC News Magazine article "No time to think?" and rethink your silly, busy, exhausting ways.
Loved the idea. So here, now, at 9:15pm local time, I'll yank myself away from the laptop and pay a bit of attention to the physical life around me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What a wonderful world!

I see babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll know so much more than we'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I have great hope that, with time and tenderness, higher education will do right and put its bright, lazy mind to the task of reformation and relevancy. For too long, we've been failing to educate so many of our citizens and a recently released report by the National Commission on Adult Literacy made me shudder. OK, the rich and lucky babies still get the best education in the world...even though even the privileged aren't majoring in the science or math fields. We can continue to claim we're a great nation, but it's not evidenced in the data on American literacy and competitiveness. Nationally, we're crawling in a hole and HE is playing peek-a-boo with the problem. ("I can't seeeeee you!!")

Access. affordance, engagement, relevancy. These are all topics that cry for attention as an aged and out-of-touch industrial age institution batons down the hatches. I love my ivory tower but oh YouTube. I was bemoaning this thorny problem to a friend of mine last week and noticed that the discomfort we're feeling is similar to the one we get when sipping milk just before it goes sour. You can tell it's just this side of turning, still...good enough, but use it fast because in no time you'll be at that reflux stage if you sip it.

Here's what WICHE wrote about the report in a policy alert email they sent out:
"It presents evidence that our failure to address America’s adult education and workforce skills needs is putting our country in great jeopardy and threatening our nation’s standard of living and economic vitality. The Commission makes several recommendations for immediate action to reverse the course we are on."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

TinyURL just got better

Custom TinyURLs? Yes. Yes Yes.
An idea whose time has come and a practice we've all been anticipating.

Appendage to last blog post: sometimes, the value of the tool is intuitive and needn't be explained, explored or analyzed. I now can customize my tinyURLs. I'm a happy camper.
Here's pretty URL for last blog post:
Nice, crisp, to the point, easy to remember in context. (It's all about the context)

Wonder whether creating short and meaningful URLs will become an art? Or a critical skill for the digital age? I could be the first to offer a workshop on the practice!

In Search of Meaning and Flow

I haven't been blogging. Mea culpa. Working on dissertation, family illness, job demands, etc and there just didn't seem enough time to make meaning out of all that I was reading and learning from other bloggers. Then, life changed (dissertation done!) and Lilia Efimova shamed me into thinking about blogging as healthy routine again.

Granted my life is still chaos, but in the right context, it is beautiful chaos ripe for sharing. I'm in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute (TICA & more on that later), and one of the participants said that my work is like "being a kid in a candy shop." Too true, but even kids want vegetables/macaroni and cheese/protein now and then and lately, I'm feeling urpy (technical term) by the tools, information, ideas flowing past. George Siemens recommends we learn to accept that we miss out on the flow when we "eat, sleep or whatever". Hard to do when your job is to find application, meaning, value amidst the rubble. No sleeping! So - hoping it lasts - I'm focused on returning to making meaning while here, awake and on the grid.

My friend Patricia McGee and I have been attempting to think through a model with focus on meaning & value by not talking anymore about the tools, but about narrowing description of use. We're expecting push back from those who are in it for the wild ride, but for us, it's about the value the deep learning the return the outcomes.
Patricia believe one avenue (perhaps the only, certainly the best) approach is through story. Case study is story. Best practices is story. What didn't work is great story. More on that when she finishes her latest oeuvre.

Meanwhile, the Havas Media Lab have put up a very compelling white paper describing the framework of meaning as "user generated context". What HML has done for rethinking the business model, (yes, following on the work of so many great bloggers; see my list gathered via SNA at Shared Knowledge Project) those in higher education should be doing to make sense of the flood of tools, technologies, places and spaces we're exploring daily.

We know the tools. (FYI: Jane Hart did a great job of compiling consensus on tools relevant to learning) but I don't think we're doing a very good job of making sense and meaning/demonstrating value of all this technology, chaos, beauty. Those who work in this realm (hey, I resemble that!) should move forward and take responsibility in getting the social, distributed, shared nature of digital knowledge incorporated into the fabric of higher education. I'm suggesting we stop promoting the tools and address the value. User generated context. Meaning. Value. Integration into the flow of the course and the desired outcomes of the discipline.

OK. Enough blogging. Chicago is calling my name. So is the pizza, italian beef with two peppers/dry, hot dogs with everything (neon relish, tomato, pickle, onion, mustard and NO ketchup), sudsy Leinenkugels, and muggy walks in verdant greenery. I'll defend desert life till my throat hurts but Chicago is a great place to visit after a rockin' workshop on Web 2.0.