Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street isn't hypocritical

This mocking of Occupy Wall Street using picture below is a bit dishonest.
The idea that people protesting corporate greed are hypocritical by using products created by corporations is ridiculous. This would leave only leave some luddites who make their own clothes - which would then draw the reclusive nutjob remarks.

Claiming that OWS activists use of technology is hypocritical would be akin to claiming that Tea Party folks cannot use any government service.

It is amazing how quickly some media enterprises have turned away from the "power to the people", and  "democracy in action"  narrative that was completely accurate when right wing views were being voiced.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TechCrunch should stay out of economics

I was startled when I read Warren Buffet's Op-Ed piece in the NYT.. He basically burned down the GOP/Fox News "Job-creators can't be taxed" house of cards narrative. Buffet definitely has the cred to state how investors and businesses have been operating over the years. Investment during times with higher taxes like the 80s and 90s led to a Lot of people getting rich, people created jobs and grew businesses. There are some of the lowest taxes on the wealthy right now, and there definitely aren't a lot of jobs being created. Sounded like straight talk. Then a ridiculous piece by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch nearly dropped me out of my seat. One of those pieces where you're waiting for the sarcastic punch-line only to find out that the writer was serious.

Arrington states that Buffet's true motive is to keep others from getting rich. He don't like the "New Money". Otherwise he would've proposed a different tax which would hit him harder.Therefore it must be to prevent other people from getting rich. Does Buffet worry that he won't get a good parking spot at the country club? The man volunteers to pay more taxes and yet he says "no thanks, we don't think your motives are pure enough". There's nothing to state that Buffet is against a wealth tax. He simply refuted the current narrative that taxing the rich I mean "job-creators" will hurt the economy's growth.

What's more fair a wealth tax or increased taxes on dividends and capital gains? I don't know. But just because you disagree doesn't give you the right to fabricate a motive.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gamification of Everything

This month's Learning Circuits Big Question should be near and dear to all instructional designers.

Teaching face-to-face or  always requires engagement first. Engagement leads to better attention, and retention. Fun is a major way to engage. So...

How do you make e-learning fun?

Thanks to folks like Clark Quinn games are receiving more mainstream acceptance and adoption in eLearning circles. More developers are looking to offer instruction through games. Games provide intrinsic motivation, peer recognition, opportunities to explore, individual accountability and choice.

I recently experimented with FourSquare. At face value you check-in to allow friends to know where you are. The value proposition for 4SQ is to mine the demographic goldmine by knowing where and how often people go places and allow them to be marketed to accordingly. Why do it? For the Points!! and the Badges. the recognition provides the motivation to keep one engaged and continuously checking in. Game mechanics like additional points for being a mayor rewards repeat behaviours. Competition with friends ensues...

Most recently Google+ launched and was adopted quickly. The supposed killer feature is to group friends and share information by those groups or circles. Other services have offered this but the g+ way of dragging and dropping is game-like being more fun which means people are more likely to do it.

My favourite anecdote on fun would be the Khan Academy. This story by Wired tells it best. One mans passion to teach is fundamentally changing traditional education paradigms of lecture and homework. His videos are casual in nature, he speaks simply  without speaking down to the viewer. Practice problems track the number of correct answers in a row, badges and stats are visible to motivate and show off.
 Games can provide a great template for improving the fun-factor and engagement of our eLearning. The skill will be to ensure as designers we don't go too far down the game spectrum and lose the instructional objectives.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

ebook readers : the next flip?

As an owner of a Flip camera, I was disappointed to hear that Cisco has decided to sunset it's Flip camera operations.At the same time I see the same writing on the wall that motivated this move.  The handheld video market has been sandwiched in two directions. First from smartphones and their increasingly better cameras in a highly portable multi-purpose device, and second from Digital SLRs shooting HD video in better quality. As an owner myself, with the wife's iphone and my android, the flip, continued to be forgotten at home. And most importantly, not missed.

