Digital Media: All Sorts of Goodies

There has been an absolute flurry of activity around our primary topics the past several days. Now that the election is over and is back to normal traffic I feel like I can actually post some of it. This isn’t new today, but I thought I’d point you to some news I saw several days ago, but again today on … “Studios to Sue Net Movie Swappers.” Basically it breaks down like this — you steal and illegally trade/provide a film online, plan on coughing up $30,000.00 per film. Not too cheap! Here’s the breakout quote, “We know who they are, and we will go after them.” Ok, sounds like the MPAA is going to use the same tactics as the RIAA … management by fear. Anyway, very relevant stuff …

In related news, ran an article today titled, “File-Sharing Thrives Under Radar.” It talks about BitTorrent and how it is getting some serious attention from the MPAA and RIAA … goes on to say that it has existed under the radar for so long, but now that it is gobbling up bandwidth (up to a third!) “Hollywood’s copyright police are taking notice.” I’m not going to bore you with the details of ol’ BitTorrent, but you should know there is a ton of stuff out there — spanning from legal music, trailers, etc, to all illegal stuff. Literally anything you want is sitting there ready to be taken. The article gives a great overview of how the technology works — which is a very cool way to distribute materials by the way — and lays out the prediction that its days could be numbered. Ouch … people do use peer 2 peer for good as well … oh well.

All the while more and more legal music services are expanding … Apple has a ton of music available online and not to be outdone I read this morning that MSN’s download service is expanping. I guess the point is that we are really just on the cusp of this stuff exploding in the digital world. All the stuff we were talking about weeks ago — the pervasive nature of technology and how we live in the digital world is getting set to go mainstream. Those of us who have been plugged in for the last five years or so don’t find this astonishing — we have been waiting for it. But to see the whole world begin to line up to buy digital products is cool to me … for crying out loud, my parents even have an iPod and an account on the iTunes Music Store. Ouch again … only reason I say that is that I am tech support …

In a totally unrelated sense … I found this cool little thing today … take a look at it. I know its a little goofy, but it does hold HUGE potential. Anyway, as always, very curious about you are all thinking and if anything you’ve been learning via class or your own research makes you want to say something please do — in other words, comment!

My Thoughts From Today’s Guest: Glenn Johnson

Glenn Johnson, Project Manager for the PSU ePortfolio Initiative, stopped by class today to discuss the whole ePortfolio concept. He started by discussing the importance of evidence … what I take from that is that it is critical to create a sort of historical roadmap of your time here at PSU. I did so much stuff in college that is lost forever … some of it was actually good stuff — other stuff wasn’t, but the point is that I don’t have ANY real record of my knowledge and intellectual development. The new ePortfolio opportunities can easily overcome that.

Going Beyond the Resume

“It allows others read between the lines …” It provides prospective employers with the evidence they need to see what you can actually DO. That is an important distinction … with a static, paper-based resume you list all sorts of skills and experiences — but if you pair that with an ePortfolio, there is a historical record of your actual competencies. It lets people actually see what you’ve done. It is going to make a huge difference.

At PSU, students are being asked more and more to create digital assets as outcomes to their classroom assignments. Trust me, unless you have some sort of next generation storage area network system with a huge meta data repository, you’ll loose it all. That’s what I did. With an opportunity like ePortfolio, PSU has provided you with a digital repository that represents you — and its easy to do. Good stuff.

Glenn went on to discuss some real-world examples of students’ usage of the ePortfolio and how it transformed their job/internship search experience. One of the students he highlighted is over in EMS … this student differentiated himself (using ePortfolio) from someone who has taken the courses to someone who can actually report the weather. Good stuff. Here’s an incredible example.

What are the 5 pieces of evidence that you will point to that differentiates you … then think critically about each one of those and why they were the ones you selected … Glenn says, “that’s part of your story.” Here’s a real nice page that describes how to do the selection process.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep it focused
  • Keep it simple
  • Make sure you tell your story
  • Know your audience
  • Sell yourself to that audience

Scenario … faculty staff, instructors, advisors at PSU are in a unique position because of how well connected they are … they have friends in so many different areas of the world — corporate, professional associations, other Universities, etc … if one of my colleagues has a grant that requires an information technology problem that needs to be solved and they send me a request to see if I have a student or know of someone who can help out … typically what happens is that they send that out to a whole bunch of people via email and someone would respond that, “hey, I know someone …” now, if that email contains a link to that student’s ePortfolio, I’ve just given my friend that opportunity to do a “virtual interview” via the portfolio.

ePortfolios begin to make a big difference when you make it to the short list … two positions with 250 applications … will an ePortfolio make a difference? No, but if you are one of five left, then yes it will make THE difference.

