After my post about Learning Design Summer Camp, Twitter, and building context from backchannel conversations, CogDog commented with a pointer to an amazing post by Tony Hirst that explains how to overlay Tweets on youtube video. Since my colleague Pat Besong had mentioned to me yesterday that the videos were starting to go up to the TLT YouTube space I thought I'd give it a try. I followed the directions which include using the advanced Twitter search to isolate a series of Tweets, running them through a script, and then uploading them as a CC track in YouTube -- worked fairly well with only a few limitations.
I didn't do the entire series of tweets from the Lightning Round, but I do enough as a test to see it in action. I'll try pulling this off with a larger session where there were hundreds of tweets blasting around the room. This has tremendous potential in my mind ... the ability to reconnect the backchannel to the actual event is an amazing step forward in preserving pieces of the event as it was experienced live. I can envision not only using the Tweets, but also targeting blog posts that reference specific moments by overlaying annotations. This requires some more exploration. Thanks, CogDog!
For now, take a look at the video and don't forget to enable the closed captioning.
Given the recent security breach at Twitter I've been rethinking all my passwords across the social web. I am now using a password management tool as well to help me keep it all straight. If you are interested in the goings on with Twitter and the Google Docs fiasco, I'd recommend taking look at, The Anatomy of the Twitter Attack, on TechCrunch. I'm not providing any sort of in depth commentary only because it is well outside of my space, but I would urge everyone to think about their own password strategy.
Being an iPhone user puts you into a strange place -- on one hand it is one of the more advanced devices available here in the States, but lacks some of the core features found on other devices that have been available here for quite some time. The feature I am referring to is the ability to record video. I just played with Brad Kozlek's 3GS and was so impressed with the camera and the video options that is causing me to get really itchy for one. The video quality sort of blows my mind in general, but the ability to instantly post it to YouTube or email it is a real game changer. Posting of video to YouTube has been on a tear lately, but the 3GS adoption will just blow that up. Here's a quote from a post at the YouTube Blog that lays it out ...
In the last six months, we've seen uploads from mobile phones to YouTube jump 1700%; just since last Friday, when the iPhone 3GS came out, uploads increased by 400% a day.
I'll add a little link to something else YouTube is going to kill at -- citizen journalism. If you take a look at this post, Helping You Report the News, you'll see they are clearly going after the "in the moment" style reporting that Twitter is dominating. The combination of mass adoption of devices, services, and the emergent ease of interoperability is a game changer. I find it really amazing to watch as hyper-connected social networks are fueling personalized text accounts of events and will now promote easy video as a basis for mass communication. To me it is stunning.
What I am struck by is how unprepared a site like Vimeo looks to me given all these recent moves ... clearly video recording and editing was not much of a surprise to developers and while Apple chose to directly integrate posting to YouTube there doesn't seem to be much of an excuse not to have a native video app ready to go. A quick search of the App Store reveals nothing. All I'm saying is that lots of people are buying these new devices and a properly designed application can provide huge opportunities to extend your brand and participation.
More and more this is what I am seeing with the whole iPhone ecosystem -- apps drive traffic and can really make or break an existing service. There are a dozen or so Twitter clients all vying for our love, Apple has helped YouTube extend its reach, WordPress is making it happen with a native app, as are so many others. Being prepared to pounce in the mobile space seems more and more critical even if it is to drive traffic to existing services. Now, can I wait until October when AT&T will let me update for a reduced price? Perhaps.
I read an interesting post by danah boyd this morning titled, "Twitter is for friends; Facebook is for everybody" that lays out an interesting teen use case for Twitter in light of Facebook's continued growth and popularity. We've known for some time that the age demographic on Twitter is skewed much more towards my place on the spectrum than say college kids or teens. We also know that more and more high school (and middle school) kids are adopting either Facebook or MySpace as a place to connect and socialize with friends. It is in that point that danah makes a really interesting observation when she says the following in response to a high school student named Dylan that she recently interviewd ...
What Dylan is pointing out is that the issue is that Facebook is public (to everyone who matters) and Twitter can be private because of the combination of tools AND the fact that it's not broadly popular.
