Thursday, December 31, 2009

Project Midnight II - Call for NYE Photos and Video

Mary Matthews at Video Pancakes is going for number 2 in collecting photos and videos of what folks are doing at the stroke of midnight 2010. She is hoping to gather midnighters from around the world in their time zone.

Here is an example from last year:

So you want in? Cool head on over to the information post and follow the instructions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Life Skills Instead of Resolutions

A resolution is a solution to a problem. Some of us have been making resolutions to the same goals and problems going on five or more years. I say chuck it. How about instead we start thinking about developing and enhancing the life skills we need to invoke the change?

The Age of Verification

Our informational life needs are a changing. For example, think about what we talked about and debated in 2009. Issues such as health care, the federal budget, large scale fraud and free enterprise versus social responsibilities.

In 2009 we didn’t just talk feeling and fears. Ok, some of you did and that is ok up to a point. Some people used their education and the technology available to find answers. I would love to know from the Library of Congress how many people visited and accessed H.R. 3200.

Not reporters. Not pundits or PR spinners. That is a huge shift in how information is retrieved and consumed.

Many average people and certainly hundreds of bloggers did not wait for the news media to interpret and filter the content. Quite frankly, some of the mainstream media mucked it up big time.

And for every legitimate source there was a source for disinformation too. Some of those disinformation sources were found in the U.S. House and Senate. A few could be found on the radio. I don’t watch terrestrial television anymore but I hear things are mighty pitiful in that neck of the woods.

It is not that we don’t need journalists, we do. We need informed non-partisan access to information as well as perspectives from a variety of points of view.

Newspapers are so busy wrapping columnists as bloggers and purging their senior knowledge staff that they really don’t know or can’t see fundamental changes in what use to be their customers.

We aren’t passive anymore.

How Do We Do That?

In 2010 there will be more of a need to verify and examine what is being presented as truth. You don’t have to be a super smart. However continuing to ignore the changes in communication, society and informational access might be a mighty dumb thing to do.

There is an added importance with the rise in social media technology. It has nothing to do with race or class. It has nothing to do with income. It doesn’t matter how much or how little money you make. Trust without continuous verification of people and facts can be costly.

Ask the victims of Bernard Madoff if I’m lying. Ask the victims of Joy Jackson and Kurt Fordham if what they didn’t know cost them everything they had and then some.

I, a liberal leaning person, will now quote from a Republican president, Ronald Regan. Trust, but verify.

A Few Easy Steps to Begin

I think it starts with awareness. Education and learning is life long process. You stop learning and you put yourself at risk.

Or let me put it to you this way. Have you ever had a conversation with a person who is proud that they only have one source of information? Or that they have no need for anything other than a limited range of entertainment programs or games?

Painful, right?

Take advantage of open source education opportunities. There are great podcasts and vlogs that offer so much more dynamic content than YouTube and Hulu. I'm talking serious brain food. How do you find it?

Learn How to Search Better

As bloggers and consumers of web content we see a lot of drek. How do you find the quality user generated content instead of repackage mainstream media? There are more effective ways to search than just popping a tern in a search box. You can visit the help pages of, Bing, Google and Yahoo for ideas on how to use search engines better.

There is also BlogPulse, Justia for law legal searches and Collecta. Name a topic and there is probably a specialized search engine for it.

Evaluate What You Find On and Off the Internet

Cornell University Library has information on how to evaluate a web site. Read it. UC Berkeley Library has a good page on the topic as well.

And finally I leave you with Blue Girl in a Red State who reminds all of us to take the time and just chill out. Veg. Relax. Do what you can when you can.


Erin Schreyer at Authentic Leadership has 10 Treasures To Take Away from 2009. These are her treasures but you might have something in common.

Gwen Harris at keeps an eye out for news about search engines and the changes that can help you make better use of them.

Laura Cococcia at The Journal of Cultural Conversation is thinking about 2010 and what is your learning goal of the year? It is a short post but she ask really good questions that we all should consider.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ta-Nehisi Coates Video on His New Book

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a writer who blogs at The Atlantic. He has a new book out called The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood.

It is about fathers and sons. Growing up and surviving yourself. This is a video where Ta-Nehisi is talking about his father and the need for love infused direction:

I check out Ta-Nehisi posts from time to time. I like his writing and perspectives. Most of the time. Which is pretty good. All I ask of a writer is put out original thought.