The point is this; you really need to start thinking about how important it is to start documenting your competencies via the ePortfolio. I wish you all would start building one … at a minimum; it will help you organize your experiences. At the other end of the spectrum, it will give prospective employers an opportunity to really get to know you without having to physically meet them. It will be the way people are differentiated in the coming years. If you want any help, let me know and we’ll do a web publishing session. If you have questions or comments, post them here and I’ll make sure Glenn gets them.

Green Day Gets Into The Office Supply Biz

Hey, I like Green Day … even own a few of their songs. When one of your fellow classmates sent me the email quoted below last night, I thought it was cool and a VERY interesting approach to building some sort of physical connection with its fan base. You see when I was a kid — way back in the 80’s — we bought all our music on cassette tape and then CDs … What’s interesting about that is that they came with some sort of physical presence — a CD jewl case or cassette case. These made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The whole digital music “revolution” has sort of removed that physical presence … unless you call 4.3MB of one’s and zero’s on a hard drive a physical presence. Anyway, Green Day is selling blank CD-Rs that they say are for you to burn their music on. Actually a cool idea … Here’s what Jason Streeter had to say about it:

“Prof. Camplese,

Check out what the band Green Day is doing to make money because so many people are downloading their music. Instead of trying to stop illegal downloading, they are sort of encouraging it and allowing kids to buy their CD-R’s with the “Green Day” logo on it. This is a very interesting business move but kind of goes completely against what we are trying to create with our project. They advise to use the CDs to make compellations from previously bought Green Day CDs but I don’t really think this is true!

Thought it would make an interesting blog entry for the class.

Jason Streeter”

To tell you the truth, I don’t think its really because so many people are stealing their music as much as its an attempt for them to give their audience a little bit of that warm and fuzzy feeling you get from actually owning something physical. Either way, very cool find, Jason! What do the rest of you think?

And I Thought We Only Picked Pop Singers This Way …

Wow, really interesting article over at Zogby International talking about how they did the first mobile phone poll to see whom people are going to vote for. In an obvious nod to the incredibly (and inexplicably) popular American Idol pop candy show, the folks over at Zogby finally figured out that there is a huge group of people who don’t answer their land line phones anymore — and, surprise, they are young and liberals! Oh by the way, this isn’t a politically motivated post, just an opportunity to point out to you that the times really are a changin’. Stop over and take a look … here’s a little quote:

“Mr. Zogby went on to note that Zogby International plans to explore future text-message surveys in response to concerns throughout the polling industry about reaching mobile telephone users. He added that text-messaging has become an important tool for political activists on both sides of the political spectrum, and Zogby International will be at the forefront of technology shifts that affect polling.”

No shit … What do you think?

Discussion Activity 08

Ok, I know, I know … I am REALLY late with the DA for this week. I’ll make it up to you though. How, you ask? Well, how about this … NO DA NEXT WEEK! You turn this one in by end of next week and you get 20 points for it. Now, there are some rules associated with this one … I am interested in you all going above and beyond, so I am adding a few wrinkles to the mix. Read on …

What I want you to do is complete the DA in typical fashion by posting your comments here in the Class Blog, but as you’ll notice this DA is asking for a report … what does that mean? Well, look at it this way, I am counting this twice, so it should be well thought out, creative, and follow all the guidelines below. Take your time and do this well … one point to consider, you may want to think outside of the examples provided. First of all, everyone in the class will do a MAC machine … and second, the examples are well-understood systems. Try to think of some other types of interfaces people are faced with on a regular basis — look in the HUB, at the gas station, the grocery store, and all sorts of places.

I’m not going to do an overview of the topic — I expect you are reading!

Discussion Activity

Conduct a real-world observation of people using a system such as an ATM machine, Lion Cash machine, or Swipe card machine for doors. Write a report describing the system. Make sure to include a description of the interface, the functions of the system, the social environment of system, and your observations of people using the system. Observe for 30 minutes, but do not talk to the users. You should only make observations. Be sure not to jeopardize users’ security by observing too closely.

Design is hard

Today in class (slides are here) we looked at some interface design principles. Design principles help guide you when creating a software interface or web site. Problems arise because principles are just guides; they are not rules. This means that you still have to make decisions about the thing you are designing while you are designing it, and then try to figure out whether or not it looks good and is functional. For example, you could add objects to your interface in a symmetrical fashion, but that might impede information flow.

Your best bet when designing the interface for your solution, and your website in (week 13), is to create 3 designs and show them to people to critique. You can prototype your design in Dreamweaver or Powerpoint, both of which are on the Macs in our classroom.

Once you have a satisfactory design, then you can build your website. For the project, you can add the designed prototype to your final delivery. If anyone wants critique on a design, then I am happy to do so. But I will only do this in person, so catch me at the end of a Thursday class or in my office hour.