It remains a great niche device, but I like many others I suspect are willing to sacrifice the user experience for portability. This was a  great device at home with a young baby, but newer smartphones and more critical things to pack like diapers, food and drink.  Despite our 1st world entitlement people make some (small) sacrifices in quality for portability (see mp3). In our disposable culture, many new tech devices are laid to waste very quickly with vastly improving physical technologies like SSD.

eBook readers share some very similar  traits. Their main highlights are readability, and portability. Very similar in form factor to tablets, which are the larger form smartphone. ereaders could easily end up as a temporary technology. The main hurdle would be some sort of eInk that can switch to a display capable of video. From anecdotes I haven`t heard complaints about reading from tablets, so that could be the sacrifice users will make for a more powerful multi-purpose device. While I`m very happy to see a Canadian company like Kobo doing well, I`m not looking to go long on Kobo unless they can successfully transition to becoming a marketplace or a platform.

Related Links:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pirates killed the music industry, but music lives on

What is becoming a common theme amongst every traditional business that is affected by the internet. Middlemen are replaced by the open and accessible framework of the internet. The press and the business of journalism are being transformed (just watch CNN anchors read tweets on-air).

A recent paper by economist Joel Waldfogel shows the results of his study around the music industry. The claims made by the industry around the internet is that piracy is destroying culture and music itself. Loss of sales by major record companies have always been greatly exaggerated but other claims are suspect as well.

The growing trend is that mega music vendors are down, but the true question is whether there is less music available. Independant music labels using the power of the internet can make good music flourish much easier. Youtube and yes torrent sites make it easier to get music into the hands of more people. In the end getting good music to the masses is a key measure.Artists can then capitalize on concert revenue and merchandise and smaller labels can function on smaller revenues.

The main question when i speak to artists is about the concept of an album and whether that concept is even relevant in the current climate for the music industry. An artist used to release a few singles to draw people in to experience the album as a whole. Now it's all about singles. An artist is better off releasing just 4 hit singles versus 1 or 2 hits and producing an album with 12-15 tracks.

The large machinery of a mega label is no longer necessary to get music out to people, nor for an artist to scale and be successful. The internet replaces much of the massive logistics of printing and distributing media, advertising to get recognition through the open framework of file sharing and social media.

Related Links:
Despite Piracy music is still alive

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One dollar for every child

The Toronto District school board is looking to expand their TV screens in schools pilot project. School news and student-generated content is broadcasted to screens in the halls. Now the company which put the TVs in place would like to take it to the next level and show ads for 30% of the time. Approximately 2hrs a day. Naturally the school would receive some ad-revenue. There is a large divide over the potential harm this would do.

The very nature of ads are to influence behavior. Typically to influence consumer behaviour. Should that influence be exerted on impressionable minds? Yes, they do see ads online and on TV at home, so why should school be any different? Ads have been used in the classroom to teach media awareness, but it is not a far cry to see a day where teachers would be unable to critique ads for fear of losing sponsorship or ad revenue.

A second point is regarding the amount of revenue given to the school. It's being reported that each school would receive 1200 a year. Many highschools have approximately 1000 students, so one dollar per student per year. 1000 students for two hours a day for the entire school year is a considerable amount of time to make an impression. A much larger amount would make a much more compelling argument. Rough calculations pose revenue of about 40,000. A paltry 1200 going to the school seems ridiculous.

As someone in the business of training I do understand the balance between education and profitability. The continuing privatization of education can be a very slippery slope. Universities are already well on their way. Now it's coming to highschools, next will be elementary level. I don't think I want to see that day come.

I'm glad to hear  that this won't be going through, but I don't see this going away. If anything this will spark many more ideas of sponsorship and corporate pentration in our school system.

School board weighs expanding TV project
Propsoal fails to pass

Apple TV to offer live sports

Apple TV just updated with MLB TV and NBA League Pass. This is big news!

This means big trouble for cable companies right?

Not so fast. NBA League Pass is designed to compliment your cable subscription. Any games that  are broadcast nationally are not available on league pass. So if you're a fan of your local team, you're likely out of luck.

So long as the NBA employs this policy home team suckers like me are without a real online alternative.