I didn’t attend the conference “Campus Technology 2007: Roadmap to
IT Leadership” but I was able to take a look at the proceedings online.
There are also audio
recordings provided by MediaSite from some of this more popular sessions.
With the start of the new school
year only a few weeks old, I have already attended 5 meetings where the term “roadmap” came up in reference
to having some guide to where a group was headed this year.
Some quick Googling found 1,950,000 results for
roadmap education and 7,020,000 for roadmap technology so there’s lots of roadmapping going on. There are
companies that seem to focus on roadmaps of one sort or another. One such company
gives this definition:
In effect, a technology roadmap identifies alternate technology
“roads” for meeting certain performance objectives. A single path may be selected and a plan developed. If
there is high uncertainty or risk, then multiple paths may be selected and pursued concurrently. The roadmap identifies
precise objectives and helps focus resources on the critical technologies that are needed to meet those objectives.
There are companies that do product roadmaps too. Most don’t even look like maps to
All of this has me thinking about why we crave these roadmaps in education.
I love maps. I actually
collect them. I’m on vacation this week and tomorrow I’ll head home with my roadmaps beside me. I know where I’m
headed, but I like having the maps. They are reassuring. But, of course, they are flawed because they are out of date
when they are printed.
I could have
gotten my Prius with navigation, but I didn’t. I’m not sure exactly why. Well, there is the cost, but I think it also
has something to do with my love of maps. GPS is the enemy of maps, right?
Google maps are cool, but not so up to
date. (The high school I work with was under construction in 2005, opened in 2006 and still appears as a vacant lot on
Google maps despite the 2007 copyright on the page.)
I think what educators, especially administrators, really
want is not a roadmap. They want GPS. They want an ever-evolving, always-updating guide to where to go. They want the
roadside attractions to change and the newest and best routes to appear. Alternate routes like social networking &
podcasts look good, but they run off the edge of the map. Where will they lead?
It’s possible that we are better
off in education with roadmaps. A big picture, an overview. Keep your highlighters nearby to mark the roads and
possibilities. When the new edition comes out, hang on to the old one. It’s a nice record of where you were and how you
Now we know that YouTube has really arrived. Pitzer College in California is offering a course about
I know your first reaction may be that here’s another gut course, but you may want to dig a bit deeper
before you dismiss the idea.
Alexandra Juhasz is a media studies professor who created the course called
“Learning from YouTube.” Her students control most of the class content and YouTube viewers from anywhere
can comment. Lessons are posted and students are encouraged to post their own videos.
Juhasz wants students to consider issues such as
“corporate-sponsored democratic media expression” and Internet culture.
Dr. Juhasz teaches
video production and film and video theory. She produced the feature film, The Watermelon Woman, as well
as nearly fifteen educational documentaries on feminist issues like teenage sexuality, AIDS, and sex education.Her
first book, AIDS TV: Identity, Community and Alternative Video is about the
contributions of low-end video production to political organizing and individual and community growth.
I’m at the beach this week. I’ll have to
do some Moodling for my course, check email a few times and maybe post here a bit, but I’m pretty much
If the local coffee shop can give me free Internet, why are there still major hotels that can’t throw in
free access with my room charge? So when I can grab someone’s open wireless from my balcony chair (like now) or I’m at
the cafe with my laptop, I’ll connect.
Almost midnight and the moon looks very nice reflecting off the Atlantic
here on the Virginia coast. One could almost forget technology and education. Let me give it a little try.
When I was looking in my Norton Anthology for another poem, I came across William Blake’s poem “The Tyger.”
Almost everyone who has sat through a few years of English literature classes in high school or college has come across this poem.
Being that I do not have a good memory for poems, it surprised me that I could remember portions of this poem. I’m thinking that I was once assigned it for memorization.
When I reread it, I also remembered what I had liked about the poem when I first read it. It was filled with questions and, more importantly, the poet didn’t seem to be able to answer them any more than I could answer them.
You could write a poem that asked questions but didn’t come up with the answers? This was something new to me.
