If you like this, you’ll also be interested in the webinar Erin and her colleague Michelle Levesque ran for the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme last Friday. In that session, they discussed Mozilla’s work around web literacies.
Tag: Google (page 2 of 5)
This exchange on Google+ with Rob Poulter (referencing my previous post on platforms and standards) got me thinking. The highlights are below.
Ultimately I don’t think the problem is between native vs web, the problem is one of closed vs open, and not in a Google PR way. The things we tend to care about in the online world are services, not apps. Services see us passing responsibility for our data on to a third party, and usually based on features rather than interoperability or longevity. At the end of the day, if there’s something which we would mind losing, it’s our responsibility to keep it, not some third party.
My issue, I suppose is platforms becoming de facto standards because ‘everyone uses them’. Kind of like Dropbox and Twitter and so on…
There’s definitely an elision which I need to resolve in my thinking between ‘HTML5 webapps’ and ‘openness’. Thanks for the pointers!
The standards thing is tough I guess. Who wants to be the business that boasts of how easy it is to jump ship? Especially for social applications like Twitter, Facebook, G+ etc (Dropbox and other personal services not so much since they tend to compete on features and can’t rely on “hey, all your friends are here, you’re not going anywhere”).
I pointed out that Google Takeout actually does allow you to export your data from Google to other platforms. But, as Rob responded, not the comments on other people’s posts.
All of this made me think about my principles for using software and web services. It reminded me of Baltasar Gracian’s constant reminders in The Art of Worldly Wisdom (which I read on constant repeat) that it’s easy to begin well, but it’s the ending well that counts.
So, I’ve come up three principles to guide me:
- I will use
free andOpen Source software wherever possible. (I’m after the sustainable part of OSS, not the ‘free’ part)
- If this is not possible then I will look for services which have a paid-for ‘full-fat’ offering.
- I will only use proprietary services and platforms without a paid-for option if not doing so would have a significant effect on my ability to connect with other people.
What’s in and what’s out? I’ll stick with Twitter and Google+ (but will try to connect with people I follow in additional ways). Evernote, Spotify, Skype and Dropbox are fine for the time being (I pay for them). I’ll try and move away from GMail and Google Calendar.
Any suggestions for replacements?
My second post for DMLCentral is now live. It won’t spoil the surprise to tell you that I think the thing Google, OSS and digital literacies have in common is openness. Read the post to see why.
(I’m at the mercy of DMLCentral’s editors who have added sub-titles, including one that states, ‘Openness is a literacy’. This was not my idea – I see openness as a ‘habit of mind’, NOT a ‘literacy’. I’m sure it will be corrected by the time you click on this link!)
This is a scheduled post whilst I’m on holiday in the UAE – my apologies if I don’t respond to comments straight away!
“The most important word on the internet is not “Search”. The most important word on the internet is “Share”. Sharing is the driver. Sharing is the DNA. We use Social Objects to share ourselves with other people. We’re primates. We like to groom each other. It’s in our nature.” (Hugh McLeod)
Sometimes you read things that coalesce previously disparate thoughts you’ve had and package them up in a way that is usable. It’s my hope to do that both here and at Synechism Ltd. (indeed, you can hire me to help you do so with the latter). My favourite writers are those that help me find a lens on my Quinean ‘web of beliefs’ so that I understand both myself and the world I inhabit in ways that are useful.
Hugh McLeod, of gapingvoid cartoons-on-the-back-of-business-cards fame, has evolved from a cartoonist to an excellent writer in the mould of the above. In a recent post, entitled Social Objects are the future of marketing he explains what he means by the term ‘Social Object’ and how such items can connect people.
“Things change because of people interacting with other people, rather than technology or design really doing things to people.” (Mark Earls)
We’re all geeks, points out Hugh, as “we’re all enthusiastic about something outside ourselves” – and those things that make us excited “act as Social Objects within a social network of people who care passionately about the stuff.” He cites the Apple iPhone as an example, but points out that almost anything can serve as one.
What interests me is that Google seem to have recognised that search is almost like a utility: we expect it to be there and work properly. Search, in an of itself, is not very exciting. Where do we share the things we find interesting? Social networks! Is it any surprise, then, that Google+ has emerged? Google earns the majority of its money through advertising and social networking is where the advertising money’s going – just ask Facebook.
