Posts tagged: Facebook

Kiking the tires, thinking about Titan and the three desires

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By , December 14, 2010 4:25 pm

You might remember, a few weeks back, Facebook came out with news on the new messaging service that it wants to roll out – Project Titan. Not the email killer that many thought it would be, many people seemed to be puzzled about what (and why) Facebook was expending its energy on (sounds like Wave eh?). Facebook described the system as a means of unifying messaging across multiple modalities and to my mind, it is merely the completion of an idea that Google started with Chat that could send messages to SMS, Chat and Mail. A few fewer weeks back, Kik Messenger was kicked off of RIMs BIS network. It is claimed that Kik is violating some copyright or patented technology that is property of RIM. Many people understood this one right away. Kik was, and is, basically BBM (Blackberry Messenger) lite “for the rest of us”. It doesn’t have the group sharing elements of the BBM platform, nor does it integrate with anything other than the address book, but it does the “killer” thing that BBM does. Deliver messages fast and allow for a means of knowing the status of a sent message.

Fast forward to this week as I finally pulled the messaging part of my phone plan into the tail end of 2009 with a limit that is more than 100 or so messages. People who know me, know that I don’t like txting long back and forth conversations. I had this disposition for two reasons, the first was that it would chew through my allotted message limit very quickly and second that it would suck down battery just as fast. For this reason, I preferred using Google Talk or other messaging systems. So when Kik showed up, I quickly grabbed it, longing for a return to those heady days that I was still a Crackberry Addict and could send messages instantly and know when they were read. I know you can do the same thing with SMS, but who really wants all that noise within the system? BBM and Kik have it integrated and noise less. But, unlike BBM and Kik, Google Talk records all the messages that users send, and there are utilities to do the same with SMS, but not with BBM/Kik.

Scoot ahead to this afternoon, when out for my afternoon walk around the Legislature, it struck me why and how all these elements come together. There are three desires we have when communicating. We have the desire to know that we can reach our audience specifically, we want to know that they have seen our message and then we want to be able able to move through the messages that we have sent and received. I’m sure this is nothing new to communication studies (or allied discipline) people, and it isn’t really new to me either, but what it new in my mind is that there is now a potential pathway that, through the use of technology, would make it easy for people to experience the three desires. The problem is that the tools that would enable this confluence is currently behind one wall or another.

But there is hope, and for all that Facebook doesn’t do well, it might be that Facebook has in place, at least in principle, the ways and means to build a system that allows for the confluence to occur. If the final form of Titan is truly “input independent”, then it would make sense that Kik/email/SMS/Chat/enhanced smoke signal/what have you, could all be used to interact with the stream of messages that are stored in Facebook. Ideally, the transfer of messages would also be fast and feedback as to the status of the message would also be available without extra noise. I’m also sure, that like Google, Facebook is going to keep each and every one of those messages forever.

Ok, so where am I going with this? The world outside the classroom has figured out why it is important to keep messages and make sure they flow in a manner that alerts those involved as to their status. Why hasn’t education? Why is education thinking that messages only last for, at the most 12 weeks? Why is there no way to know if anyone involved in the communication cycle has received a message, or indeed who would have received the message in the first place. Unless formal education enables this form of communication, I think it will fall even further behind where it is now in terms of preparing students for the connected and engaged world that they will see in their future and that they are starting to see in their homes.

I wonder how Mixable Perdue can get…

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By , October 6, 2010 1:31 pm

I spotted this today in the hype of all the Facebook news (it’s getting a more intelligent group feature as opposed to lists). Mixable takes elements from existing web/cloud based systems and rolls them into something that seems very much to be a “public garden” style content/learning management system.

The bonus with this system is that “classes” or “courses” are persistent and don’t sink into the bureaucratic ether at the end of the term. The only strong tie it seems to have to Perdue right now is for podcasting, but since it uses iTunes U, it might be able to work with other institutions – assuming that Perdue releases it to the wild…

Infacebook Learning

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By , October 1, 2010 9:46 am

Fast Company posted an interesting article a few days ago on Facebook and informal learning which I finally got around to today. There aren’t many people out there who won’t agree that something can be learned out of the formal context of a school room or lecture hall, but many will argue that social networks, and Facebook (being the largest), isn’t such a place. Before I get to the nugget that I found in the article, I do have to ponder… with 500M+ people using the system, there is a good chance that a few of those are smart people who, even through what seem to them to be banal observations, can enlighten others to thinking just a little different. But now the nugget:

Facebook provides a compelling outlet for people who enjoy learning, and it helps those seeking something else to accidentally and informally learn along the way.

