Everybody got together at Jeff's House
We had a great Christmas Eve.
I am on a personal mission to evangelize emerging technology in higher education. This weblog does not represent the opinions of San Jose State University or anybody else for that matter. It is about tech and my passion for Emerging Technology.
I am on a personal mission to evangelize emerging technology in higher education. This weblog does not represent the opinions of San Jose State University or anybody else for that matter. It is about tech and my passion for Emerging Technology.
You may have other pressing plans on Christmas Eve, but there will be a WordPress meetup and Christmas Eve Geek dinner in San Francisco with Ryan Boren [About Link] according to Ashley Bowers [Link] at Chaat Cafe.
Public Employees on Strike
It is having a well paid workforce that has driven the American economy since the great depression. Henry Ford doubled the wages of his factory workers because he wanted them to be able to afford the cars they built. Now, with globalization, the labor movement is challenged to react to an economic climate where even companies that desire to do good are forced to find the lowest price for human labors. Only by globalizing themselves will unions have a chance to respond. Meanwhile, unions in all sectors are going to be faced with take away contracts, loss of benefits, lower pay, erosion of working conditions, automation, layoffs and further off-shoring of the work we do.
In a recent post Scoble reacts [Link] to someone who alleges he is a tool (of Microsoft.) Of course that is not true, but the reason of this post is not to defend a friend. Bloggers are in a unique position. When you say something good about your employer it is easy for readers of your blog to say you are a tool of your employer. If you say something bad, folks inside your employers organization start rumbling terms like "trouble maker" and "loose canon." Especially for bloggers out there on the long tail, that connotation that you are perhaps not a team player is a very real cause of fear and anxiety.
In my opinion there is something bigger than "the team," especially for bloggers. I believe that is honesty, integrity and reputation all of which are important parts of your own personal brand. I urge folks who blog not to use blogging solutions within their employer's domain. But, that is only part of the solution. The most important thing I think is to consider and be true to your own personal brand. It is that brand that is, in my opinion, more important than your current job because that brand is your reputation. Before you blog, or not, consider your brand. Be true to it, as Scoble is, and your audience will come, or not, and readers can decide to believe you, or not. And, before you choose an employer be sure they respect your brand.
Those who know you will, hopefully, know you as a trusted source.
In this recent post [Link] Garywiz asked the question, "Are Podcasts About Conversations?" (He also cited a disagreement I had with the university over one of my podcasts, but that is a different story.) My answer to the question is, mostly I think so, but it really is too soon to tell. From a cluetrain perspective, I think they generally are. If I podcast a conversation I am having in the present time, or if I do a monologue to the blogopodosphere, I think it is a conversation. If I blog/podcast to the world and others blog/podcast back, especially then yes, I think that is a conversation. But, being the old train buff that I am, what if I do an RSS 2.0 feed of old steam engine sound recordings. Is that a podcast? Yes... Is that a conversation? I think no.
I have started a podcast of old recordings of people talking in my family [Link], remixed from old video and audio tapes from years gone by, way before there was an Internet audience. This is speech, put on an RSS feed, but does that make it a conversation, or is this Podcast just an audio family snapshot?
It reminds me of a blog posting I read about somebody's "ten rules of podcasting." This person liked to do high production values, so this person's rules emphasized recording, editing and mixing. Maybe that was his ten rules, but not mine. The point of all this is that this is nascent emerging technology. Trying to define what it is now, based on our current frame of perception, could have the unintended effect of limiting what it could be. I say relax, podcast, play and let the medium define itself.
Man, I am really bummed! My friend Bob "the bunny" Scoble is going to be here and having a geek dinner in Palo Alto on the 30th [Link]. That's the same day another friend is having a surprise 50th birthday party. I am so bummed, but I can only be in one place at a time. My other friend's 50th party (he doesn't read this blog, so don't tell him) is a very big deal and the party is in a biker bar and will be a blast. I am going to have to pass on seeing the bunny. If you can go, go see Scoble. Unless you are going to my other friend's party. So many of my friends are turning 50, that's another story. I followed the stories of Bob's trip to Europe on his blog. I would love to hear them in real life!
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is being accused of changing his own Wikipedia bio 18 times, according to this article in Wired news [Link]. According to Wired:
Public edit logs reveal that Wales has changed his own Wikipedia bio 18 times, deleting phrases describing former Wikipedia employee Larry Sanger as a co-founder of the site.
Explorer for Mac going away
This is not new news, but we have to prepare for it better than we have. According to Microsoft [Link] IE for the Mac is going away. It will not even be available for download! We need to be sure our on-line resources are available optimized for other tools for Mac users.
Cool Kudos from Harvard
Jim Moore from Harvard Law School [Link] picked up my post, that referred to the post by Scoble [Link] on converting PowerPoint to OPML. It is neat to see someone else who sees the potential for this technology. Moore said:
OPML is the perfect open, "peoples'" free way to instantly create a "deep metaversion" of a file, making it instantly searchable, able to be used to point to dynamic RSS and HTML and podcast/audio/video sources, and able to be cut-and-pasted by students and faculty anywhere.
Wireless kinks at SJSU
SJSU Wireless 2.0 is up and running and having a few burps at SJSU. This is the second phase of wireless at our campus, this phase is going to provide the campus free campus-wide wireless. These burps are to be expected when we are taking such a big leap. Everybody's patience with this process is greatly appreciated.
Think of all that old oral family history that is locked away on old audio tapes or maybe even video tapes. You can grab that audio and easily convert it to MP3 files that can be also easily shared with family members all over the world via the Internet and podcasting. And, while you are at it think about using your digital audio recorders to record and share those wonderful stories that are so much a part of the legacy of your family. I know I wish I could have recorded and shared the story of how my parents met. Now that my family is spread all over the country it would be nice to be able to share that with siblings, cousins and my own kids and grand children. Oral history is so human because it is told by the people who lived it. So, what are you waiting for? Start saving, remixing and sharing yours today.
