Have you got a pirate in your school?

Something that rather belatedly crossed my professional radar has been the ‘antics’ of the Dread Pirate Roberts. I first caught up with this topic sitting in a hotel lounge in Singapore, reading the Forbes Asia September issue. Here was a fantastic challenge to the ongoing discussions of what happens online, including challenges to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and the whole matter of appropriate global citizenship. The truth is, we must be aware that online environments can be manipulated as well as manipulative – and in that sector, drug trafficking,  porn and the sex trade exemplifies everything that is destructive to society despite the so-called ‘democratic’ right of people to engage in their own peculiar passions and vices.

So it was increasingly sophisticated anonymity tools in online environments that created a bustling online narcotics market – and in this realm Dread Pirate Roberts was king of the waters, running the booming anonymous narcotics bazaar known as the Silk Road . What’s interesting to me is not only the ethical issues of drug use and marketing etc, but ALSO the communication mechanisms that are deployed online.

The Forbes reporting on the Dread Prirate said:

An entrepreneur as professionally careful as the Dread Pirate Roberts doesn’t trust instant messaging services. Forget phones or Skype. At one point during our eight-month preinterview courtship, I offer to meet him at an undisclosed location outside the United States. “Meeting in person is out of the question,” he says. “I don’t meet in person even with my closest advisors.” When I ask for his name and nationality, he’s so spooked that he refuses to answer any other questions and we lose contact for a month.

All my communications with Roberts are routed exclusively through the messaging system and forums of the website he owns and manages, the Silk Road. Accessing the site requires running the anonymity software Tor, which encrypts Web traffic and triple-bounces it among thousands of computers around the world. Like a long, blindfolded ride in the back of some guerrilla leader’s van, Tor is designed to prevent me–and anyone else–from tracking the location of Silk Road’s servers or the Dread Pirate Roberts himself. “The highest levels of government are hunting me,” says Roberts. “I can’t take any chances.”

How many of your students are aware of these unofficial and anonymous back-channels?  I know I am not. Seems that neither were any of the Dread Pirate’s family.

A media report today tells us that it’s the End of the Silk Road. On Wednesday, the FBI announced that they arrested 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, the Silk Road’s accused administrator, in the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library.The FBI hasn’t yet revealed how it managed to track down Ulbricht in spite of his seemingly careful use of encryption and anonymity tools to protect his identity and those of his customers and vendors who visited Silk Road as often as 60,000 times per day.

My question is – which kid is going to be the next dirty ‘entrepreneur’?  Which library or cafe  is going to be that kid’s base for disruptive activities deployed via online environments?

Digital citizenship programs in schools?  What a challenge!

Constant personalisation yesterday, today and tomorrow.

No matter where we look these days, the idea of personalized information streams continue to be supported by new tools, or new ways of working with existing tools – and all linked to our mobile devices in some way.  For example, where-ever I am,  I’m constantly adding items to my public Facebook feed, which ( I have to admit) has remained a constant as any number of other tools have come and gone. I need my tools to interrelate – all the time – easily, and quickly!

What interests me is the amazing uptake of ScoopIT. I was an early adopter myself, but have now taken a different view of the value of the tool – driven by Pinterest. Yes, I’m losing interest in ScoopIT – and here’s why.

I’m not interested in using the ‘built-in’ curation tool that Scoopit offers – it’s just not good enough at sourcing the professional feeds I want.

I’m not interested in having to use a browser-add on – as I just may not be at my computer to Scoop!

In case you haven’t noticed, a Facebook page looks pretty much the same as a ScoopIT page – so guess what – now I am favouring Facebook to do what ScoopIT has been doing!  e.g. Digital Citizenship in Schools vs Digital Citizenship in Schools.

BUT the ScoopIT ecosystem gets so much more traction!  Despite that, I am (like others) now getting really bored with ScoopIT links in Twitter, or Facebook.  When I click on a recommended link I prefer to go directly to the sources.  So there is the dilemma – to Scoop or to FaceBook?  I wonder what you think?