Some teacher must have taken me through the poem and discussed how the questions are in themselves a kind of answer to the main question of “What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry.”
I doubt that God came up in my public school discussions, but then again it was a very different time - a time when having a Christmas tree in the classroom was considered the norm. In fact, would my teachers have suggested that some other method had produced the fearful symmetry?
For our September writing prompt at Poets Online, we are taking a shot at a poem that is almost all questions, but in the asking presents a kind of answer.
William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was an English poet, visionary, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake’s work is today considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and the visual arts.
While his visual art and written poetry are usually considered separately, Blake often employed them in concert to create a product that at once defied and superseded convention. Though he believed himself able to converse aloud with Old Testament prophets, and despite his work in illustrating the Book of Job, Blake’s affection for the Bible was accompanied by hostility for the established Church, his beliefs modified by a fascination with Mysticism and the unfolding of the Romantic Movement around him. excerpted from the Wikipedia entry on Blake
If you’re interested in more about Blake’s poems or artwork, try the
If Alan Turing was a kid in an American
school today, he would definitely be classified in some way. Still, he was a genius who is generally credited with
developing some of the basic concepts underlying the computer.
Kurt Gödel was a fearful, reclusive kid who
became a paranoid adult. Where were the special services people and child study teams for these two? Gödel was a
I first heard author Janna Levin interviewed on NPR. She is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of
Columbia University. Her scientific research concerns the early universe, chaos,
and Black Holes. In this book, she puts these two geniuses together in a way that stays mostly in non-fiction but
allows some slight fictionalization of their lives.
"A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines bridges fiction and nonfiction to
tell a strange if true story of coded secrets, psychotic delusions, mathematical
truth, and lies. This story of greatness and weakness, of genius and
hallucination, is based on the parallel lives of Kurt Gödel, the greatest
logician of many centuries, and Alan Turing, the extraordinary code breaker
during World War II. Taken together their work proved that truth is elusive,
that knowledge has limits, that machines could think. Yet Gödel believed in
transmigration of the soul and Turing concluded that we were soulless biological
machines. And their suicides were complementary: Gödel, delusional and paranoid,
starved himself to death fearing his food was poisoned. Turing ate a poison
apple, driven to suicide after being arrested and convicted of homosexual
activities. These two men were devoted to truth of the highest abstract nature,
yet were unable to grasp the mundane truths of their own lives. Through it all,
the narrator wonders, along with these two odd heroes, if any of us can ever
really grasp the truth.”
In an online interview, Levin says about Turing and
Alan Turing is most famous for breaking the German Enigma code during World War
II. But among scientists, he’s best known for pure mathematical discoveries
inspired by Kurt Gödel’s greatest work.
Taken together their work proves that
there are fundamental limits to what we can ever know. In the wake of this
massive blow to knowledge, Turing invents the computer.
So here they converge on
some phenomenal truth about numbers but then diverge completely in their
worldviews - Turing becomes an atheist who believes we are no more than soulless
biological machines and Gödel believes in reincarnation of a soul. And then
their suicides are bleakly complementary - Gödel starves himself to death in a
paranoid delusion that his food is poisoned and Turing intentionally eats
poisoned food, an apple, straight out of Snow White. I said you can’t make this
It’s an interesting tale. I don’t think the author is trying to equate madness with
genius, though you could reach that conclusion. Something the book does use is the Liar’s Paradox. The liar says,
“This is a lie.” That self-referential statement actually influenced Gödel’s and Turing’s mathematical
discoveries. Levin says that she “needed to be in the book to tell the lies that lead to the true story, the
fiction that’s fact.”
Why does Turing get top billing in the title? Is it that he built upon Gödel’s work?
Is it b ecause we are so consumed by computers now? The Turing machines of the book’s titles, though often called the
earliest computers, would disappoint most students as computers.