What she is saying is that because Facebook is so over the top popular with teens, their parents, relatives, and nearly everyone else that Facebook itself might as well be public. Sure it has a lock on the front door, but if every single person you know in real life has that key then there really aren't any secrets. What is fascinating to me is the behavior "in the know" teens are exhibiting in Twitter to game this "openly private" conundrum they are in ... they create private Twitter accounts so only their real friends (not Mom and Dad) can have access to. So FB becomes the place they shout everything, while Twitter is under the radar enough that they can whisper quietly to each other. Amazingly simple and amazingly smart. danah goes on to wonder if Twitter continues to become more popular will teens end up with yet another social network where they really aren't free to be? Good question.
In my mind I see the same kind of thing emerging in my own social network use -- I need different platforms to do different things. Facebook is overrun and I cannot use it like I really want to. Too many people have access to my profile for me to post some of the content I might want to post. Sure FB has the message features, but they feel really out of place -- almost like I am violating some code of conduct by sending a private message to a single person in my network instead of writing it proudly on their wall. The Twitter direct message feels very different and I use that quite a bit more. I've felt the same pain with IM ... over time I collect too many people that add way too much noise to my communications channels and have to create a new account. It seems like we are stuck in this loop and until something more like Google Wave hits we may be stuck in it. Any thoughts?
Over the last couple of years most of us have become ultra familiar with link shortening services like tinyurl and bit.ly to save extra characters when using Twitter or for sending out really long URLs in emails. I've heard lots of thoughts on how to make them better and have had more than one conversation about why they could lead to the end of the web -- I think that is probably greatly exaggerated. The argument goes something like, if everyone uses [insert service name here] to share their links and that service goes away, we have no real record of where we were linking to. I have seen instances where tinyurl has been down or eaten links so I've moved away from it.
I have been using bit.y a little more often and this morning took the time to explore what I think is really powerful -- the dashboard style view into what is going on with those links as soon as you send them out. Essentially bit.ly provides you with some nice anayltics into how many clicks you get from sending them out. What I don't know (but would love to experiment with) is if the person who clicks on bit.ly shortend link is also signed into the service, do I get to see that person's username? That would be incredible as part of an open edu focused approach ... I could essentially replace the same kind of click through tracking an LMS offers by simply passing URLs through an authenticated service.
What is interesting to me is that this is yet another very simple piece to a very open and flowing LMS concept -- I've written about the New York Times TimesPeople toolbar before as a simple way to push resources to a cohort ... now in cooperation with something like bit.ly URL tracking I am getting a solid way to see what is going on with those resources. Nothing to earth shattering here, but a little something interesting to think about over the weekend. Anyone have a bit.ly account and want to experiment a bit?
A couple of weeks ago we held our annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning with Technology here at Penn State. It was an amazing event once again -- this time with just shy of 400 faculty and staff choosing to spend a beautiful Saturday with us. Our keynotes rocked, with David Wiley supplying a rallying call towards openness that has helped move our OER conversations forward. At lunch, danah boyd delivered a whirlwind of a talk that people are still buzzing about. One thing in particular was how both David and danah hung out with us not only the night before, but all day on Saturday. Up until this year none of our previous keynotes have stayed and chilled with us -- they even joined us for the post Symposium party afterwards.
Sessions were excellent and the conversations in the hallways was lively. I could go on and on, but nearly all the sessions are now captured over at the Symposium site -- including David's keynote with a slick side by side widescreen presentation that our Digital Commons team came up with (danah is coming soon).
But this post is about something related ... two things are lingering in my mind after the event. The first is how much Twitter was used during the event itself. The tltsym09 hashtag turned into a trending topic early in the morning -- sometime during David's opening keynote. That in and of itself is really cool and very interesting. The Twitter stream of the day is long and it does tell a bit of a story all by itself. But, sometime during the morning I realized that people weren't really blogging the event like they had in the past -- does a Twitter stream provide enough for those not there to grab onto? With the lack of sessions being blogged I am afraid we could be doing the event a disservice. I'd love to hear thoughts on how to take the Twitter stream and do some real sense making on it all.