As we build relationships with other people, we tap into their networks of knowledge and sense, creating learning webs, making our compound knowledge more valuable than compound interest.

Accidental learning… that sounds to me like research, like exploration, like self motivation, curiosity and reflection. Take a moment to think about how many things we have today are the result of accidental events that were reflected on and then recreated before being systematized into a product, a process, or even an entire discipline.

It may very well be time that we need to stop thinking about where learning happens as being part of what gives it value; and start thinking, perhaps about who it happens with as being important as borders and walls continue to drop away and the number of informal and accidental interactions with passionate individuals from numerous disciplines begin to increase.

The wrong and the horrible

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By , September 21, 2010 1:05 pm

I think one would have to be living under a rock, or listening to nothing by satellite (more on that later… it’s been bubbling in my head for a while, but this is one of the reasons why it is bad) or top40 radio not to have heard about this atrocity in BC.

Now, while social networking has helped perform surgery, helped after having been arrested or been taken captive, it has also been used to propagate crimes as in this case where photos of the incident have spread onto Facebook and from there… not even Mark, Sergey or Larry know where. If you are one of the many who don’t understand take a look at this earlier post or this video:


What happened in BC certainly goes beyond what the previous worry of sexting ever could have been and into the criminal. But can anything good come of this? Well perhaps. It looks like the school board(s) that are involved will be looking into putting something regarding this new reality into the curriculum. The only problem I see is that they are waiting until grade 10 to talk about this, when they should be starting to talk about responsibility and the use of digital media much earlier… say in kindergarten. We should be teaching the mantra of “Think before you post” right from the start. Perhaps starting with ideas about controlling what information is safe to post… essentially the modren equivalent of “don’t talk to strangers”.

What are the new literacies that schools need to teach?

By , May 10, 2010 8:57 am

This came up this weekend talking to my wife. It seems that in her school, there is a cadre of teachers who think that kids need to learn “keyboarding” to be literate in the new reality that will be where they find themselves in the future. This remark was quickly retorted by another teacher who in her best mime-type impression of a crackberry addict gestured that the kids are not going to need to learn how to keyboard, they are going to be adept thumb typers. I don’t know where the conversation went from there, but after some more discussion, my wife and I were dumbfounded as to how some teachers are still so bound to the tools of communication rather than the process or the media.

Years ago, keyboarding was relevant because that was the only way that students could leverage these tools called computers, but what about accessing today’s devices with gesture, stylus or voice inputs? What about those devices with configurable keyboards? This is just the tip of the iceberg…

For my money, kids in K-12 today need to be literate in the ways and means to establish, maintain and explore connections (building their PLE/Ns as it were). They need to be able to create an identity online and understand what it means to have a valid identity and how to tell what parts of another individual’s identity might not be true. The tools that they will use to do this? I would not even want to guess, today they are Twitter and Facebook. Tomorrow… all bets are off… years down the road… same thing.

Creating and maintaining these relationships will require different skills, some will require adept long form writing, others will require micro form skills. Some people will need to have a full range of multimedia aptitudes, others will be able to specialize.

So if it were me giving a presentation to a school as to what the kids need to learn? I would say that they need to learn that there are different types of tools with different abilities. Some that sit on desks, others that sit in your pocket, others that sit far away. Each of these has a time and place to be used… now let’s start exploring those tools starting with…

Facebook mobile dominates mobile web

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By , February 5, 2010 12:59 pm

According to the BBC, Facebook mobile dwarfed the rest of the mobile web in usage with 2.2 billion minutes and Google and Microsoft pulling in a combined 600 million minutes in December. If you look at this UK data combined with the PEW data from earlier in the week it really suggests that the 17-30 year old demographic is focusing it’s online activity on what it can do while mobile. When you think about why Facebook, the answer seems to be obvious. On the smaller screen, the “life portfolio” that is Facebook makes much more sense. When you are “out and about”, you don’t want to have to remember where your “mates'” blog is, you’d rather just put in his/her name and go there without having to worry about logins or the other elements that are common to the unwalled web, thus reducing the need/want to post or comment on traditional blogs.

Connected with Facebook Comments TNG

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By , November 17, 2009 3:43 pm

One of my laments about Facebook is that it is a walled garden, and if someone comments in FB, it’s not reflected on the blog, until now. I’ve found this cool plugin that seems to do the trick and via Gravatar, show where the comments originate. There is no support for likes right now, but it’s a start.

