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Shiny new Chrome

3 Sep

Chrome_screenThis is a test post using Google’s new browser, Chrome. I like the integration of search with the address bar and find multiple tabs essential (as poineered in Firefox and now used in Internet Explorer), but have spotted one minor glitch while using Typepad.

Wiki wars

14 Mar

This is fun. On one side are the bloggers and social media advocates; on the other side are the academics. The question is whether students should cite Wikipedia. Guess where I stand.

Note on netiquette

14 Mar

The conference is called EuroBlog, so it’s not surprising we’re encouraged to blog live during the event (as it happened the WiFi connection wasn’t consistent enough to allow me to do this.).

So it’s OK to concentrate on screen and keyboard and ignore the speakers. Does this give me a licence to check emails, RSS feeds, blogs and Facebook? What about phone and text messages? What about talking to my neighbour?

I should put myself in my students’ seats more often. It’s not such a comfortable place to be.

From walkie talkies to the mobile internet

11 Feb

In my childhood, the dream present was a pair of ‘walkie talkies’. In their absence, we were quite proud that a string held taught between two empty tin cans created a workable low-tech alternative.

Today, everyone has a much more powerful communications device in their pocket. And it’s not limited to phone calls and texts; you can have web browsing in the palm of your hand, too.

I, too, was trying a 3 Skype phone before Christmas. I found the mobile Skype function a disappointment, so chose not to blog about it. Yet the revelation to me was just how much web browsing is possible with a 3G phone. Those of us who remember WAP and recall the huge prices paid at auction for 3G spectrum had every right to be suspicious of the functionality and the likely cost to us of embracing this new technology. Yet for some, the ability to update your Facebook status at any time and to view a YouTube video will certainly be worth the cost. For some applications, the phone is now a realistic alternative to a PC or laptop.

For me, I’m not ready to abandon my familiar phone or laptop yet. But I have acquired an iPod Touch because I love the interface and Wi-Fi web browsing in the palm of my hand – without the need to pay for a phone contract (or without the distraction of phone calls). So these are my chosen mobile devices: a 2G Motorola phone for the necessary evil of phone calls and texts; and an iPod Touch for the fun of browsing when out and about.

Gail also uses two devices: a standard Nokia phone and a Blackberry (used for emails only).

I know it’s possible to have one device providing phone calls, music, photography, web browsing and emails – but I’m not yet ready to pay for it. What’s your favourite mobile device?

Feeding the hand that bites you

28 Jan

I’m playing catch-up with news but one story has stopped me in my tracks.

According to PR Week, Edelman has hired the eminence grise behind satirical blog The World’s Leading. Not many people would use public mockery of the tech PR sector as a way of personal advancement within the same industry but Mark Pinsent (for it is he) has moved from Text 100 to Edelman via this interesting interlude.

Despite our intimate Facebook friendship I never got to know your name. So congratulations all round; to Pinsent, to PR Week and to Edelman.

Email is ‘for old people’

6 Dec

Korea’s digital natives find email outdated and too slow, reports Technology Guardian. ‘It’s so 90s’.

What did we do before?

30 Nov

New student blogger Rob Taylor asks ‘how did we meet people before the internet’? Social and networking both existed before Facebook came along, though it may be easier to meet strangers now because of the internet (and riskier too).

Here are some more questions with answers that may surprise those born at the end of the 1980s (ie today’s new students).

How did we write before word processing? Essays and letters were written by hand. Smart documents like a CV we typed on a manual typewriter. If you made a mistake, you had to start all over again.

How did we communicate before mobile phones? It was sometimes difficult, but we managed. dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot. Stuff like that.

What did we do before email? First there were letters, then there was fax. This was exciting: your letter could be transmitted and recreated remotely in seconds.

What did we do before searching the web? We had to use books and libraries.

How did we get about before sat nav? We consulted ancient hieroglyphics called maps (I still do).

I could go on: I recall my excitement at seeing an electronic calculator, a video recorder and colour television for the first time. I can even remember a world in which photocopiers were rare. Now most of these functions are available in pocket size devices.

Gail has just returned from a trip to the Sinai desert, sleeping out under the stars. What mattered was food, water and fire wood (though she did receive a few text messages from me).

Complexity conundrum

21 Nov

The simpler things become, the more complex they are. It used to be possible to tinker with a car engine; today, cars usually work. When they don’t, it’s over to the experts.

I remember editing autoexec.bat and config.sys files to update the settings on an old MS-DOS PC; now we rely on the system to work, and there’s not much most of us can do but turn to an expert when it doesn’t perform as expected.

This is a roundabout way to thank Carys Samuel, a first year PR student, who has designed my new blog banner. (The photograph was taken by another student, Victoria Crampton). Unfortunately, uploading it has revealed my lack of proficiency in HTML and CSS – so the original blog name has yet to be removed. My fault. I’m working on it. I’m trying to learn new tricks. Typepad customer support has been good so far – but why must things be so complex?

UPDATE: I plunged in, holding my breath and with my eyes closed – and fixed the double banner problem.

Social media demo

2 Oct

I’m showing some social media tools at a workshop this afternoon. If you’re reading this, please let me know via the comments feature.

Who owns this stuff?

5 Sep

John Naughton fired so many broadsides at a teaching conference here on Monday that it’s taken me some time to get round to thinking about them all.

  • He called technology determinism ‘simply wrong’. ‘Focusing entirely on technology is the wrong way to go about this stuff… The future will be determined by how people and institutions shape these technologies.’
  • He attacked the fashion for ‘endism’ (eg ‘blogging marks the end of journalism’).
  • He provocatively called for the use of PowerPoint to be a dismissible offence (this to an audience of lecturers, remember).
  • He talked about how broadcast TV is losing its dominant place in the media ecosystem. ‘Broadcast TV is a push medium used by passive consumers.’
  • User-generated content is reversing the decline in the public sphere; ‘it’s a new organism in the media ecosystem’.
  • A defining challenge now is how to frame intellectual property rights to suit the digital economy. This is particularly apparent to those of us teaching ‘digital natives’ who simply see no end to their freedom to cut, paste and download (and so plagiarise). Naughton pointed to the work he and others did for the RSA to draft the Adelphi Charter on creativity, innovation and intellectual property.

I liked his sceptical tone, for example about the uses of Second Life. And I shared his confession about missing the boat with text messaging. As a mobile early adopter and a long-time user of email, he said he thought texts were ‘brain-dead emails’. Then teenagers gained mobiles and you know the rest.