Tag Archives: facebook

Lots going on today

I have a strategic planning team meeting here in a few minutes so I’ll be as brief as possible.  There are a lot of very interesting stories that hit last night and I want to get to them all.

First, there’s a very detailed instructional on how to turn the iPod Touch into an “iPhone” using a touchmod microphone and SIP-VoIP.  Right now, you have to use one of the other VoIP services since Skype’s not using SIP.  But really?  Come on.  That’s not that big of a dealbreaker is it?

So, first you just jailbreak the iTouch, then you install this software, set up an account with a VoIP service, and plug in the microphone and you’re off.

Reportedly, sound quality isn’t where it could be but, I have faith that it will get there eventually.

And if you want to fee old?  Here’s a video of a fetus who’s turned his iTouch into an iPhone.  If he can do it…

Speaking of kids…

People are getting sick and tired of Facebook’s viral apps.  You know, the ones that force you to invite all your friends before you can waste time using them?  It’s funny, people seem to clamor for extensibility, until the reality of it hits them.

Over in the art department, there’s a VERY cool set of 16 Aviary tutorials which teach you how to do all kinds of cool tricks with photo manipulation.  And before you ask, yes, this is applicable to Photoshop with just a little know how.

Old man take a look at my life

The above trick has to be my favorite.

Before you go clicking on there, beware, there may be some content that is not suitable for children or work.

Finally, on the Western Front of net neutrality, researchers at our very own University of Washington have developed a software tool that proves that ISPs are dicking around with web traffic. As it turns out, a few ISPs are already injecting advertising into your datastream.  Lets hope the big boys don’t get wind of this, or they’ll all be doing it.

OK, well, that’s it, see you tomorrow!

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One way, or another

Good day. Well, it’s been a while since I blogged here.  What’s it been… yuck, the 27th?  Wow, more than a week.

I did start to write a blog but then stopped as stuff got out of control with my Phase 3 committee responsibilities.  Looks like things are starting to calm back down on that front so I have had time to peruse the tech news for interesting stories and have come up with two.

The first is about everyone’s favorite Web 2.0 application platform: Facebook.  It seems that some enterprising kids started doing a virtual study hall using a Facebook account’s wall as the place where students could post questions and answers to each other.  This ran afoul of the student code of conduct and now the ringleader is facing expulsion.  I can sort of see the kid’s point: this is just an electronic version of what they were already doing in one of their study groups.  But the problem is that the students were told that this was an individual assignment.  They weren’t supposed to be answering those questions as a group REGARDLESS of what technology is used to facilitate that group work.  That’s what violated the student code, not that they used Facebook to do it (as the poorly written article suggests).

This case, though, is interesting to me because it is an intersection of two ideas that are currently floating around inside my head like and unflushed turd: non-foundational views of knowledge and the modern student’s irrational openness with personal information on these Web 2.0 platforms.

On the one hand this is a clash between foundational and non-foundational learning.  In the foundational model, teachers have the knowing of a great many things, which they then impart of the tabula rasa of the student.  This is how I was taught and I hated it.  Teachers and libraries were places filled with intimidating professionals who supposedly knew more than you.  Your job as student was to shut up, never question them and let them fill your mind with “facts.”  God forbid if you solved a math problem differently or questioned the hegemony of any answer.  As I’ve gotten older, I can see some benefit to this type of teaching, it has its place.  But even if a teacher is taking a more foundational approach, they will allow for some non-foundational questioning of their “authority.”

The completely non-foundational approach states that there is a social construction of knowledge.  This approach encourages group learning and at its extremes (see, Bruffee 1995) sees all knowledge creation as fundamentally social.  The modern student has to do a LOT of non-foundational learning (or as I would argue, foundational learning cloaked as non-foundational learning).  When I was at the iSchool it was over half our grade for most classes.  Thus, from the student’s perspective they were just participating in what they always participate in: collaborative learning.  This is such an important buzzword right now that the author of the article doesn’t even question whether the collaboration is allowed but instead passes the collaboration off as a function of Facebook.  Thus, Facebook is seen as the problem; if only the students had been studying in a room in the library the faculty would have never known (or, the implication is, cared).

It really does highlight how collaborative this generation has become.  The student in that article knows that she was supposed to complete the work alone “While Neale admits the professor stipulated the online homework questions were to be done independently, she said it has long been a tradition for students to brainstorm homework in groups, particularly in heavy programs such as law, engineering and medicine.”  And yet, she set up the Facebook account anyway… I guess there’s just no reasoning with common sense.