Sloan Family Podcast Number One, 9.9 minutes - Posted December 17, 2005
December 1, 1989: Sloan Family Podcast, A Conversation With Kenneth Sloan
To listen to audio, click here --> MP3 File Here
Conversation with my youngest son Kenneth Sloan who is now 18. This was recorded December 01, 1989 when Kenneth was just a month short of turning three. Kenneth and I are watching TV and discussing the relative merits of things like Birds and Snakes while his brothers Jeff and Steve have a conversation of their own in the background. The conversation was caught on audio tape with a small tape recorder, and was since converted to digital audio.
Podcast, word of the year for 2005
Few technologies have exploded as fast as podcasting. Earlier this month the Oxford American Dictionary declared "podcast' to be the word of the year [Link.] I think podcasting has grown faster than I remember the web itself taking off. Just as somebody comes up with a set of rules for podcasting, other people come up with new and exciting ways to use this technology. I am proud to claim I am the first person to start a podcast in higher education. This is really cool stuff!
On the Internet trust is becoming a rarer and a more valuable commodity. One of our university's greatest losses, in my opinion, was the loss of alpha professor Dennis Dunleavy to Southern Oregon University. Dunleavy is an extreamly talented guy and I still follow his blog and I sorely miss our conversations. In a recent post [Link] professor Dunleavy explains how he was demonstrating different technologies to some colleagues when he decided to show them what a Wiki looks like. They got a look they are likely never to forget. According to Dunleavy:
After talking a little about Wikipedia's credibility issue and the Seignethaler situation, I went online and clicked on a link to a featured article at the top of the homepage. The article was a biography about the actress KaDee Strickland. As I talked and navigated through the site I innocently clicked on Strickland's name in the featured column. What appeared in front of us -- on the big screen -- was not the actress. What came up on the screen was a close up image of a significant part of the male reproduction system.
This is a big danger in using Wikis, or really any other on-line media. The Wiki (or any Website) can be "hacked" or in an otherwise defaced state just at the moment you go to them. It is especially easy for people to deface Wikis. Even if it is even easier for the Wiki community to fix a defaced Wiki page you have to know that the ability to absolutely trust that the content you want will be available , and be presentable, in real time is not there. It is not just Wikis that are vulnerable. Websites are defaced all the time by miscreants people call hackers. If you really, really need to trust that what you want will be there and will be suitable for public view at exactly the moment you need it. You cannot.
In this post [Link] SJSU graduate Robert Scoble talks about using a tool to convert PowerPoint to OPML. This could really rock for distance learning or remediation. Imagine converting a presentation you give in class to OPML and assigning to each bullet point a hyperlink to dynamic media that either explains or graphically illustrates each point. The learner could navigate through the presentation with each slide being a node and then concentrating on the points that he/she needs to study or desires remediation on. The instructor could then choose the media that illustrates the point best. It could be print, graphics, audio or video and all of this could be packaged in an OPML file. The students could get the OPML files in an RSS feed or just by clicking on a hyperlink. That is pretty cool!
The news of the death of our dear friend Marie's sister near Lincoln, CA [Map Link] in a tragic Thanksgiving Day car crash [Link to family blog post] really puts all of this in perspective. We are mortal and vulnerable [Link to news report summary.] Technology, in my opinion, only has value to the extent that it enriches the lives of people. We only have a limited number of days and if our efforts do not somehow improve those days, what value is there to our efforts?
Ryan Sholin [Link] is the kind of Journalism student in this decade that Robert Scoble [Link] was in the last. If you are a J-school prof and are not reading Sholin everyday, you should be. I read Sholin at least once a day. Recognizing talent is easy in hindsight after the talent has had media recognition. The hard thing is seeing and appreciate the gift of it when it is nascent and is walking in our midst. I remember when Scoble was nascent and walking in our midst. He would talk to us often and freely and yet he was not listened to by many faculty who thought they knew better than he. Now look at us and look at Scoble [Link]. Thankfully Robert Scoble cares enough about us that he came and talked to us, and we listened [Link.] A year ago in one of my now defunct blogs I wrote about how I thought Scoble was a "think different" kind of guy [Link]. Well, I think the same of Ryan. If you want to talk about the future of Journalism and Mass Communications, listen, listen... [Link.]
Required reading for the instructional technologist
Christensen, Clayton M. (1997). The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change The Way You Do Business. New York: (2003 ed.) Harper Collins, ISBN 0-06-052199-6.
Why this is an important book
In this book Christensen [Link: his home page] speaks about disruptive technologies. Disruption in this case is not like we may think of disruption as having an unruly student using a cell phone in class. Disruptive technologies are technologies that disrupt existing technological and market paradigms.
This is a business book, not a book about how to use some important new technology. What this book talks about is markets and how technologies come along that change sustaining markets and offer features that eventually make the previous sustaining technologies obsolete. Christensen uses many examples ranging from small disk drives to steam shovels.
What the sustaining technologies he speaks about have in common is that they had evolved to the point that the products of the sustaining technologies were very mature. There was little that manufacturers could do to differentiate their products from those of their competitor or ad value to their mature products. When this happens products became commodities. Manufacturers have sought to improve these products, most of the improvements added features of little value for the consumer. This left the products with a surplus of performance over need.
This surplus introduced the opportunity for a new smaller manufacturer to introduce a product of seemingly inferior performance that had an attribute, such as small size or lower cost, that met a need that was not addressed by the sustaining technology. Because of the size of the big market, manufacturers sought big customer accounts to get big profits. The big market players were not able, or even desirous to compete in the niche small profit markets addressed by the new small companies. This left the emerging small players alone to define the emerging products and the initially small markets they addressed. In such a niche market the disruptive product could evolve. The disruptive product often had such inferior performance to the sustaining product in the established market that it was not seen as a threat. By the time the disruptive product was evolved to the point that it could attack the established market from below it was too late for the manufacturer of the established product to react. Time and again the result has been the collapse of the manufacturer of the product that was disrupted and its replacement with the manufacturer of the disruptive product, which then became the new sustaining product.
