Smileys Turn 25 — :(

March 14, 2007

You know that you’re getting up there in years when you can remember things like ASCII images, the first smileys, and chatting through CompuServe. I’m starting to sound just like my parents.

“In my day, sonny, we had to make do with a 300 baud modem and a Commodore 64. You kids just don’t know how good you have it.”

I’m really not much of an instant-messenger person, but I use it because the younger folks that I work with pretty much expect to be able to talk to me any time I’m at the keyboard. I can barely manage one session at a time, but they have several windows open and can somehow keep it all straight. (I’d end up gossiping to someone about themselves, I know it.)

But when I read that the Smiley has turned 25, I had to smile. Originally an “in” way to to show you were in the know the technology, it got old long ago. But most of the new IM clients allow you to pick from hundreds. One person that I “talk” with even uses animated GIF Smileys that roll, jump and generally make fools of themselves.

Do we need this to let people know what we’re thinking? How we’re feeling? I hear often from people that in our connected world, the other person can’t possibly know if we’re joking — or angry, or amused, or fearful. Without the personal interaction, they say, there’s just no way.

I suspect that James Michener just might be surprised at that. Or Ernest Hemingway. Or Shakespeare. (First artist to be known by one name, I think.) They managed to communicate a raft of emotions and feelings without a single parenthisis or colon.

Let’s see if we can go 25 years without them, just to see.



When I present to groups about the idea of extreme learning, I sometimes get told that it’s only 15-year-old boys who are hooked on games. Well, I just saw a wonderful video on GeekTV that shows just how yesterday that idea is.

The Girlz Of Destruction is a team of ten “grown-up” girls from around the world who compete in first-person-shooter video games. They’ve now found a physical home in Sweden, where they practice on their own LAN and are building a physical “community” as well. (Sweden has very big pipes, and this is a benefit.)

Because my wife is a network geek, and a grandmother, I knew all of this already. Geek girlz rock.


Running A Great Un-Conference

February 28, 2007

I’ve had years of experience working on teams developing traditional huge conferences.  Put 10,000 of your friends in a big hall, give them extremely granular detail on what YOU think they should learn, WHO they should learn it from, and tell them to the minute WHEN this should happen.  You may have noticed that most of those shows (think Comdex, for example) have died slow deaths.

 That’s not how adults want to learn.  Much like pre-schoolers, they want to decide what they want to play with.  And who they want to play with.  And which type of toys to use, how long to play with that toy, and who to share with.

 A new concept in conferences is a BarCamp where the participants decide the topics and agendas at the beginning of the first day.

 Darren Barefoot of Capulet Communications has a great list of 11 tips on running an un-conference.  He’s 50% of the the driving force behind Northern Voice, the Vancouver blogging conference that just completed it’s third yearly assembly.


Virtual Worlds
Catherine Winters (Second Life)
Jeff Henshaw
(X-Box Live)

  • Halo II has over 500 million hours of gaming on X-Box Live
  • People can rate you after playing with you online, and offensive actions can cause severe complaints
  • SL offers the ability to find those people you might have something in common with, and interact with them
  • You go to similar places to meet people — ifI’m intersted in bowling, I won’t go hang out in a coffee shop

The Machine Is Using Us

The Social Web for Karmic Good
Lynda Brown, William Azaroff, Alexandra Samuel and McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves

  • Social media to make change in the real world – how does it intersect with the idea of economic benefit?
  • It could be part of your competive edge — providing resources for the community, and you’d stand out in a crowd
  • Will this drive a more entreprenurial model for NPOs?
  • What is the social / environmental impact for our business — how can we partner?
  • Need to find out what these groups want — is it all financial?
  • If you’re going to be a world thinker, you’ve got to include the world — you need to communicate globally
  • Think about return on interaction, not investment
  • How do we know when we’re really inclusive? Is it when “we’re” inside the bubble?
  • Don’t hold on to perfection too closely — it’s an iterative process
  • It takes time for the concepts to trickle down — people in the arts are trying to understand

(You know you’re in trouble when someone in the front row is asleep.)

Legal Rights and Liabilities for Bloggers
Kevin O’Keefe

  • It’s not the damages, it’s the cost of defense — insurance will cover that
  • It’s not likely to get sued, and a simple retraction will usually solve the issue
  • Posts can be seen worldwide, and can have a wide effect
  • Be concerned about liabilities in other countries
  • If someone defames a third party in comments on your blog, you (as the blogger) are not liable
  • Lawyers get paid to be creative — try to find particular legislation or cases that may support them
  • Legislation protects personal info from improper disclosure
  • Trade secrets — value is secrecy. No value if disclosed
  • Blogging while working — loss of productivity? Or personal and professional growth
  • You have freedom of speech, but you don’t have freedom to be employed — employers can fire you at will
  • A blog is closer to a Rotary meeting than a web site — help your employer understanding what blogs are
  • Newspaper publishes letter in print, they can be responsible. If it was comment online attached to an article, no liability
  • Save a draft, and consider an angry price
  • Consider insurance
  • Consider resources like EFF
  • Resources on

Building Rich Communities with Wikis
Stewart Mader Using Wiki in Education

  • Ten case studies — what tool are they using, how has it changed their classes
  • Publishers weren’t excited about the book existing online as a wiki — but that wouldn’t allow interaction and sharing
  • Some chapters are open, and some are closed
  • It’s not proprietary, and there’s a loss of control for the publisher
  • We need to have a community around it for it to work
  • Atlassian Software Systems (software for the project)
  • You don’t have to put something down in print to show that you’ve “published”
  • Publishing online will become wildly richer with the application of community
  • You no longer just see the finished product, but the process that you went through to get there
  • Wikipedia — You Either Get It Or You Don’t
  • Peer review during writing, allows input from other authors
  • Readers can give feedback either in comments or in changes
  • People who might feel uneasy in a physical situation are more willing to speak online
  • There’s a radical rethinking on how you build a website, by using a wiki — must be very simple
  • Book chapters belong to authors under Creative Commons

John Willinsky Teaching English Language Arts

  • Raising a generation of “rip, burn, download” with no concept of Intellectual Property
  • We need to have educators think about it as “go public”
  • Water is Taught By Thirst (EmilyDickenson)
  • Using Adbusters in the schools
  • They bring materials into the classroom (through the Wiki) that would otherwise never apply — a sharing of IP
  • Wiki becomes a cumlative index — class ended in December, but the students are continuing to work and add value
  • Students continue discussion with external blogs
  • Using software we’ve designed for peer review in the intellectual community for “hot-not fashion
  • “I didn’t come here to learn wikis, I came here to learn to be an English teacher” (student)