Archive for October, 2009

Crowdfunding via Twitter – Startups win!

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment

During these tough economic times, new imaginative and contagious ideas are born. In Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times, the students were taught to never wonder. They were never rewarded for using their imagination and it led to their downfall.

Today, the UK is allowing all kinds of imaginative endeavors to flourish. Ireland’s hard times are serving as the inspiration for a very unusual way to raise money for new startup companies.

It is called ‘Outvesting’ and defined like this: “The act of committing money to a business while expecting to get nothing in return, other than the satisfaction of giving a leg up to Irish entrepreneurs.”

So, who is crazy enough to let go of their precious savings? Well, enough to raise the total goal for two crowdfunded campaigns.

For instance, the recent iQ Prize, whereby Dublin internet consultancy iQ Content awarded EUR 10,000 (US$14,700) to a promising young Irish startup as a way to help kick-start the country’s recovery. Outvesting has now launched a similar effort; only this time it’s a grassroots one that’s using a crowdfunding approach via Twitter.

Outvesting aims to give EUR 5,000 (US$7,300) with no strings attached to an Irish startup. To make that possible, it has used Twitter to invite interested participants to contribute EUR 50 each towards the effort. And now, that they’ve reached their goal, Outvesting will announce how startups can apply to win the collected funds. Those who donated to the fund will get more than just good karma in return—they’ll also get the chance to vote on which startup wins the money. Pretty cool, eh?

So, even in these hard times, when you combine the power of crowds with the reach of Twitter, the possibilities are limitless.

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160 Million Reasons Why I Hate Top Ten Lists

October 29, 2009 3 comments

Top Ten lists drive me crazy.

Who likes them? Come on, you can’t be serious?  Who really, really likes lists? “Everyone loves lists, you just have to do lists,” they say.

I’m sorry. I must be hanging with the wrong people because I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation that begins with “Wow, did you see that Top Ten list the other day?” Wait a minute. I HAVE had that conversation. But, it has always been about the most famous Top Ten list of Late Night Television. Now that is some funny stuff, so I was warming up to this format du jour.

Top ten lists are popular because they’re funny, right? No silly, not at all. Lists are serious business, mister, because they draw BIG traffic to your site! Get with it, will ya?

So, I did my homework and googled “Top Ten Things”. Sure enough, I got 160 million hits! Now, there’s an idea that will get some attention because only 160 million people have thought of this before me. Mmm?

They say that ‘Top Lists’ make for simple headlines that grab attention. If everyone’s doing it how does that make it unique? I say headlines are hard to write; common things do not get noticed.

They say people love lists. I searched “I hate lists” and found 71 million folks that are my people!

They say lists are easy to skim quickly so people can move on to something else. I say Wal-Mart wouldn’t define that as a very good customer. “Hey, come on over to my store, you can find stuff you don’t want to buy and get out of here quicker.”

They say, lists are a great way to generate conversation. I say we’ve already covered this topic. My people only want to talk about Letterman’s Top Ten.

You now have 160 million reasons why I say, “No, PLEASE, not another Top Whatever List.”
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WordPress makes a great website, too!

October 26, 2009 1 comment

I’ve just learned that some very large organizations are changing over their website formats to WordPress. But, wait …isn’t that a Blogging platform? Yes, precisely and that’s one reason folks are switching over.

Here’s a screen grab of an e-marketing site called ICONDOCK

An e-Marketing site built with WordPress!

An e-Marketing site built with WordPress!

This wonderfully clean and easy-to-navigate site sure doesn’t look like a blog, does it? Well, it’s not, it’s a fully functional site for selling stock icons and it’s built using WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging platform!

So, what’s the big deal? Let’s look at four reasons that sound good to me:

1.) It’s FREE! Yes that’s right, the WordPress site building software is open source and is free to download and use to build your own website.

2.) Don’t know HTML? No problem, it’s easy to update content on your website without knowing HTML. Do you hate the idea of having to learn to use a complex HTML editor tool like Dreamweaver? Once WordPress is set up for you, you can easily create new pages or edit existing pages using a simple rich text editor. If you can use Microsoft Word then WordPress will be easy!

