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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meanderings on the Massive Change Among Us



On Google Plus tonight, I asked a question:
Companies battle to be where we connect.

It is fascinating to see how fast Google+ has grown and yet I still wonder if it is meaningful. Are you using Google+ content? How often do you Google+? Do you use this and Twitter? I'd like to hear from those using it consistently so I can understand (and perhaps blog about it.) If you reply, make sure it is OK for me to quote you. Thank you.

I was quite shocked at how quickly I've got over 2000 followers over there and comparing how long it took me to get there on Twitter. I think perhaps it is because Twitter was built from scratch but Google+ was built on the back of existing networks through Google Docs, email, etc. Certainly Google is to be commended for their growth.

But there was a fascinating comment in the thread that had me thinking:
Kristofer Gigante says "I never used FB or Twitter so because of that, I only check G+ and I check it multiple times a day. I subscribe to lots of blogs (including yours) through RSS and read it in Google Reader. If the bloggers I follow on Reader post more on +, I will probably just use + and discontinue RSS. I have Android phone and tablet and our school is very pro Google, so it is easier to use Google products."
I'm combining this with the fact that 10 of my students this week have come up to me and told me that they are now on Twitter. Also, my students that I took onto Twitter in the very first year it was live have come back and told me they are using their accounts again ("All my friends are shocked at how long I've been using it, Mrs. Vicki," one exclaimed to me as I ran in to her on college break.)

But the students who have moved to Twitter mostly said they were making the move because of their iPads and iPod touches and that it is so easy to share with the new update.

Droids+ and iTweets?
Are we going to have dual conversations cropping up? Are Droid users going to gravitate to Google+ and Apple gravitate to Twitter? What does this mean for the conversations that will happen?

Our networks are very personal and we all seem to be gravitating to websites for different things. Several like how Google+ is aggregating hashtags so using them is definitely part of our future in some way. An open source microblogging platform, Statusnet, has cropped up as something some companies are installing and you can see the hashtag as a way that they are aggregating data using this as well.


Web 3 is here
I keep wondering as my students and I talk about Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 if really Web 3.0 isn't the mobile/ personal web that has traveled into our belt buckles, brief cases, and pocketbooks. Perhaps semantic has become intertwined in the change (aka Apple's Siri service embedded into the iPhone 4S) but truly, the growth is going to happen in such platforms.


A Flash in the Pan?
You have Adobe still firmly in bed with Google via Droid because those it supports Flash but they are still moving their photo software onto iPad and iPhone just because they have to. Film editing is on the camera and the most popular cameras are our cell phones.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has followed Apple's move nixing Flash and its own Silverlight plug in stating that IE 10 will use HTML5 and NOT allow plug ins.  You have Skype officially bought by Microsoft and now removing the Google Toolbar from their service. Google is struggling to update their Droid operating system that has people frustrated with the touch experience on Droid Tablets. Microsoft is pushing a head like crazy to get Windows 8 touch enabled OS on every device possible.

My computer lab of wall-mounted Lenovo m90z touch screens.
I heard Leo LaPorte say that Windows 8 didn't excite him because no one wants to "lean forward to touch their computer" but if you look at my computer lab, you'll see  a totally different form factor. We've mounted the computers and they swing forward and back and my students love the screens and computers. They love it because it is a form factor conducive to touch. No one really gets touch except for the iPad.

The truth is we don't know what our form factors or uses are going to look like. I do know in 5 years we'll all be wondering how we lived without our personal assistants. I also know that location based notifications have changed my life. We do know we'll be living in a dramatically different environment.
People care about whether their washers and dryers are wired into the network and cable companies and websites are now in direct competition as subscribers just get what they want a la carte. 


Hulu's offer to be sold has suddenly been retracted as the owners see the value of their service (as if they didn't before.)