The technologies of emerging pedagogy and their relationship to the technologies of the sustaining pedagogy can, in my opinion, be seen this way. This can be compared to technologies of the past. For example, like the horseless carriage of 100 years ago in how that technology attacked the dominant land transportation technology of the early 20th century, the steam powered passenger train. One hundred years ago the automobile was of such low reliability, had low performance and the road infrastructure was so poorly designed that it seemed no threat to the Pullman trains of the era. When we look at technologies like blogging, RSS, SMS, small portable devices, podcasting and so forth we need to remember, these are very young emergent technologies. We can't just sit snugly in our ivy covered buildings smug in the belief that the university will always be the best and only solution for higher education. There are a lot of people out there who are unable to come to our universities. This is a niche market just waiting to be served by technologies that have a lot of potential for development.
Wikis in the news
According to this article in Cnet [Link] the recent accusations of what really amounts to subtle undesirable manipulation (also known as "hacking") of the information in Wikipedia [Link] [definition of wiki] [definition of Wikipedia] has led to a change of the way the tool will work. According to the article by Daniel Terdiman the founder of wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, is instituting a change. Terdiman wrote, "he's going to change the ground rules for the popular anyone-can-contribute encyclopedia." In short it will no longer be anyone-can-contribute. The whole point of wikis has been that the community itself can be trusted to maintain the integrity of the source. To some this security enhancement will be seen as an indication that this trust may have been misplaced. Why enhance security unless you don't trust the community?
Gaming for profit
Even war gamers are becoming a commodity that can be outsourced, according to this story in the New York Times [Link.] It may seem funny to some, but there is a subtle warning here. No matter what happens, do not let yourself and your skillset become a commodity. What ever can be outsourced, will be outsourced. Remember, when it comes to selling commodities, the person who makes the sale is the one who sells the cheapest. For folks who become commodities it is a race to the bottom. You need to establish a personal brand in this new world that sets you apart.
I have taken the plunge into OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) [Wikipedia definition of OPML]. Alex Barnett created this screencast [Link to screencast] that describes what OPML is and shows us a really cool tool for creating OPML files. Here is a brief definition of of OPML from Wikipedia:
OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) is an XML format for outlines. Originally developed by (Dave Weiner of) Radio UserLand as a native file format for an outliner application, it has since been adopted for other uses, the most common being to exchange lists of RSS feeds between RSS aggregators.
That tool is a web application called OPMLManager [Link to web application.] This is, as Barnett [Link to Barnett's blog] says, "really excellent." In Barnett's screencast he describes how he uses OPMLManager to create OPML lists of RSS Feeds. Well, that's cool, but that is not how I am using it. I am using it to create taxonomy's of information. One of the biggest weaknesses of blogs and other blog-like time based ways of presenting information is that it does not present an easy way of navigating information on subject hierarchy's. Yes, tagging does offer some of this, but tags only create ways of grouping information by keywords. Tags do not provide the kinds of tree-like constructs that a taxonomy does. This is something OPML does very very well!
OPML allows us to organize all of our content, and the content of anything else that can be linked to into hierarchies that make it easy to find information by topic. And, we get to choose the topics and those hierarchies can be linked to, shared and included in other people's OPML trees. This is so cool. So, using OPML I have created my own little Yahoo and other folks can plug into it. I love it, I have only just begun to organize my unorganized virtual universe. Here is what I have created so far:
One thing that has become abundantly clear to me in conversations with colleagues and in my readings of books like The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman [Link] and The Rise of The Creative Class by Richard Florida [Link] is that the nature of work is changing. People are contracting their services more often. When people are hired as employees they are staying with employers for a shorter period of time. By its very nature work is becoming more transient. This greatly amplifies the need to market yourself and set yourself apart in a market where you want to have something unique to offer. If you do not do this you are in danger of becoming a commodity and believe this, you do not want to become a commodity. Both Friedman and Florida note this and my own non-scientific observations confirm this. In my conversation with the students in SJSU Professor Cynthia McCune's [Link to profs blog] class [Link to podcast of class, 16.5 MB MP3 File] I am not convinced students see or understand this. One of the worst things to be in a global economy is a commodity. People buy commodities based on the concept of who is selling cheapest. To stand apart from commodities students need to be aware of the importance of establishing their own brand. This is something folks like Scoble [Link], Steve [Link] and Dan [Link] Gillmor and so many others understand intuitively. Students today need to establish a unique brand and identity before they enter the workforce. Computers, and the Internet, provides people with powerful tools to establish a personal brand with a global presense. If you do not do this, and plan to leave it to your future employers to brand you, they will. They will assign you a number and that number will be as unique as you get to be.
Edupodder podcast sixteen, 72.1 minutes - Posted December 6, 2005
December 6, 2005: Emerging Technology, A Mass Communications Class
To listen to audio, click here --> 16.5 MB MP3 File Here
This is a class session on recorded December 6, 2005 in the School of Journalism and Communications at San Jose State University. The class is taught by SJSU Professor Cynthia McCune [Link to blog] and I am presenting as an alumnus of the school. In preparation for this class students were asked to read the first few chapters of Dan Gillmor's book We The Media [Link to related site]. The topic is, "Changes in Mass Communications and how students need to prepare for a new mass communications paradigm." A subtopic that emerged in the conversation is related to education and emerging pedagogy. As the session opens the words "The End of Business as Usual" [Link to related site] have been written on the board.
Edupodder podcast fifteen, 37.31 minutes - December 2, 2005, A conversation with Gwen Dapper.
To listen to audio, click here --> 8.5 MB MP3 File Here
A very fun and candid conversation with Gwen Dapper on December 2, 2005. Gwen is a web developer and an Instructional Technologist from San Jose State University. Gwen has just finished a course description for a proposed class on podcasting at San Jose State University. She and I talk as we look over her course outline. She hopes to teach this course at San Jose State. We discuss her course and the applications of podcasting in education.
The problem with wikis seems to me to be that when a community manages a wiki nobody can be held accountable. In a recent on-line news story retired journalist John Seigenthaler [Link to story] [Link to biography] alleges he was done wrong by Wikipedia [Link]. In a "Public Eye" story on CBSnews.com, Seigenthaler said wikipedia committed “Internet character assassination.” According to the story when Seigenthaler checked his own biography on wikipedia it said, in part:
“John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960's. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven.”
According to the story Seigenthaler said:
“One sentence in the biography was true. I was Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s. I also was his pallbearer.”
