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Category Archives: Mobile

Will you buy an Apple Watch to save time or eliminate ‘gaps’?

I’m not being a Luddite here when I say that the Apple Watch could be the killer app in social – as in being the thing that kills our ability to be social beings.

I’ve followed the developments of the smart watch for more than a year now, and have even talked to students and many others about it. I come at these ‘smart’ devices from this angle: Like all things in technology, whether or not we need the product of service, whether or not we approve of the trend, it’s important to stay tuned to what dimension is opens up. Technology seldom turns out to be what it started off as.

  • Facebook is less and less about making friends. It is now all about gathering and sharing data, and you are its accomplice.
  • Twitter did the classic pivot, from being a neat way to bypass the clunky Internet and stay in touch with a few, to turn into a one-to-many engine.
  • Quora (I’m not sure how many of you you still use it) began as a great community, but is also a search engine.
  • Instagram was once a terrific creative space until the selfie-obsessed discovered it

As for the Apple Watch, it opens up a new solution to the ‘stop staring at your phone’ problem. But just because it reduces the number of times someone will take a phone out of his/her pocket, it could start a whole new trend. Siri users, for instance will find it irresistible.

My comments to the story on TechCrunnch was that there’s a boon and a dark side. We hear that the best ideas are formed when we are offline.

To which I came this comment: “A big benefit of wearables is the sensors, don’t have to use it for notifications. Not that it will stop people engaging in info overload if it’s readily available.” The point is well taken, Michael Mahemoff. But I am glad you mentioned information overload.

Mind the ‘gaps’ – This is the perfect time to introduce Michael Powers (“Hamlet’s Blackberry“) who wrote extensively on this. He makes a great observation of “the gap” we need between utilitarian devices and the best uses we put them to. If you pile on screen experiences, says Powers, “there are no gaps in your connectedness (and) you never get to that place where the most valuable benefits are.”

I love the look and the convenience of a smart watch, but I don’t welcome it. I don’t think you need to be pro something and therefore against its disruptor.I adapted to an ebook reader, yet will always read and buy books made of atoms.

But just like Google Glass this is one wearable I will skip because if only because it eliminates the ‘gaps’ I am not willing to give up.

Take the poll, and let me know. Or leave a comment.

 

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Steve Jobs Vs Maria Montessori – Who Won?

I envision a debate between the late founders of two institutions that have impacted hundreds of thousands of children.

Steve Jobs is at his podium with a sleek tablet (downloading material from the Cloud, so to speak).

Maria Montessori is holding up a handful of sand-paper letters.

The debate begins, and Dr. Montessori, who doesn’t care to introduce herself, begins handing out rectangles of sand-paper, and pink blocks to anyone who cares to listen. Jobs is tap-tapping away on an iPad with retina display and fingerprint recognition.

But seriously, I have been fascinated to see how often modern educators, and people from all areas of student involvement invoke Maria Montessori today. I just came across an article by Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire, among other things. He goes on to talk of her “education of the senses”

Montessori describes other exercises that encourage children to explore the sense of touch: setting out metal containers of water heated at six degree intervals; tablets made of three different woods that differ in weight by six grams; other tablets that have alternating strips of smooth paper and sandpaper.

Now you know why I was temped to compare the world’s best-known tablet promoter, and user of old-fashioned tablets!

 

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Education, Mobile, Technology

 

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Phone calls are cool, once again

Are phone calls back in business?

After all the texting, WhatsApping and refusing to pick up the phone (because you wanted the caller to not waste your time, when a SMS would suffice), it appears that people are returning to real conversations.

Or am I just being optimistic?

Here’s a shocker: In 2013, Skype carried an estimated 214 billion minutes of international “on-net” calls (that’s defined as calls made from one Skype app to another).

That’s in spite of the rise of Viber and Line, and even Google Hangouts which do the same job, or better. There’s also an emerging standard known as VoLTE, that’s supposedly about to deliver ‘infallible voice service’ that’s different from the VOIP standard. It’s too technical to go into this here. But the big picture is that soon, when voice calls become cheaper, and more high def, it’s going to make us want to return to those conversations.

For my Mum’s 90th birthday, last week, I was able to speak to her, and get some half-decent face-time with cousins, thanks to Skype. To me Skype is the trusty service, in the same way that land-lines were some 20 years ago, never mind the poor quality of the line. I still use these ‘over-the-top (OTT) applications, but whenever I yearn for close encounters, there’s nothing like a phone call!

 
 

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Back To Work and… Chat Republic

It’s been quite summer. Just returned from a one-week break, headlong into school.

While this blog’s been quiet, so much has transpired – controversies, new questions arising about what happens when citizens ‘speak out’ or question governments, and the (expected) paranoia about Chat Apps.

Just came across this post by Groundviews, about my book. It serves as a good backgrounder to some of the topics discussed in Chat Republic.

For those of you who have sent me Q&As about the book, my sincere apologies. Meanwhile there’s a lot happening in eduction that’s equally fascinating, as my school, and my class, specifically gets into a S-T-E-M eduation program this year. You can find out more about my work in this realm at Voices-On.com

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Chat Republic, Education, Mobile

 

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Always on, always live

We use the word ‘always-on’ so flippantly these days, we often have no idea what it means.

We use it to suggest being tethered (“my phone is always with me”), or that we are contactable through many devices and points of contact (“find me at these various places…”).

Being Always-On means other things to organizations. They are on people’s radar, will be talked about, tweeted, linked to, photographed etc. Every interaction is an ‘on’ switch that’s permanently green.