3.) Content –Extensions – There is a thriving ecosystem of developers creating themes and plug-ins – imagine free design themes, or the ability to extend your website with polls, contact forms, ratings or hundreds of other cool features without having to hire a web developer.

4.) SEO & RSS– Not only are RSS feeds built into the software for easy promotion of your site, search engines, especially Google, love WordPress making it a better platform choice than other options for great optimization.

So, that’s why so many folks are switching over to WordPress for site building and content management. It’s easy to build and easy to edit and manage, saving time and money!

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Wikis in the classroom- an interactive textbook?

October 23, 2009 2 comments

“I think that books will become obsolete within a few years,” said an eight-grader during a recent class ‘conversation’. This statement wasn’t spoken aloud in a traditional classroom but rather typed into a class wiki, an online space where people can edit and contribute to content.

A wiki – Hawaiian for quick – is “basically a group writing space,” said David Peloff, program director for emerging technologies at the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Technology in Education.

Kids love using technology and it seems they love using the technology to talk about technology. With experience, teachers are learning that students who are able to see each other’s comments are encouraged to write more themselves.

The other bonus to this format for sharing is that wiki content can be put up for the world to see. These middle school wikis are garnering hits from India and Australia so, students not only take their statements and efforts seriously, they can experience the global effects of their work.

Even higher education is finding advantages to the use of wikis. A University of Iowa law professor, Lea VanderVelde, has no problem with her students using Wikipedia. In fact, she hopes others use the information her students have posted in their own research.

Law professors across the country have struggled with how they can use technology in their classes and teaching to their advantage. Some professors have banned laptops in their classes, saying they can just be a distraction.

When Ms. VanderVelde was preparing to teach a class on employment law last semester, she was trying to think of a new way to teach the complex differences among states’ laws. She decided to divide the states up and give a few to each student to research extensively, and to post their work on a custom wiki site.

Ms. VanderVelde monitored and approved all posts. Students’ grades were based on how much time they had spent on the site working and on the quality of their work.

“It just struck me that this would be a better way for the information to be organized,” she said. “There is no adequate textbook available on this topic”

By the end of the semester, her class had created a 1,300 page wiki, the largest of any wiki created for use by the university. “You couldn’t expect students to read a 1,300 page book, but you could encourage them to produce one collectively,” she said.

Wow, the new interactive ‘textbook’! Pretty cool, eh?

Categories: COM530

Interactivity Unplugged

October 22, 2009 2 comments

Whoa! Can you believe the news lately about all the new tech-NO-tools that are going to make our lives so much more INTER-Active. New tickle me Mice, new touch-me screens, it’s all so rad and plugged in and viral and tactile. Oh my! Pass me that hand sanitizer, will ya?

Talk about electricity, I interviewed an Elon University professor today as part of my research on using all this electronic interactive media in the classroom. Of course, I’m becoming kind of a know-it-all on this topic so I figured going into this chat that I’d probably have to enlighten professor Gary Palin on exactly what I’ve been focused on. You see, he hasn’t been drinking the same Kool-Aid®, so he couldn’t possibly know, right?

Well, was I in for a big surprise! I barely got the word ‘interactive’ out on the table and don’t you know this gentlemen launches into a litany of stories. These are all very interactive teaching techniques that are not textbook-driven and that involve no chalk & talk lectures.

This guy’s on fire. He’s got a million deals cookin’ regarding how to engage students into great, interactive learning experiences. But, there was something missing. I held back on that as I didn’t want to interrupt his flow of really good stuff. I held back my hard question for him until later.

Here’s an example of one of his class projects in Entrepreneurship:

“I have two classes, one with seniors who are ready to complete the program and another with first year students. One day, for the young novices, I bring in children’s construction paper, glue and scissors and break the class into groups. Using only these materials, each group is to design and build a prototype men’s wallet that must also have a new innovative feature. Then they have to pitch the wallet to the ‘buyers.’ Of course, the ‘buyers’ are the seniors.”