I also became jaded with ScoopIT  me when it insisted on a monthly package upgrade to be able to stream my content to multiple Scoops. Even ScoopIT education wants a monthly payment.  After some emails to try and explain that schools and educational institutions do prefer an annual fee for payment, nothing was put on offer. #FAIL

The other interesting change is the lack of ScoopIT buttons on mainstream pages.  You can Tweet, FB, G+, LinkedIn or Pin -  but you can’t Scoop!  #FAIL

So while I ramble on, the real reason for writing this post is to reflect on  just how much content organisation and curation keeps shifting. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are fluid places of relentless change.

Thinking about tomorrow?

Check out the new eBook feature enabled in Wikipedia.

We’re happy to announce that a new EPUB export feature has been enabled on English Wikipedia. You can use it to collate your personal collection of Wikipedia articles and generate free ebooks. These can be read on a broad range of devices, like mobile phones, tablets and e-ink based e-book readers.

This is a whole new ball-game for educators. Consider the option of getting students  (Secondary or graduate) to write content for Wikipedia, and publish it as their assessment if it is worthwhile? Consider the teacher or lecturer producing content that is related to a particular discipline and distributing it via this eBook feature – puts a whole new twist on open source publishing! Consider putting your learning materials into Wikipedia and weaving it together to package a knowledge element or topic of investigation?  I think this is a real ‘watch this space’ moment once again.

There’s an explanation and explanatory video at Animals in Space. Basic – but you get the idea. Is this the start of a new shift in information delivery spearheaded by Wikipedia?  I hope so, in the sense that we need to have information from many sources and repositories, but in the first instance we may simply have to plug into Wikipedia with our content. For example, I am toying with the idea of some new ways to assess ‘collection development’ for an Master’s level subject. Prompted by the media release from Wikipedia about the eBook feature, I scanned relevant resources and came up sharply against the lack of good material. Given that Wikipedia is highly searched information source on generalist information  I began to see writing material for Wikipedia as being far more authentic and worthwhile than writing an essay. Still written, but suddenly, with the option for an audience, multimedia content and hyperlinks the learning experience takes on a new focus.  More thinking on this, but I’m tipping that I won’t be the only teacher who begins to see new uses for Wikipedia.

Another tool that caught my eye today was Media2Go. Badged as a new reading experience, it’s just another way of ‘packaging’ what you want.  I’m never that keen on such tools, and (as I mentioned) I’m ‘over’ browser buttons (having lost count of ones used and ditched as media changed)! While I understand that business or corporate users of such tools may have a focussed area of reading, in education we do need to keep open and flexible.

But still worth a try, as its concept has some exciting possibilities. As they explain, the key aims are:

1. Cut out the noise
Bookmarks, saved articles, feeds –we’ve got all those on our browsers too, but how often do you really go back and read all the content you’ve saved? Right at the point of reading, you should be able to see topics that pique your interest and pull content on those topics instantly and without having to sift through tons of articles.

2. YOUR world. YOUR opinion.
We strongly think that we CAN NOT, CAN NOT become a society of homogenized opinions. It’s YOUR world and YOU should have a say in where you get your content from.

Maybe this IS tomorrow? Learn more at the video.

Creativity and knowledge in Science

The 46th Anniversary  of StarTrek on Saturday co-coincided with the Science Teachers Association NSW annual conference.  Perfect really!  The Google Doodles were fabulous. (Even better, there is a video of it all. If you are a fan, you will want to play it over and over again.)

I got to play with the Google Doodles while I waited to present a Keynote that used the theme of Science Fiction to talk about learning and teaching in a digital era. Science Fiction has been part of my life since primary school after being booted out of the children’s library in Albury and sent off to the ‘adult’ library – because there was nothing left for me to read!  My first book borrowed from the adult library (yes, it was a different building then) was an Isaac Asimov book -  and the rest, as they say, is history. While I never quite made it to become the astrophysicist of my dreams, nor did I pursue science at tertiary level, my personal interest (and my bookcase) shows my interest in real science and science fiction!

It’s this imaginative and expansive capacity of science fiction to relate to and extend science that I particularly wanted to draw upon. I also wanted to show how the changes taking place mean that a good science teacher must connect adroitly in social media environments, must know how to search for information effectively, and must know how to share knowledge in and beyond the classroom.

I met some fab teachers, and loved the opportunity to think
‘science’ for a day. It was great to meet up with @teachercolin, and to make some new science twitter friends too.

