Fun with Wordle

If you haven’t used wordle to play with text in a non linear kind of way, check out my doodle this morning. It can be addicitve.

Give it a try. Take your favorites saying or quote and play with it ad infinitum .

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How Old are You in Internet Years?

Back in the dot com days, I mused that a year working in the tech sector was more like dog years, i.e. each dot com year = 7 years. We live in a stable, less crazed world now. I think it is maybe like 3 years.

Many people I speak to are over 35; school administrators, teachers, event planners, outreach supervisors, festival founders, etc. They were 20-25 during Web 1.0. Contrary to what the Web 2.0 generation thinks, these oldsters don’t act like their age in internet years. They know it is never too late to change direction, to start something new, to test-test-test, ready, fire, aim-aim-aim. They may not pull as many all-nighters, but they know it is not too late.

Sometimes though, things can get discouraging when you are say, 42 or 52 or 62 and are trying to get a new online presence off the ground. In these wobbly moments, go here and type in your age.

You’ll be encouraged by the accomplishments of others at any age you key in.

Also, remember Jacquie Lawson. She picked up the internet at 67, designed ecards for her friends, and now at 76 has at least 500,000 people sending her elaborate ecards to over 21,000,000 people each year.

Good Morning Cyborgs

Imagine if you had a camera in your hat or shirt pocket. A video camera. This camera has facial recognition software and is linked to facebook. It has text-to-speech too. When you walk up to someone you know, the camera scans their face, and sends a message to your earpiece letting you know what they just posted on twitter and facebook about their recent trip to Hawaii. It feeds kids names and spouse names first, according to your instructions.

Like having the skills and tools of a hotel concierge in your pocket.

Wouldn’t this be interesting? Would you buy one?

It exists.

Social Media Channels Impact Everything!

Middle School Photoshop Experts Forge Revolutionary Flyers

Twenty years ago, a group of professional photographers and myself paid an Adobe employee to fly into town and explain their newest software package, Photoshop.

We were desperately working our MacIIcis over time to render the amazing capabilities of this remarkable new tool.

We only had channels, no layers, to work with and we were overwhelmed by the complexity afforded a serious user.

I’ve wrestled with Photoshop for all these years. I’ve seen it go from cutting edge status to mainstream, and now to middle school.

My 13 year-old came home with the old chestnut of a history assignment tonight: Create a flyer from the Revolutionary War taking sides with either the British or the Americans. Here is the result. Totally Photoshopped in one hour.

If my commrades in computing computing in the late 1980’s could have seen him work it up with layers, ink effects, levels, font selections, and saturations they’d have wet themselves with envy.

This is why visual literacy is so essential. We have these great tools. We can type-set, print, and distribute to the world in one sitting.

It is important to remember how insanely fortunate we are in the context of the history of communications. As one recent comedian put it, “I was sitting next to a guy in an airplanes that rolled out in-flight WiFi. He complained and whined that the connection was not that great. I wanted to say to him, ‘Isn’t it enough that you are flying at 40,000 feet in a chair going 600 miles per hour? You have to have flawless internet connections too?”

It’s an awesome time to be alive, and even more exciting to be able to help kids learn to use the tools.

French Powerpointers Vs. American Powerpointers

I’m going to post on a visual topic without using visuals. Not good. But this is an anecdote from a dinner conversation I thought would be worth noting.

A friend who teaches entrepreneurship for a major university in New York City relayed the curious incident which follows. When he found out my passion is visual literacy for young people,  he was quick to point out his gladness that someone was teaching American kids to communicate visually, then gave his reasons why.

He teaches his entrepreneurship class to mostly French speaking students. Why this is I’m not sure. He notes the stark contrast in visual styles between the French powerpoint presentations, and the US student presentations.

When US students in the class fire up powerpoint, he says, it is the usual bullet-driven, too-small-font-laiden, no-design-beyond-templates visual drivel.

The French students, by contrast, rarely use powerpoint for their presentations. They use interactive-flash, quicktime wired, animation suffused, movie clip peppered, flip video staccato cut “experiences”. (his words)

This is how they (French students) come in from the start. This is the way they’ve been taught to communicate persuasively. I indicated they have been taught visual communication skills as part of their primary and secondary schools in Western Europe. By some estimates, they are 10 years ahead of the US in this respect. Additionally, they are having fun communicating. They feel the need to entertain as they inform.

The US students are trying to catch up.

Ever try to play catch up to someone in college when they have been perfecting their skills since 4th grade?

Seems the US is still not churning out the globally competitive communicators from our high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools. A/V is still a nice extra, but not a core literacy competency.

Too bad. We need more global competitiveness these days, not less.

What would Mozart’s Father do?

With the ease of technology as it applies to the net, the options of content creation have become easily accessible by kids. Kids are making video and posting it on the web. A host of website give kids the opportunity to express themselves in ways that are now turning them from passive spectators to captains of there own content, giving them the opportunity to hone their multimedia skills and join the world that is thriving around them.

There are millions of kids who surf the Internet on a daily basis. Recent studies suggest 9% of those are children between the ages of nine to twelve, creating original content that is both entertaining and relevant to their world, but also significant to the web in general. 33% of that particular demographic are planning to launch their own websites within the year. This population of content-creating kids is going to increase dramatically.

This is the perfect time to take advantage of this technological opportunity and allow your child to flower their creative ideas. Why now? Well Mozart began composing his timeless and beautiful works at the age of five! Well we’re way past the age of the clavier but there are computer-based avenues of content creation that are available to you child that can give them the head start in the creative world and give them the satisfaction, experience, knowledge and confidence that will set them apart, allowing them to join society as socially aware and responsible internet citizens.

Fleximusic, a reputable software developing company has heard the call of kid generated composition and audio. They have provided a wonderful new product called ‘FlexiMusic Kids Composer to assist your child in creating their first symphony of fun. With FlexiMusic, your child can learn the fundamentals of music and grow on that experience by making their own compositions and recording the result in music files that can be easily uploaded and streaming from the Internet, allowing your child to musically express themselves to the world. This content can be shared with other children, creating a network of creativity hitherto unknown to the youthful population.

Boinx.com creates a wonderful product called istopmotion. This allows a youngster to create stop-motion animation with ease and speed only dreamed of even five years ago.

See an example of what kids have produced using istommotion here.

How would Mozart’s father have promoted his prodigy today?

He’d be all over podcast, video, animation world, and he’d probably set up a membership site to develop a fan base who’d beg for his son’s newest composition, which they would get via his sites’ RSS feed.

What a great time to be a creative kid. What a great time to their parent!