He makes the claim that people around the world are more alike than they are different. His musical demonstration is nothing short of brilliant. He speaks very little in this audience participation, and I had never heard his speaking voice before. I was actually really shocked! But don't worry, be happy.
So many wonderful resources are available to educators today. Just in case you haven't come across this one, you may find this series, "7 Things You Should Know About..." presented by Educause Learning Initiative, helpful.
Recent topics from 2009 include:
Data Visualization II
Personal Learning Environments
Live Question Tool
Alternate Reality Games
Each topic, and many more are available, is a link to 7 things you should know about that topic. A brief description of the topic is presented below each link.
In our food diet, in our creative expression, in general purchasing decisions, in our quarterly return on investments we demand more, more, more. We are quick to make an acceptable level of sacrifice in quality to get a better deal. But the constant small sacrifices all add up. We have begun deceiving ourselves into believing we don't ever have to pay what something really actually costs over both the life of the product and our life expectancy and that of our children's. In fact, I'm not so sure we even consider what the actual cost of anything really is. We believe the lie: we can have everything we ever wanted faster and cheaper than ever before.
We fail to see the connection between the billions we pump into Walmart sales and the loss of manufacturing jobs in our country as well as the devastating human and environmental impact these purchases have on the other side of our ever shrinking world. We have substituted true freedom for freedom of choice on the discount rack. We listen to a steady diet of in today/out tomorrow tripe and wonder why creative artistic expression and careful deliberation that requires attention to nuance and inflection/reflection is dead. Well, we're probably too busy looking for the next big sale or must have hit to even notice the downward spiral massive consumption is really costing us financially, culturally, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Are our souls so bankrupt?
I have also observed a profound shift in our definition of and practice of faith as well, but I'll avoid this topic on my professional blog.
And I fear our current technology use is no exception. Distilling everything down to binary choices is just craziness: on or off circuits on a circuit board billions of times per second does not adequately represent the substance of soul I consider to be the breath of humanity. And I am an advocate for technology--technology well used to enhance the quality of the human experience, not dilute life with more facsimile, more "good enough" coming at us so fast we don't even notice we are accumulating a whole lot of nothing thinking we have more of something.
I had a great conversation with a university professor and department chair on Monday that was somewhat similar to this. True human connection will, in my humble opinion, never be replaced or adequately approximated by an electronic equivalent. I do not particularly like the direction our culture is rushing without much open, honest, principled thought or discussion.
Perhaps the American Indians understand something our culture completely has missed: Maybe, just maybe, every time you take a picture of someone, you really have stolen just a bit of his or her soul. The approximation is never adequate, but at how many megapixels do we consider it good enough?
The Digital Revolution Killed Quality By Rick Aristotle Munarriz August 18, 2009
We owe our senses an apology. In the mad dash for digital convergence, we have made compromises that are cheating our ears and our eyes. We put up with "near" CD and DVD quality, just for the sake of snappy downloads or greater variety from compressed content. Now, quality hounds are about to lose another battle.
Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone is overtaking Canon's (NYSE: CAJ) high-end EOS Rebel XTi as the most popular source for snapshot uploads to Yahoo!'s (Nasdaq: YHOO) photo-sharing site Flickr.
According to Flick's perpetually updated "camera finder" graph, the iPhone and Rebel XTi are neck-and-neck when it comes to populating the site with imagery.
The iPhone doesn't have a bad camera -- it's just not a very good one, relatively speaking. The new iPhone 3GS introduced autofocus and bumped up the megapixel count from two to three. However, there's no flash. There's no zoom. The quality pales when pitted against Canon's 10.1-megapixel workhorse.
The iPhone's camera may be good enough, but that doesn't mean that it's good.
Regression to compression We settle for the sake of immediacy and ad-supported freebies. Social networking sites will take your treasured photographs and put the squeeze on their quality for bandwidth's sake. Don't even get me started on the grainy mobile uploads!
We haven't been any kinder to moving pictures. "Instant watching titles are available in multiple levels of video quality," explains Netflix's (Nasdaq: NFLX) website. "Netflix automatically determines the level you receive by analyzing your current Internet speed. You can't select the video quality level yourself, and the level will change from time to time depending on actual network conditions."
It's hard to look a gift stream in the mouth, because Netflix offers digital playback at no additional cost to subscribers of its unlimited DVD plans. However, sometimes you pay and still have to settle for less than the original.
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) doesn't sell movie downloads in high-def. It offers television shows in HD, but it will only spit out temporary rentals if you crave high definition. And only recently did Apple begin selling HD movies through iTunes.
