As part of my final project, I created 3 screencasts about Delicious and how tagging can be used as a learning tool.
As part of my final project, I created 3 screencasts about Delicious and how tagging can be used as a learning tool.
At the beginning of this semester, I didn’t know what to expect from the class, having received a description from my adviser that was vague at best. What I did not expect however, was a computer and internet oriented class that would completely change not only the way I viewed new media and the internet, but the way I viewed the classroom experience. I went in thinking that blogging was a ridiculous pastime for people who were obnoxiously desperate to be heard, (while some of those may exist) but I have learned that blogging is a chance to share experiences through a medium that literally has the ability to change the world. As I looked back over my past blogs, it was easy to see the progress I’ve made over the semester. In the beginning, my blog post were just a regurgitation of whatever I had read. But by the end, I’d learned not only how to read ☺ but also how to blog. My favorite blog was the Alien Education blog. It was the first time that I thought through the reason that the reading was assigned. I had read it, and I was originally frustrated because I couldn’t think of anything to write about. But when I took the time to evaluate, not what the story was about, but rather, why it was important that I read the story, I suddenly realized the significance. Blogging has become a way for me to clarify my thoughts. Even if they aren’t clear on my blog, writing them out certainly helps clarify them in my mind. I’ve done reader response journals and the like before, but they were rarely augmented by meaningful class discussion. Furthermore, I didn’t ever read anyone else’s journal. But blogging helped me not only map out my own ideas, but also listen to the ideas of other students as I read and commented on their blogs. I plan to continue blogging when I study abroad next semester, and hopefully as I continue my education in other venues.
However, I digress. The main point of this post is to talk about delicious. When I originally thought about my project, I had planned to incorporate dictionaries. However, when Dr. Campbell had a moment of insight (what you blog about is what you think about, brilliant!!) it became clear that delicious and tagging was the avenue I should go down. Because I tag everything. In the beginning of the semester, I was hesitant to tags sites because I was unsure if they were related. But Dr. C assured me it didn’t matter. Because there’s no such thing as random. While the thought process may seem random to the outsider, it always makes sense to the person who is thinking it. However we go down the path, we know the paths we took to get there. So nothing is random, and that means that whatever I chose to tag would be relevant. So while some of my tags ended up being related to new media, for example, The Media Lab, but other things were not (i.e. Robert Frost poetry).
As I experimented with delicious, I learned new things. I experimented with some of the options delicious presented, like creating blog posts of my tags. (That one never actually worked). Every time I stumbled across something new, I tagged it. I looked at other people’s blogs, and the blogs that they had linked to. I explored tags, tag clouds, wordels. Everything that I found I explored. It added up to a lot of hours doing essentially nothing, but in truth every page I found was something new I learned. Before this class I had never heard of half the things and people I know about now. That’s part of why this class was such a learning experiment.
Delicious was the place where I got to catalog all of my randomness. It was a library, of sorts, for all of my “books”. But instead of paperbacks, my library was full of websites. And the beauty of delicious was that all of my sites were connected. I could click on the tag “education” and find sites about Siftables and stupid grammar advice. Even though the two sites were seemingly unrelated, they both concerned education. I could look up other tags related to education, or just focus on my ten most popular tags. I could subscribe to other users bookmarks, including people in my class. And I could set up RSS feeds in my blog for specific bookmarks.
Delicious was a place to experiment with everything. But the best part about delicious wasn’t bookmarking sites or making tag clouds. The best part was tagging a website. Not very monumental to the unobservant, but it is really a learning moment. For example, when I first came across the Jon Udell blog, I maybe read the first post before I decided to tag it. My first instinct was to tag it as “blog” but delicious also recommends tags: your most popular tags, and the most common tags by other users. Here is where the learning occurs. After tagging it blog, I looked at the delicious suggested tags. They included, among other things, “programming, web2.0, screencast, and technology” At the time, I didn’t realize that Udell was such a technology guru, but after looking at his suggested tags, I did some more research. I looked up web2.0 and stumbled across, among others, Tim O’Reilly. From there, I expanded even more. I looked up my other web2.0 tags, and they included everything from tinyurl.com to Tim Berners-Lee’s TedTalk and WorldCat (which is actually a real library).
