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Showing posts from 2014

Just Google It!

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The other day I was cutting the lawn and my mower cut out.  The previous time I cut the lawn, it cut out about 6 times ‘for no reason’.  This time, it would not start again.  I asked one of my sons about it – he is a 3rd year automotive apprentice – and he said he’d check it out.  He took a look, tried a few things then disappeared.  About 10 minutes later, I hear the mower start up.  I asked him what he did and he said he ‘Googled It’.  He found an article or video that matched the symptoms of our mowers problem and tried the suggested solution.  It worked!  The gas tank cap wasn’t letting air in so he loosened it off a bit so it could breath then duct taped it for now, so it would work.We have been interviewing people for some new technical support jobs we created.  One of the questions we ask candidates is to describe how they keep their knowledge and skills current or in other words, how do they learn in this fast paced world of technology.  More often than not, the top answer inv…

The Paradox of Technology

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I suspect that we all know of people who long for the simpler days of old.  Perhaps you are old enough to remember when a family had one telephone available to them, it was plugged into the wall, had a long curly cord, and you might have used it once or twice a day.  Now we have a phone, actually a super computer, in our pockets with us 24x7 and we interact with others possibly 100’s, for some maybe 1000’s, of times a day.  We try to keep up with the flows of our Facebook community, Twitter streams, Text messages, phone calls, Face Times, email messages, SnapChats, Pins, Skypes, etc.  It is overwhelming isn’t it.  Oh for the good ol’ days of the one phone, you know the one where you ‘dialed’ the number and hated numbers with “0” in them.  You know, when you had to wait when the party line was on a call.  That may be a simplistic example but with all our technological advancements there are benefits and consequences.  For those of us on this planet who have been fortunate to enjoy thes…

Should It Be Created?

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I recently watched the movie Transcendence (see trailer).  Having read Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near a few years ago, I thought it would be cool to see a movie roughly based on similar ideas.  Note… I found the book to be interesting but disturbing, likewise the movie.  There is an internal drive within some people to pursue inventions for the sake of the science.  Unfortunately, there are consequences to new inventions that go along with the perceived benefits.  As new seemingly miraculous inventions are conceived, we should be more vigilante about asking “why”.  Why should we even try to upload a human brain or any brain, into a machine?  Why should we try to ‘live eternally’ within a machine as a digital existence?  There are scientists like Ray Kurzweil who believe it is possible and that the capability should be invented.  But should it?  Okay, back to earth… I personally don’t believe it is possible to transcend our human existence into a digital one nor do I think that…

Reading With the Machine

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It is an interesting debate.  Especially when it is with a librarian who is passionate about books, the conventional paper-based type.  I’ve listened to (and read about, on a machine) the arguments for paper-based books, the cognitive advantages, the feel, the humanity of it.  I think this is a case of hanging onto a long tradition and it repeats itself over and over through history.  Even when the Gutenberg press was invented, the religious leaders of the day tried to paint it as a tool of the devil.  I suspect that was to protect the vocation of the tireless monks copying texts and to protect the political leaders power and control over the spread of knowledge.  Or, how about when the oral tradition was shifting to a written one, albeit using stone tablets.  There were fears that peoples ability to remember would be lost.  With any change in tools, there is a sense of loss and a sense of wonder and gain.  Reading is one of those practices that is under siege from the perspective of …

The Rise of the Digital Silhouette

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How much do you think about the traces of you, that you leave behind as you engage more and more with technology?  There has been a not so subtle intrusion into what used to be our private lives where a lot of what we do and say is now recorded.  Notice how apps on our smartphones want access to our photos, contacts, and location.  Sure you can deny such access but then the value of the apps diminishes significantly, often to zero.  Do you remember which apps you have given the go ahead to track your movements, your buying habits, your interactions with others, etc.?  We use our digital tools in very trusting ways not really thinking about what the companies behind them might do with all that data about us.  Google makes something like 97% ($32M) of their revenue from advertising – actually from us.  Our use of their tools generates tremendously valuable data about human behavior including purchasing habits.  They really should be paying us for our use of their tools!  Google probably…

Transformative Change

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Many of us resist change.  We like our comfort zone.  However we are changing constantly as that is just part of living.  One of my co-speakers at the symposium Moving Educational Technology from Enhancement to Transformation held yesterday said that as soon as we speak, we change.  How true.  Change is inevitable so why do so many of us try to resist it?At the symposium I spoke about Transformative Change.  We crowd sourced ideas from the participants on what they can stop, continue, and start doing to increase success in shifting to majority adoption of innovations in their classroom, school, or district.  You can view the audience contribution here along with my co-speakers audience feedback on What Transformation and Ecologies of Learning.Organizations and individuals have a choice to embrace change, grow, and become more than they are today.  Alternatively, they can fear and resist change and ultimately become less useful and potentially irrelevant.  Embracing change can be invig…

Excited but Worried

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This morning after breakfast, my wife and I were sitting chatting in our family room enjoying a French dark roast cup of amazing coffee when my iPhone, sitting on the coffee table, lights up.  It signaled that a new email had arrived.  This reminded me of how amazing our technology has become and how we essentially take it for granted.  How did the email get to my iPhone?  Really.  Can you explain it in full detail?  We can talk about how it came from the ‘cloud’ or a server at my work.  But how did it find my iPhone?  It had to find my my city, street, and house.  We use Shaw for wireless and Internet, so somehow (I know, IP routing, electrical signals, etc., but) it got from my worksite to Shaw then through kilometers of cables, dozens of complex machines, and eventually to our house.  It then ‘jumped’ into the air and enveloped the room.  Somehow the iPhone ‘sucked’ the email bits from the radio waves (how did it know to do this?) out of the air and converted it into an English rea…

Focus

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A recent post, The Secret to Focusing on What Matters by Dan Rockwell talks about choosing One Word to focus your attention.  His statement that “[i]nsignificant leaders focus on trivialities” struck home with me.  I find myself so scattered most of the time trying to take on too much too fast for too many people, often things that really aren’t that important in the big picture.  I know that I need to pick a few priorities and do them well.  In practice that seems to be more ideal than real.  In my work, and I see it for so many of my colleagues and staff, there are simply too many seemingly important things to do.  It is a real challenge to step back and decide what not to do.  So often we, myself included, just work harder and forget to work smarter.  Back to Dan Rockwell’s post… If I were to choose ‘one word’, I think it would be ‘focus’.  I’m not saying I’m willing to commit to this yet (procrastinating), but I’m thinking about it.I need to ask myself, if ‘focus’ is to be my ‘one…