Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve given a couple of presentations to library groups – which in and off itself is interesting – but one of them seems to stick out in my head as something that is worthy of more exposure, so I’m doing a bit of a dump on this idea. When talking about tools for collaboration, I suggested there are three shells, defined by scope, that one would collaborate within.
The first shell, the innermost, is document based. This is where people would collaborate on a document using a wiki like tool, or an idea using a blog. This can be limited to certain people, so it is ideal for a targeted project. The second shell is independent of a document or idea, but it is bound to the moment. For this middle layer, I suggested the use of a device independent service like Twitter. Using this instant messaging styled communication, people can collaborate contextually. Something that is certainly useful for those groups that have a range of ‘net accessibility but still have to work together. This is an interesting middle layer as you can branch this group beyond the original collaborators and bring in other individuals as to enable the group to escape their own echo chamber – something that has been put to good use as twitter seems to be acting as a unique filter on many world events. The final, outer layer is completely independent of device and group. Based on tagging, this is a way to collaborate with anyone who chooses to use the same tags that you choose to add to your online data (eg. Flickr and Facebook).
This is all rather simple to organize, but then what happens when you add location based social networking? And so begins the brain dump… using either one of the newer Twitter mashups like twisney or dedicated services like BrightKite, Trackut, Myrimis and Gypsii are either a glue between levels… you can find out where your document collaborators are, seeing when they are in the same building – or you can wander the world to find like minded individuals making this a cloud like layer that would float about the tag shell. How does location based social networking work in the collaboration meme that we have come understand in the web2.0 world?
You’ve gotta respect the people who walk the walk and talk the talk. One of these groups is the New Media Consortium (at least at first blush). They have taken their Horizon 2008 report and dumped it into Comment Press to make it a living and interactive document.
They see collaboration technologies as one of the first on the horizon and Comment Press and Wikis are certainly a way to do that. Furthest out – many years away are social technologies. But I think that is reasonable. If we can get the main stream educator to start to think about how to collaborate online, eventually “group thinking” or the use of some collective intelligence ideas might follow – that should hopefully get kids up to speed with what many workplaces are doing already.
photophlow is the super concentrated crack filled with chocolate and then drenched in ambrosia that you get paid for even thinking about… ok, maybe that is a bit over the top. But this tool is an amazing addition to the mashups that surround flickr. Yahoo bought up flickr as likely as not to gain access to a strong community and through the commenting (that was there before) allows people to explore and comment on the work of others. But this has been asynchronous and largely a slow process. The time that it took to get exposure to a photo was, or could be, significant. The community element was something that would give some incentive to purchase the Pro account to give/get more exposure and store more images.
But now, this all can happen in real time with people interested in a wide range of photography, facilitating faster feedback to the work that you have posted. But because things happen much quicker, all of the sudden, you have a reason to go pro. I’m thinking Yahoo should give these people a massive cheque pretty quick.
So, why would your average Jack/Jill be interested? I’m not sure, unless they want to learn… and being an edtech blog… this is the kicker for me. This system allows you to create your own rooms, creating a great learning environment that would allow a group of students to collaborate on an assignment (photo or art based) or for an instructor to provide feedback to student work.
Now this is not the first, and it won’t be the last collaboration system for photos or any other kind of content, but the big difference here is the nature of the interface. It works very well for images, just as wikis are ideal for text, this, especially now that there are systems/accessories that will allow automatic uploading of images to flickr, feels like a real milestone. You can now collaborate in real time without investing in a system to facilitate it.
Yeah, it’s certainly turned on lights and I had to rip myself away from it to write this and get on with my day. But as the closing comments… if you are teaching anything that deals with images and that would benefit from the conversation that might surround them, sign up for this system. Oh yeah, the developer is from Edmonton (I think).
It seems that there are now as many web based collaboration tools as there are people to collaborate with out there. My most recent find is Thinkature. You can doodle and chat with others in real time. I think this is another one of those small startups that is going to get swallowed by Google in short order (if not this company, another that is doing something similar).
Overall though, with Elluminate providing free vRooms, I don’t see how useful this would be for teaching, but for students collaborating, this might be just the ticket as it is open to anyone who signs up.
I don’t know how this post got lost today, but there is now another ‘cast app out there – Sketchcast allows those doodlers out there to get their point across in it’s “Native” format. Handy for some to be sure.