"We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no
contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory." - Henri Cartier-Bresson
If you haven’t already guessed, I am a
believer in serendipity and play (and constructivism if you want to take it into my education world).
summer I was able to get togther with a childhood friend that I had not seen in 25 years. Jim Shive was a neighborhood
friend that I grew up with and after I lost contact with him, he became a professional photographer.
my friends from the adult portion of my life, Steve Smith, was teaching at Christian Brothers Academy in NJ and ended up having Jim’s son as
one of his literature students.
Steve shared with me some short stories written by Ian that were excellent and I
would get updates about him at college in Montana, working in films etc. And Ian Shive has become a photographer too.
So when I was
updating links and ideas for my visual design course this semester about photography, I looked at Ian’s web site and
portfolio and bookmarking his site led me into other sites online that allow you to play with photography and images.
There are sites that
allow you to make a mosaic from a
photoset, favorites, tags, or individual digital photographs or images. You can build images based on themes,
colors, shapes or whatever. That site also works with photos hosted on Flickr or anywhere else. How about a photo wall (a kind of
experimental photo viewing interface). You choose the photos and they appear a few at a time creating an ever-changing
There’s a very good site full of image tools (toys?) that can be used with students. I like playing
with Interact 10 Ways from
Getty Images. One of those ways of
seeing leads you to color and
truth. I guess my favorite to demo is one that I think of as an infinite zoom - a section that allows you to zoom
in on a very small section of a photo and see that it is “built” of many other images and you can see many
ways to explore - by a color that you click or choosing an image based on subject etc.
Then I was reading a piece
called "Lighting the Way" by
Alexei Bien that asks what would children who are blind show us about the world if they learned to take pictures?
This question came to photographer Tony Deifell in 1991. He had recently graduated UNC-Chapel Hill, where he
studied anthropology and he ended up setting up an experimental photography program, called Sound Shadows, at Governor Morehead School for the Blind,
in Raleigh, North Carolina. From that program came a book, Seeing Beyond Sight.
seeing is a good question to ask our students in a variety of ways. I can think of many classroom moments I’ve had
that might fall in this lesson plan folder. My film students were always asked to watch some film or video with the
sound turned off. It changes how you see. Even a Tv commercial or movie trailer without the soundtrack gets a different
I used to teach animal tracking classes and they were a great way to do heightened seeing (adults and kids
were on the same level in those classes - actually, the kids were proably better)
Or turn all that over and focus
on teaching the lost skill of listening. Learning Through Listening is a good site to start you teaching
listening with downloadable lesson plans, strategies, activities and case stories. Teaching tools include lesson plans
using poetry, music, stories, and case stories of teachers meeting the diverse needs of their students. Learning
Through Listening is the web site of the company Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. Are you starting to get ideas
about inclusion and individualized planning?
Do we need to start teaching digital citizenship? It’s a question I found being discussed at Classroom 2.0 - a
relatively new social networking site for people interested in the application of Web 2.0 and collaborative
technologies in learning.
There’s no shortage of social net or Web 2.0 sites out there, but you won’t find that
many that are devoted to educators.
The site is very beginner-friendly with pages on how to use forums,
start new topics etc. and the introductory forum message. There’s also
a wiki being built there, videos, groups and
And as with any good social net site, you should find good links and other sites by navigating through th
sections. I found a UbD wiki (UbD is the acronym given to Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s approach to curriculum design
as outlined in Understanding by Design)
authorPOINT Lite is a free PowerPoint to Flash converter that quickly and easily converts
PowerPoint presentations to Flash.
It converts PowerPoint (.ppt and .pps) to Flash (.swf) and the Flash
presentation (look at a sample) plays like your original (with effects, sound, animation, and rehearse
timings etc.) with the advantages of Flash files (reduced file size, secure content, and easy distribution on the
authorPOINT Lite works as a desktop application not an online app. Other sites like Slideshare, allow you to
post your presentation online & you can do that here using their ‘Upload to authorSTREAM’ tool, but many times you
simply want the conversion to use the presentation on your own web page or withing a CMS or on a CD.
There are a number of public domain
literary sites on the Net. Project Gutenberg is probably the best known and oldest digital library.
