YouTube – A Vision of Students Today

YouTube – A Vision of Students Today is another video from the Digital Ethnography folks at Kansas State. (Remember Your Moment of Inspiration?) This one has students holding up pages or laptops with messages about students, the web and learning. The script is on the Mediated Cultures site. I love the creativity of how they are using video in class and for class. It feels participatory – by students, for students, and about students. Digital Ethnography indeed.

Thanks to Johanna for pointing this out to me. Community Funding


Cofundos is a neat idea, that probably won’t work, for bringing people who want programming done together with those who might contribute code. The idea is that projects get proposed, discussed, and bid on. People who want something done bid money to get it done. If there are enough people bidding small amounts there might be enough to entice developers. Evenutally developers are selected. It doesn’t look like any projects have gotten to that point.

The model is worth following. It could be a way to fund academic projects in a community, but I worry that the amounts would never be enough and programmers donating their time wouldn’t want to be constratined by such a process.


LogoWayfaring is a site where you can create personalized maps using the Google Map system. You could create a map of your favorite Indian Restaurants.

Like many social networking sites, Wayfaring has commenting and tagging features. Maps can be shared, and they can be dropped into other web pages like YouTube videos.

The interface is slow, and the search is bizarre, but Wayfaring is young.

SlideShare: Sharing slide shows like PowerPoint

SlideShare is a beta social network site for sharing slide shows. You can have shows with audio attached, or just plain one that you click through.

I’m not really sure why slide shows should be shared, especially if they don’t have an audio track. This strikes me as a corruption. Slides were meant to enhance (not replace) talks. Now we have the slides without the talks they support. Tufte described the problems with shoehorning ideas into slides in The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint. If slides are a crutch, SlideShare is a pilgrimage spot where you can see the crutches left by others.

Of course, there are uses for SlideShare. I guess you can put you slides up there so you can access them for a presentation. And trading decks of slides has become a way of proving you know something.

Mashing Texts and Just in Time Research

Screen Shot from PowerPointWith colleagues Stéfan Sinclair, Alexandre Sevigny and Susan Brown, I recently got a SSHRC Research and Development Initiative grant for a project Mashing Texts. This project will look at “mashing” open tools to test ideas for text research environments. Here is Powerpoint File that shows the first prototype for a social text environment based on Flickr.

From the application:

The increasing availability of scholarly electronic texts on the internet makes it possible for researchers to create “mashups” or combinations of streams of texts from different sources for purposes of scholarly editing, sociolinguistic study, and literary, historical, or conceptual analysis. Mashing, in net culture, is reusing or recombining content from the web for purposes of critique or creating a new work. Web 2.0 phenomena like Flickr and FaceBook provide public interfaces that encourage this recombination (see “Mashup” article and Why not recombine the wealth of electronic texts on the web for research? Although such popular social networking applications as mashups seem distant from the needs of humanities scholars, in many ways so-called mashups or repurposing of digital content simply extend the crucial principle developed in humanities computing for the development of rich text markup languages: that content and presentation should be separable, so that the content can be put to various and often unanticipated uses.

Mashing Texts will prototype a recombinant research environment for document management, large-scale linguistic research, and cultural analysis. Mashing Texts proposes to adapt the document repository model developed for the Text Analysis Portal for Research (TAPoR) project so that a research team interested in recombinant documents can experiment with research methods suited to creating, managing and studying large collections of textual evidence for humanities research. The TAPoR project built text analysis infrastructure suited to analysis of individual texts. Mashing Texts will prototype the other side of the equation ��� the rapid creation of large-scale collections of evidence. It will do this by connecting available off-the-shelf open-source tools to the TAPoR repository so that the team can experiment with research using large-scale text methods.

Buying friends online

Do you want more friends for your MySpace presence? The Globe and Mail has an article by Keith McArthur, Trouble making friends online? Buy them (May 22, 2007) about services known as “friend trains” that help people make lots of friends. These services are selling enhanced access so that people can get lots of friends faster. Companies that use Facebook for viral marketing can then get lots of friends who then get their feed.

