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HASTAC Digital Media + Learning Awards February 21, 2008

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A mixed reality game for high school students in Los Angeles and Cairo to learn about the real-time impact of air pollution in their neighborhoods. A web application that aggregates news and nonprofit needs, where every news story is linked to real-world actions that users can take. A mobile musical laboratory that allows students to explore new ways of making music with laptops and local area networks.

These are three of the 17 projects that will receive up to $238,000 in funding as part of the first ever Digital Media and Learning Competition funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and administered by HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory). Selected from a pool of 1010 applications, the winning projects are expected to produce promising innovations in the use of digital media for formal and informal learning. For details, go to http://www.dmlcompetition.net/

Year end cleaning… January 2, 2008

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If you have managed to fill up your hard drive and are reluctant to shell out $200-$300+ for a terrabyte of external space you should check into Disk Inventory X for the Macintosh platform.

Disk Inventory X

Disk Inventory X will scan your hard drive, categorize and quickly present your information using a tree map format with color-coded goodness. From there, you can sort out documents and file types for easy deletion or archival by right clicking on a selection and viewing it’s source destination folder. You might be surprised at what this thing digs up… might also be good for snooping out those hidden files that your roommate stuck on your computer when they borrowed it the last time.

SecondLife on NBC-17 August 2, 2007

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Peace Furst

Shirley Min (aka Shirls Beck, SecondLife) with NBC 17 met with a few of us in SecondLife last week to learn about what we’re doing in Second Life at NC State for instruction in distance education.

She has a piece on SL that aired on Wednesday, August 1st, at 7pm. In addition to the story that airs during the news, they also released a second story exclusively for the station’s website (www.nbc17.com) on in-world commerce in SL.

Read the related news article at NBC-17.

Be sure to check out the resources available at Delta/Distance Education & Learning Technology Applications.

BarCampRDU 2007 July 27, 2007

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August 4, 2007 – Red Hat Offices, 8:30 AM-6PM – Raleigh, NC.

Pre-party: Friday, August 3, 2007. Tyler’s Taproom, Durham, 7:30-9:30PM.
Location: Red Hat, Centennial Campus Offices, Raleigh, NC
Info: Breakfast, lunch, snacks and refreshments provided.
Hint: Doors will open at 8AM.
Arrive early to avoid the rush and guarantee that we have your T-shirt size.

A Bar Camp is an unconference where people interested in a wide range of technologies come together to teach and learn. Unfamiliar with the un-conference format? Here’s the idea in a nutshell. Rather than having scheduled speakers, everyone pitches sessions the morning of the BarCamp. Those sessions are put on a schedule, and lots of little groups form for intense group learning. Everyone is expected to teach, to talk, to participate. Yeah, its different from a regular conference – but it works!

More Information at http://barcamp.org/BarCampRDU/

Vuvox, Flash presentations on-the-fly July 12, 2007

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Vuvox 02VUVOX is a step up from YouTube but not quite the same this semi-Web2.0, meida-rich, application service provides an alternative viewing experience to the standard image/photo gallery or animation/video amalgamation.

It is in semi-Beta and endeavors to be an easy-to-use, online and mobile media-creation service that enables consumers to capture, produce and instantly share their life experiences. VUVOX currently pulls in personal media from an online site, PC or camera phone and automatically streamlines production using contextual story suggestions.

Taking canned Flash presentation applets and slideshow applets Vuvox can integrate your images into a media showcase – without the 100’s of lines of actionscript code or hours of tween-tweaking. In addition to saving, storing, tagging and distributing your work you get simple html snippets to put your creations into your website/blog or integrated into your Facebook page.

Vuvox 01

Blend your photos from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa or any RSS feed into rich interactive presentations, creating feeds of life experiences that you and your friends can share, directly from your Facebook profile. Connect to Facebook photo albums and present them as rich presentations. Syndicate ‘Live’ feeds of media you can share on your profile and across your network of friends. Customize your own styles and personalize in endless configurations.

Vuvox has some standard visual Web2.0 elements. There are a few presentation formats that look very similar to the applets used at Flash Airtight Interactive (Flash Postcard Viewer), Bill Harvey Music and BBDO. Vuvox has essentially taken some of the more innovative Flash photo viewers on the market, replicated them, tied them to a giant database, integrated it into a social network and made them easily accesible to everyone… Some examples beyond the classic pan left/pan right photo gallery include 3D space zooms/rotations, image tree w/random growth and polaroidlike embedded image/videos.

Seadragon and Photosynth July 11, 2007

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A brief (pseudo) example was shown during Apple Worldwide Developers Conference of this method of viewing large datasets of images and content. Apple’s demo used images of DVD movies on a large wall (Finder/Cover Flow). This takes it to a whole other level with an extremely fast and jaw-dropping example of multimedia innovation this time from Microsoft. This system takes advantage of the collective work of users on the web, uploaded content and tagged information. We developed a similar concept using Flash actionscript and flickr for use in an online portfolio/image gallery applications and 3D spaces; however, it was nowhere near the speed of Photosynth.

TED Seadragon

Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectations. Curious about that speck in corner? Dive into a freefall and watch as the speck becomes a gargoyle. With an unpleasant grimace. And an ant-sized chip in its lower left molar.