So if we want to gain traction with projects such as Purpos/ed* we’d do well to employ the following 5 Principles of Social Objects that Hugh has drawn up:
- You should be able to define the social object your service is built around.
- Define your verbs that your users perform on the objects.
- How can people share the objects?
- Turn invitations into gifts.
- Charge the publishers, not the spectators.
In a world of social networking, people have to have something to talk about to connect them. Stand out from the crowd and stop endlessly re-sharing and retweeting other people’s stuff. Create your own!
Image CC BY-NC Shira Golding
* We’re having a bit of a summer break with Purpos/ed – there’s a cadence to engagement that we want to respect.
As I attend an increasing number of conferences, I’m becoming more and more aware of differences in approach taken by educational technology-related companies. Broadly-speaking, they can be represented on a continuum from ‘conspiring’ to ‘inspiring’ (place each on the left or the right depending on your political preferences).
To my mind, there’s three ways in which an edtech company can be inspiring:
- Develop a product or way of learning that changes the parameters of the debate
- Model effective practices with a demonstrable commitment to pedagogy
- Solve a genuine learning problem
The first type can usually only be done by someone as large as Google, someone with the money, time and resources to either invent or mainstream something that changes conversations about learning and teaching.
The third type, solving a genuine learning problem (not a pseudo-problem or manufactured crisis) is important. Let me attempt to explain the subtle difference between conspiring and inspiring:
- If you’re providing a way to make examinations faster and cheaper without adding any value to the process, then you’re conspiring.
- If your business model is predicated upon an ‘average teacher’ or lecturer who is hostile to technology, then you’re conspiring.
- If you uncritically apply the latest fad, buzzword or way of describing your product to what you’re offering, then you’re conspiring.
Involving yourself and your company in the above means conspiring to rob students of authentic and valuable educational experiences. You’re conspiring, at the end of the day, to enrich yourself and your colleagues at the expense of learners.
How, then, can edtech companies, inspire?
- By making more intuitive something (educationally-valuable) that was previously difficult, awkward or tricky.
- By helping engage learners through pedagogically-sound processes and not just shiny toys and impressive graphics.
- By treating teachers as professionals who care about educational experiences without castigating them for not necessarily jumping on the latest bandwagon.
The Inspiring/Conspiring continuum, then, is my new method of judging edtech companies. I’ve seen some of both at the conference I’m currently attending, and I’ll be avoiding BETT 2011 (based on past experience) due to too much of a focus at the wrong end of the continuum.
As I explained to Gavin Cooney, CEO of Learnosity, after BETT 2008 I was fairly convinced that their offering, a method of recording students for language learning, was in the ‘conspiring’ camp. I couldn’t see how they were adding value. Now that I’ve actually seen what they do, I’m more convinced to place them in the other camp. It can be subtle, as it’s often one of emphasis, but anything that allows learners of a compulsory foreign language to enjoy what they’re doing, pseudocontext to be avoided through real-world learning, and teachers to have access to intuitive technology, is OK by me. 🙂
Remember the hype just before and during the launch of Google Wave on 30 September 2009? It was going to be revolutionary, change the way we work forever, and oh! to have an invite…
And then reality hit home. What can you actually do with it?
It was all a bit… meh. 🙁
Google certainly does love the ‘release early, release often’ mantra. That means, of course, that its offerings tend to get better as time goes on. And this is certainly true of Google Wave.
As you can see from the screenshot above, when you go to create a new wave you are given 6 templates from which to choose. Below is the ‘Task tracking’ option:
When you throw the extensions into the mix, you’ve got a very powerful collaborative tool. The iFrame gadget, in particular, is an extremely valuable option. I can imagine, for example, distributed teams using Google Wave for meetings. They’d use the meeting or brainstorm template, add the ‘Yes/No/Maybe’ gadget and the ‘Map’ gadget to organise a face-to-face meetup. There’s also several gadgets to turn Google Wave into the liveblogging app to end all liveblogging apps:
I’m going to be recommending Google Wave for meetings, project management and more over the next few weeks/months – both at work and for ‘extra-curricular’ activities. I’ll also be purchasing The Complete Guide to Google Wave by Gina Trapani’s, of Lifehacker fame. The book’s also freely available to read online – probably for a limited period only. 😀
Are YOU using Google Wave? What for?