Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blog Post 6-Website

My Page-a website designed just for preschoolers through elementary aged children.

Links to Online games, Homework resources, Activities, Internet Safety and more.

As promised here's the link to the site that I used to create the graphical text elements on the site. Cool Text.

There's another one too just Google it!!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Blog Post #5 Internet History-for KIDS!

Speaking of the history of the Internet...
I have had SO much fun exploring really cool and informative sites for youngsters (I'm going into Children's Services, obviously)The following site presents Internet (and other technologies like cell phones and e mail) basics but explained in terms a kid (or someone like me) can understand!
Internet basics 4 Kids
Check out this wonderfully concise excerpt from the site,

"The Internet was conceived in the 1960s as a tool to link university and government research centers via a nationwide network that would allow a wide variety of computers to exchange information and share resources. The engineering challenges were manifold and complex, beginning with the design of a packet switching network-a system that could make computers communicate with each other without the need for a traditional central system... The Internet is not owned or controlled by any company, corporation, or nation. It connects people in 65 countries instantaneously through computers, fiber optics, satellites, and phone lines. It is changing cultural patterns, business practices, the consumer industry, and research and educational pursuits."

Cute. The site is simple and has a chubby little cat character as it's spokesperson.

This site is not necessarily just for kids, but it's really designed simply and is easy to navigate. Take a gander.

It was created between 1996-1999 and posted in 2000, but provides a lot of really great information about the history of the Internet.

I particularly enjoyed reading about Vannevar Bush's very early concept of what would one day develop into the Internet as we know it today.

"Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk."
- Vannevar Bush; As We May Think; Atlantic Monthly; July 1945

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blog Post # 4 Podcasts are Neat!

I have been playing around in iTunes lately, browsing for podcasts to get an idea what is available. I found some really great stuff! There are podcasts for everything! Fun, educational-it's all there. Here are a few highlights of what I've found just to get anyone new to the medium started. I love the idea of getting information and entertainment in this format, you can even subscribe to a podcast and visit the accompanying website if available AND you can also subscribe to the RSS feed if there is one available to get any image and text content sent to your RSS aggregate. Pretty cool (if you need even more information to sort through and time to kill)

For your indie music needs: NYUB music podcast

For world news:

Educational enrichment:
Grammar tips fromGrammar Girl
Language instruction Podcast directory-Language
Entertainment combined with learning-These are very silly, their great! Princeton Review Vocab Minute

For kids and young adults:
Children's books
Reading Rockets
by and for kids
Comic book podcast

Pregnancy topics

Library info and Book reviews:
NY Times Book Reviews
School Library Journal
"Geek Out"here-Library Geeks

And much much more of course. Podcasts are a great way to share information and to entertain, I look forward to learning more about them in our last class this semester. I plan to look into ways to use this tool in the library and for education.

P.S. Here's something completely unrelated to podcasting, just for fun.
Introducing...The Book
A very funny skit about the challenges of learning new technology. Sigh, if only we still used the scroll.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Blog Post 3: Wikiality-The New Reality

I am very optimistic that online global collaboration and DIY information gathering and reporting (for instance, Wikipedia and citizen bloggers) are a positive and exciting development in the area of education and social networking.

But (dun! dun! dun!) there is also a "dark" side to Web 2.0.

I hope the above tag line was sufficiently dramatic, I was trying for a serious and menacing mood but...
Next time I'll leave the scare tactics to the mainstream news networks.

Recently, I have had a great time exploring some of the ideas and current events related to Web 2.0 and social software in the context of popular culture and how it has been portrayed. It turns out that many television and cable shows, news agencies, books, music videos, movies, and even cartoons have all been referencing the online, social phenomenon for good and bad. Of course this is not surprising, pop culture has always attempted to mirror reality and to be contemporary and relevant but what I did find particularly entertaining (as well as strangely relevant to our class) were the commentaries of one of my favorite entertainers, Stephen Colbert.

Perhaps some of you are already familiar with the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, if so you know that it is a fake news show that is essentially a parody of Fox News and in particular, commentator Bill O'Reilly. Recently, Stephen mentioned Wikipedia on several of his shows and coined the term Wikialty to describe the concept of democratic information or reality by consensus. He has even gone so far as to encourage people to make fraudulent changes to several entries on Wikipedia to create a new truth. His sarcasm, dry humor, and willingness to taunt the creators and "mediators" of Wikipedia and the functionality of the site itself creates a platform to introduce these serious issues in a fun and entertaining way.