So one and all – Resistance is Futile!  I hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Wolfram Alpha and Facebook Personal Analytics

Wolfram|Alpha, the world’s first and only computational knowledge engine, uses its expert-level knowledge and algorithms to answer questions, generate reports, and do analysis across thousands of domains.

New to Wolfram|Alpha? Take a tour » 

There’s also an offer for K-12 educators and students to try out a WolframAlpha Pro account.  With Wolfram|Alpha Pro, you can compute with your own data. Just input numeric or tabular data right in your browser, and Pro will automatically analyze it—effortlessly handling not just pure numbers, but also dates, places, strings, and more.

But wait – now there’s Facebook!

According to TechCrunch

a new feature today that allows you to quickly get an overview of all your data on Facebook. The new report, says Wolfram CEO Stephen Wolfram, expands Wolfram Alpha’s “powers of analysis to give you all sorts of personal analytics.” The company plans to expand these reports with new features over time, but they already give you a pretty deep look at your Facebook habits.

LifeHacker explains

all you need to do is head to Wolfram Alpha’s home page and type in “Facebook Report”. After connecting it to your Facebook and granting it a rather large number of permissions, Wolfram Alpha will break down everything about your Facebook activity into 60 different sections of charts, graphs, and other analyses—like a cluster map of your friends and relationships, everywhere you’ve checked in, what days you’re most active on the site, a cloud of your most-used words, and even the weather from the day you were born. It’s incredibly interesting, super geeky, and downright scary.

Scary indeed – but not so much. This is not new – it’s just a development.

ThinkUp has allowed analysis of any Facebook account. ThinkUp is a free, open source web application that captures all your activity on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. One of the best ways to learn about ThinkUp is to see it in action.

Your Facebook Report

Your Wolfram|Alpha report will include the more obvious things such as:

  • Which Facebook apps do you use the most?
  • Who comments the most on your posts?

What you first see is only the tip of the iceberg. Change parameters, expands results, and click the More buttons to drill down into deeper layers of computation and analysis.You can even click the name of a friend to run the full page analysis on that friend’s shared Facebook data.

OK. Thanks to the report I now know that Seymour Papert is my oldest ‘friend’, and that many more of my friends lie about their age! Jeff A is 79 and he mostly uploads pictures to his Facebook Account.

Not surprisingly the report also confirms what I knew to be my personal preferences for Facebook  – I use Facebook mainly for sharing!

If all this has convinced you never to touch Facebook – think again!

Whether you like it or not Helmond and Gerlitz (2012) suggest that  the Facebook Like economy is here as part of the reworked fabric of the web  – and the only way to avoid it is never to go online, and never to visit a page with a Facebook link.  That means no more reading the news online, shopping, or browsing websites.Even before we join Facebook, visits to any site with a Facebook icon are being tracked because of the The Open Graph Protocol  introduced in 2009 into Facebook’s infrastructure to code and govern social activities and relations outside the Facebook membership platform.

Meanwhile, through the act of liking Facebook users are validating and linking content on the web, an act previously exclusive to webmasters and establishing what may be considered an emerging Like economy.

To be honest, I am not concerned about this dataflow. It’s here to stay. Refusing to participate is the equivalent of refusing to drive a car to get somewhere -  because it’s mechanical and doesn’t have four legs!

The pervasive nature of the web simply reminds me of the importantance of considering what I do, share and discuss online.  It reminds me that as educators we need (more than ever) to understand this reworked fabric of the 90s web, and understand how best to capitalize on it, learn with it, share with it, and make it possible for our students (young and old) be high calibre participants in their online world.

New visions, past interactions – listserv to social media

The School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University is a national leader in the design and delivery of a comprehensive suite of courses in library and information studies. We face many challenges, and amongst these the latest one has been to respond to new media environments by expanding the scope of our services to the vitally important information professionals we know as Teacher Librarians.

Time for social networking to hit the scene!

Teacher Librarians represent an important sector in library and information education. Alongside it’s degree program for Teacher Librarians, CSU has also been supporting the Australian Teacher Librarian Network  (OZTL_NET) listserv as a professional service  to the school library sector.  Now we also recognize the growing importance of utilizing web-based and mobile-device-enabled tools for communication, interaction and information dissemination through text, images, or sound. So it really was time to re-work and expand the potential of OZTL_NET.