Oh my bleeding earbuds Audiophiles are suffering, too. Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) began charging most of its subscribers for online access earlier this year, in exchange for the promise of higher audio standards.
"The upgrading of this service allows for customers to listen at near CD-quality sound (128k) for a better listening experience," reads the site's FAQ.
It's definitely better than the original streams, but will folks really pay between $3 and $13 a month for "near" CD quality?
Then again, the sonic quality of satellite radio itself has long come under fire. "Don't get me wrong, I love Sirius' programming, but I hate the sound," wrote Steve Guttenberg in CNET's The Audiophiliac column last year. "It's grungy, harsh, with no actual high frequencies and muddy bass. The music's dynamics are squashed flat as Kansas so it sounds like a low bit MP3. Digital smigital, Sirius sounds awful, way worse than FM radio."
I'm not hating on satellite radio, because I too can't get enough of Sirius. I've been a subscriber for five years. However, championing quality on satellite radio is often a losing battle. Subscribers want more programming, yet broadening the channel list comes at the expense of crummier compression.
Sure, bitrates have improved over the past year. Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Zune offers MP3 files as high as 320k. That's a far cry from the 128k standard that most online stores were promoting just two years ago. Still, the MP3 format remains all about compression, even if a smaller subset of the audience notices.
The younger generation may not care. They've grown up jamming on their muddled iPods and watching grainy YouTube videos. They will never know the joys of vinyl wax, clean air, and Crystal Pepsi.
Consumers chose quantity over quality. Until a tech company can deliver both, I say the digital revolution is a failure.
If you are upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 you have to completely wipe your machine clean and start from scratch? Does Microsoft literally recommend you just purchase a new machine rather than upgrade? Is Walt serious? Inquiring minds (who avoid Windows as much as possible) have to know!
I frequently hear some technologist/educators advocating gaming in education and education in gaming. Then we have the whole Second Life experience which isn't really gaming but more of a virtual life. Perhaps this report from the CDC suggests a more thoughtful approach to these instructional strategy.
The average gamer, far from being a teen, is actually a 35-year-old man who is overweight, aggressive, introverted — and often depressed, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (download PDF). The study also shows that when children and teenagers become game players, a trend toward physical inactivity and corresponding health problems extends — and is exacerbated — into adulthood.
In the wee hours of this morning, around 4:30AM, I had my first experience with augmented reality. No, I wasn't dreaming. This was the real thing, just augmented!
"What is augmented reality?" you ask.
Let me explain.
I love Yelp, an application for the iPhone. Yelp is a social network in which those who participate share information about businesses. I first learned about The Veggie Grill through Yelp. Hundreds of people had eaten there, had liked it, had rated it highly, and wrote glowing comments about it. So I tried the restaurant, and now it is one of my favorites in LA.
The new version (3.0) of the Yelp application has a hidden feature. Apparently fearing the App Store might not approve the new concept, or perhaps this was a stroke of genius by the marketing department, no one knew the application had "The Monocle!" You have to go through secret gyrations, rather literally, to activate the hidden augmented reality feature set.
Monocle is sort of like a one-eyed Oracle. You launch the new version of Yelp on your iPhone and then shake the phone violently. After two attempts, the screen welcomed me to "The Monocle!"
Now, I hold my iPhone, running Yelp's Monocle, up in front of me and peer through the screen, which has activated the camera and shows me, on the screen, what is actually out in front of me--reality. As I move the iPhone around in 3D space, information overlays appear in the direction of restaurants ahead of me in that direction--augmenting reality in real time with overlaid information. I just follow.
I can touch any of the overlays (which contain a name, up to a 5 star rating, general pricing information, and the businesses category) to get detailed information about the business from the Yelp site. As I walk, Monocle guides me to the location I choose!
This is nothing short of radical!
Imagine the day you walk in front of a restaurant and the Monocle shows you the menu. Or, you walk by a store and the Monocle shows you the sale items inside!
Below is a screen shot from my iPhone when I was standing on the balcony looking out over the street below. Five restaurants were near me. (As you can see, I waited until day break to make the screen shot.)
We chose a nearby French restaurant, Creme de la Crepe Café, that had numerous positive reviews and a high rating. One touch later and Google Maps was providing us with turn by turn directions. I must recommend Creme de la Crepe Café, pictured below. The food was indeed authentic and delicious. The staff was French.
The challenges presented for this technology to work well: your databased longitude/latitude information must be spot on; you must have clear, unfettered access to the GPS signal and the compass. Also, when too many places are nearby, the screen becomes really difficult to read!