This is exactly what I dislike most about Wikis and why I have very little interest in them. According to the story:
The philosophy behind Wikipedia and similar “wikis” is to create open-source community definitions for words, events and other bits of information. Theoretically, the more people contributing to a given topic entry, the better the definition because you are drawing from various perspectives, backgrounds and expertise rather than a limited number of sources. Anyone can go into a given wiki and change it.
Assuming Seigenthaler is right:
With wiki's it is all about the community, in other words it is a collective of self-appointed posters that has the power to set the record straight, and then screw it up again. The voice of a wiki is not a voice easily held accountable. That is why it is hard to trust a wiki and why I seldom use or contribute to them. In my opinion a wiki is a Website by committee and we all know how good committees are at getting the job done right. With wiki's the truth is defined not by the most accurate to post, but by the most recent to post. We cite from, and quote from, wikipedia and other wikis as though they have real authority and in my opinion they do not because they lack the most important element of authority, what they lack is accountability.
In a story related to this incident, Charles Cooper of C-Net's News.com [Link] in a story entitled Perspective: Wikipedia and the nature of truth said, "Somebody nursing a grudge can always pervert or airbrush the historical record." Cooper went on to say this:
Of course, Seigenthaler might have registered as a user with Wikipedia and corrected the article himself. Failing that, he could have posted comments to the article correcting the mistakes. The reality is that this is asking too much. We're talking about a 78-year-old guy who came of age when state-of-the-art was defined by 78 rpm records, tube radios and black-and-white televisions. And with so much stuff out there--and more getting created each day--was the burden on Seigenthaler to know he was the subject of a Wikipedia article? I'm sure his first question was, "What in the heck is a Wikipedia?"
I am happy to report in the version of Wikipedia I saw today [Link] the errors seem to have been corrected. There are even links there to stories like Coopers. So, this record seems to have been set straight, for the moment anyway.
In this post [Link] Thomas Hawk details an experience he had with a seemingly dishonest New York camera vendor. What a nightmare! I have never had such an experience, but I almost bought my Nikon D2H [Link] from a vendor I had never heard of that offered a fantastic price. Then, at the last minute I decided I would research them and I found horror stories similar to Hawk's. I ended up buying from a local vendor, Keeble and Schucat [Link] for not much more.
Technorati Tags: ssloansjca
Brian and Lynn Johnson [Blog Link] have had their baby. He is a handsome baby boy. When I met Lynn she was almost a kid herself. Then she was named Lynn Benson and was a photojournalism student at SJSU. She was not yet 21 I was in my mid 30's. We became great friends. She and I took a country western dance class together at the Campbell Community Center. Some of the older women (my age) assumed we were more than friends and really looked down their middle aged noses at me, especially when the dance teacher Dave Coffman announced that the graduation dance was going to be at the Saddle Rack to which Lynn said out loud that she couldn't go because she was not yet 21. The glares we both got crack us up to this day. Lynn's husband Brian is a really great guy. Susie and I got to spend some great time with them a little over a year and a half ago when we visited them in Chico. We are very happy for them and their growing family. Here is the email we got from Lynn last weekend:
Brian and Lynn Johnson (nee Benson) are pleased to announce the birth of their son, Alexander Blake. He arrived two weeks late at 3:04 a.m. on Saturday, November 19th, tipping the scales at 9 pounds, 4.5 ounces, and measuring 22 inches long.
Lex is a very sweet baby, and the cutest infant that the good people of Massachusetts have ever seen. Baby and mommy are fine, and daddy is over the moon. It will surprise none of you to know that he has already said his first words: "hi" upon his arrival, and "me" the other day. We'll start the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing exercises next week.
I have attached a picture for your desktop viewing enjoyment. :)
Happy belated Thanksgiving, Lynn
Sorry about the lousy quality of the picture from last night. This morning it is just me and the kitties. I am going to start working on the turkey soon. Sue took her mom to the hospital at about 4:00 am. and they are still there. Sue's mom got ill in the middle of the night. Other than that things are good. I threw my back out the other day but it is much better.
We had a great experience last night. It was wonderful actually, we took my 8 Indian (as in India) student assistants out to dinner. Picture this: Sue and I telling a group of foreign students the story of the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving and the other Indians.
It was too cute!
"What blows me away is RSS," Om Malik
In a recent podcast with Steve Gillmor [Link]; Om Malik [Link] said, "What blows me away is RSS. It allows me to create my own New York Times every morning." Gillmor replied, "And, it allows us to create our own Howard Stern." Malik then said, "Yes, and our own NPR, even our own television network." I was so blown away by this that I wrote the exchange down on my grease board where it remains.
RSS is big, very big. What we have seen so far with RSS is just the tip of the iceberg. Right now when a lot of people think of the Internet they think of just two things, Web and E-mail. RSS is neither of those things. That is a good thing because E-mail, thanks to spam, is broken and the web only works if you can get somebody to your Website. RSS combines the best of both the push nature of E-mail and the pull nature of Web. With RSS we see the convergence of push and pull and it adds a whole new dimension, that dimension is time. RSS is time based and it enables the concept of the real-time Web. RSS can turn the static Web into a conversation.
A great definition of RSS can be found here on Wikipedia [Link] and here on xml.com [Link]. I don't need to repeat that. RSS is the digital dial tone (there is that term again) for delivering changing real-time content on the web. It is the XML [Definition Link] based engine behind Podcasting and Videocasting and it enables blogs and wikis to be so much more than they are as mere Web destinations. RSS changes the Internet paradigm. Just look at the explosion of podcasts we have seen in the last year. RSS is being incorporated into everything from browsers to E-mail readers. RSS aggregators are everywhere, in stand alone applications and web applications and the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds is being put into portable devices like cell phones. RSS is download based, so it doesn't demand high bandwidth between the source and the receiver. So, RSS can extend the Internet beyond the network. Creators of RSS feeds are able to shape and manipulate them as are consumers of them. It was the power of RSS that led me to create what I believe to be the first podcast in higher education. To not understand the profound impact of RSS, and how to use RSS in education will soon be to be obsolete.
Q- How is collaboration like basketball?
A- It is a game you cannot win if you have problems getting to the Net.