OZTL_NET was originally created as a discussion list for information professionals working in Australian schools by the teacher librarianship academic staff. Since then it has grown to a community of more than 3,000 teacher librarians and information professionals.

This email-based service, run as a listserv using Mailman,  though quite old in the style of service it represents, is still very much a current tool and sometimes a lifesaver for many.  This service needed to stay for now – albeit at a new URL, and with some improved functionality.  My most  favourite bit of improvement is the fact that I can now look at a digest (a way of receiving all the emails in one bundle) on my ipad or iphone! Another neat new feature is how it handles the inevitable images that automatic signature files insert in a message – they can now get through!  This will save hours in bounced messages, and emails to remind people that a listerv is lean and mean in function :-)

But the obvious thing to do was to evolve the potential of this very stable listserv in a number of social media ways. While I am not sure which of these will be the favourites, the idea looks something like this:

  • share a link on the listserv and store it for easy retrieval any time in the Diigo group!
  • share your library images in Flickr, because we need to collect the ideas from around Australia
  • Like us on Facebook – and include us in your News Feed. Share things you find, and get into the conversation.
  • Perhaps 140 characters on Twitter will be just the thing for you – just another way to stay in touch and build the teacher librarian community.

To make all this possible, and still provide access to the vital information for the OZTL_NET Listserv, we now have a fantastic new web portal at http://oztlnet.com/. The next step is for the many members of the listerv to jump on in and begin to realise the power of the social media tools at their disposal for increasing our information flow between us all at a national level. Don’t just share with people in your suburb, state, or sector. Share with us all!

It’s early days yet – as the new services were only launched recently.  Do join one or other of the services, and connect, communicate and collaborate with each other across Australia. Social media can provide new avenues for thought leadership and innovation. providing a proactive and positive contribution to the strategic futures of school libraries.

Special thanks to Jo Kay, who always manages to work magic with web based products and services,  and who managed to help so many people through the migration from the old to the new (oh yes, it does help to read instructions!). OZTL_NET was lucky to have you!

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by fensterbme

Social media [at your library] starts with you

Thank you to Karen Bonanno for the opportunity to speak with teacher librarians about social media, social networking and school libraries,  as part of the School Library Management Professional Learning Webinar Series.

If you are interested in quality professional development delivered online and would like to receive email notices for future webinars and other professional learning events I recommend that you  sign up now.

Libraries and social media X

Wednesday was just the kind of day we need more of in our libraries!  Wollongong City Libraries (WCC) are taking charge of their future in a very positive way. Having decided that social media is now an essential part of the future of library services, WCC took the initiative to schedule a Staff Development Day for all the staff.

No easy thing to do – but Wollongong City and Branch Libraries closed ALL their doors on Wednesday 7 March to focus on their e-initiatives and Social Networking strategy.

The Social Networking Team has already laid the foundations for this important initiative, but the message on Wednesday was that everyone was now part of the conversation.  Their Facebook page is just the beginning of their future!

Guest speakers provided wonderful ideas to stimulate thinking to help the group discussions. I personally enjoyed the contributions from  Leanne Perry (State Library of NSW) and Kimberly Williams (University of Wollongong).

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery OAM dropped in to catch the vibe @ the Library Staff Development day. His words of encouragement were the best I have heard in a long time from a public figure. He was delighted with the energy of the social media shift!

Libraries represent our values, expand our minds, help in the construction of our realities and test them.  Libraries provide opportunities for the expansion of personal horizons, no matter what life circumstances have been.

One of our own CSU students, who was a keen leader in my Social Networking for Information Professionals Facebook group in 2011 was right there in the thick of it all! Fantastic work Clara!  The energy and buzz generated throughout the day was outstanding, and I know that I was the luckiest person on the planet to be there, and to have been chosen to provide the Keynote presentation for the day! Thank you Wollongong City Libraries.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by *MarS

Ten meta-trends impacting learning

In a world where libraries are completely reinventing themselves, where
universities and schools are moving away from labs to BYOD, and where the focus of everything seems to be on mobiles —what will be the role of technology in the next decade? What do leading institutions need to be doing now to prepare? What are the strategies that will provide them the most flexibility? The greatest competitive advantage?

