54 posts categorized "Giving Information"

October 10, 2012

Raise Your Hand For Girls! The new brown eye, blue eye from Belgium

Just released on YouTube is a new campaign from Belgian agency Duval Guillaume, where they changed the operation of schools for a day. Boys went to school to learn. Girls went to school to clean out the toilets and undertake other menial tasks.

It feels to me like a modern-day, marketers version of the Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes experiment from Jane Elliot in the early 1970s. She undertook an experiment in arbitrary discrimination between "underclass" brown eyed people and the upper class blue eyed people. She did it against the fallout of Martin Luther King's assassination. We need something fresh like this today to make sure that we don't tolerate the tolerated, that all girls get to school, wherever they are in the world. Our fallout is last week's shooting of 14 year old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, shot because she believes girls should go to school.

Next week I'll be in Antwerp to hang out with Kris Hoet, the Director of Digital at the agency who came up with the idea. I wonder what questions educators might have about how we might harness the power of digital and the savvyness of great marketers to improve learning outcomes for more children?

March 31, 2011

Data Reveals Stories: Part Six | Graphs

This is one of a six-part series on how to harness data to reveal stories. It represents notes and follow-on links. If you want to take part in an exciting workshop to get your hands on real life data sets, create your own visualisations and learn how to share them, you can join me in Boston at Building Learning Communities for my pre-conference workshop this summer, or ask for it as one of our masterclass sessions. Many of the examples cited are from the information visualiser's Bible, Information is Beautiful: buy the book (in the UK | in the USA) or visit the blog.

Use one chart for a new purpose
Example:
A Periodic Table of Visualisation Methods:

 Periodic table

Charts and time
Combine time, bar charts and graphical punch to show impact on complex stories.
Example:
The rising sea levels as they consume cities over time.

 Info-is-beautiful-sea-lev-001

Charts and image
Interesting charting effects can be gained by superimposing one chart on top of many, many photos through Microsoft's Deep Zoom Composer software (free).
Example:
Winston Churchill Deep Zoom

Colour swatches
Use the metaphor from pantone cards from the painters' shop, or military ribbon bands, to transfer new information.
Example: Military ribbons as a means to explore the debauchery of rock bands, Information is Beautiful book.

Scattergraphs 2.0
Don't just plot dots on a scattergraph. Plot graphics that make your point.
Example:
Caffeine versus Calories: Buzz vs Bulge

 Scattergraphs 2.0

Abstract geneology
Make a family tree to show the relative links between abstract concepts
Example:
A family tree of Britain's musical heritage (Information is Beautiful book)

February 05, 2011

The United Kingdom: Explained

This is a great video, and hundreds of thousands have watched it to gain an understanding that England is not the United Kingdom which is not Great Britain (alone) and where on earth Canada, Australia and a plethora of small islands fit into the grand scheme of all things Crown and Her Majesty.

My question: why has it just been created when this is the stuff school students the Commonwealth over have studied at some point over the past nearly six YouTubed years. Because an essay whose writing felt like having teeth pulled was somehow better, more educationally sound, showed his or her understanding so much more? I don't think so.

If we're going to assess children on what they know, wouldn't it be more educationally worthwhile to also assess children on their skill at sharing what they know in a compelling fashion? And if we're looking to help children understand how to share effectively this means we have to use the same tools as their audience - the rest of the world - rather than confining their creativity to a class group on a Learning Environment or private, closed down blog that only a relativel handful can see.

And on an assessment note, this video would get some great marks from me. What would it take to get full marks, to improve next time?

September 13, 2010

Visualisation explains why games-based learning gets a hard time at the same time every year

David McCandless' visualisations reveal amazing things. I've been amused, bemused, intrigued and shocked for the past few years by his Information Is Beautiful blog.

There's one example of visualisation that could help explain why my former colleague Derek Robertson has a regular meet with the press each year, at the same time, justifying (again) why video games are great stimuli for deep learning:

In the video above, McCandless highlights that news stories on violence in video games generally peak in huge numbers around November and April. Why November? It's the month that Christmas releases of video games appear. Why April? It was the month that the Columbine shootings took place and, every year since then, this is the point where the media would like to suggest to us that violent video games were responsible (even though, at the time, it was violent film that made the headlines, video games not yet having attracted that unwelcome kudos).

