lovehate podcast 212: The LHT Hits Lakehead

A long (no, I really mean it - LONG!) podcast which encompasses a talk that I gave on October 26th, 2010 at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. There were questions at the end which I did not gain permission to use others voices, so (instead of assuming) I just chose to edit the questions out and leave the answers. The questions were hard to hear anyway as they did not get up to microphones.

The first question [from a faculty member] concerned the threat to traditional and accepted written language when short-hand and catchy acronyms become part of the communication process.

The second question was a supplemental to the first around the the quality of in-depth thought and expression when communication gets reduced to short social interactions.

The third question was more about what Prezi was all about, but it served to launch me into a final statement on how I gave permission for the university to post the talk on their website and for anyone to remix or otherwise use the words to spread the message.

The link to the Prezi visuals I used during the talk can be found by clicking here.

lovehate: Canada's DMCA Bill C-32 and Education

EDIT: Found the following link through a US-funded shill group on Facebook. I suppose lining the pockets of Tony Clement, James Moore and Stephen Harper isn't enough.

Upon reading the a blog post by Michael Stewart at his site, I was struck by a level of presumption to speak for the benefits to educators and specifically teachers with the proposed legislation. The provisions concerning digital locks in the Bill will not only serve to stifle the classroom teacher, but education in general. His post is linked above, but I thought I'd post my response here, at my blog, in case his moderation of the comments are too exacting to include my thoughts:


Are you a teacher? I am. 

Countless teachers break digital locks every day in order to offer the best education for their students. At what point do you choose to weigh digital lock regulations over the professional judgement of a teacher to deliver curriculum as effectively as possible?

All of your so-called "benefits" listed above are precluded by digital lock language in Bill C-32. I have to break a digital to rip many CDs, to rip many DVDs, and even to create  workable codecs for the "mashups" in your celebrated YouTube clause.

Digital locks are NOT good for teachers. They are NOT good for students. They preclude a free and open learning environment.

I have no doubt that as a content producer for education, you may have been persuaded that your extensive list of C-32 benefits are true. I tell you, without malice for your educational efforts in content, which I'm sure are laudable, that Bill C-32 will not be beneficial for teachers or students. 

The Bill will force second, third, or fourth choices when finding the best example for a lesson. Such a decision to avoid a $5000 fine for breaking a digital lock, by being forced to choose inferior content, is a disservice to education.

I trust your business of creating digital content is under threat by users redistributing your work without permission. I understand your motivation and your goals. I have little problem with you speaking of the benefits of Bill C-32 for your sector of education, but I would caution you about presuming to speak for teachers.

As long as the digital lock rules remain in Bill C-32, it will be a threat to classroom teachers.

thinglets: Venus Flytrap Explains the Atom

WKRP was one of the greatest sitcoms of all-time. One of the best scenes in the series is Venus Flytrap (the overnight soul DJ) dropping some science on this gangbanger. Venus had befriended his mother, who was a cleaner at the radio station, and she was worried her son was dropping out of school.

The scene you don't see, after the end of the clip, is Venus breathing a huge sigh of relief after the kid leaves that he's still in one piece. Even better, Johnny Fever (the morning rock DJ) wakes up from a pile of boxes across the room complimenting Venus' teaching abilities.

Who says you needed Schoolhouse Rock to learn in the 70s? Venus was da man!

lovehate: Glitzy Corporate Portals - Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

Sitting in a workshop to expound upon the new rollout of a client platform that will become the "new face" of employee interaction over the next few years, I am, at once, grateful and wary. I'm grateful that corporations are realizing the importance of Web2.0 and social networking apps to engage employees and encourage use of technology. I am hesitant and wary at the proclivity of employees to mesh their social networking activities with their employee activities.

The ability of an employer to camoflague their portal software to make it more user-friendly may enhance ease of use and familiarity with the work systems, but when I social network at home my interactions are far more "loose" than they would be on a work system. The informality of Twitter with its tinyurls and profile updates via bookmarklet applets allow us to perform a free association of text/image/video sharing that maybe completely appropriate and expected with my friends, followers, and even the world in general, but this same content could violate Standard Operating Procedure or Corporate License Agreements and lead to a disciplining of employees who decide to treat work relationships and non-work relationships in the same way.

I get it, if companies can make your buy into their intranet as a social network, perhaps you will feel better about your work and work from home. And if you log in from home, you can be tracked. Your work from home becomes data, and the data leads to expectation.

Allow me to clarify some of the background bias I'm entering this discussion with. By profession I'm a high school teacher. The school IS a social network and yet teachers are asked to use technology to communicate with the same children they see every day, in meaningful ways, at home. Teachers are also being encouraged to communicate with parents in similar ways. Imagine, however, that the flippant insignificance that you can brush off with a smiley in an email to a friend is misconstrued with a student or parent. Imagine my new "social network" includes a top list of "friends" that include three of my students, but excludes all others. You are starting to see the dangers of adapting social networking to professional networking.

I am also a teacher in a province where the expectation of the profession includes being a teacher 24/7. There is no end of the day bell that stops my responsibility to not only protect children (which is admirable) but also includes not stretching any social or legal taboos. And I get that the responsibility of any adult should be to protect children, but we've had teachers disciplined for not stepping in to stop a fight between students off school grounds on a weekend, when the teacher DOES NOT EVEN KNOW the students involved.

In addition to the social network portal to the employer's intranet, an iPhone/Touch app has been developed. The intranet/work server becomes your hub and everything sent over it becomes archived and is potentially actionable. While certainly easier and more fun to use, the disguised corporate hub may be loved by some and adopted by several others but how often do the practices of one portal of platform travel with you to another. Can you jump from one browser tab (where you're using Facebook and posting with a little bit of unrestricted abandon) over to the company portal where some of the same friends you have just talked about getting together for a night of intoxication are crossing the lines between personal and professional with their posts?

Just because someone adds commenting, wikis, and ratings to excel spreadsheets, doesn't mean I should be sucked into bringing them home with me. Beware of Geeks bearing gifts.

social network at work