Classic Reader is a site that
offers free classic books, plays, and short stories by authors such as Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare and others. You can
read, search and also something that may make it ttractive tou you as a teacher or student, add your own annotations to
any of the pieces.
A selection of author biographies and portraits are also made available. All functions of
this site are free to use although some functions require free registration. The collection currently contains 3331 works of literature by 331
authors with new works always being added.
creative teacher could certainly design some good comparative readings using the site - maybe one of those Moby Dick
chapters paired with one from Conrad’s Lord Jim or even a webquest that has them
time traveling through American literature.
Take Google Earth and add a Google Book Search
layer and you can do some interesting things with teaching literature.
Google Books has a “places mentioned in
this book” feature that uses a map to show you locations referenced in a particular book. Now, with the new Book
Search layer, you can flip that over and use a map of a place and find the books from there.
Locations in Girl
With Curious Hair by David Foster WallaceIf you’re anything like me, you like flying around the
world in Google Earth (same thing in Second Life - I read a lot of Superman comic books as a kid) and now you can
browse books as you travel from place to place. For example, check the
books out in Canterbury, UK. Since all the books in this
layer are public domain, if you find something you like, you can browse the full text online or the PDF to read the
book at your own pace.
I really used to enjoyed having my middle school students create settings maps from novels we read. Mapping
books with real locations is good, but books with imaginary settings are a lot more fun and far more challenging. I
think it not only makes the settings real for students, but it’s also a tremendous problem-solving exercise.
Book Search layer isn’t limited to fiction. I walked through the map for The 9/11 Commission Report recently which contains
places in New York City and around the world.
We launched a new podcast series in
iTunes U this week called “The End of the Essay.” It’s a project that I’ve been working on with Dr. Norbert Elliot, Professor of English at
NJIT. Norbert had given a presentation last spring for the NJEDge.Net DLAAB group called “The End of the Essay:
Writing in a Mediated Environment.” I thought it was something he should develop into a book, but he was already
involved in another book project.
Then I did an interview with him about some of the ideas in that presentation
and we posted it on our NJIT website, and that got some attention. So, I suggested he turn the topic into a podcast
series. Norbert has been one of our earliest podcasting professors. His two world literature courses are offered in our
iTunes U “Open Courseware” area and are two of our most downloaded podcasts.
We decided that we’d like
this series to be more than just a podcast though. Something I haven’t seen in iTunes U so far are podcasts (courses or
otherwise) that are interactive. You download the podcast, listen and then… what?
So this is an interactive
podcast series and our purpose is to invite discussion on
the strengths and limits of education’s dominant reporting structure - the essay - and we hope that this series will
become interactive with listeners
joining the conversation online.
There’s precedent for the series title. We already have The End of Historyand
of Science, for example. If you’ve read either of those books, you probably concluded that neither author
really believed their subject was ending - but the titles are thought-provoking (and were probably chosen by their
The book I might compare this series to is Sven Birkert’s The Gutenberg Elegies: The
Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age which was published in 1994. It was an interesting book when I read it
back then, but I wasn’t convinced by his argument that there was a direct correlation between the increasing use of the
internet and declining literacy. The book didn’t have much evidence and seemed to have been inspired by his classroom
experiences. His literature students couldn’t seem to get into the readings (I think it was Henry James) and he blamed
technology. (I had trouble with Henry James as an undergrad myself and I had no Internet & little technology to
Professor Elliot isn’t blaming technology for killing the essay. In fact, I think since he is a
very active user of technology in his teaching, he sees it as a way to expand our definition of “the
For example, he would probably be very interested in an experimental
composition course at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign called “Writing With Video” that is
pulling in students from art and design, cinema studies, computer science, creative writing, media studies and
For our new series, we have created a wiki where listeners can join a conversation about the end of the
essay. Dr. Elliot also has used the series to launch his new Research Network Forum blog.
This week we launched the series
with that original interview that I did with Norbert, a brief video conversation (the Prologue) we had about some ideas
that led us to this series, and his first presentation titled “Act 1: Allegory (Five Easy Pieces)” and we
plan to upload a new “act” each week for the next four weeks. After that? We are waiting to see where our
listeners lead us.