Yea, I know, you have heard this before [Link] and [Link]! But in a world that is being described as flat [Link], collaboration is everything. The Internet, and the network that gets you to it, is the medium of collaboration. The wireless network, increasingly for our campus, is the digital dial tone of the global collaboration conversation.
Simplicity is the key to wireless. Using 802.11 "Wi-Fi" compliant hardware and software, ideas can flow from people to the Internet and then to other people. It is not just about computers, PDAs and even VOIP phones allow for thoughts and ideas to flow seamlessly. The need to authenticate to the network adds complexity to this process.
Complexity adds a layer of specifications and compliance that must be met. Complexity makes it so that good people and productivity enhancing devices that could play, will not be able to play. Complexity is the enemy of utilization of the medium of collaboration. Complexity disables our students, faculty, staff, industry allies and our partners. In my opinion, anything that adds complexity and blocks access to that medium of collaboration better have a damn super vital reason for existence!
The goal needs to be to enable anybody who is on campus to be able to participate in collaboration in as many ways as possible, with as many types of enabling devices as possible, as long as their participation does not negatively impact others. Wireless has to be everywhere and accessible any time. The idea we stop from getting on the network, may be the idea that changes our campus and the world for the better.
According to SJSU Professor Steve Greene, when Robert Scoble came to our campus to speak to the Journalism and Mass Communications faculty, one of the peolpe in attendance had to provide him their own user name and password so that Scoble could access the wireless network. They should not have had to do that.
The Student Tablet
In this Channel Nine Video Blog Conversation [Link] Microsoft Evangelist Robert Scoble [Link] talks to Bill Gates about a number of technologies including Tablet computing. What makes this conversation special? You have likely heard plenty about Tablet PC's from both Scoble and I in our blogs. What makes the Gates and Scoble conversation special is that here they talk about the "Student Tablet." The student tablet is a $500 Tablet PC that has been talked about as being available very early next year.
The utility of Tablet PCs has been discussed in many places. There is a blog called StudentTabletPC [Link]. The benefits of Tablets, in education and otherwise, are many and are also discussed here in this Tablet PC blog [Link]. Malu Roldan has led a a Tablet PC project here at SJSU. Here are links to the video that SJSU Media Producer Bob Reynolds produced on SJSU's Tablet PC usage.
Tablet PC's have been available awhile. For some reason they still haven't taken off. In my opinion that is partly because it seems neither Microsoft nor their OEMs seem able to decide who should market them. Unlike Apple's Mac computers you cannot find Tablet PC products in our University Bookstore (where student focused products and student focused financing available for Macs.) The Internet also was slow to take off and existed for a long time before being discovered thanks to enabling technologies like the Web and email. Hopefully, Microsoft will come out with a reasonably priced Student Tablet PC and this will be the gas on the fire the platform needs in education. To me this is the point the Gates and Scoble conversation seems to make.
This may be what it takes to unleash the potential of this technology. Meanwhile, I am test driving an HP Compaq tc4200. This Tablet rocks!
Jack Quinton died
I may work in Academic Technology now but my heart is, and will always be, in Journalism at SJSU. I worked there for the better part of 17 years, I graduated from that department. It is the reason I came back to SJSU twenty years ago to get a job.
I just learned that Jack died when I subscribed to Cynthia McCune's JMC Journal RSS feed [Link]. Oh man, this was one of the happiest guys I have ever known. He was so young, only 62. In this picture he has a smile. He almost always had a smile. I can't remember him not smiling. It is so hard to believe he is gone. You know, you work so long with somebody and share so many happy memories of them, it is hard to imagine them as being gone. Jack's death is like that.
Scoble talks to SJSU J-school faculty about future of Mass Communications
Today, my long-time friend, former student employee and current Microsoft Tech Evangelist & author Robert Scoble [Link], a former student of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San Jose State University, returned to our school. Faculty member Steve Greene, who Scoble described in a recent email as, "my favorite professor at SJSU (was always pushing the edge)" introduced Scoble to the assembled faculty.
The school is considering a reorganization to better prepare students for a the changes emerging technology is bringing to the field of journalism and mass communications. As he spoke to the faculty he showed the faculty examples on the Internet of what he was talking about using his Tablet PC. In his candid talk he told the faculty about how Mass Communications has changed since the years he was a student in our school and about how this new technology evolved and is continuing to evolve. He answered the faculty's questions. Professor Cynthia McCune recorded his presentation and the audio of that is here: [Link]. Student Ryan Sholin was also at the meeting and he offers a student's perspective. On his blog Sholin [Link] provides links to many of the sites that Scoble showed in his presentation.
This was a great moment and the audio is well worth listening to, a couple of times in fact, I think. It is like getting a private lesson from Robert Scoble.
To liten to audio, click here--> 66 min, 15.4 MB MP-3 Audio File
Bloggers are loyal employees
I wrote a blog post [Link] that led to a story in our campus newspaper and also was run in a union newspaper called the University Employee. That story was about the authentication mechanism that will be used to authenticate users of the new Comcast wireless network that we hope to have in use at SJSU next month. That wireless network will be connected to the Internet, not our campus network. Users of the new Comcast network from on campus will be treated as off campus users. They will only be able to get into the campus network through our normal firewall to the Internet.
Even with the authentication mechanism in place, this new network will be a huge improvement to Internet access for members of the campus community over the existing network which only covers parts of the campus. The questions I had, and still have, is why not go all the way and make this network open and easy to get to by anybody without authentication? We are spending a lot of money on SJSUOne authentication to the wireless network. I believe complexity is the enemy of utility. Any layer of complexity we add will keep people we want to use our network off our network. Every layer of complexity we add had better, in my opinion, have value. Since all these users will have to go through the campus firewall anyway, what are we protecting, the Internet? Where is the value? I also questioned the surrendering our digital dialtone to an off campus provider.
I have received negative comments from peers to my posts, my story and the posts and stories that came from them. Some folks have been questioning my loyalty. In my opinion my questioning the wisdom of doing something I think is a mistake is a positive not a negative for the university. If it makes folks think about what we are doing, even if it does not bring about a change I think that is a value to SJSU. In my opinion, that is the power of cluetrain. It is the power to stimulate conversation and in my opinion that is good.