The beauty of delicious isn’t the organization and the bookmarks, thought they are a central feature. The beauty of delicious is its ability to serve as a learning tool. To help the user realize that education is more than textbooks and Baby Einstein CDs. Web2.0 is more than twitter and facebook.
Overall, this class has been a major learning experience. Ironically, it was only as a senior that I started to learn about how to learn. The saddest part is that I won’t really be able to apply this knowledge to very many more classes, but I suppose we’re always learning, so there’s still a chance to apply myself. Being in this class has given me a chance to evaluate not only how I learn, but how others learn as well, and how education should be changed to allow for the best learning possible.
Well to start off, let me say that this class has not been at all what I thought it was going to be…it was focused a lot more on literature concerning new media than I anticipated. When I registered I saw that we were going to look at youtube and mmorpgs and I needed another honors course…so why not right?…so coming into it, I was expecting a lot more hands-on new media work…learning how to use youtube, flickr, social networking and the sort…but what I got was a pleasant surprise…focusing on the theory and philosophy of new media probably would not have been something that I would have found interesting before, but in the end, im glad I took the course (I guess this could relate to our metaphor of taking a path less traveled and finding unexpected things for ourselves…)
When originally thinking about my final project at the beginning of the semester, I was set on doing something with iLife and my brand spankin new MacBook Pro (spankin new at the time anyway…about a month after school started, they released the new macbooks…very frustrating to say the least)…all the commercials made it look fun and easy to use, so I wanted to try it for myself…i wanted to make a movie about something that interested as the class progressed…that didnt happen….i found that the concept of web 2.0 interested me and decided that a movie probably was not the route I wanted to take with it. Keeping my desire to work with video and wanting to emphasize the ease of posting content on the internet, I decided to create a facebook group. As the kids say it these days, epic fail…
All excited, I created the Facebook group Web 2.0/New Media- Your Thoughts…the concept was for my facebook friends (and I emphasize facebook friends) to leave video responses to various discussion topics that I proposed through video posts…and here my original intent to create a movie came back…after the mid-semester conference with dr. Campbell, I decided to make a sort of montage video of the discussions with their responses…the idea for the group was really something I would have liked to work out because I wanted to know what the general public thought of new media (or at least the theory and philosophy of new media and its effect on learning)….and I found out too- they could care less…i posted my first discussion topic and hoped for the best…turns out the best is two text responses and one facetious video response (and this is out of hundreds of friends mind you…)…and even after several pleas for contributions from my the online community, not much else happened…
So about a month and a half ago, after deleting the group, I tried starting up a wiki (i dont recall whether or not I actually made the class aware of it…) I made it through wetpaint and got everything set up…but that didnt go anywhere either…i figured that users werent very likely to leave a well established new media discussion website for my bare bones and essentially empty wiki…fail number two.
So with a month to go I started to worry about how I was going to get this project done…that is, until we had our project discussion days in class…dr. Campbell noticed that I was a visual person, posting videos and pictures to delicious, my blog, and the wiki and suggested I do something with flickr…and more specifically, with the group “Tell a Story in 5 frames”…and having nowhere else to turn, I went for it…
Flickr, I learned was an very well established online community…despite having only heard about it recently…and using flickr meant going out and taking pictures and getting to use iPhoto…so I got to use my super awesome mac (now an iMac) after all…
Flickr is self described as “almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world” (quite a statement if you ask me, but so far, theyve backed it up)…it was founded in 2004 by the married couple Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake. Ludicorp was later absorbed by Yahoo inc…flickr was originally focused on FlickrLive, a chatroom with real-time photo exchange and later developed into an online community and additional features were added including the expansion into video.
