Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Horrigan Tripe Cycle

Just read John Connell's fantastic riposte to another shockingly-bad Baronness Greenfield-penned piece.

A particular favourite extract from her piece:

"A second difference in the young 21st-century mind might be a marked preference for the here-and-now, where the immediacy of an experience trumps any regard for the consequences. After all, when you play a computer game, everything you do is reversible. You can switch it off or start again. But the idea that actions don't have consequences is a very bad lesson to learn, when in life they always do.

And in games the emphasis is on the thrill of the moment. This type of activity can be compared with the thrill of compulsive gambling.

The third possible change is in empathy. This cannot develop through social networking because we are not aware of how other people are really feeling - we cannot pick up on body language when we are communicating through a screen.

As a result, people could become almost autistic. One teacher wrote to me that she had witnessed a change over the 30 years she had been teaching in the ability of her pupils to understand other people and their emotions. "

Isn't that just special? There's so much to unpick of it, it's almost hard to start... but never shy of a challenge... here I go...

Firstly, "A marked preference for the here-and-now"- what utter, utter tosh. She's likening the consequences of particular styles of computer games with the preferences of an entire generation. Effectively writing off all other experiences with one swish of her pen. We've played games for centuries. If anything, many games these days allow for longer game play and a further delay of consequences - which, using her argument is a positive thing.

Secondly, game playing as akin to compulsive gambling? Evidence? Links? Causality? Que? Also, what point is she trying to make? That the thrill is equivalent to the thrill of compulsive gambling? The emotive aspect of this is odd. She's not referring to gambling, but to compulsive gambling. The compulsion element is obviously there for a reason. Then, somehow the "thrill" of the two is the same. It's obviously, to her mind, qualitatively different to the thrill you might get from other activities. But how? Why? Or is it lazy writing to point score and set up the link in your average Daily Mail reader's mind as follows:

"Hmmmm, compulsive gambling. Now, that's bad. I've heard it's an addiction. It can lead to the break up of relationships. Of families. It's damaging our kids. It's bad. And the thrill someone gets from that is the same as social networking. So... social networking must be additive. Which means... *penny dropping* social networking is the work of the devil!!"


Thirdly, in this oh so special extract... her point about a lack of empathy from those communicating online because we're not aware of how people are feeling. I'm imagining that at some point during the last couple of decades Baronness Greenfield was involved in a 'being shut in a cupboard and cut off from all current research into online community' accident and is unable to track down any of the studies into just this area. "We cannot pick up body language when we are communicating through a screen"... unless you're involved in video conferencing... or using various other cues which are emerging to express emotion and feelings online.

And lastly... the gargantuan leap to the final conclusion... "people could become almost autistic". Ta da! Based on her comprehensive research of "One teacher wrote to me". Y'know. That last one isn't even worth unpicking. It's too easy. I'm just going to let it stand on it's own.

"People could become almost autistic"

Thank goodness for "leading neuroscientists" showing us how to read situations correctly. *sigh*

PS The reason for this post being called "The Horrigan Tripe Cycle" is that sadly, or maybe unsurprisingly, these are the attitudes I come across all the time in terms of resistance to technological change. There are several stages of this resistance:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Denial the new technology is important
  3. Observation of adoption whilst feeling increasingly out of touch
  4. Random accusations about the perilous consequences of adoption
  5. Grudging acceptance / grumbling in a corner periodically.

Inspired by the Gartner Hype Cycle, I'd like to call this the "Horrigan Tripe Cycle". :o)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Boomers and generation gaps

Interesting report from LexisNexis on their Survey into the Technology Gap.

One to mull over...

Right now, my head's still in holiday mode even though my body has put in an appearance at work.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Guardian reveals insight into birds and bees...

Nothing vaguely e-learningy to write at the moment, but I thought I'd share how pregnancy happens which I saw in The Guardian...

Parenting qualifications for young people recognised | Society |
"Sandra, 24, from Gloucestershire, did her first minor accredited course when she became pregnant at 17 after her youth worker referred her to the NCLP"

So, to avoid teen pregnancy... don't allow your youth workers to refer you to the NCLP :o)

Monday, April 6, 2009

A few of my favourite web 2.0 things...

Just fancied collating some of the free web 2.0 goodness I've liked over the last year or so, and which are particularly useful if you're working in education... so here they are...

Writing tools

Google Docs – good for online document storage, collaborative writing, off-site backup

Evernote - note-taking facility available via mobile, online and offline with synchronization available between any installation / version

Scribd - share documents which are automatically converted so they can be downloaded as Word, Adobe pdf or .txt files / can be embedded in HTML pages

– useful for analysis of a topic or issue by simply uploading the text you want to look at

Zoho - full suite of tools from Office-type word processors to note-taking and project management tools. Free option available on most tools.

