Won’t be able to ignore touch for much longer

Nathaniel Mott, writing for pando daily:

Again, I think of the way my nephew uses the computer. He wants to use a computer to do something, whether it’s look at pictures of animals (he’s a fan of rhinos and dogs) or watch videos on YouTube. And while he’s doing those things he’s poking the screen, expecting an image to expand or a video to stop or start upon meeting his fingertip. This is the way he interacts with almost every other screen he’s come across, and so he carries the expectation to the ‘puter.

Our discussions have highlighted our biggest challenge—finding an experienced MOOC instructional designer, or at least a platform specialist. As instructors continue to take the necessary risks to test this new pedagogical environment, colleges may not be able to meet the growing need for sophisticated support systems.

(via The Chronicle, Of MOOCs and Mousetraps, 21 Feb. 2013)

Many higher ed institutions might not have the tools or support to offer massive open courses today, but my belief is that these tools and support systems  are going to be a key differentiator for institutions going forward.

The answer to “the web we lost” is more than self-hosted blogs

Been watching all the reaction to Anil Dash’s posts on the web we lost and rebuilding the web we lost.

The alternative to living in the closed ad-driven spaces like facebook, twitter, tumblr seems to be firing up your own self-hosted blog. At least this is what I see in the circles I am close to. There’s a lot to say about owning and building your own personal content repository, but there is also a huge value add in being able to easily place your work in the context of a community. I know of examples at Penn State where faculty and students found it much more useful to all contribute to one shared space than each create their own blog.

Let’s take flickr as an example. I feel my photos are much more useful as objects in flickr then they are just sitting on my website. Flickr hosts billions of photos, rich with associated metadata, weaving an insanely huge photographic tapestry depicting life across the globe in the early twenty first century. My work there is discoverable and aggregated many different ways along with other photos from the community. I am glad to contribute to that. There is value there for me and it makes my content more valuable for others. And let’s not forgot that flickr is one of Dash’s examples of the good old days of the web.

Will flickr disappear one day? perhaps. What happens to that data? Will there be some organized effort to preserve it? A coalition of archivists creating a non-profit foundation to protect it? I could see this happening.1 I don’t see this happening to my little self-hosted corner of the internet. Do I want my stuff to live on forever, archived for the historical record? I don’t know. But it might have a better chance happening by contributing to a large repository of content.

Right now we need less controlled public spaces for gathering and archiving online.

One of my goals in bringing WordPress to Penn State in the form of sites.psu.edu is to create a community which can make everyone’s content more valuable than the sum of their individual contributions.

1. See Dave Winer’s the flickr API is a national treasure.

Penn State’s Introduction To Visual Studies on iTunes U

Penn State Art 10 Featured On iTunes U on iPad

For the past months I have watched many of my colleagues here at Penn State as they have developed this course. It has a custom iBook, utilizes apps for artwork projects, and even has some guidelines for connecting with an ad hoc community of people working through the material and assignments. I’m planning on exploring the course more over break. Very impressive work from the team. You can find the course on iTunes U, but you’ll need the iTunes U iOS app to get the full effect. See also my previous excitement about the iTunes U app.

on instagram’s new terms

The Verge on what instagram’s new terms of service really mean:

First, like every other company on the web that stores user data, Instagram has always had an expansive license to use and copy your photos. It has to — that’s how it runs its networks of servers around the world.

As Cole also mentions, this is stuff found in almost every TOS. Without giving instagram rights to your photos, it can’t store and transmit them. Yet about once a year there is a new public outcry focusing on some new service for trying to claim ownership of your IP.

more from the verge:

And Instagram’s existing terms specifically give the company the right to “place such advertising and promotions on the Instagram Services or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content.” Instagram has always had the right to use your photos in ads, almost any way it wants. We could have had the exact same freakout last week, or a year ago, or the day Instagram launched.

The new terms actually make things clearer and — importantly — more limited.

So what can Instagram do? Well, an advertiser can pay Instagram to display your photos in a way that doesn’t create anything new — so Budweiser can put up a box in the timeline that says “our favorite Instagram photos of this bar!” and put user photos in there, but it can’t take those photos and modify them, or combine them with other content to create a new thing. Putting a logo on your photo would definitely break the rules. But putting a logo somewhere near your photos? That would probably be okay.

I am not trying to defend instagram, but am trying to place the latest hubbub in a little context. It is still important for us to examine the impacts, both positive and negative, of the mass participatory infrastructure of the culture being funded by ad revenue.