Flickr’s goals (which have been somewhat if not completely realized) were to help people make their content available to the people who matter to them and to enable new ways of organizing photos and video. This means making it easy and appealing for people to use- they needed to make it fantic (coined by Ted Nelson in Computer Lib/Dream Machines…also, turns out my blog is the first result in google for “ted nelson fantics”)…and they have. Flickr is one of the easiest photo uploading services to use because of its extensive accessibility. I can (and have) upload photos from the internet, my iPhone (any mobile device with email would work), photo software (such as iPhoto, which I used to post my pictures used in my stories)…but we all know that posting them and having them on the internet is not enough…we have to share and engage. And we can do that through flickr.com, rss feeds, blogs, and email.
Flickr also uses its Organizr, a web app that allows users to organize their photos into sets (which are in essence, virtual albums- which helps if you take a lot of photos). Flickr also encourages users to further categorize and organize their photos through tags and relies heavily on the interaction of users within the online community through the implementation of comments, tags, annotations, and notes that can all be added by users to a photo.
I’ll save my favorite part of my experience to the very end and proceed with my actual project…I joined “Tell a story in 5 frames”…its rules were: limit of 5 photos per story; any subject, but should tell a visual story; a title is the only words that can be used. Rely on the photographs to bring the story to life. In the group, members respond by relating in their own words the story that they see, or critique the story and/or photographs and open the story up to discussion.
My first post was titled Information Consolidation, which was probably the most applicable to the literature weve read throughout the semseter (mainly the memex, and augmenting human intelect)…my intent of the story (which some understood and some didnt and had a different interpretation on which is the point of the group) was to show the flow of information both on a micro scale (opinions that are spoken then printed in newspapers, then into books, and on the internet) and an overall scale (the history of information passing through spoken word, then into print, and finally through the computer/internet)
My second and third posts were simultaneous…a day in the Life of a college student was something I wanted to do since I decided to work with flickr…ive noticed that my own schedule has been sort of consistent with studying, interacting with people, and finding just enough time to sleep…so thats the concept behind that story (sorry nothing too profound with this one)
My third post is the one that I am most proud of- The Forgotten Side of Town…being involved with Baylor Students for Social Justice, I wanted to portray how privileged we are here on the Baylor campus and how the rest of waco is a heavily poverty stricken city…the first time I went downtown to get a picture of old, worn down buildings, I didnt expect to get pictures like the ones I did…when I took the picture of the homeless man I was also surprised how quickly I was able to find impoverished people…the picture of the 8th street bridge was a sort of “tunnel of oppression” that I wanted to connect the two polar sides of waco (I had intended the title to be “polar bridge”, but I felt that some would misinterpret it and expect snow or something…) I also made it a point to bookend the story with pictures of people (a fantic parallel- youre drawn in by people interacting with each other and left with a somber photo of a single wandering man)…what was also interesting was the way I successfully manipulated the concept of time… as scott mccloud would note, theres no way of telling how much time has passed between the photos, so I shot them all around the same time during the day…not on the same day, but at the same time to maintain consistency…
Finally (and this is what I really liked about the project)- the unexpected outcomes of my work…the comments on my stories were not all that profound or substantial but enough for me to discover a baylor alumnus that was also part of the group and had actually posted the pig and rhino story that won last month…i also tried to leave waco to get more “cultural” pictures, but found that I was more able to relate to the environment that I know…it was also easier getting pictures by just walking around with my camera, not knowing what I was looking for (also a past class discussion)…but my favorite part about working with flickr was the explore function it has- you can discover new photos and video by exploring them through a map, a calendar, a tag cloud, and my favorite- THE PANDA!…ill admit- ive become less critical of the idea that conncections can be made by happenstance and that “exploring” and following links and connections can increase learning…
*Note- more pictues would have been added, but unfortunately, the blog seems to want me to upload them one at a time, so instead, i’ve tried my best to provide all the links neccessary to see the photos and websites i mention…
listening to Dr. Philip Long today was really interesting…his keynote adressed, although emphasized on undergraduate research, seemed to fit in perfectly with this semester’s class discussions. What was interesting was his scientific view on education and his opinion that using freshmen for researchers was the best way to innovate. he discussed the use of technology in education and that was nice, but what really intrigued me was his response to one of the questions after his presentation- whether or not our current education system could be retrofitted to promote true, out of the classroom learning…his response?…the entire system has to be redone and we need to start over and rebuild our education system from the bottom up…as i thought about it, my imagination took over and i began to reimagine the entire school system where research, application, and true learning took priority over grades, money, and politics…if we ever get to this point (which seems utopian at the moment) there’s no telling what we could learn…
my paper on my project is coming soon….