There you go - if we know it's coming, we can get ready for it.

December 21, 2009

Your Brain Deals With 34GB Of Data Every Day. Time To Reboot?


Glasgow Art School graduate James Houston's Big Ideas (Don't Get Any) on CentralStation.

Every day our brains deal with 34 gigabytes of information. But, contrary to what technosceptics will lament as we enter the decade of who-knows-what, scientists in California and England don't believe that this will have any negative affect on our brains. Indeed, it might be changing them to cope better with handling increasing amounts of spoken and written clues. In the Sunday Times:

"The speed of modern life is 2.3 words per second, or about 100,000 words a day. That is the verbiage bombarding the average person in the 12 hours they are typically awake and “consuming” information, according to a new study.

"...We are faced with the equivalent of 34 gigabytes of information each day — enough to overload the typical laptop inside a week.

"The total amount of words “consumed” in the United States has more than doubled from 4,500 trillion in 1980 to 10,845 trillion in 2008. Those estimates do not include people simply talking to one another. Total information consumption from televisions, computers and other media was estimated at 3.6 zettabytes (3.6m million gigabytes) in 2008.

"...Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at the universities of Oxford and Warwick, said: “One of the things we have learnt over the past 20 years is that the brain does have a capacity to grow and increase in size depending on how it is used. Perhaps the personal experience of having to deal with all of this information will cause new nerve cells to be born and create new nerve connections in the brain.”

"It may be infuriating but it is no threat to the brain itself, say experts.

"In some ways, he adds, what has changed is the nature of information more than quantity. Where we now stare at a computer screen, once we studied faces, which may involve absorbing just as much data."

Just bear that in mind when your inbox is labouring under 300 emails, 1400 feeds and relentless Twitter friend requests.

October 07, 2009

16 Ways To Win £25k And Change Informal Learning In The UK: TeachUsABetterWay

Circles
British education and technology agency Becta has emulated The Cabinet Office's style for accessing the best ideas our citizens have to offer, by opening a national competition for ideas on how we can best help people access information on informal learning opportunities, with TeachUsALesson:

You might have a vision of an amazing design for a learning portal website, or a concept of an awesome live data feed which other sites and services could use. Or, maybe, you could help design a Facebook widget, or an iPhone app which could make finding learning opportunities a doddle.

There are £25,000 packages of dosh available for the best ideas to come forward, presenting a timely and enviable opportunity for those with visions of how simple uses of existing technologies could be harnessed to help 'regular' learners outside the schooling system discover the learning moments on their doorstep.

It's great to such an innovative approach to seeking ideas. I only hope the Great British Learning Public can come up with ideas to match.

Through my work as Digital Commissioner with Channel 4's 4iP I've gone through a Himalayan-like learning curve in assessing the hundreds of ideas we receive each quarter. Throughout the year I've been blogging much of these learnings over on the digital media industry community I founded at 38minutes. Here are some of the main posts which will hopefully be of some use in stimulating creative ideas (and knocking on the head those puppies that might be worth killing):

  1. Has Google Done It? Check the Goollery
  2. Do It First: Find Your Zag
  3. An Idea Shared is Worth Something - stop worrying about intellectual property
  4. Barack's Social Media Pulpit: models for social media spreading
  5. Asking yourself the "what happens if..." questions
  6. Business Models: A Starter for 10
  7. "Users will sign in". Will They? Identity, Trust and Your Idea
  8. Designing sites no-one has to visit
  9. Commissioning for attention must-reads
  10. T&RED of R&D? How developed should a pitch be?
  11. Brevity is a blessing: how to pitch
  12. We're from the internet and we're here to help
  13. Mark Earls: Why are good ideas important?
  14. How to help people better use the net: go to them, open up, let them copy
  15. danah boyd on handheld social networking
  16. Remixing Cities, Remixing Learning: Charlie Leadbeater
Photo by Guille

January 13, 2009

Choice cuts from C4: learning about food

Pork Cuts Colleagues at C4 have surpassed themselves with The Channel 4 Pig application, a beautifully executed (fnar) flash app helping people in these credit crunch times to exploit all the best and cheapest bits of the beast with some fine recipes from Britain's top chefs. It all supports the forthcoming food season on the Channel and has been managed by my rather wonderfully suitably-named colleague, 4Food Editor, Jane Honey.