Norbert asks you on the wiki this week, “What would happen if the essay were
abolished in education?”
Is it incorrect to identify the essay as the dominant reporting structure
in American education? We can certainly look to the Writing Section of SAT Reasoning Test for evidence that the essay
form remains a dominant reporting structure in education. And while the NAEP Writing Assessment does ask for more
diverse discourse forms, the timed nature of the sample does lend itself to a formulaic approach, the kind associated
with the five paragraph format of the essay. It is, as the series suggests, the reductionistic and formulaic structure
of the essay that is objectionable. Why? Because of the impact.
And here, sadly, is the impact: what gets
tested gets taught. Hence, when high school students come to college, many of the formulaic approaches to writing are .
. . ? Reified with even more essays? Radically questioned? The answer, of course, is that it depends—on the
orientation of the teacher (a graduate student writing essays in a literature program or a graduate student designing
web sites while pursuing a doctorate in rhetoric), on the level of her support (an adjunct with subsistence level pay
or a supported tenure-track member of a department).
I’d like to see teachers in secondary schools
also join our conversation and I hope some of you who read this blog will download the podcasts in iTunes U (see links
below) and check out the wiki and blog.
As someone deeply involved with empirical assessment throughout his career,
Norbert recognizes that the task of coming to terms with what is really happening in our nation’s classrooms is very
difficult to capture.
Listen to the weekly podcasts,
available in NJIT on iTunes U for guests and the NJIT
Yahoo! Teachers is a new tool and it’s free for all teachers, administrators, and education specialists. It hasn’t
been released yet, but there’s a sneak peek online. It looks like an interesting platform, and appears to be aimed at K-12 since it was built
in collaboration with some of their Yahoo! Teachers of Merit.
I signed up for their email update about the
launch. I also signed up in the peer network area. Sadly, I seem to be the one and only in Newark, NJ to do so so far -
but I won’t get too upset because all the suburban districts i checked also had zero participation. Maybe it’s just too
They seem to be behind on launch. This blog post from
March talks about it and gives a summer launch date. the blogger is Bill Scott and he is listed as “Ajax Evagelist
at Yahoo!” so I’ll assume that he’s the official word.
The product seems to have emerged from another project
The gobbler is simply a widget that you can popup on any web page and just grab text,
images and links from the page and drag and drop them into your Y!Teachers projects. (You can also bookmark the site as
Its a little like Google Notebook, bluemark, clipmarks and other clipping services but it is a little
unique. First, you can simply tear things off the page with drag and drop. Second, when you drop things from the page
into the gobbler you are dropping them directly into your projects within Yahoo! Teachers. They get immediately saved
there. Third, the assets you drop are thus brushed with meta data from the project itself (like grade level, subject,
state standards). Fourth, the projects (and the assets) are then shared with any teacher anywhere in the world that is
part of Yahoo! Teachers.
The combination of gather (gobbler), organize (projects) and share (teacher network)
creates a powerful combination.
Yahoo! will be offering educators free workshops about
using the service. Stay tuned.
Yahoo! Teachers is a new tool and it’s free for all teachers, administrators, and education specialists. It hasn’t
been released yet, but there’s a sneak peek online. It looks like an interesting platform, and appears
to be aimed at K-12 since it was built in collaboration with some of their Yahoo! Teachers of Merit.
I signed up
for their email update about the launch. I also signed up in the peer network area. Sadly, I seem to be the one and
only in Newark, NJ to do so so far - but I won’t get too upset because all the suburban districts i checked also had
zero participation. Maybe it’s just too new.
They seem to be behind on launch. This blog post from March talks about it and gives a summer launch date. the blogger is Bill Scott and he is
listed as “Ajax Evagelist at Yahoo!” so I’ll assume that he’s the official word.
The product seems to
have emerged from another project called Gobbler
The gobbler is simply a widget that you can popup on
any web page and just grab text, images and links from the page and drag and drop them into your Y!Teachers projects.
