Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thing#6 - Smashed Again!

Wow! Let me reiterate my earlier comments about image junkies: having spent nearly an hour playing around with the different applications, my theories were only confirmed! How much can you do with a simple photograph? Well, apparently you can do nearly anything your mind can conceptualize!

Some of the photography applications I had seen before on other sites, but the more elaborate smashups - like the map with the photographs that pop up to define and detail given locations - now that is just amazing! If you haven't checked out Mappr yet, do so immediately -- just make sure you have time to spend.

Smashups give life to our wildest ideas. It is as if someone said, "Wouldn't it be cool if there were a way to (fill in the blank)," and someone else said, "Hey, I think I can write code for that!"
What I really like is the way these applications bring together linear, analytical thinking and the need to create something of beauty. The left side of the brain and the right side of the brain work together instead of compete! Eureka!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thing #5 - My Friend Flikr

To the list of words I like, I should add "image junkie." I think the term really captures something essential about modern appetites and thereby explains the proliferation of sites such as Flikr, Shutterfly, Google Images, etc.

I spent a good while just clicking through the different tagged collections, guided only by piques of interest or bouts of curiosity. I found the picture collections themselves overwhelming in size (9, 625 images!), and without some greater purpose, I could see myself getting lost in the labyrinth of images and losing a good deal of time... My case in point: it is now 6:05 a.m., and I wonder where the last hour has gone!
I haven't properly attributed this photo, and given the thoughtfulness of the Common Rules of Use, I want to make sure that I do so. I shall have to go back and read up on how to actually embed the copyright information. I am always after my students to credit their sources, aren't I?

After selecting a picture but not really feeling like I appreciated the value of Flikr beyond satiating our need for visual stimulation, I went back to the Learn2Play page for further instruction and guidance, and from there I ended up viewing the library groups.

Intrigued though I was by the 365 Library Project (imprecise title, if any of you go looking for it) and considered it a good way to promote, advertise, record, and even validate what organizations are doing, I wondered what applications it might have for the simple English teacher. I can certainly see its value in gathering and storing images, but I wonder how it could be used as a learning tool for students. I'll have to read around and see how other Learn2Play users are thinking...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thing #3 - The Avatar and the Identity Crisis

Remember my previous comment that I often have just enough knowledge to be dangerous? True again in the case of the avatar. Up until yesterday morning, the breadth of my experience came solely from Dwight Schrute of "The Office." His avatar, capable of flying over a virtual world, left me with the impression that avatars interested only computer nerds and science-fiction/fantasy afficianados...

After spending an hour or so in the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday morning playing around with the Yahoo avatars, I can begin to see their charm. Creating a cyber persona (or better yet alter-ego or doppelganger!) is kind of a fun way to spend a few minutes. However, as is the case with time, minutes often turn into hours, and that brings me to the problem of the avatar.

Those of you who know me can probably anticipate my problem : the vanity and appearance-consciousness that plagues me in real life follows me into cyberspace! I am the person who, despite my 41 years, wastes precious minutes each morning in search of the perfect outfit. How can I outfit my avatar when I can't even dress myself? What if there is no hairstyle just like mine? Will I still like that red bolero jacket at the end of the day? And cufs on pants: will they make my avatar's legs look too short? I could spend hours clicking through the different outfit options and screens and labels, trying to decide how I want to be represented.

In retrospect, although I will create the avatar for the completion of the task, I will probably delete it at some point. I hope my voice creates a better image than any pixelated graphic ever could.

Thing 1 - Lifelong Learners

Ok, does anyone else remember Thing 1 and Thing 2 from the Dr. Seuss books? The Cat in the Hat, I believe? Creepy little things with a mop of red hair and red and white striped union suits? I'm really going to have to move beyond that association, leaving childhood fears and fodder for nightmares behind...

On to the posting - lifelong learning. This,my friends, is not hard for me: interest and enthusiasm are definite strengths. There is always something more I want to learn about language and linguistics, literature, writing, religion and Christianity, cooking, running, health and wellness.

The tension between having a solid foundation of knowledge in any one of those areas while still staying current keeps me thinking and reading, reading and thinking. Yet this same tension lends itself to my greatest weakness, as well: follow-through and completion of projects. Though I seek this "whole understanding" of whatever I am studying - past, present, and future contexts and applications- I often find myself overwhelmed by the scope of the undertaking, pressed by time constraints, and left with just enough knowledge to be classified as "dangerous."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What did you you do?

As preparation for a five-day intensive seminar in leadership, my brother was asked to tell fifteen stories from his life- stories that detailed a time when he had worked hard to achieve something that had affected a change and with which he was pleased.

In humility, he readily acknowledged that he had no awards - scholastic, athletic, etc. - that would have provided the easy answers. There was nothing on a grand scale to which he could point, but instead he was pressed to really think about the events of his life and his accomplishments.

He shared some of his stories with us, his family, but I'll leave them for his telling. He is the far-better storyteller in the family. But, it does make one think, doesn't it? Ask yourself the question - What work have I done that was hard, affected a change, and with which I was pleased?

I'm not sure myself, but I'll start the list with my friend Lucille - those of you who know her need no other details - and follow it with Christmas Cookie Santa Ornaments.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thoughts on Graduation

Well, graduation day is drawing near, and thankfully most of our seniors have emerged unscathed from what I affectionately ( or perhaps cruelly) refer to as "the stupid season."
If all goes well, each of our 500+ graduates will line up and cross the stage on Saturday morning.

Crossing the stage is really symbolic, isn't it? Leaving one stage of life behind for some new hope, new promise, new opportunity... That which is left behind is known, but what lies ahead is heavy with possibility.

A few words along those lines from colleague Dorothy Blodgett (who admittedly lifted the ideas from others): "Graduation is called a COMMENCEMENT. This means that it is the beginning of the rest of your life, not just the end of your public school education."

I like it, indeed!