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Category Archives: Social Media

War of the Worlds, fought in Zeros and Ones

Cyber War is a hot topic once again. It has been covered by the BBC (“Silent War’), and even by TR (Russia Today) which cites Edward Snowden, and Defon. Also CNN, has covered it –scary CNN style!– about attacks on individuals via social media.

Last month, I was asked to cover this topic for an upcoming special feature in LMD Magazine. I found out some disturbing activities, and reality-checks that the public doesn’t seem concerned about. After all, we are busy worrying about how corporations’ databases are being attacked, and personal information stolen, because that’s what the popular news networks latch onto.

“But make no mistake: America is under attack by digital bombs,” noted Senator Michael McCaul last year when calling for cybersecurity legislation.

In his book “@War: The rise of the military-internet complex.” Shane Harris gives us one example of how governments fight a War of the Worlds scenario. The Chinese have been hacking sensitive US databases for some time, but in one such attack, the government initially withheld this information. Possibly so as not to tip-off the Chinese hackers, he says.

This was a de-facto military assault on a military target. And the target? The design plans for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet in 2007, the so-called ‘fighter to end all fighters,’ that had a price tag of $400 million. It’s well reported today that more than 100 of the world’s militaries indulge in some sort of cyber war tactics. For more on this see Peter Singer’s excellent article in Popular Science.

For this article I interviewed Cornel Ruston, a Sri Lankan-born, California-based network security consultant, who talks about how why all organizations, not just government agencies need to protect their ‘crown jewels’.

The problem is, despite all the fancy communication technologies in our arsenal, we have become sluggish, in the way we communicate with all those who might help thwart cyber war-styled attacks. We tend to put more emphasis on the locks instead. But for every lock, there are a hundred lock-pickers.

If you like a sneak preview of the article, it will be released on Feb 26th.

 

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Plans for more Collaboration at Digital Learning Day

In a time when pre-teens have Instagram accounts, and tablets readers have become the 4th screen (after TV, laptops, and smart phones), digital learning takes on new meaning.

For next month’s Digital learning Day, I plan to introduce students to some tools and processes that would prepare them for college and careers.

  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Book Trailers
  • Wikis
  • Content Aggregation

Building on last year’s #DLDAY activities, adding more collaboration this year, means showing students the opportunities of collaborating with even those outside the walls of a school. I am thinking of technology experts, and students in another school –even in another country!

Yes, most schools have walled gardens, for good reason. Occasionally we pierce these walls, and #DLDay is that time of year when we could try out new things.

Suggestions are welcome!

Some useful background here:

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Ed-Tech, Education, Social Media

 

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Easy Content Curation Tools for Teachers

Content curation. It was a phrase slung around a lot about 5 years ago.

I wrote a lot about it then, in my IABC tech column etc. But today I have had to do some of this curation business when working on a lesson plan that has to be much more than links and words.

I began testing out a service called Lino (www.linoit.comto create a new ‘wall’ to support lessons in my class. It’s a bit like Padlet which I began testing last year.

The first test is to use it for a class on Book Trailers – a way to combine script writing, and microphone use with creating a promotional ‘trailer’ for a book. Also collecting facts, pictures, sounds, music tracks, video and slide decks in one convenient place. This is what one page looks like:

Lino_BookTrailer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curation could become a lesson in itself, to help students understand how embed codes work, respecting copyright, crediting sources etc.

If you want to check them out try both.

 
 

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BMW used “the Internet” to sneak in URL for Super Bowl ad

I was truly fascinated that a car company adopted a 21-year old news clip to promote its brand during the Super Bowl. This while other car companies did the same-old, same old car shots.

I am talking about the BMW I-3 commercial, featuring Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel. This one:

Piecing together conversations from the behind-the-scenes interviews on the set, and looking at the two videos (the flash-back shot in the commercial, and the unedited video clip from 1994) it is interesting to see what clever editing was involved. Green-screens, and inserts.

Gumbel and Couric sound genuinely lame, as most of us were about this thing called the Internet in 2004. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) most of us don’t have archive footage of our conversations, when we first encountered the weird string of colon and slashes that were called ‘addresses.’

Around 2007, I recall a very prominent thought leader in marketing and communications similarly question the purpose of Twitter, and its @ sign, of course.