And while on that one hand there’s the common sense notion that doing work individually really means collaboratively there’s also this disconnect between what they are doing and that the program is public.  The two things are inextricable.  I know that the kids nowadays don’t like us “Grups” getting Facebook accounts and befriending them or even looking at what they are doing with their lives.  But I have a newsflash for you… IT’S PUBLIC.  In fact, the fact that it’s group work should have been your first clue.  If your best friend can’t keep a secret what makes you think people who don’t like you can keep a secret?  And again, this isn’t a Facebook phenomena: it wouldn’t matter what social networking site you used the “Grups” will find out and you will get in trouble.  It’s called “privacy” look into it sometime, kid.

The other story that caught my attention is that Apple has finally peeked their heads out of the clouds and deigned to open the iPhone and iPod touch to developers.   OH GLORIOUS DAY!!!  You mean that I can now pay for the privilege to pay for third party developers to install programs on the iPod touch???  When will Apple’s largess ever end?  This kind of stuff really pisses me of.  You can already hack the iPod touch and install a ton of apps.  So, sure, open it up that makes sense.  After all, the more useful this device is, the more likely people are to adopt it.  BUT NOW YOU WANT ME TO PAY???  ARGGGGGH.

I predict I will be buying tons of apps for the iPod touch.

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Teens Turn to Nexopia?

A story out of Canada posits that Facebook is on its way out and Nexopia on its way in (outside link here). I dunno. I don’t see a 1% dip in traffic to Facebook as a sign of its doom. Hell, that could be accounted for by the demise of or wising up to of several of the most annoying applications that are now running amok there. Or it could be accounted for by the death of Scrabulous. For those of you who haven’t listened to NPR Scrabulous is… wait — what am I saying???

Anyway, I don’t think Facebook is in too much trouble. Sure, hipsters move from trendy thing to trendy thing and then ditch it as soon as others discover it. But, there are too many mainstream people wasting time on Facebook now for it to be declared dead because a few kids are on some other social networking site.

No, the death of Facebook will happen when people realize that basically they are spamming each other with pointless messages all day. Or when some group of hackers launches a virus that takes advantage of the system’s extensibility, connectivity, and ubiquitousness. Then, on August 4, 1997 Facebook will become self aware and launch a pre-emptive strike against humanity in the form of some cute and cuddly kitten application.

But seriously, the kids are probably already looking for the next social networking site because their parents and everyone else are already on Facebook. I doubt Nexopia is the “next big thing.” The next big thing is more likely some combination of wiki, Facebook, and Second life.  Facewiklife: a place where kids can create avatars and cyber each other, talk smack about their teachers, have cute kittens and cool clothes, but their parents aren’t allowed.

Finally, I’m going to leave you with what I think is a very challenging article on the nature of technology, race, gender, and poverty. Dale Dougherty challenges us by asking

Is the high-tech world indifferent to the problems of the poor? Do we have any competence that matters in helping them find a better life? Or are we just making “the happy few” that much happier?

His argument is a powerful one and backed by common sense data. 20 years ago, you could live a middle-class life on a high-school diploma and now people with Master’s degrees are worried about job prospects unless they get a second Master’s degree. If it’s that hard for people with that much education to earn enough to even pay off their student loans, then how much harder is it for people in a working class city like Tacoma who have no college degree?

And this happens, Dale argues, because it is too often true that technologists and other professionals spend their time making innovations for each other rather than for the people who probably need it most. Leaving poor people and the underserved with what used to be called the digital divide.  Sure, there are places like One Laptop Per Child who are trying to bring some technology into some people’s lives.  But the technological difference between that $100 laptop and an iPhone is vast and neigh insurmountable.  The facts are clear, technology is exploding among the wealthy and being used to create more wealth and the poor are getting poorer and more disenfranchised by technology.

Now, one of the many things that I love about working here is that we do what we can to provide tools for the poor to make a better life for themselves: whether it’s through access to the grant making software, to our collections, or just simply access to information. If “the network plus the database is the computer” then at some level we are at the forefront of computer access for all of Tacoma, right?

And that’s why I spend almost as much time making, maintaining, and planning for the public systems as I do for the student systems. This is not to toot my own horn, but rather to say that as we are transitioning from the old, bricks and mortar, academic library into whatever kind of library we all think we should be; we should keep in mind that we are the public’s first, and sometimes only, gateway to “the computer.” And we, as librarians and library staff, have a historical and cultural obligation to continue, nay, expand that access. If we choose the other path (restricting access) I think we run the danger of becoming no more than gatekeepers for corporate databases.

You’re all probably tired of hearing this from me and unfortunately you’ll probably have to hear about this in the future.  You all know how tenacious I can be.

Anyway, check back later to see if there are any updates or more tech news about the library.


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