(You can also bookmark the site as well).
Its a little like Google Notebook, bluemark, clipmarks and other
clipping services but it is a little unique. First, you can simply tear things off the page with drag and drop. Second,
when you drop things from the page into the gobbler you are dropping them directly into your projects within Yahoo!
Teachers. They get immediately saved there. Third, the assets you drop are thus brushed with meta data from the project
itself (like grade level, subject, state standards). Fourth, the projects (and the assets) are then shared with any
teacher anywhere in the world that is part of Yahoo! Teachers.
The combination of gather (gobbler), organize
(projects) and share (teacher network) creates a powerful combination.
Yahoo! will be
offering educators free workshops about using the service. Stay tuned.
I was pleased to read an article online about a
professor at the University of Connecticut that is approaching podcasting in a way that fits well with our NJIT on iTunes U philosophy for faculty
podcasts. Psychology professor David Miller didn’t want to simply record lectures from his large (315 students) General
Psych course. He wanted to increase student interaction.
"As the first person to incorporate
podcasting into courses at the University of Connecticut in fall 2005, I decided not to simply ‘coursecast,’" he
says. "Though there are times when coursecasting may be useful, I felt that there was nothing particularly novel
about recording lectures. Creating this simple record was not my main purpose for podcasting."
calls his project iCube. You can
sample some of his content there. He sits down for a weekly one-hour discussion of course material in which students
meet with him, discuss psychology, and he records the session. It started as a way to make an exam review session
accessible to all students in the class, but has gone beyond that.
"We not only discuss course
material, but also any other topics of interest related to psychology," explains Miller. "Some students have
even switched to psychology because of their active participation. Students who participate in the recordings get to
know me very well, and vice versa."
Professor Miller also uses “precasts” and
“postcasts.” Precasts are enhanced podcasts (images with synchronized audio narration) to give students a
preview of important points to look for in an upcoming lecture. He also plays the precast before the lecture for
students who arrive early. That’s what we called the anticipatory set in my K-12 teaching days when we were introduced to
instruction model. Then, for closure, he creates short audio recordings (postcasts) to address difficult concepts
that were discussed that day.
I’m not a proponent of podcasting because everyone else is podcasting, but this
approach is one that can really have a positive effect on student learning. Now, to get some of the NJIT faculty to try
some pre- & post- casts.
I read the introduction to the August 2007 issue of Learning & Leading with Technology by Anita McAnear,
but the short piece had me at the title. Writing as a Problem-Solving Strategy. McAnear is the magazine’s acquisitions
editor and the national program chair for NECC, but more importantly, she was a middle school math and
language arts teacher. Been there, done that, know that it can be an incredibly creative place to be.
I think I
have always thought of writing as a problem-solving activity, but I’m not sure I would have said it without her
prompting. She was introducing an issue where contributors are talking about blogs, wikis, social networking sites,
Google docs and other Web 2.0 tools as instructional strategies.
Perhaps, it is this new way of writing online,
along with digital images, hyperlinks, embedded video, attached audio or podcasting and RSS feeds, that really makes me
take notice of the problem-solving aspect of writing.
My own grad students are blogging this semester (most for
the first time) and when they begin to get comments and feedback, I know they will get that same jolt of encouragement
that a new writer once got only when the envelope finally contained an acceptance rather than rejection slip from a
When I taught writing in middle school back in the 1980’s, I was always trying to find places my kids
could submit their poems, fiction and essays. They weren’t looking for money or awards. They were looking for an
audience and the idea that someone might be reading their words across the country.
I still recall very clearly
the day in my freshman year when my first story was published in the Rutgers literary anthology. I saw two women in the
student center reading the issue and they were on my story. Major adrenalin rush. Hearing turned up full.
“I really like this one,” one of them (I recall her as the prettier and more sophisticated of the pair.) said
to the other.
"Yeah, but so predictably written by a guy,” countered the other.
It was all
I could do not to walk over and introduce myself as the author. I wanted to ask Miss I Really Like This One out on a
date. I even liked the half & half comment, because she had read my story.