That doesn't mean that I accept it 100%. I like the option of saying yeah or nay. On this video I'm saying yeah. I hope he does more.

Friday, December 25, 2009

We Are One on the Finally Friday Freakout

One more week and time slips into a new decade. Well, yes. I suppose so. I was burnt out on the whole holiday thing three weeks ago. It was like I was forced into acceptance when I only wanted to be a by-stander.

It was like being made to go to a party and I just was not in the mood. The party came to me anyway. I couldn't sneak out the door. It wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be. Some people had it rough road this year. This wasn't that kind of time for me and I am grateful.

It is a good day when you can spend part of it watching episodes of Red Dwarf I never got to see.

So, to close it the day here is a little bit of Maze and Frankie Beverly. I just wanted peace in all it manifestations. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.

I gotta remember to buy a CD or something. I had a cassette but I played it so much I shredded the thing. Miss them much.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Academic Apple of iTunesU and Open Educational Resources

There is a change in how education is being distributed, from elementary school to the college and university level. This is the time to ask yourself, "What do you want to learn?" I posed the question because there may be a free or open source education content that can fit your limited time availability, your energy and your desire to learn a subject.

These are the beginning stages of an educational transformation. There is phenomenal educational content waiting for engagement. The class you need to feed your soul maybe as close as an mp3 recording or a video ready for download.

What You Need

Actually, you might not need anything more than what you have installed on your computer. A connection to the Internet, a software media player or two and time. If you have an audio mp3 player, a multimedia player or cell phone that can play mp3 and video files you are good to go. You don’t necessarily need an Apple Nano, iTouch or iPhone to access content, but it doesn’t hurt either.

If you don’t have iTunes you can download it from the Apple website. Always check out the specs to make sure that your system can handle the software and that you have sufficient hard drive space for the program. Windows users will also need to download the QuickTime player to view certain content.

If you already have a Windows version of the QuickTime player make sure it is the most current version. And a new addition there is now documents in the Adobe PDF in iTunes for certain courses. This means you need to have a current version of the Adobe Reader or alternative software that can open that file format.

Apple iTunesU

Accessing iTunesU is easier than it use to be. All you have to do enter the iTunes store, locate the menu bar toward the top of the screen and select iTunesU. The content provides range from K-12 school districts, college and universities, (American) National Public Radio, American Public Media, The British Broadcasting Corporation, and many libraries, educational non-profit organizations, museums and more.

iTunes U Menu selection screen

There is a Power search option that will help you target specific content providers and also help you locate closed captioned media inside of iTunes. You will find class lectures, presentations or special seminar events that have been recorded; either as an audio, video or document. You can select one file or subscribe to an entire course.

This means that if you had a hankering for Philosophy and the Human Situation from the (UK) Open University it is yours to listen or download. Free. No Charge. Bupkis. Same with Einstein and the Mind of God from American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith program. It gets better because there are transcripts for the audio and discussion questions.

There are lectures and courses about Shakespeare, writing, health, science, introductory college courses, and content from the Library of Congress. Yes it is American centric but there is content from the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries.

The content is not restricted to the computer or an Apple device. If you have an audio mp3 or multimedia player you can transfer content that is not under Digital Rights Management to your non-Apple player.

If you are a Windows user go to the iTunesU folder (top left hand side of the screen), click you mouse button on top of the icon that represents your content, then click your secondary mouse button for the sub-menu. Next, select Show in Windows Explorer.

Windows Folder for mp3 content
This will take you to the folder on your computer that contains your downloaded educational content. From there you should be able to copy the content to your media device of choice. Video will be in the QuickTime format which is why you need to have a copy of the QuickTime player on your system.

Sound too good to be true huh? Well in a way, yes, it is. There are a few caveats.

Such as audio presentations. You might want to view what the professor or lecturer is describing. If there are no transcripts or supporting documentation you are on your own. Many of the colleges and universities do have links back to the home schools but not necessarily to the lecture or topic of discussion.

For certain topics like the Library of Congress Cataloging Skills course there is a 526 page trainee manual. Library cataloging is not for the faint of heart. MARC punctuation can make grown folks tear up just thinking about it. This is one course that really needs a video component like a slideshow or animation to demonstrate the concepts.