Blogging / RSS / Collaboration

Blogger - good, free blogging service from Google

Delicious - one of the original social bookmarking sites. Straightforward to use!

Diigo - great social bookmarking tool with added annotation, communities and discussion. Can also automatically post your links to Delicious if you've already got a Delicious account you don't want to lose.

DimDim - free web conferencing / web-hosted online, open-source meeting tool - instantly create collaborative working spaces, private, no account necessary, shareable outputs, easy to use.

Google Reader - full-featured RSS aggregator with good integration into other Google services

WordPress - another blog service, but is slightly more 'professional' looking and the ability to view stats on blog postings is also useful

WetPaint - free wiki with plenty of templates and features

Video / audio

Jing - web-based screencasting tool, create screen captures, narrated video etc.

quietube - view or share YouTube videos without distracting comments and other YouTube branding

ScreenToaster – create and record video to create screencasts or tutorials

SlideShare - useful for hosting PowerPoint slides to share / embed, also good for linking in MP3 files to easily create a slidecast

Xtranormal - create 3D videos by selecting characters and inputting the script. Sharable video output.

YouTube - video sharing site with lots of creative commons licenced resources / facility for comment / closed captioning

Social Networking

Facebook - major social networking site, useful for both personal and business networks / use of groups for students etc

LinkedIn - similar to Facebook, but with a more professional feel

Twitter – microblogging tool, useful for concise communication, resource-sharing, networking, discussion, current affairs / breaking news


Exploratree - from Futurelab this is an online ideas tool, a little like mindmapping but with other types of 'thinking' diagram templates available

Gliffy - creates flow charts, organisational charts, plans etc in the style of Microsoft Visio and can support collaborative working

MindMeister - mindmapping tool, allows users to create up to 6 mindmaps for free and export in various formats including jpg, rtf etc

ProjectDraw - CAD-like online drawing tool

Skrbl - free, shareable online collaborative whiteboard.

Image editing

Flickr - online photo sharing (plus tagging, commenting and annotating) and photography-related discussion forums / community

Picnik - online image editing with links to popular image-hosting sites such as Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, Facebook etc

Miscellaneous / Utilities - online file storage service

Doodle - meeting scheduling tool

DownForEveryoneOrJustMe - does what it says! Put in a URL to check whether or not a site is down or it's just you having problems.

How Do I? - search Google for tutorials on any subject

Media Convert - convert files from one format to another using this free tool

Read The Words - create MP3 audio files from text input with a variety of voices and speeds to select

This list is a work in progress, so watch this space (i.e. I'm sure I've forgotten some of the ones I really like and I may sneak back to edit them later!) :o)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Twitter mysteries and "twetiquette"

Ever feel like you just got aggregated on Twitter?

Following lots of people and not one single update. Why do people do this? If you want to be interested in my life... have a bit of a life yourself, if you don't mind, ta everso. I don't want to be followed by a service or website unless I followed you first or signed myself up to be added. I'd really like just a tiny sliver of control over my online life. Yes, I know it's not massively realistic to want that... but... where's the twitter-etiquette (good grief, I nearly invented a hideous word then: "twetiquette", but stopped myself just in time!) when you need it???

Why also, do they follow you and then protect their updates?

You get a message saying so an' so is following you. You think... oh, that's nice... I'll go see their profile and see if I should be following them. But oooooh no. You can't. Protected updates only. What *is* that about? If you're following people who don't know you... why are your updates protected? Don't you want to let me see just a tiny bit about you? Okay, so you may be new to Twitter... I accept that. But for those of you who aren't... que???

So, my Twetiquette list*

1. Fill in your profile - I don't want loads, I just want to see a tiny smidge of the real you which would help me decide whether or not following you is a good idea

2. Picture please - it doesn't have to be anything much, but I do like to see that I'm talking to a someone or something

3. Don't protect your updates - Twitter is social... it's not a private club. I know it looks like a nice privacy feature, but if you're to get the most out of Twitter you've got to make connections and protecting your updates, hiding your status, is another Twitter-turn-off

4. Participate don't just aggregate - I'm sure no-one minds the odd bit of blog promotion or Blip-ping... but actively participating with a few thoughts of your own sure makes for a more interesting Twitter

5. Update don't stagnate - a few updates here or there... that's not too much to ask, is it?

6. Learn the importance of @ and 'd' - if it's one-on-one communication you're after, direct messages (d + twittername) are much better than clogging someone's stream with personal communication. If you want to make a comment which'll get noticed by someone else, but which isn't private / exclusive... then an @ reply is the daddy.

7. Retweet selectively - yes, I may have missed someone else's tweet or not be following them and find their message really useful... but use the retweet (RT) facility too often and I start to wonder what you've got to say of your own. Think before you retweet.

Am sure there are more... but those are my main rants converted into a handy little list. Ta da!

* see what I did there - said I wasn't going to use that word and then did - shame on me!
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