Obviously you may not be able to buy love, but you can by friends.

Facing Facebook

Today’s Globe and Mail had a story No more Facebook for city employees (Jeff Gray, May 10, 2007) about how (Toronto) city employees will not be able to use Facebook at work despite the fact that “there is no evidence of rampant abuse”. Toronto seems to be following the province of Ontario which is reported to have banned Facebook as it “does not add value to a workplace environment and civil servants should not be wasting office time visiting the site” according to Premier Dalton McGuinty. Do we have evidence that it is not useful to civil servants? Could there be uses of social networking? At McMaster a number of librarians have Facebook accounts that they are using to be more accessible to students on the princple that they should be where their audience is. (Coming soon a WOW librarian.)

Issues of time wasting hide what to my mind is the more serious issue. Two of my students did a multimedia project on
Facing Facebook that deals with privacy issues. There is a Flash opinion piece that Alex pointed me to that similarly asks, Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook? These deal with the large-scale corporate privacy issues. My previous post, Facebook Ethics looks at the local ethical issues.

We need to avoid being spooked by a new use of technology just because it takes off. (Toronto is apparently the largest community on Facebook.) But, we also have to be vigilant.

McMaster Youth Media Study

A colleague of mine, Phillip Savage, supervised an interesting student research project into the attitudes of McMaster youth towards broadcast and youth media. A group of upper-class students in his Communication Studies courses surveyed students in a first-year class and prepared a report titled, The McMaster Youth Media Study (PDF). What is impressive is that one of the students, Christina Oreskovich, presented this at the “CBC New Media Panel” to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (today, May 10th, 2007.)

Here is their “composite sketch of the typical student” which nicely captures the results:

She is 18 years old in her first year of a liberal arts program, her parents were immigrants and she speaks English and another home language (mostly with her grandparents now). She has a cell phone with a built-in camera and is toying with the idea of perhaps in the summer upgrading to a phone with a built in MP3 player. She got a laptop computer when she started at Mac in the fall and has broadband access at home, and in certain locations on campus. She downloads music for free from the Internet form a range of sites and although she has an iPod she rarely pays for iTunes. She regularly downloads complete TV programs off the web to watch on the laptop but rarely whole movies. Almost every day she catches one or two items from YouTube (usually sent as attachments to electronic messages from friends). She occasionally uses MySpace for social networking. On a daily basis she keeps up to date with over 100 friends from school, home and work on Facebook. Only occasionally does she look at blogs; and she doesn’t keep one herself – though some of her friends do.

She still watches TV – usually at least once a day. Her favourite channel is City-TV but she also catches CTV, CBC-TV and CH. She regularly listens to radio (very rarely CBC Radio), although she figures she gets most of her music from other sources. She’s heard of people getting satellite radio but since she doesn’t have a car she very rarely experiences – it’s more something her Dad is into. She will read magazines quite regularly, at least once or twice a week.

She doesn’t feel she has the time or interest to follow most news closely, yet. When she does she is as likely to use traditional mass media (TV, newspaper or radio) as internet sources. She prefers TV, radio nd newspapers for national and international news, and the internet for arts and entertainment stories.

She feels strongly that the Internet allows her to both keep in touch with a wide range of friends, but worries a bit that maybe she is spending less face to face time with close friends and family. She is also a bit concerned about whether time on the internet is making her a little less productive in her school work, although she thinks that it really helps her understand quickly about what’s going on in the world and exposes her to a wide range of points of view (more so than traditional mass media). She gets worried at time about her own privacy on the Internet, especially when she spends so much time on Facebook. She’s not really sure if she can find more Canadian information on the Internet versus traditional media. (pages 3 and 4)

I knew Facebook was popular, but didn’t expect it to be this popular. I’m guessing that it is becoming an “always on” utility for many students that aggregates, summarizes and nicely shows what’s happening to their friends. I suspect interfaces like Facebook Mobile will become more and more popular as iPhone type cell phones become affordable.