These are the overarching questions that recently drove the discussions at 10th anniversary New Media Consortium Horizon Project  special convocation and retreat. Over its decade of work, the Horizon Project has grown to the point that it may very well be producing the single most important body of research into emerging technology within the world of education. With more than one million downloads and 27 translations in the past ten years, the NMC Horizon Report series provides the higher education, K-12, and museum communities across the globe a key strategic technology planning tool that is continuously refreshed and updated.

The NMC and the Horizon Project are best known for its flagship Horizon Reports that focus on higher education and K-12 globally. Now, with 10 years of research that has helped us understand the nature and range of impact of emerging technolgies, the 100 thoughtleaders involved in the retreat have  moved from reflections and metalearnings from the last decade, to notions of renewal and transformation, to ultimately metatrends and action.

Out of the discussion, 28 metatrends were identified. Of these, the ten most significant are
listed here and will be the focus of the upcoming NMC Horizon Project 10th Anniversary Report:

1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative. As more and more companies move to the global marketplace, it is common for work teams to span continents and time zones. Not only are teams geographically diverse, they are also culturally diverse.
2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to. Increasingly, people own more than one device, using a computer, smartphone, tablet, and ereader. People now expect a seamless experience across all their devices.
3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network — and already is at its edges.
Mobithinking reports there are now more than 6 billion active cell phone accounts. 1.2 billion have mobile broadband as well, and 85% of new devices can access the mobile web.
4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media. Our current expectation is that the network has almost infinite capacity and is nearly free of cost. One hour of video footage is uploaded every second to YouTube; over 250 million photos are sent to Facebook every day.
5. Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world. As authoritative sources lose their importance, there is need for more curation and other forms of validation to generate meaning in information and media.
6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society. In an age where so much of our information, records, and digital content are in the cloud, and often clouds in other legal jurisdictions, the very concept of ownership is blurry.
7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success. Access to learning in any form is a challenge in too many parts of the world, and efficiency in learning systems and institutions is increasingly an expectation of governments — but the need for solutions that scale often trumps them both. Innovations in these areas are increasingly coming from unexpected parts of the world, including India, China, and central Africa.
8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy. Institutions must consider the unique value that each adds to a world in which information is everywhere. In such a world, sense-making and the ability to assess the credibility of information and media are paramount.
9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training. Traditional authority is increasingly being challenged, not only politically and socially, but also in academia — and worldwide. As a result, credibility, validity, and control are all notions that are no longer givens when so much learning takes place outside school systems.
10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing. Libraries are deeply reimagining their missions; colleges and universities are struggling to reduce costs across the board. The educational ecosystem is shifting, and nowhere more so than in the world of publishing, where efforts to reimagine the book are having profound success, with implications that will touch every aspect of the learning enterprise.

These metatrends are the first of much yet to come in the next year. Watch NMC.org for news and more throughout the Horizon Project’s 10th Anniversary. To be part of the discussions, follow #NMChz!

Image: BigStock Photo Holding Technology

The First Banned Books Video Calendar is Ready!

The Entresse Library in Espoo, Finland and FAIFE (IFLA Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression) have together created the world’s first Banned Books Video Calendar. The project has garnered international attention and is considered pioneering in many ways.

“Last year, Entresse created a Finnish video calendar of banned books. Due to the high quality of the final product, we decided to take it to an international forum,” says Director Kai Ekholm of the National Library of Finland and the Chair of FAIFE.

The project’s participants include leading figures in the library world, who introduce their favourite banned books: IFLA President Ingrid Parent presents Timothy Findlay’s The Wars; Finnish IFLA President-Elect Sinikka Sipilä talks about Mika Waltari’s The Egyptian; Kai Ekholm introduces Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Executive Director Jill Cousins of the Europeana Foundation expounds on James Joyce’s Ulysses. Other books include Art Spiegelman’sMaus, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Boccaccio’s Decameron and Walt Disney’s Donald Duck.

Each day a new window will open and a new book will be presented on several sites throughout the world. You may access the latestest videos at the Banned Books Advent Calendar on Vimeo.

The Advent calendar can also be accessed at kirjastokaista.fi/bannedbooks

Here is Day One from UBC University Librarian and IFLA president, Ingrid Parent,  who presents The Wars (1977) by Timothy Findley.