Left my computer with 3 and a half hours worth of rendering last night and it had some kind of error so I’m currently re-rendering that, once it’s done I’ll have just a little time to finish rendering the final cut of the video and get it compressed / uploaded. It will be finished and ready to show by the presentation, but it’s been a hectic 48 hours or so to get to this point.
As I was working on the project I came up with ideas (the process of working on it changed my concept for the end result somewhat) and I ended up trying to draw modern parallels in technology to much of what Engelbart talks about. Some of what he says in defining the HIRC’s goals couldn’t really be visualized so I went with some abstract, symbolic visuals in those places. I edited the original audio a ton, sometimes just cutting out single words hear and there for clarity, other times removing pauses between words to give it a rhythm that would mesh with the music. Hopefully the result will be something that is interesting and relevant not only to people already interested in the subject, but to anybody who uses modern technology. That’s part of what made ‘The Machine is Using Us’ so good and I hope I can attain a similar feel in my video.
I think the project is coming together now, I have about a minute of footage finished. I also have the whole 4:30 worth of audio cut together along with original music I’ve composed to accomodate the speech. Hopefully it’ll blend with the visuals, there remains a lot of work to be done but at least I’ll have finished audio to follow as a guide now…
Finally got around to looking through the body of the presentation, and slowly came to the realization that this would be a really technical, boring video if I just tried to cover the key points of the demo. Much of it is very slow and tedious, and Engelbart frequently messes up and has to backtrack; seeing the presentation in its entirety helps me to understand perhaps part of why the ‘mother of all demos’ didn’t make huge waves and influence rapid progress at the time. It’s not a very concise presentation, and it’s clear he hasn’t rehearsed a lot of it before, often he stops mid sentence and goes for minutes at a time without speaking while he resolves a technical issue. Instead, I think I’ll need to focus it on the philosophy and goals behind the HIRC’s research, a little under halfway through the presentation Engelbart talks about this.
Last night delicous.com was in my dream, which, while decidedly odd, got me thinking about some things. I’ve been focused mainly on the moment of learning that comes when a site is tagged, but while looking at my delicious tags, I noticed that they are also all connected to each other by their shared tags. For example, I tagged two sites as “web2.0″. One was the Institute for the Future of the Book, and the other was LinkedIn.com, a social job networking site. Both are rightly tagged as web2.0, and yet, we tend to focus the definition of web2.0 as that thing which it is related to in the tag, rather than the whole definition. In other words, when I see the Insititute for the Future of the Book, and its tag, web2.0, I think about how web2.0 and If:book are related. I don’t think about social networking and web2.0 until I look at LinkedIn.com, but both are part of the total definition of web2.0. By looking at the tags as a whole, rather than just an individual site and its tags, we learn more about not only the site we tagged, but also the meaning of the tag itself.
This essay is interesting (and clearly outdated- “If you haven’t yet experienced the Web…”). The majority of it is really technical as far as explaining how the different protocols work. It is also interesting how this essay seems to have a lot of ideas that we have discussed in it (which makes sense it being the last essay and all):
The W3, with its hypertext, describes a system similar to the memex.
One of the goals was to make it accessible to the masses- Alan Kay style.
Another one of the goals was to make it as easy to edit and organize as it is to read, which relates to our delicious bookmarks and tagging as well as the wiki.
The essay also talks about having different media available on the W3…which relates to the idea that the medium is the message…
On the subject of my project, I still have a few more pictures to take…but already have ideas on when and how I’m going to get them…I plan on posting up two more stories, which may seem to be rushing things…but I have had the ideas for these stories for a while and am quickly running out of time to execute them…I am saving what I hope will be the most effective story for last…