We worked on our sunshine proposal
The rest of the weekend went great. For most of Saturday and Sunday we worked on the union's contract proposal for the new contract coming up next year. This is called the sunshine process where both sides say what they would like to see in the next contract. Negotiations then start from there where both sides work toward a meet in the middle. Saturday evening we had a dinner and a party. Working on the sunshines is very intense work. It takes a lot of input. Not only do we try to improve wages, hours and working conditions for employees, the union strives to improve contract laguage to provide better protections for workers rights. At the dinner CSUEU union president Pat Gantt presented awards to good folks in the union who have made special contributions to our cause. Many of my friends were recipients. I think we have an excellent statewide team!
I cannot say enough great things about Russell. He is from San Francisco State University and the chair of our union's communications committee and is editor of the newsletter, the University Employee. What great words can I associate with Russell. Integrity, commitment, intelligence, passion for a cause, honesty, humility, devotion, drive, ethics, all these are traits I readily associate with him. In short he is my hero. Nobody could find a better role model than him. He is the consummate labor activist. And, I have known a lot of labor activists. I am proud to be associated with him and anything he does.
SJSU Chapter 307 Highlights
Our great unit seven rep. and statewide vice-chair of unit 7, Vera Acevedo, introduced chapter Vice-President Shannon Staley to the delegates and guests at CSUEU’s division council the weekend of November 5 thru 6 at Manhattan Beach. This is Shannon’s first Division Council. Staley received a warm round of applause! Vera also introduced me.
Gus sings, we sing to Gus!
CSUEU President Pat Gantt introduced Gus Lease and noted his years of service to CSEA. He also told the delegation it was Gus’s birthday. Gus is a music professor at SJSU and a very talented singer. He often sings the Star Spangled Banner at CSEA events. This time the tables were turned for Gus and the university delegates sang happy birthday to Gus. He also received a warm applause and many well wishes.
One more roll of Kodachrome 25 slide film
I was going through my closet and I found one more roll of Kodachrome 25 slide film today. So, I did not shoot my last roll earlier this month chasing trains on Tehachippi. It took almost two weeks to get my last roll back. So, should I shoot this roll or save it? The slides were great, when I finally got them. I bought 3 rolls of Fuji Provia, thinking I was switching.
Today the Spartan Daily ran a story [Link] about my blog post [Link] on the SJSU wireless network. (This blog post is also being ran as a story that will be sent to 15,000 university employees in the CSUEU union publication The University Employee [Link].) The crux of my blog post is that the direction of wireless networking is to provide open access in metropolitan areas, like downtown San Jose. If you go to the WNN Wi-Fi Net News Blog [Link] you find a lot of evidence that this is the industry trend. As the web matures and applications move increasingly off the computer and onto the Internet, uninhibited Internet access is mandatory. Where security is needed it can be placed at the firewall and does not need to be placed where it blocks access to the network as SJSUOne does. Why are companies like Google offering to provide cities free wireless? Because their bread and butter is having as many people as possible get on the Internet. I think this is in our best interest too. Otherwise in a few years there may be easier wireless access off campus than on. If university employees manage the wireless network and it is offered with open access, it is our network. When we own the network we control our own wireless destiny. In my opinion, that is the way to go.
In the end you have to look at yourself in the mirror
It is written, "what does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?" Being committed to doing the right and honorable thing and helping people as much as you can is more important that getting ahead, getting your boss's approval and perhaps getting a promotion. The most important relationship we have is with ourselves, I think. If we can respect ourself, what else matters? When the time comes to step up to the plate, how can you live with yourself if you do not? That is my opinion, anyway.
A team from SJSU recently made a presentation at the Educause national conference in Orlando, Florida. Reportedly there was standing room only for their presentation. I am very proud to be associated with this. Tablet PC's rock and have the potential to really change the way computers are used in education. ~Steve
This is really great stuff!
From Malu Roldan: Here are links to the video that SJSU Media Producer Bob Reynolds produced on SJSU's Tablet PC usage. Mary Jo Gorney-Moreno and I just came back from presenting it at the Educause national conference and it was very well received (see description of conference presentation below).
Management Information Systems
San Jose State University
I wish we could read Scoble's blog from SJSU. I can read it from home, but not from here. Something is seriously broke. Maybe he is being censored on this campus? His old blog and blogger blogs work fine.
Fifty years ago, on September 15, 1955 I was born. Less than three months later Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on a bus to a white man. It is amazing to me to think that in just my life time's worth of time it was expected that she would. When asked to move to let a white bus rider be seated Parks refused. She did not argue and she did not move. The police were called and Parks was arrested.
To me, in the here and now, the idea that a person could be arrested for this and that it could be considered a crime seems absurd. Yes, we have a long way to go. Also, we have come a long way thanks to Rosa Parks and many who shared her courage. The day she died recently, a short time after my 50th birthday, is a sad day. We lost a genuine American hero.
The statue of Smith and Carlos at SJSU is an important statue. It is a symbol of activism, but it is also a symbol of the struggle of black people in our society to be free and to break the chains of oppression that still bind them. This is an important icon for us all to see and remember. It was not that long ago that people had to give up seats on a bus, just because they were black. Thank you Parks and Smith and Carlos and so many more...
Another Help Desk Moment
This just came in through our Help Desk Queue. Well, we are the help desk and our mission is to be the first point of contact for service and support at SJSU:
I just wanted to find out if an instructor is more than 15 minutes late, is it okay to leave the class?
Reply: This varies from instructor to instructor and I do not believe there is a set policy on the subject. A search on this term "instructor is late to class" yielded no hits on the sjsu.edu domain and only six hits on the entire .edu domain. (Interestingly, "student is late to class" yielded many hits.) So, I contacted the Provost's office at SJSU with your question.
The answer I got there was, "I don't know if it is myth or reality but it is said that if the instructor is a (less than full) professor you must wait 15 minutes. If it is a full professor you must wait 20 minutes. But, there is nothing written on the subject."