That, I guess is my point. You, as the participant, will have to put whatever information has been provided in context. There is no “facilitator.”

iTunesU isn’t perfect. It will evolve. I think in a few more years there will be iTunes community based learning. That community may generate an unexpected income source for Apple. Or not. That will be up to user demand and suggestions.

In the meantime, Dara at The Do It Yourself Scholar has got iTunes scoped out for you. She has a guide to the best iTunesU courses as well as free educational podcasts and webcast. You want Dara RSS feed to keep up with the changes and the new courses.

iTuneU is not the only game in town. There are other options.

YouTube EDU has educational channels with many of the same colleges and universities that iTunes has. In a sense it is easier to access the content. There is a lot of it. That is the good news. The bad news for educational content is that is often mixed up with promotional videos.

Colleges and universities should certainly have promotional videos of their schools. Great idea. For some schools that is all that they have. For others there is content overload and you have to fish out what you want.

I liked the Berklee School of Music channel. If there is a musical bone in your body that needs a refresher course this is the place. A mixture of actual courses and PR for online classes. The University of California Television channel also has original content.

Some of the traditional gatekeepers are actually opening the door for open access to coursework. Other participants are not waiting and creating their own content to share without charge. These are just a few quick examples. I have so many more that I will share in a future posts.

K-12 Content
  • For kids, parents, teachers and all other wanting to master more than 1+2=3. There is captioned content. You can visit the website or subscribe via iTunes.

  • HippoCampus from the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education has free multimedia courses for high school and college students. The site makes use of Flash media and QuickTime content.
College, University and Life Learning
  • Carnegie Mellon The Open Learning Initiative – want to learn Statistics, French or Visual Design of Technical Documents? This is the place.

  • Khan Academy YouTube Channel. To truly appreciate the channel you might want to go to the website first. Chemistry, Biology, Finance, Physics, Probability, and good ole Arithmetic. The videos are free to video from YouTube however there is a .99 cents download fee, if the user wants to download the video. I feel that some of the videos are too long and there are other quibbles. But the narrator is engaging, and, contrary to the usual behavior of YouTube comments, most viewers seem to appreciate the effort.

  • Open2net is the UK online portal to the Open University/BBC content. There are additional resources not found in iTunes. Some of the BBC programming is off limits to American users.

  • University of Texas at Austin – Any school that has video of Beat Poets is ok with with me.
You should also read Virginia DeBolt’s post on the new features of iTunes and Leslie Madsen Brooks post on the potentially disruptive nature of iTunesU can have in education.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let's Misbehave on the Finally Friday Freakout

It was a rough Friday. It was the kind of Friday where you go to the Salt Mine sick as a dog and then everybody who has questions pick that day to ask you questions.

It was a day when other people's lunch has you looking for a nose plug to stop the stench. It was a day when being non-chemically disorientated is not fun.

It was also a day when mercy is shown to you by a friend who brings you home to a 15 hour nap.

So yes, I need to watch Christopher Walken dance and strip. I need a bit of fun. Cracks me up and reminds me of Jimmy Cagney, who was another so-called tough guy who could hoof it. This is from the movie Pennies From Heaven.

I would have also like to shown you the Fatboy Slim video with Mr. Walken, Weapons of Choice.

Maybe that is the answer, make the men folk dance to release the pressure.
Dance slams instead of war.

Works for me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Search of the Narrative Paths of Storytelling

I was word hungry. I needed something to scratch a brain cell. It took a few hours but the term narrative discourse finally arrived for exploration. That began my journey.

The narrative is how you tell the story; linear, non-linear, verbal, pictorial. It also includes the grammatical construction. My understanding of discourse is the methods used to tell the construct the tale. The story is the final product.

Maybe that is the problem. There are marketers, politicians, religious organizations and all manner of thought shakers trying to figure out the narrative that will help them extract money or attention.

We tend to embrace the familiar tales because they are safe. The need for the story is real. I’m worried that it is going to be reduced to 140 characters at a time. Sound bites that offer bits and pieces of other lives. What if you need more?