I wanted to write more
And with the Internet, the long tail effect is powerful
for writers. Somewhere in that huge user base there is an audience for what you have to say. It’s not The New
Yorker or Poetry magazine in size, reputation or payment, but you can have readers.
Writing is problem solving of the messy, ill-defined kind, in which you do not know the
solution or have a specified method of arriving at a solution as you do in many mathematics problems. In writing, many
solutions are often possible and acceptable, and you have to develop your own criteria for making choices. Once you
start writing, the cognitive processes you go through are many, complex, and recursive. Cognitive processes include
thinking about content, audience, spelling, and grammar; making choices about what to say, who you are saying it to,
and how to say it; and evaluating what you’ve said, and often rethinking and redefining your ideas all at the same
Talk about the recursive aspect of writing - lately I’ve been thinking of this
very blog as a rough draft for some book on education and technology, and in each post I’m revising my thoughts about
it and updating the references.
The map online is interactive with links and
discussion areas and the opportunity to email topics from within it to colleagues.
So what kinds of forces do
they see? Health care, games, unbundled education, collective assessment, an expanded learning economy, media savvy
youth, cheap mobile devices… they’ve got a lot of buzz packed in there and some things I haven’t thought about at
There’s a quick video demo. They don’t say that the map contains all of the answers or
perfectly predicts the future. Who could say that?
It’s certainly provocative and a good conversation starter for
discussion on the topic tool, as the beginning of a movement, or, at the very least, part of a good conversation.
Make sure you look at he “compass view” too. There’s a lot going on that you don’t see at first
"When the world starts to move from a primarily vertical value-creation model to
an increasing horizontal creation model, it doesn’t affect just how business gets done. It affects
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat, p.201
Portion of Pieter Breughel’s Tower of Babel
told in the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a built to reach the heavens by a united humanity. God saw this as rather
arrogant and so confuses the previously uniform language of humanity with many languages, thereby preventing any such
future attempts at tower building.
Serendipity35 doesn’t cover the world of religion, but I’ll say that I don’t
see the Tower’s destruction as a particularly good move for the welfare of humanity.
So, I’m happy to see a
movement like that at Google where many of its products, like Blogger and Google Earth, support more than
170 languages. Being that I was brought up in a much rounder world, I don’t even recognize many on the list from Afrikaans to Zulu as even being languages.
Most of these
translations are done by volunteers from around the world who are eager to help people view and search the
web in their own native language.
Google created a volunteer translation program called Google In Your
Language and people can sign up as a volunteer translator by visiting the Language Tools page and then clicking on the
link for Google in Your Language.
Translators need to be verified and then are offered the opportunity to translate their main search site, Gmail,
iGoogle, Google Maps and others
According to Google’s blog, it
usually takes weeks for an individual volunteer to
finish translating one site. They need a good percentage of
pages translated in a given language to put that language into production.
These “volunteer” languages
range from Armenian, Estonian, and Slovenian which are 95% complete, to Latin (70%) to some that after several years of
translation are still not production-ready. Abhazian, Tibetan, Inupak, Inuktikut, Wolof,
Zhuang are all have less than 10% of their content translated.
Is that based on the number of speakers? Not really. All of that latter group has more speakers than Faroese,
74% of texts translated.
The Google In Your
Language program is continually adding languages - most recently Navajo, Filipino, several Russian
Federation languages (Avaric, Chechen, Chuvash, Komi), and some African
languages (Akan, Bambara, Gikuyu, Kongo, Ndebele, Ndongo, Nyanja,
I wonder if any language teachers or student groups out there have explored Google’s non-English sites,
or, even better, have enlisted their students in the process of translation.
Obviously, by crowdsourcing this work
with volunteers Google benefits
in its business by increased usage. And yet, it still feels like a good
thing all around to me. Making Net resources available to more people, and in having users create content rather than
just consume, both seem appropriate to the flat web 2.0.
So am I comfortable with knocking down the tower of
English online? Hand me the sledgehammer.