So, there it is. If you have the moxie you might approach your instructor with the question. Perhaps one way to break the ice for this conversation would be to ask if the professor is, or is not, a full professor. Then, when they ask why you are asking, you can tell them what the person at the provost's office said. In essence you are on your own on this one. I am sorry, but that is the best answer I could find.
With the emergence of enabling technologies, like blogging and podcasting. Everybody, including all university faculty, students and staff have access to powerful global communications tools to post ideas to the Internet. This seed change has marked the end of business as usual. Using search engines like Google and even more, Technorati these Internet posts can be found, linked to and remixed in ways unimaginable just a short time ago. It does not require the blessing of the institution to make these posts accessible.
The result is a good thing. This is a conversation where ideas are free and easy to give, get and rehash. Everybody must be able to join the conversation. Historically students and faculty have been parties to the conversation to a greater and lesser extent, depending on the institution and the circumstances. Support staff, the so-called classified employees, have often not been invited to the party. The staff in the past has been like the servers at a social event. We pour the punch but we are not allowed to dance.
Those days are over. Staff have important contributions to make to the conversation. We see things other folks don't see. We have ideas that deserve to be heard. We have paid our dues, and at public universities like SJSU we pay our taxes. It is everybody's loss to expect us to check our brains at the campus gate as we walk onto our universities. Not only are we members of the campus community, we are taxpayers and we don't want to see our investments squandered.
Administrators can't stop it, and shouldn't want to. We are here and we are ready to dance! The universities will be better for it.
The new campus-wide wireless network being put in for SJSU has already missed two deadlines and will soon be a full semester behind schedule. It was supposed to be live before the start of the Fall term in August. After that failed, a new date of October 17 was set and missed for startup of the new wireless network. Now they are saying the network will be turned on sometime after school ends in December. Reportedly the issue is lack of stability of the network which is funded primarily by student money, provided by Associated Students. The network is being installed and will be run by Comcast. Comcast is the contractor for this project. The older, non campus-wide, wireless network (maintained and operated by university employees) is still going strong.
Even if the new network can be made to work, and its roll-out finally does happen sometime around Christmas, the next big question is, will it already be obsolete?
The new network will rely on a somewhat complicated user authentication method. Everybody who goes to use the network will have to have a user log-in. This log-in will be based on a system (never tested on such a scale) called SJSUOne. Just on the SJSU campus Comcast will link into SJSUOne. All users of the new network have to have an SJSUOne account, or be a paid Comcast wireless customer. SJSUOne, in turn, references the PeopleSoft HR and Student databases.
All users of the new network will need to activate their SJSUOne accounts and then use the password they create to authenticate to the wireless network. This is not an option for people are not either university employees or students. Many folks come to the university, like guest speakers to classes and/or vendors, who are not in the PeopleSoft database but have real business to conduct at SJSU that may need Internet access. It is still not clear how these folks will be accommodated. If you are not in PeopleSoft you are not in SJSUOne.
SJSUOne itself has had major problems. Useability of the system's account activation interface has been a major fail point with over 50% of the folks who tried to use the current version to activate their SJSUOne accounts not being able to work through the interface (based on testing.) There is a new interface being planned for SJSUOne account activation, but the folks slated to test its useability have not yet been able to. Even when they do, they are not usability experts. Usability is a science not best left to amateurs.
A huge amount of money is being spent supporting and designing this user authentication method. But, is it even necessary?
In metropolitan areas, like San Francisco, companies are falling all over themselves to provide free and open wireless access. Companies like our very own local company Google, who make their living off people having as easy access as possible to the Internet, are installing wireless networks that are free and open to any user who wants to use them.
Couldn't all the money we are spending keeping folks from using our network be better spent improving it? You can't say we need to have user authentication for the sake of university security. All users of the wireless network are going to be treated as outside users anyway and will have an additional layer of security to go through to reach university network resources. They will already be outside the university firewall, like all other Internet users from off campus.
I do not understand why we don't just make the new wireless network free and open to the public. In my opinion the SJSUOne authentication method will complicate and hinder easy use of the wireless network. Other new wireless networks are open, why not ours? Free open and accessible networks encourage collaboration and are the current state of the art. Our new network, in my opinion, will not be. So in my opinion is it not only late, it is out of date!
Podcast thirteen, 44.55 minutes - October 19, 2005, Another conversation with Steve Greene.
To listen to audio, click here --> MP3 File Here
San Jose State University professor Steve Greene [Link] discusses the future of SJSU's School of Journalism and Mass Communications (J&MC), his journey to four J-schools in four weeks and his proposal to reorganize J&MC. There's some pretty major changes being proposed by Greene and explained in this conversation, including a proposal to cease daily publication of the school paper, The Spartan Daily [Link].
A train photo of mine that is better than the one shown here ran in today's version of the on-line daily train E-newsletter Altamont Press [Link]. It was cool seeing it be used there. This is a neat web publication and a real example of the enabling ability of on-line delivery for niche markets.
It was a General Council full of great moments. In my opinion the greatest was the election of Hylah Jacques as Executive Vice President of CSEA. She comes from Cal Poly SLO where she is an Administrative Support Coordinator II in the College of Liberal Arts. In my opinion she is the best of the best. She is among the hardest working, smartest, most honest, fair minded, kind hearted and all-around greatest people I have ever known, ever. Her election is a great victory even for the people who voted against her, because they could not have elected better. She is the best in my book!
This is our CSUEU delegation to General Council 2005
The University Employee Delegation
These are the folks who are representing university staff employees at this statewide union meeting. They are fine hard working folks who are sincere, who care about the pay, working conditions and the benefits of university employees. I am proud to be associated with them.
Here are some recordings of conversations from early Sunday October 9, 2005; the second day of CSEA General Council 63 in Anaheim:
Here are two recordings of conversations from Saturday October 8, 2005; the first day of CSEA General Council 63 in Anaheim:
Andy Stern "gets it!"
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Andy Stern spoke with university employees Friday evening on the eve of the California State Employees Association's 63rd General Council. Stern gave a rousing come to Jesus speech about the importance of the labor movement. Then he stepped from behind the lectern. Stern listened as well as talked and the result was a very lively conversation. Stern, as head of SEIU, recently led a group of formerly AFL-CIO unions out of the AFL-CIO to form a new organization named Change-to-Win.