The other big social media lesson I am taking away from the event has to do with Flickr and community tagging. Early on we decided to use the tltsym09 tag for the event across the social web. We were thrilled to see hundreds of photos flow into the tag aggregation on Flickr. What I wasn't thrilled about was the hijacking of the tag by a cross dresser on his bed in lingerie. It didn't offend me per se, but I know for a fact (from a couple of emails) some folks were mortified and I was asked to "fix" it. Flickr doesn't really allow me to delete tags from other peoples' photos and while the pictures clearly didn't fit into our group, there was nothing about the pictures that would cause Flickr to pull them. Turns out it was simple to just contact the guy and ask nicely -- he removed the tag.
This is one of the reasons people are terrified of openness and the social web -- lack of control. It has caused us to rethink our own use of the social web, so we've created a Flickr account that will be the repository for our pictures, but it doesn't solve the community stuff. I think we need to have a conversation about how we take advantage of the social web in light of the fact that it is as simple as watching the trending tags on Twitter Search and hijacking them to insert your product, pictures, etc into the flow of the emergent conversation. Funny how even after all these years of participating in an increasingly open way, we can continue to learn and adapt our usage to really take advantage of what we are learning.
This morning as I was plowing through the post TLT Symposium haze I came across a track back to a couple of my posts last week over at my friend and colleague, Dr. Chris Brady's site titled "Technology revolution or evolution." I started to leave a comment at Chris' blog, but thought I might work to extend the conversation a bit by offering a little bit more thought to my response. In so many ways I agree completely with what Chris is saying, but wanted to extend it just a bit.
While I don't see any massive revolution on the horizon in the teaching space, I do see a continual refinement of our understanding of the affordances emerging (or emerged) technologies have on classroom practice. I don't think web 2.0 is any more related to scholarship than the chalkboard when taken by itself. When I argue that new forms of scholarship are emerging, I am asking people to consider there are new opportunities to ask new types of questions that couldn't be asked before. Take for example the "Texas Slavery Project" from the University of Richmond. When I got a chance to sit down and listen to the researchers behind it, they insisted that being able to visualize data in this environment caused them to ask questions they hadn't considered before -- that is, the technology was used to create new scholarship opportunities.
We've started working with quite a few humanities faculty here at ETS to let them do things with these tools that couldn't be done before. If we dismiss the notion that these tools are somehow outside the boundaries of scholarship (and I do not believe Chris was saying that) we are not maximizing our new ability to attack new and interesting questions.
So back to the conversation around the Twitter use in the classroom that Scott McDonald and I stumbled upon ... we are eager to investigate these same kinds of emergent questions in classrooms -- the outcome of the Twitter use in class last year was shocking to me and without that experience I would not be able to question the value of backchannel conversations as enablers of learning. This is just a question that would not exist without the initial disruption. Is a revolution coming? Perhaps, but it will feel more like a glacier moving across the frozen tundra -- a few centimeters at a time. But to me, that works because each step makes a big difference for a few students.
The debate over when to build, buy, or use is one that rages in higher education information technology units all the time. I am constantly asked why we'd run that service versus just relying on someone else to host it for us. I sit in meetings where the debate over taking something off the shelf for our use is weighed against our desire to build it. It never ends and I don't expect to ever really have a solid answer.
Not too long ago, I was sitting and talking to Brad Kozlek about our choice to run our own blogging platform. I go through these massive swings about the topic -- usually settling somewhere around, "why not just lean on wordpress.com and focus on training and adoption." That argument works on lots of levels. On this particular day we came to another conclusion about why it is so important that we are running our own service -- the potential for community.
Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend time talking and presenting with Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, Chief Scientist at Twitter ... I wrote about it then, but have been thinking about it nearly nonstop. What became incredibly clear to me was that Twitter is sitting on an Ocean of data. Data that they are working really hard to turn into meaningful content. If you go to the Twitter Search page you'll see that they are making sense out of this data and showing us how clearly the social web is plugged into what is happening. They have their "Trending topics" displayed right below their search field and it shows you what we are all talking about 140 characters at a time. I'm sure many of you have heard the story about how reports in Mumbai were first broadcast via Twitter and the first picture of the plane landing in the Hudson River came through the same channel -- its obvious that what is wrong with big media is the same thing that is so very right with the social web -- connections building community that is, in the case of Abdur and Twitter, predicting the future as it happens.
