Monthly Archives: June 2009

Quotes for the week ending 27 June, 2009

“Michael Jackson is dead” seems like a very insensitive opening line. Should this be changed?”

Wikipedia editors debating the news of Michael Jackson’s death. News of his passing broke on Wikipedia long before it did on CNN or BBC.

“My thoughts are with his family at this time. But the instant Twitter put out in my name last night was not me.”

British foreign secretary, David Miliband, commenting about a fake tweets in his name that said “Never has one soared so high and yet dived so low. RIP Michael.” The Foreign Office has categorically stated that Miliband does not have a Twitter account. The Foreign Office, however, does. Huge difference.

“Way to go Foreign Office, using this tragic loss to promote your own Twitter account!”

Guardian, commenting on the denial made on the foreign secretary’s blog. To which one commenter had this to say:

“Could you maybe do something better with your day such as run the country competently instead of worrying about Michael Jackson?”

S. Miller, a visitor to Miliband’s blog

“The bottom line is that it was a serious misjudgement. They have used a political and human situation that many people are concerned about, to market their products and services, and that is not right.”

Alex Burmaster, communications director Nielsen Online, commenting on Habitat, a furniture store in England, that used unrelated Twitter hashtags to promote itself.

“If you shine the light on other people in social media, eventually that light will shine on you.”

Jason Baer, on things he has learned since he started his blog one year ago.

“Learning is messy, but digital text changes things. Students will edit more, link more, seek more sources, be reflective”

Presentation by David Truss, on how the role of the teacher has changed in a 2.0 world.

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Posted by on June 27, 2009 in Communications



Teaching in a 2.0 world

I meet a lot of lecturers and researchers in my job, because they are all using advanced modeling and scientific tools to engage students and look at knowledge in new dimensions.

I also meet a lot of high school teachers who are family friends and professional colleagues. It’s impossible to miss the big shift happening in the classroom, no different from the big changes going on in PR agencies or marketing departments. At the risk of over-simplifying things,what’s going on is the decentralization of knowledge, and the loss of control. In a good way, that is, when it refers to the classroom.

This presentation best illustrates what I am talking about. Via Devon Adams, who’s Teacher 2.0 approach best illustrates this shift.

If you can’t see the video above, click here



Bad week for blogger & radio hosts, mixed week for txt & tweets

Talk about mixed signals!

I came across two SMS stories that left me feeling that we are still getting our minds and lives around the potential of one-to-one communication and what social media has delivered.


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Seven building blocks for a good story

We all tell stories, in some shape or form. They could start off with something like “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” (Anna Karenina). For the rest of us –even as we question the established technique— there are several ways to go after and craft a good story.

Tom Hallman, in last month’s Quill the magazine of the Society for Professional Journalists wrote a great piece on what separates a good story from a great one.

  1. Distance – a story is more than a bunch of quotes, he says.
  2. Stories are about things People, not ‘things’ give people a chance to identify with the story
  3. Direction – take the reader someplace
  4. Pacing – Vary lengths of paragraphs
  5. Theme – the best stories have an universal theme
  6. Voice – this speaks for itself. You need to find your voice
  7. Strong middle and powerful endings  – pay attention to the entire story, not just the beginning

From: Building Blocks to a good story.

Hallman is a Pulitzer prize winner and features writer for the Oregonian.

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Posted by on June 24, 2009 in Best Practices, Journalism


Wolfram Alpha: Like you need one more search engine!

I came across a really neat search engine, with an intriguing name of Wolfram|Alpha. It’s been just a month in business!

No, it’s not yet another search engine! (Especially after the hoopla over Bing – basically a re-branding of Microsoft’s un-sexy Live Search.) It’s a darn smart search tool for data-driven questions. The Wolfram Alpha folk call a a knowledge engine.

Why is this geeky search engine so useful?

You can get factual, unbiased answers to queries that involve a range of things from science and demographics to mathematics. It takes some learning how to use the query. You can use it for a veriety of reasons when you are working on reports, proposals, stories, or you just need to feed your brain!

For example:

  • You need to convert  20 million Italian Lira to US dollars. You simply type in 20,000,000 Lira (or Rupees or Yen) and hit the = sign. It converts it 5 currencies. But that’s not all. You can search a date in history and see data about that particular day.
  • If you want to compare the populations of Arizona, Texas and Nevada, you need to type ‘population Arizona Texas Nevada” and hit the equal sign —to get this result.
  • Get more detail demographic data. Let’s say you’re doing a story about people killed in the latest mass protests in Tehran. Type out “life expectancy of females in Iran” and you get some detailed numbers. (In Google, you’d have to sift through 54,000 results)
  • Check up on a web site by typing in the url. Say I wanted to chec Wikipedia. Using gave me this with data about page views, visitors (120 million a day!) etc
  • Or simple things. You’d be surprised what you can find out about “one cup of water
  • Need to find something about a person in history on a specific date – say the Prime Minister of England in 1946

Wolfram|Alpha folk call it “an ambitious, long-term intellectual endeavor”  and is never intended to replace Google. But I find it fascinating how a more intelligent algorithm lets us look at information in smarter, specific ways.

Give it a try!



Quotes for the week ending 20 June 2009

“Students sell their internet access to their neighbors and they also do the same in public offices …”

A BBC report on blogging in China, Vietnam and Cuba, and how Cubans find creative workarounds to poor internet access.

“I wouldn’t know a twitter from a tweeter but apparently it is very important”

Ann Curry, quoting HClinton re: #iranelection

“”In California we vote on everything including whether we have to keep voting on everything.”

Joel Stein, TIME magazine

“We do a whole lot of tweeting during the Chapter 11 … we’re their ears.”

Chris Barger, Dir. of Communications for GM, in The LA Times

“Why hang out with celebrities when I can spend time with people who make me one?”

President Obama making fun at teh Broadcasters’ annual dinner.


Video of Wiki-Wire event with P.J. Haarsma

Follow up to my post a few weeks back on live blogging an event that involved a Wiki, a science fiction writer, an online game at my work place, the Decision Theater.

The Department of English has a video of the presentation and unveiling of the student-created wiki.

Wiki-Wire: YA Lit Meets the Future from ASU English –on Vimeo.