In his Friday talk Stern, whose SEIU is growing in union membership, spoke about why it was necessary for SEIU to leave the AFL-CIO. He answered the concerns of folks, like myself, who do not like to see the house of labor divided. He cited declining membership in the labor movement overall and the seeming unwillingness of the AFL-CIO to change its strategy to meet the demands of a changing world.
What really impressed me about Stern is that, he gets it! He referenced Freedman, who's book The World is Flat I am currently reading. He spoke about globalization and the role of unions in a changing global economy. I was able to ask Stern a couple of questions about globalization and the public perception of the labor movement. Stern answered my questions. He spoke about global organizing to meet global markets, unions embracing emerging technology and how unions need to be reorganized to effectively organize workers globally. In short, I was very impressed!
Fiscal issues in CSEA
The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) is one of four organizations in the California State Employees Association (CSEA). Kathryn Plunkett is on the statewide CSEA fiscal committee. Last night, after Stern left, she spoke to us about the ongoing struggle within the statewide organization over central support issues. Central Support is the CSEA entity that provides support services and coordinates activities involving all the four affiliated CSEA organizations. There is a big conflict within the CSEA affiliates about how strong and well funded Central Support should be. Kathryn is a long time close friend of mine. I spent a lot of time in Friday's fiscal committee meeting. It was a long day for Kathryn and a hard day as she and her allies were almost constantly being out voted on issues that are core for university employees.
The meeting of university employees Friday night went to about 10pm. After the meeting we went to a hospitality suite where we discussed the day's events until the early morning hours of the next day. I had a great long discussion with CSUEU Chapter 307 president Jeff Baldwin. I like Jeff a lot and really enjoyed our conversation. Today, at 1pm, the 63rd General Council Convenes.
I am at GC, the big university staff employee union meeting in Anaheim, and the pre-council committee meetings are happening. I just took this photo of Gus Lease, who is the guy I spoke to in my recent podcast with him [Link]. Gus is a great guy and I admire him very much!
I also just met Steve Aunan, the webmaster for CSEA. He is a sharp guy, and is a blogger, that is so cool! Here is his CSEA blog [Link]. I have taken this photo and another photo of Fred Cordova for a daily newsletter we are doing of the convention.
I will be posting more about the union meeting on my union blog [Link].
I shot my last roll of Kodachrome
"Kodachrome, it gives us those nice bright colors.
It gives us the greens of summers.
It makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yea!
I got a Nikon camera.
I love to take the photographs.
So momma don't take my Kodachrome away."
~Kodachrome by Paul Simon
Bealville, Kodachrome and Nikons
Wednesday, October 5, 2005; I drove to south from San Jose to the Tehachapi mountains east of Bakersfield. I arrived in Bealville, California to find a train in the siding there. He (the train) was waiting for another train to pass in the opposite direction. So, I went to the top of the little hill there and photographed the train that came the other way. I know the routine here very well. I have been coming to Bealville for about 38 years taking pictures of trains. I have come here with my father, both my wives, my children and friends at different times through the years. I have seen trains and people pass through my life here. Soon, it will be my grandchildren whom I will be taking here.
Over the years I have shot many thousands of rolls of Kodachrome slide film here and at many other railroad places. Wednesday I shot my last roll of Kodachrome I will probably ever shoot. I have had a stash of Kodachrome 25 (K25) slide film for 35mm cameras I had been hoarding. But, Kodak's 35mm Kodachrome processing (K14) has gotten so slow (about 3 weeks) it became evident I had better use this film or kiss it off! The death of Kodachrome is obviously imminent. (For example: I had a stash of Kodachrome 64 for 120 cameras I sat on too long and Kodak stopped the K14 processing for 120 and that wonderful film is thus now unusable!) So, I started using my 35mm K25! After I got my D2H digital Nikon I started to use the Nikon digital more and the Nikon film cameras less. So, I had to work at using up that Kodachrome (without wasting it.) But, I saved one roll of Kodachrome for the Tehachapis and Bealville. So, this week I went to Bealville, fired up a film Nikon again, finished that roll of Kodachrome film and switched to my digital camera. Then, I kept shooting with the digital Nikon (see above).
There is a tree on top of the little hill at Bealville that overlooks the tracks. That would be a good place to leave my ashes after I die. It has a great view of the tracks and the passing trains. There, under that tree, is also the place I finished my last roll of Kodachrome.
Technorati Tags: ssloansjca
Yesterday we had a training and I took the Help Desk Staff out to lunch. We went to Shalimar [Link], a local San Jose Restaurant where they trained me in the fine Indian Cuisine. They are a great group of young people. Pictured here are Kamlesh, Akshay, Kishwer, Pranav and Shilpina.
Today I am heading south, to a big union meeting in Anaheim.
There is a recent post by SJSU Alum Robert Scoble [Link] that reacts to a post by Adam Bosworth [Link] that says, "I find that most of what I want to post these days would rile a fair number of people and then Google would get the blame even though these are my personal opinions, so I chose to keep my thoughts to myself."
Scoble says, "Changing the world is messy work. It's not for those who fear getting fired or fear getting their companies a bit of bad PR or who fear the opinions of billionaires."
Scoble is advising Bosworth to blog what he feels. But, what about those of us who are way out here on the long tail? For example, I believe that I was retaliated against after I complained about my blogging and podcasting being raised in (what I feel was a negative way) in my performance evaluation. No, I can't prove I was retaliated against, so this is just my opinion. But, I brought this up as a freedom of speech issue on my blog and with my management [Link].
I think freedom of Internet speech has to apply to us long-tail-bloggers as well as you spike-bloggers for it to be free. In my conversations with other long-tail-bloggers (who are worker bees) I can assure you that they have been telling me they do not feel free to blog what they feel about their jobs. Come on, who doesn't fear getting fired? Your job is your home and your health coverage!
Still, for the global conversation to flow freely, I think all voices need to be able to come to the party. For myself, I still feel I did the right thing, but I am not sure I would have made the same choice if we didn't have a union. Freedom of speech is still not free in our society, for most of us when it comes to what we do for a living. The cost is always part of the equation.