Purdue and the Back Channel

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By , November 4, 2009 10:21 am

While it is only experimental, Purdue is starting to test how to make use of the “back channel” in a lecture in the form of an application called “Hotseat“. The students seem to like it.

“Hotseat is turning out to be a nice innovation. I’m seeing students interact more with the course and ask relevant questions,” Chakravarty [Professor and department head of Purdue’s Department of Consumer Sciences and Retailing] says. “The tool allows us to engage students using media they are already familiar with.” …

“The students say pretty much whatever they want,” Chakravarty says. “But this is a valuable tool for enhancing learning. The students are engaged in the discussions and, for the most part, they are asking relevant questions.”

It certainly is going to be interesting to see if this extends beyond the pilot to other courses at Purdue and beyond the single institution. I have some hope for this as many conferences are embracing the back channel, so instructors/profs/researchers are getting used to the idea of back channel from their peers, the challenge will be to see if the same can be said about questions and comments from students.

Update from the broken interwebs

By , August 7, 2009 9:54 am

I originally put this as an update from my previous post, but then I figured that it would be better just to post it on its own.

It all seems to be a direct attack on a single user of both services (Wired):

CNet, citing Max Kelly, chief security officer at Facebook, says this attack is personal, and political: it is reporting that the motive was to silence a single person — a Georgian blogger with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal and Google’s Blogger and YouTube — as part of the continuin Russia/Georgia conflict.

Little of the investigation has been revealed, but in a status update late Thursday Twitter founder Biz Stone seemed to agree that there was a single perpetrator at least on his site:

Over the last few hours, Twitter has been working closely with other companies and services affected by what appears to be a single, massively coordinated attack. As to the motivation behind this event, we prefer not to speculate. […]

We’ve worked hard to achieve technical stability and we’re proud of our Engineering and Operations teams. Nevertheless, today’s massive, globally distributed attack was a reminder that there’s still lots of work ahead.

The Guardian has some more info on this as well:

The Georgian blogger known as Cyxymu, who was yesterday the victim of a cyber assault that affected hundreds of millions of web users around the world, has blamed the attack on the Kremlin.

Speaking to the Guardian from an office in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, he said he believed the denial-of-service strike that hit LiveJournal, Facebook and Twitter stemmed from an attempt to silence his criticism over Russia’s conduct in the war over the disputed South Ossetia region, which began a year ago today.

“Maybe it was carried out by ordinary hackers but I’m certain the order came from the Russian government,” said the blogger, whose monicker is a latinised version of the Russian spelling of Sukhumi, the capital of Georgia’s other breakaway republic, Abkhazia.

He added: “An attack on such a scale that affected three worldwide services with numerous servers could only be organised by someone with huge resources.”

So in the end it seems that my musings yesterday were on the right track.

This story keeps growing:

Cyxymu might be considered the first “digital refugee“.

Help! The Interwebs are Broken!

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By , August 6, 2009 10:25 am

I remember way back in the days when search engine home pages were not reliable, when Yahoo! or MSN was down, people thought the entire net was down because they didn’t know how to input URLs. Now I don’t think much has changed in the last 5-10 years in terms of how many people use the ‘net, except for instead of search engines being the home page/tab, people have Facebook or Twitter as their starting point. Many people don’t even go further than Facebook anymore as the only reason they go online is to catch up with friends. So today’s meltdown (C|Net, Mashable) of Twitter and Facebook was certainly an annoyance for folks (and a reminder of how dependant we are getting) who had their ‘net break this morning. But outside of the traditional web, I think where this might have had a bigger impact was in mobile computing – I wonder how many people who have phones hooked into the two services all of the sudden felt the sensation of being disconnected? In my experience, the biggest drivers for mobile data, at least in my circles, have been related to social networking. People want to be able to go out and meet their friends and share those experiences with those who are not there and store them for those who are.

One of my colleagues in the office suggested that the attack on Twitter might have been some State clamping down so hard that it knocked Twitter down for everyone. I also don’t see that being that far out of the realm of possibility. But if a State did attack a company, who is there to defend them? The “cyber forces” of their home country, or some other body (the UN?). I don’t know but as services become international in use and importance, the defense of these services becomes the interest of the world as well, once again throwing fuel on the fire that is the role of borders on the ‘net.

PS. Be sure to check the update.

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