When I was at school, learning about food was such an 'un-fun' thing where we produced crap food with crap ingredients cooked crapply. I find this entertaining and, while not designed for schools, there's nothing expensive and lots of deliciousness about making the Ham Hock, Split Pea and Mint Stew. The kids might not want to be stretched with the faggots, though I'm guessing it's the first recipe they'll navigate towards as they work out how to use a pig head constructively and not on the Head Master's desk on the last day of term.

Not so much a wonderful new service that's gone live as a pig that's gone rather dead...

December 26, 2008

Internet Memes - the timelines

Internet Memes So you've done your YouTube anthropology class, you now need to spend a bit of time brushing up on history's internet memes with these delightful, entertaining and "was it really that long ago?" moments. A nice way to start rounding off the year...

December 02, 2008

Clay Shirky in London: Group action just got easier

Clay Shirky and Belarus Flashmobbers

People sometimes ask why one might 'waste' one's time sitting on Advisory Boards, especially those of conferences. One reason I like it is that you can suggest that you'd like to hear someone like, say, Clay Shirky and, six months later, you've got him. Clay speaks today at Online Information Conference in London.

As well as formal groups around certain types of photography on Flickr (like this HDR group for beginners) there are the more impromptu adhoc communities that form around just one photo. It means that whereas destination sites' half-lives were relatively short, the half-life of a "insta-community" photograph like this becomes very much longer. Flickr, in this case, is an organisation that has created more by doing less - less intervention, less 'management' of community, less structure around debate.

How much does the individual have to give up to get to the action. Sharing is easiest, collaboration is harder and collective action hardest.



Sharing

Bronze Beta is the bulletin board for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's an old skool site/forum based around Buffy. It has one page, and a form in which you put your latest views on Buffy. When the TV co wanted to disband it, or rebrand it the community cried out. "No! Don't give us features. Don't make it different. Above all, don't close it down." The conversations there continue today, well beyond the last episode of Buffy was made.

10 years ago, as Clay helped newspapers move out of Wapping into the new glitz of Canary Wharf, he was concerned with which content management system to get them. Had he told them (had he known) that weblogs being written by geeks in the Valley were going to be harbouring more content than any newspaper could manage, no-one would have believed him.

What makes Bronze Beta work is that it's got a featureless front end, but a very highly developed and complex set of rules of engagement. Fewer features make it easier for the users to share.

Collaboration
The Wikipedia page on Doctor Who has been edited almost 9000 times by over 3000 people. It would be logical (but wrong) to assume that the average is 2.67 edits per person. However, 2200 people only made one edit once, and then moved on. They are not "part of" a community. User Khaosworks, on the other hand, has edited that page nearly 1000 times all on his own. In fact, every article that this user has touched has been on Doctor Who.

This blows up the assumption of an 'average user'. Trying to plan this kind of interaction and collaboration in advance is near impossible to sell to a boss: there's going to be this tiny, unscalable group of users who'll just come to it, unpaid, who you don't know yet, who'll create the product. It really is a case of "in collaboration we trust". We trust it because the long tail type graph of collaboration that Clay refers to is more or less a signature of online collaboration.

Collective action
Getting people to do something is the most difficult thing to do. People tend to do it themselves, of their own accord, when the motivation to do so is more tangible. Cue the HSBC fiasco of last year, when a bank changed its mind on giving students free overdraft and thought instead of charging them £140 for the priviledge. HSBC were banking on the fact that it is tricky to move money from one account to another. They were also banking on the fact that it's hard for students, during a summer holiday, to coordinate action.

Cue Facebook.