So back to the Blogs at Penn State ... as Brad and I sat there we realized we are sitting on a river of data that is built entirely on people right here at PSU. Now that we are reaching the 10,000 user milestone with the service we are seeing an explosion in the understanding and use of tags for filtering content. Courses are using them to aggregate student posts together, students are using them to mark portfolio entries, departments are using them to pull information/knowledge about initiatives into focus, and so on. Once we realized that we started to realize that we could begin to act a little bit like Twitter and use our data to see trends and ultimately predict the future as it unfolds. With this in mind we're working on a few new and interesting ways to not only tap into the community but also ways to let them move the state of the University around a bit.
A simple example is something I'm loosely calling, "PSU Voices." Essentially we would hand out a tag each month (or perhaps week) related to topic we'd like to see the community explore. Imagine during April (when Earth Day is) asking the student body to write, or post pictures, videos about "ideas to make PSU a more green campus?" We'd ask that question, provide a tag, and watch as the aggregate posts of that month's conversation came into focus. If we took a simple advertisement out in the student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, to get people to participate I wonder if they would? If they did I think the results would be amazing.
We've already started to pull out some trending data based on the popular tags and we are seeing some really interesting things. It was clear last week that lots of students were working on their portfolios. One of the next steps is to build an interface between the tag and content search to see what people are talking about in mass ... I can't even imagine how interesting that could look when we have 20,000 or 30,000 people writing regularly around PSU. I'm not ready to share the pages yet, but I am hoping that in the next couple of weeks we'll start to see the unintended results of running our own service -- the ability to not create community, but to coalesce it. Anyone have thoughts related to these ideas and others?
It comes as no surprise that I like Twitter for lots of reasons ... the primary reason for me is that it seems to solidify connections in close to real time. Facebook has surprised me in its ability to do something similar in the recent months. Both seem to be really interesting steps forward in the online conversation space. The one thing that both of them have going for them is a very powerful, "what are you doing right now" approach to status updates. This simple question pushes people to participate and to me it is the most powerful piece to coalescing community.
With that in mind I read a really good piece at the NY Times the yesterday called Being There, about the art of the status update. My favorite line from the whole thing was a simple statement about what a status update really is ...
Spontaneous bursts of being
I really enjoyed the article and decided to conduct my own status update InstaPoll on my network to see what I got back. What I found was that people want to be drawn into a conversations via a status updates. Most are interested in the notion of engaging with those "around" them. That is really interesting to me ... some people view the status update as shouting into an empty room, but what it looks like from my very informal and unscientific data gathering is that people crave engagement ... they want to respond to where others are in the moment.
Seems to only make sense given our intense interest in not only providing constant updates, but our incessant need to know what people think in 140 characters or less. Some of the better responses to my question, "What makes a great Twitter/Facebook status update?" are below ... if there is anything you might want to add to this conversation leave as a comment.
@colecamplese re: your survey. I think good status updates offer a chance to continue a conversation. personal/professional items are good.
@colecamplese asking a question everyone has wondered but never asked?
@colecamplese I think they are (should be) different... Tweets for more frequent (often mundane)...Facebook for daily/weekly "bigger stuff"?
@colecamplese Small, mundane little things that when taken out of context seem oddly amusing....and lots of punctuation.
@colecamplese whatever you feel in the moment.
@colecamplese NOT where I am or what I'm cooking. New blog post, new idea or concept, looking for discussion - yes
@colecamplese totally depends on the reader IMO. Interesting stuff to ME makes it a great post. (news, games, VW stuff, etc)
@colecamplese I totally agree with Bart. I love opinions, what peeps are doing, where they're headed, etc.
@colecamplese something that makes me laugh
@colecamplese re instapoll Posts that helps me learn/think. Links to interesting stuff, plus reasons why I should click. News, questions
@colecamplese witty comment about common activity.