But back to the BMW ad, you may have noticed an email address info@amfeedback.com that slashed briefly on the cutaway shot, as if Gumbel is reading it. (They sliced in his voice to read the address, as if he did it in 1994. BUT, the actual address he read was violence@nbc.ge.com. (You could see the clip here.) Also quaintly, the ‘at sign’ in this clip is a circle around the a, not a continuous line connecting the a.

The neat trick is that the email address domain amfeedback.com is a promotional website for curious folk who thought they’d check it out – and I did, because I suspected the ad agency was not going to let that one pass.

Check it out for yourself! There’s probably a one-in-a-million chance of winning the car, but hey!

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Advertising, Branding, Social Media

 

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Podcasting is hot stuff. Again!

There seems to be a growth spurt for podcasting.

I love the fact that the audio format has been on the upswing, even despite the explosion of screen-based communication options. Depending on who you ask, they will tell you video didn’t assassinate the radio star for various reasons. Such as

  • Podcasts is immensely portable, and does is perfect for multi-tasking
  • Podcasts capture the ‘authentic’ voice of the person or the moment being represented – no fake ‘DJ voice’ required
  • Podcasts have in their DNA something akin to long-form journalism – deep dives into content, rather than skimming a topic

  • Podcasts lend themselves to drama, even while being authentic. The nearest thing to the documentary.

My recent favorites are Snap Judgement, Serial, Invisibilia (former radio Lab producers), and Star Talk.

Apart from the usual line up of This American Life, For Immediate Release, and EdReach, an education podcast for Ed-tech matters I now dabble in.

 

Interestingly this year will be six years since I first got into podcasting. And this year may be the year we begin podcasts at my school. More on this in a later post!

 

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Speaking like Jobs – Presentation tips from 10 years ago

Exactly 10 years ago this week, Steve Jobs took to the stage –a technique he would go on to perfect — to launch the iPod Shuffle.

That was Jan 11th, 2005.

I often do ‘anniversary’ events in my class, to get young people to think about where we are now, in relation to where we and the technologies we take for granted were once at. After all, this is a Computer and Technology Lab, and I don’t want to get into the trap of always featuring today’s shiny new object, or the hottest new parlor trick in digital media. We often need context, and it tends to fly by when we refresh our feeds, doesn’t it?

Back to Jobs. His presentation trick was to use insanely simple devices. Well rehearsed, and well timed but simple. Which made him very different from his tech contemporaries, who revel in Silicon Valley argot. (Yes, I listen to ‘This Week in Tech, to catch up with the other kind of tech-talk!)

Listen to how he works up the crowd, and keeps them hanging on for that characteristic”One more thing.”  Fast forward to 1:35, and see what I mean.

  • He uses words like ‘noodled’ (He “noodled on it” not “researched it”)
  • He uses unexpected pauses, and slows down and speeds up suddenly
  • He uses home-spun images – comparing the iPod Shuffle to a pack of gum, and contrasting it with four quarters

Notice how he also stays away from big words, using words like “easy”, “simple,” “thing,” etc. (And yet, peppering his presentation with keywords!)

Even if there was no YouTube, I bet we would still listen to it.

 

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“This is Salt River Radio!”

Audio is a powerful medium. Overlooked, but extremely powerful.

While video gets all the attention, audio programs –basically podcasts — have been steadily growing recently. This week, I began the new semester by upping the ante for 5th and 6th grade students, showing them how to become producers of content. To start off, I got them to think of themselves as owning their own radio show. A news show, a sports show, or a show about events in the community.

How do they plan and create content? What are the elements of a good show? Good information? A nice pace? A strong personality? Music? Sound Effects?

I plan to use some of my prior radio experience to get students to create their ‘shows.’
Audacity-2.0.png
The software we will be using is Audacity, which is really powerful software. All computers in the Computer and Technology Lab are now loaded with Audacity, and we just got started understanding how  tracks and buttons work, and how to export an editable audio file, to work on it as we move along.

I’m sure you’re wondering: how could digital natives get so excited about ‘old media’? You would be surprised!

‘Salt River Radio’ is the tip of the spear of something bigger I have in mind. I am also looking for input from anyone with radio experience, who would like to be a part of this project, either as a guest instructor, or otherwise.

Stay tuned, if you’ll pardon the pun.

 

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