To that point about photography, you may have come across the silly move by United to offload a passenger travelling from Newark to Istanbul, for taking photos of the digital panel on the seat in front of him. Read the story here.

Indeed, United had a passenger policy about cameras. (Just the mention of United and ‘policy’ immediately brought to my mind another kerfuffle involving guitars!). But how they exercised that policy and communicated it was just unfortunate.

I’ve travelled with a camera and taken numerous pictures inflight, as I am sure you have. Some of those pictures have been used on this blog. As a writer I use photos to record an idea or an object that I would refer to later, even if I don’t publish it. With so many billions of camera-equipped phones in circulation, it’s lame to even have a no-photograph policy –except in security-related situations.

The whole point is, we inhabit this always-on space on the ground, in the air, under the ocean and even in our work environments. (Heck, I have two installed cameras in my room, plus an SLR that I whip out ever so often; my students know that they may be on camera anytime!)

With that in mind, you may want to listen to one of my favorite podcasters, CC Chapman and his take on the United fiasco: The Always On Society.

Note: CC Chapman is one of the podcasters I interviewed for my upcoming book, Chat Republic. The book will be out in May 2013.

 

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Inconvenient truths about Citizen journalists

Are you rooting for mainstream journalism or the grassroots variety?

How about both? One has the training. The other has the temperament. One has the credibility. The other has access. Mainstream journalism and citizen journalism are shaking hands, and the consequences may be very interesting for the media we consume and our role as potential collaborators.

We typically think of citizen journalists as these accidental reporters –those who in the face of a catastrophic event, grab a cell-phone, and capture a story that would have otherwise never been recorded. We recall the first heartbreaking reports of the 2004 tsunami captured by citizens in Sri Lanka. Commuters, not trained reporters, provided the first grainy videos when terrorist bombed subways and buses in London in 2005. Likewise, the first images of the dramatic ‘splash landing’ of an U.S Airways flight into the Hudson river in Manhattan, New York, were captured by a citizen journalist.

Today, we are witnessing the rise of a new breed of reporters, an ‘accidental profession’ that has begun to turn more professional (‘Pro’) than amateur (‘Am’).

Some ex-journalists and entrepreneurs have spotted opportunities in this space and have begun to create business models, albeit non-profit businesses. One of them, The Uptake (www.theuptake.org),  is a citizen ‘fueled’ news organization. Chuck Olsen, co-founder of The Uptake calls it ‘committing an act of journalism.’ Meaning, going out there and finding the story, not reacting to it.

Mohammed Nabbous, killed in Benghazi, Libya in March 2011, was one of the bravest citizen journos of our time, killed while uploading a story. Check out a video of these last moments at http://bit.ly/LMD0811 In the last part of this video you can sense he is terribly impatient, waiting as a large file uploads from his camera.

“Where is the media?” he asks, rhetorically, with gunfire just outside his door.  It does not strike him that he was “The Media’ –an Am behaving like, and filling the void of, a Pro.

Today many mainstream news organizations have embedded elements of citizen journalism, often training their reporters to use the tools that the Ams take for granted. BBC, for instance is training its reporters to use iPhone apps to file stories. This month, The New York Times opened up a story for citizen participation in making sense of a boatload of email records (24,199) from Sarah Palin. “We’re asking readers to help us identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight.

You could find a broader discussion of this evolving Pro-Am model in an upcoming article.

 

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Will teachers grab onto Augmented Reality?

What kind of crazy person will incorporate Augmented Reality in a classroom?

Don’t student’s already have too much of gaming and visual distraction in their lives? I hear you. But AR is a whole new system. I don’t think a teacher’s age will be a factor of adoption. I’ve met some who are willing to do anything to make text-books and charts come alive. They will be those who say ‘this is way too technical for us’ –the same ones who fear digital readers will kill libraries, or think blogs are too scary–and stick to photocopies and glue.

Unfortunately students may not agree! Many of them come to school with some digital device in their backpack. They cannot turn them on, but they sure know how to use them. Then, when they leave their analog classroom, and get back home, they become fully-engaged digital citizens. Something’s wrong with this picture!

OK, I over-simplified the problem. Classrooms are not exactly analog. We do have computers for students to use. We do have smart boards such as Blackboard and Promethean. But often, these are used to broaden and amplify what the teacher has to say, not what the student might be ready to experience.

I have covered Augmented Reality many times before, especially how it is being used in business environments. Now, as it begins making tentative steps into the classroom, we need to make sure educators understand where this is coming from, where it is headed. Many will want to understand how it might integrate with that marvelous piece of technology a.k.a the text book!

Yesterday, I interviewed Scot Jochim, from Digital Tech Frontier, a Tempe, Arizona-based company. He has some radical ideas about how AR could be embedded in educational environments to enhance ‘non-linear skill sets.’  (Stay tuned for a longer post on that interview.)

As I have moved from the digital world of business into teaching, I am exploring how schools of the future might be run.

  • Will they be something like the twilight zone scenario portrayed by Ira Glass in a recent episode of This American Life, which featured Brooklyn Free School?
  • Or will it be there be social media-enhanced curricula, such as the school profiled in The New York Times, where a teacher in Sioux Rapids, Iowa uses a Twitter-like feature in a literature class?
In an upcoming story, ‘Messing Around In Class,’ I featured how Higher Ed is moving in this direction, away from the ‘Sage on the Stage’ model to more interactive, collaborative classrooms. Truly inspiring work at Purdue, Scottsdale Community College, and Singapore Management University.
 

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