These are a few examples of the alternative paths non-fiction stories can be told. I’m not the only person that is thinking about this topic. Kathy Hansen at A Storied Career writes about the various forms of storytelling. If you have an interest in storytelling make sure you download a copy of her free e-book, A Storied Career: 40 Storied Practitioners Talk About Applied Storytelling.

I Am Here. Do You See Me?

There can be a survival need to tell your story. In the mist of chaos you either create or deconstruct. This is an Al Jazeera news story about a group of Gaza Strip students who blog, podcast and videotape their stories hoping that others will hear and understand what they are experiencing.

I Fell in Love. Where Are You?

Sophie Blackall finds inspiration from the missed connections from Craigslist and other web sites. Sophie creates illustrations from the messages and creates visual expression to lost love opportunities.

I'm On the Road Less Traveled. Can You Give Me A Sign?

Inspiration comes in many forms and persons. Alexis Ioacono explains in an audio recording how actor/filmmaker John Cassavettes led her on the path to perform.

The road less traveled does not have to just be about relationships with other people. What if the story being told was of a disease or medical condition? Does telling the story have to be in a textual form?

No, it doesn’t. There are a number of people using the format of graphic novels to tell stories. Marisa Marchetto is, in her own words, a cartoonista/activista, who wrote and drew her experiences with breast cancer. Her book is called Cancer Vixen

Marisa also has a few textual words to say about the suggestedscreening recommendation. Another place to check out graphic novel journalism/storytelling is the Neiman Storyboard a project of the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University.

There is much more to say about narrative, stories and storytelling. I am discovering a rising sentiment against narrative or even too much narrative.

I will be polite and watch the video. And then I will continue to do everything I can to encourage the people I know and the people I don't to tell their their tale.

I'm a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mercy Me on the Finally Friday Freakout

I have RSS feeds up the ying yang. I don't know why I have three different link streams but what can I tell you? I have needs. From AppScout I learned about this neat service called Who Sampled?

You can find out how much or how little a song is carried forward in time. How many times has Walk On By been covered or sliced and diced. You get to hear the original recording and the one that was inspired by or transformed the work. It is a interesting way to learn musical history and track the DNA of various musical forms.

Which leads me into Robert Palmer. I do like a sharp dressed man. Come to think of it, I like a sharp undressed man too. Yeah. Um, what a minute, I had a point.

Oh yes. I only knew of Robert Palmer from the videos he did with those underfed and over made-up dames. I kinda filtered them out and concentrated on him. Yes, I know (now) that he had a full and diverse career. Don't hate. I'm catching up on stuff.

Yesterday afternoon I needed a musical tonic and cross cultural healing. I started out with Salt N Pepper and somehow landed on this cover of Marvin Gaye's Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You.

It was cheaper than a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. From there I wondered into Peter Gabriel land and then Jocelyn Brown''s Somebody's Else Guy.

Influences. Or just Every Kind of People

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Help Support Scarleteen - You Know You Want To...

Many non-profits need help but folks we gotta pony up for this one. If you can't relate to being a teenager and trying to find out about sex, I don't know what more I can tell you. I was cruising through BitchPh.D and she had a post about Scarleteen needing funds.

I have two and half minutes to convince you.

Watching porn is not sex education. There are questions that need to be asked and answered. Scarleteen does that and puts those questions into context for teens.

They need to move to providing mobile content. They need money to do that and other stuff, about $24,000 but let's round up and make it an even $50,000

Parents not only do not understand but they do not communicate the hard stuff. I leave you with two sentences that constituted my sexual education from my mother:
  • Keep your legs closed.
  • Don't come home pregnant.
Go on, scoot.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Slingers Teaser Via Mike Sizemore

The people that I meet online lead me to other people I should know. Some days I drop into another world.

It is a intro for a potential new show, not clear if it is traditional television or perhaps a new web serial. Works for me either way.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Fake on the Finally Friday Freakout

Yes a shout out to all the fakes, distorters and opportunists everywhere. It has been a while but rattling on the edge of musical memory is Alexander O'Neal.

He wasn't a pretty boy singer, no this was a manly man on the mike. Alexander O'Neal's music videos came across as man power in a suit. O'Neal is still performing and has a web site up to support his latest album.

This is just a gentle reminder about being careful with the stories that you tell yourself. There are repercussions and possible concussions if you confuse yourself with the wrong truth to the right person.