We also looked at some bad designs. You were all pretty good at seeing where the bad designs I showed in class went wrong. You can see the bad designs from class at the interface hall of shame.

How do you know when you see a interface good design? Do you have to interact with it first? What if the interface is ugly, but functional? Is it still a good design?

New iPod Photo Ideas

This is cross posted from my Learning & Innovation blog site … I was just curious to see if any of you had comments:

So Apple came out with the long rumored iPod Photo yesterday … I, like all the other Mac folks out here were reading about the features well before it was announced and you know, until I really saw it and started to look at its specifications and features, I thought “whatever.” Then, when I saw how Apple actually pulled it off, kept the form factor close to the same and how it really works I started to think about how powerful an academic (and business) tool this thing can be.

I do a lot of traveling and I am always giving presentations … sometimes my trips take my across the country, but at the same time a lot of them are on campus, are day trips around the state, or other “down and back” endeavors. For the long distance, multi-day trips I would never consider leaving my 12″ PowerBook at home — it’s just too much a part of the whole travel experience (digital photos, email, music, web, DVD, etc). But, with this new iPod Photo, I can see instances where that’s all I have to take with me to do my presentations. I use Keynote as my presentation software — simply because it is so much better than PowerPoint … I need to look at it more, but I could see myself pulling jpegs of all my key slides for my presentations and simply run them via the iPod Photo … my pictures, my music, & my presentations all running from this little device that fits in my pocket. If you can do “On-the-Go” photo “playlists” then I could quickly assemble presentations from a whole slew of key slides I use. Cool.

I also read you can sync slideshows to audio … I have been playing with the whole podcasting thing for a couple of weeks now … I’ve even gotten it figured out how to route voice, music, iChat, and really anything else into an iPod for recording … my colleague, Bart Pursel and I are going to start a (maybe) weekly podcast this week or next, so stay tuned for that. Anyway, back to the idea … if I can exert some influence via my role in the Apple Digital Campus, I am going to push for a simple authoring tool to allow everyday people to create podcasts that can be synced with images — think digital photos, presentation slides, maps, or anything else that is graphical in nature. These little iPod Podcast Presentations could be wrapped up and served via a RSS enclosure so they could be delivered to your audience as often as you want — all automatically in portable way. I’ve done research with HP about doing these types of things with the Pocket PC, but the results were less than perfect — the devices just couldn’t hold their own and had too many features to be easy to use.

It would be great to have all my students using an iPod Photo — like the Duke project on steroids — so I could build short interactive iPod Podcast Presentations to cover all sorts of supplemental material. Let alone the commercial applications — Museum tours, city tours, University tours, just in time training applications — imagine if you are a network system support person and can’t remember how to repair a bad switch and you could pull up, on the spot, and interactive guide on the iPod Photo! Lots of cool applications there!

All in all, I am more impressed with the device than I thought I would be — almost surely because I like just about anything Apple does, but this one has some real potential outside of its intended purpose. When you combine this with the One-Click Assessment concept I’ve blogged about before, the iPod is shaping up to be a hidden jewel for technology integration in the classroom … I still agree with Steve Jobs that a portable video device isn’t what people want, but I bet if they came out with one I would (a) buy one, and (b) think ways to use it beyond watching illegally downloaded movies from Bit Torrent — not that I do that. And yes, I did buy one yesterday — all 60 GB of it. When it gets here, I’ll be taking it apart to see how it can be used to have a larger impact.

New File Sharing Stuff

It is really starting to heat up in the legal file sharing space on University campuses … just read this article about the North Carolina University system pilot testing a new service that may allow students with access to several online music and movie stores. They say a “fee is likely,” but I doubt that will make students uptight given they are being told ahead of time. Especially if you consider that students will be able to “opt in” at $2-$5 a month … If you remember, we had a discussion like this earlier this semester and you all overwhelmingly wanted to know what the real (read hidden) costs of the Napster project are. This seems like a much better approach.

Now, when you are researching your solution, you know of a place that is really attacking this issue — the North Carolin University state system. I wonder if that could ever happen here in the Commonwealth of PA? I think I know the answer, but would be interested in hearing from you all.

Update 10.25.2004

On the other end of the spectrum … I just read an article at that speaks to the importance of all this … the article, “Song-Swap Networks Still Humming” claims that, ” Peer-to-peer traffic has not declined despite the music industry’s aggressive pursuit of illegal file sharers…” Wow, couldn’t figure that one out on our own, could we? They go on to link to some great resources you should take a look at and discuss how they measure activity and challenge earlier research that said P2P activity is on the decline. All in all, a good read … take a look and let us all know what you think!