The Changing Shape of Information
Some sort of sick, happy, sweet, sour brew is the techno-water and no one knows where this is all heading. We know that critical mass calling for change in US education is happening and Common Core is making inroads. People are publishing their own books and "the cloud" is actually a term that most people understand. 
Meanwhile a 19 year old in Korea creates an image that goes viral in tribute to the passing of Steve Jobs.


A massive blogging platform named Tumblr  (see my blog there at www.vickidavis.me)  is growing has more pageviews than Word Press and it feels like no one is really talking about them. 

Zynga (the maker of Farmville) has 1700 employees and was paid an amount in the millions to stay at Facebook for another 5 years (3 1/2 left on that contract?) because so much traffic to Facebook is through games like Farmville and Gangster wars. 


Facebook now lets your personalpage really sort of function like a Fanpage and overhauled their privacy settings without a really open call to their users to check those settings. Facial recognition is getting better and soon your friends won't even have to tag you to see what you did last weekend. 


Whether we read our books on the iPad or Kindle fire -- the Kindle app and Amazon store are a force to reckon with in the ebook industry. A judge asks Samsung lawyers to identify which was an iPad and a Galaxy tab from 10 feet away and as the lawyers stumble, ruled that Samsung did indeed infringe on Apple's patent.


Ignore the Hype, Listen to the People
We are in the midst of fundamental, massive CHANGE. The kind that makes new companies and gets rid of old ones. I tend to ignore the hype about new sites. Truly a lot of that hype is from marketing departments.  But at the center of all of this change are people. 


In some ways it could read like a Dr. Suess book: large people, small people, people over here, people over there, short fuzzy people, and tall skinny bald people -- our recommendations to each other.Our tweets,status updates, and the success of companies is becoming increasingly influenced by their ability to influence the mavens among us to try, like, and use their products

What we can't ignore is that massive change is happening. To us. To our students. To the families we serve. We can no longer afford to buy the research published by companies themselves and to be naive enough to think that a particular company is the ONLY one who provides that service. We can't be naive enough to think that a company will actually be transparent about the pros and cons of their product. Most of us have people in our Twitter stream with more expertise than the guy who runs the technoshop on the corner who likes to sell the school "stuff" and we will consult those people first.


Your connections determine your knowledge
Perhaps the theme of this post is really more of a meandering stream of thought. It should be obvious to those who know me that the Flat Classroom and Digiteen projects have started because I have a ton of student research running around in my brain. I am increasingly educated by the networks I join and so are you.

But never have I seen so many divergent companies converging and convergent companies diverging. Some major changes are happening. Perhaps Steve Jobs' passing has companies willing to show some chutzpah and do something different because they realize that one of the greatest innovators among us is gone.

Innovative Teachers March on Largely Ignored
Meanwhile, many of us teachers who have been innovating continue to innovate under the radar of those who are calling for change and the 21st century classroom. People like my friend Suzie Nestico who is running Flat Classroom this semester in her social studies classroom and aligning Common Core standards of all kinds on a blog with her students.

Perhaps those advocating for change will one day wake up and see the growing movement of teachers around the world who are connecting and transcending. We're changing too.

The massive change you see in the technology field and publishing field and mobile computing field is coming to education. It tore through the music and entertainment industry and it is heading into the information sector. Best position yourself to keep your finger on the pulse of change. Building a good PLN has probably never been more important.

Stay informed and thrive
Glad to be sort of back after a week and a half taking care of the 4 of the 5 people in my family who came down with a horrible stomach bug. Everyone had it but me.

I guess the immunity from my travels and all the shots I've had kept me from getting sick. There is a lesson for this for all of us. To stay healthy we should travel the world in our mind and stay abreast of change.

Change is done by you or to you and there is nothing for certain right now except that things will be changing dramatically over the next five years. Build that PLN, and hold on. It is going to be exciting.


(I'm sitting here thinking about students wanting to tell Siri to put reminders for tests on their iPhone and being told to shush. In five years we'll be talking about how to get them to bring cell phones to school. Oh, the times, they are a changing. Some will groan and some of us will love it. As for me, I'm pumped. )
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