View the TED Photosynth Demo

Testdrive the Photosynth Technology
(Windows XP SP2 and Vista Only)

(Business Card) Flipbooks June 28, 2007

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Business Card Composer

While putting together a workshop for the World Children’s Festival we were looking for a good way to print out animated flipbooks. Must to our dismay we could only find a few solutions that would fit our needs.

There are a couple that work on the PC side, taking in bmps/jpgs or turning .avi files into flipbooks. Check out Flipbook Printer (via LifeHacker) for a good example.However we were looking for one that would work on the Mac platform… Moxie puts out a bit of software called FlipBook for Macintosh that could have fit however we didn’t want to work with a classic install of Mac OS 9.

We found a great solution in Business Card Composer… BusinessCard Composer allows any designer to create their own business cards. It taps into a folder of images, offers users a trial run (we wanted guests at the Festival to be able to easily replicate this at home) and prints to a variety of formats.iPhoto

Business Card Composer has a great feature that allows you to sync with an album in iPhoto and it will bring in all the photos in alphabetical/numerical order onto your printed sheet.

Just drag any image onto the business card stage and size it to the area you want. Make sure you have selected the image and choose the Image tab in the Inspector Palette (Under the Window dropdown, command+shift+i). At the very bottom of the Image Pallete is a checkbox “Merge Image”. Select this option and then select iPhoto… this should bring up iPhoto and allow you to choose which album you want to use. Just make sure you have a bunch of your images in that album. For our flipbooks we had our snapshot images from our animations numbered in sequential order and imported into the album in iPhoto. In Business Card Composer we put in a text field in the lower right that did an automatic count so if we were to mix up our Flipbook while printing and cutting it would be easy to put them back in order again.

iPhoto Merge

Check out our Flipbook example we printed up for people to look at the Festival – Sheep Flipbook, Flying Pigs Flipbook.

In short time, this software can do double duty for any freelance designer – business cards and Flipbooks. It shouldn’t be too difficult to queue up your favorite photos, output a stream of JPGs from a Quicktime animated short and create your own limited edition run of Flipbooks. If you want, you can even make your own set of Flickr MOO cards at home for your friends and family.

Other resources for Flipbooks:

If you can’t beat them… June 18, 2007

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Flip VideoIf you can’t beat the hacking community, join them… so Flip Video is proceeding with their marketing program driven primarily with a contest featured on Facebook.

Enter for your own chance for a free Flip Video Camera here.

Flip Video is essentially the “same” CVS camera that has been hacked back and forth by the hacking community since it was released… I guess Pure Digital decided to go ahead and build out this USB connected device instead of, try as they might, keeping it locked down. They’ve managed to keep the original network of DVD vendors with the pharmacy chains, so that doesn’t dilute the original intent or eat away at that particular aspect of the business model and/or value chain… although most people with newer machines will just burn a copy on their local machines. This option would allow you to stop by any pharmacy location and grab a quick backup DVD copy to send out to friends and family.

In addition include a fancy USB connector and bundled a bunch of software… no hacking required. To top it off they give you direct access to dump content directly to (insert favorite brand of online video website). It seems like a pretty decent way to grab video without having to worry about a costly, high-end camera getting lost, dropped or stolen… now someone just needs to hack it to handle a larger memory capacity beyond the 512mb or 1 GB!

 Here’s a pretty decent review of the whole package, includes a sample AVI file for previewing…

77 Million Paintings, by Brian Eno May 30, 2007

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Conceived by Brian Eno as “visual music”, his latest artwork, 77 Million Paintings is a constantly evolving sound and imagescape which continues his exploration into light as an artist’s medium and the aesthetic possibilities of “generative software”. [ Think Flash or Processing or Max with a lot of math thrown in… ]

77 Million Paintings

The installation is mesmerizing; comprised of flat panel monitors, running multiple instances of 77 Million Paintings, the kaleidoscopic displays and slow, rhythmic evolution of the artwork create a singular experience for the viewer. He first created 77 Million Paintings to bring art to the increasing number of flat panel TV’s and monitors that often sit darkened and underutilized. The installation at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will be the North American Premiere of his work.

One exhibit now, Saturday, June 30th from 8pm till 2 am and Sunday, July 1st, from 7pm till midnight at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

77 Million Paintings (Official site)
[ via LongNow.org ]

Meet & Greet in 3-D: Virtual Onboarding at IBM April 17, 2007

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IBM Second LifeTalent Management has a quick interview with Chuck Hamilton, director of IBM’s Center for Advanced Learning. IBM is taking the company virtual with thousands of employees using Second Life and Plane Shift to support new employee orientation and training. It is about time what we begin to see some innovative pilot programs being developed and used in a true business environment. Not bad for a technology that was once only thought of as a way to reduce travel expenditures.

A lot of technology has thwarted their efforts to be more creative, and what I’m seeing in this space is that we’re all of the sudden opening up an environment or a platform that says, “You be the creator. You open that up.” As a matter of fact, very little of content that is created in the Second Life environment is created by the owners of the tool themselves — all of that content and the world you see there is created by the people who participate in it. This is a very creative medium right from the get-go. You’re seeing a merging of skills that weren’t naturally merged before. This environment is very artistic, so you’ve got this medium merging art with technology and social with environmental.

[ Read More at Talent Management ]