All the students interact and learn by teaching themselves! Very nice. Very clever. But, I’m still thinking about that missing element. Remember, I’m the INTERACTIVE expert here.

Well, I thanked Professor Palin for his time and especially his great, interactive teaching examples. I did not mention that thing that was bothering me.

You see, he was all about engaging folks by turning over choice and control to them. He was asking them to synthesize in a non-linear, conceptual and empathic manner. All his materials were open source.

He was applying all the Kool-Aid, acid test, tagging and track back rules we are learning in our plugged in world of website and blog and wiki development but there was a difference. He hadn’t used one electronic device at all. Not one. Just some paper and scissors and glue which is kindergarten stuff.

He caused constructive, emotional and conceptual learning at the college level without any electricity!

Any questions, class?

Can Twitter and YouTube make you stupid?

October 13, 2009 3 comments

Can watching YouTube make you stupid? Maybe. The latest research indicates that while watching YouTube clips and sharing them on Twitter might be fun, it makes no improvement at all to our working memory.

Working memory is our ability to store and manipulate information for a brief time. It is typically measured by dual-tasks, where the individual has to remember an item while simultaneously processing a sometimes unrelated piece of information. In other words, working memory helps us multi-task and learn new stuff. It’s our mental sticky-note and explains why it is easier to do two different tasks (one verbal and one visual) than two similar tasks (e.g., two visual)

Working memory predicts learning outcomes independently of IQ. It’s important because working memory measures our capacity to acquire knowledge rather than simply remember what we have already learned.

A British researcher, Dr Alloway states that short form communication such as Twitter is harming our ability to remember. She describes Twitter as an “endless stream” that doesn’t allow users to process or manipulate what they’re seeing. “It’s not a dialogue,” reports Dr Alloway who is the Director of the Center for Memory and Learning at the University of Stirling. She had the same judgement for YouTube. She claimed children who watch too much TV and videos are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. “A TV programme may be 30 minutes long. A YouTube clip is only a minute or so – your attention span is being reduced and you’re not really engaging your brain and developing your neural connections to engage on a longer basis,” she said. It’s not all bad news, however. Other forms of communication, such as Facebook, might be helping to train our brains.

“Social networking sites like Facebook might help working memory, because when we use them we feel more part of a larger community,” Alloway claims.

So, if you want to get smarter, don’t tweet. Try a little socializing on Facebook, play Sudoku, or blog.

Most Companies not aware of Groundswell

October 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Are most American businesses using Twitter and the new social media to add vitality to their focus and mission? No. Most are definitely not.

Almost unanimously, when asked if their company needed a “micro-blogging platform that connected them in real time to thousands of users around the planet” they answered, well– “Not really.” Of course, had Ma Bell taken a poll before launching the telephone, the answer would probably have been the same.

Forrester, the research consultancy that wrote the book on the ‘groundswell‘, has released the results of a new research report. The study shows that real-time collaboration has stalled in the business community due in most part to the lack of adoption in technologies such as web conferencing and instant messaging. That may be true with existing technologies but it is important to note the new generation of applications that extend real-time collaboration tools.

The State Of Workforce Technology Adoption by Forrester is definitely comprehensive in its examination of how people use technology in the workforce. It’s a mass-market report, meaning this is how people use technology today. They surveyed 2,001 “information workers” at organizations with 100 or more employees. It is Forrester’s first report in this realm. It covers devices, productivity, mobility, collaboration, and intranet portals

Forrester analyst Ted Schadler wrote the report. He makes the point that the purpose of the study is to walk a mile in the shoes of the information worker.

These are information workers who:

  • Predominantly use desktop computers: 76%
  • Have a pent up demand for smart phones: Just 11% use them at work
  • Rely on email for most everything
  • Do not really use traditional collaboration tools such as web conferencing and instant messaging

Just look at how dominating email has become and you see the challenges to real-time collaboration.


This niche opportunity should be encouraging to i-Media students who understand the power of the groundswell. To know that most companies don’t even have current access to the latest social media tools opens up all kinds of job opportunities for the savvy new media specialist.

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