Although I personally think Stephen is a comedic genius and that his show is largely for entertainment and not to be taken too seriously, I think he does bring to light some important issues and concerns surrounding the dissemination and creation of information resources by the general public. Again, I do have faith that these issues are ones we can overcome or at least learn to work around but thinking about and discussing the possible failures and/or abuses of these technologies is worth our time and attention.

Some issues worth discussing that Stephen addressed on his show and have been in recent headlines include:

What is the truth when information is consensus based and how easily can it be altered? Colbert and the population of African Elephants.
Read some of the mixed opinions and responses to Stephen's antics by CBS news and several bloggers.

How does the commercialization and/or manipulation of information affect social web 2.0 tools?
Microsoft pays contributor to edit content on Wikipedia. It's not as cut and dry as it sounds, read both perspectives.

If information is linked and/or sited by other sources does this make the information seem credible when perhaps it is not?
The snowball effect and unverified stories. The madrasa story: how does information shape our perspectives on reality?
Stephen will corroborate any rumor you post!

It all makes for an interesting discussion, lets talk about it.

On a side note,
I can't imagine an encyclopedia has ever gotten so much attention by popular culture-this has to be good for education and the information profession!!!
Encyclopedias and information are on the pop culture radar!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Blog Post 2: At your fingertips

I have to say despite the fact that I constantly feel totally overwhelmed by all the information available to us today due to online technology and the World Wide Web, I am SO excited to be part of a new generation that has the ability to share facts, opinions, analysis, history, parody, reactions, interpretations, and more almost instantaneously.
Thinking about the development of the Internet over the years and the discussions we had in class concerning its latest manifestation known as Web 2.0, I felt like commenting on what many predicted would be the result of an online culture. I recall many saying that the Internet would isolate individuals and make us less social, less concerned with those who share our world. Apathy and selfishness would reign and people would no longer be interested in local or global issues. Perhaps I am blowing this out of proportion, but these were (and still may be) ideas that I recall being tossed around in the late 90s and early twenty-first century not only with complete seriousness but also with a real fear that the Internet would truly be the downfall of society.
I think we are still in the early stages of our so called "information society" and that it will take some time to adjust to the information overload that many of us feel. However, the benefits of having such quick and easy access to so much information are almost indescribable.
What is so unique and important about the Internet, and specifically about the Web 2.0 phenomenon, is that people can now be so much MORE connected to the world and to each other. We have the ability to actually seek out answers to our questions the minute we formulate them. In addition to this we can also share this information with a friend by simply typing a few keys, we can also display our own opinions on a subject and invite others to read and comment on them. Web 2.0 tools allow us to go and seek out that presidential speech we missed the night before or even to compare it to the one that was given a year ago. I can read an article on CNN and then immediately send it to a friend who I think may also be interested, no matter how far that friend lives from me. I can seek out the opinions of many news sources on a particular topic and then I can search for reactions to these events by pundits and analysis on both sides of the political spectrum.
At no other time were individuals so enabled to educate (or misinform themselves as the case may be) themselves so easily and to share information with others regardless of physical proximity. Linking, blogging, video and photo posting, collaborative encyclopedias, podcasts, virtual communities, e mailing all of these tools allow us to participate more fully (if we so choose) in our newly evolving global community.
I realize I'm painting an extremely simplistic and cheery picture here, but I just want to express the optimism I feel concerning this freedom to learn and explore on our own time/terms. As someone who struggles with the retention of facts and has unpredictable bouts of intense curiosity on any given subject at any given time I for one find the 24 hour, bookmark-able, forward-able, download-able, key word search-able, spell check enabled, diverse WWW to be the best thing since sliced bread.

P.S. I realize that I do not take into account the issue of the "digital divide" and the fact that computers and the Internet are NOT available to everyone, nor will that likely be the case anytime soon. Again, my rosy picture is just a look into the future I hope we are creating through education, access to information and collaboration.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Blog Post 1: My first time...

Teleporting and blogging, all in one day! Neat-O.