When one student set up his Facebook group to campaign against this change, when one student made that effort, it became much easier for people to become activists, just by clicking "Join Group". 4500 members later, with a threat of the whole bunch marching onto the Canary Wharf headquarters, the bank relented.

Thinking is for Doing
Brains are not there to think in abstracts, but to help us do something. Publishing is for acting. Publishing is for doing. It's not just a source of information or a destination site. It's a place where action begins. It's not the Daily Telegraph telling people that HSBC changed the deal. It's Facebook offering a platform to provide that information and then do something about it.

Flashmobs, whose means of collective action I discussed in my recent Cisco paper, are yet another example of technology acting as an enabler to bring people together to act - against dictatorship, for example.

KnarlyKitty Broadcasters' challenge is technological and economical
The technology that allows us to broadcast has been limited in allowing us to create groups and community. Networks have been limited at doing what broadcasters have done, which is separate out the producer and viewer and participant of content. The internet has given birth to this many-to-many communication, but broadcasters have perhaps been stuck in the mentality of Guttenburg economics: we have to lay out some cash up front before we know if something is going to be successful, therefore the publisher only picks the things that (s)he thinks will make back that upfront. The costs are high and upfront so the risk is mitigated by the filter being placed on the side of the publisher.

When you're not a publisher relying on cash to sell your product or your news, then you can afford to report on what you want, and the readership can simply "put up or shut up". So when a young blogger in Thailand reports on the military coup, before going back to the trivia that she enjoys normally writing about, she receives, as if she were a broadcaster, complaints that her coverage is not in depth enough. She retorts; she's not a pubisher, she doesn't need to please the audience, the audience can come or go and get what they're given. This is a liberation from the shackles of Guttenburg economics that new technologies afford us. It's why blogging is not journalism; a journalist is professionally obliged to stick with the story.

Pro-active protest
Social media has now allowed people to take the initiative in saving their favourite TV shows before the TV show even airs. They have, in fact, created their own crowdsourced marketing department, emailing and advising the TV show on what they have to do to get more people to watch it and make the show such a success it can't be dropped.

The old separations are dead
I got this one quite quickly when I started working for Channel 4 and had to engage with taxi drivers who picked me up on account:

Taxi Driver: So you work for Channel 4?

Me: Yes

TD: What programmes do you make then?

Me: We don't actually make programmes. Other people do that. We just pay them to. But actually, I don't make TV anyway.

TD: What do you do then?

Me: I make websites and cool stuff for mobile phones and games consoles.

TD: Like the ones I see advertised on the TV shows?

Me: No, they're just going to be out there. You'll find them if they're meant for you.

TD: Oh... What's Channel 4 doing that for?

Me: Well, the boundaries matter less nowadays... (at this point, I gain 20 minutes of peace in the taxi.)

All the walls have fallen around the world of information. There are horizons but no barriers. What's the next good thing to do? The answer is likely to be: explore. Try several things at once. If someone has a million pound idea for exploiting the social web, then send them out for a long walk and lock the door behind them. Get them to come up with ten of £100,000 ideas or 100s of £10,000 ideas. 

4iP The convening power of traditional media

That, my dears, is a big part of what 4iP is about. 4iP has the potential to be the convener of great ideas, and convene groups that ought to be talking to one another.

With 38minutes we're starting to do just that, having convened a space but given it over entirely to those who want to meet to talk about where they take their design, gaming, coding or new media business in this new(ish) age of t'interweb. Where previously these groups didn't talk, in less than two months we've convened nearly 500 of Scotland and Northern Ireland's top talent from four large sectors who until now rarely spoke about collaborating on projects. But it's happening thanks to the love, sweat, tears and effort of those 500 people, not really 4iP. Just having that shared situational awareness of who's doing what and how you might be able to help make it better is worth its weight in gold.

Cross-posted at 38minutes

November 23, 2008

The fascists' names are leaked... crowdsourcing finds its place

BNP Heatmap Earlier this week the UK's very own "Nationalist Party", the BNP, had the misfortune to leak its member list, showing the names and addresses of racists, fascists and those who "don't want that kind of person taking our jobs". It's been citizen-created mashups of this data that have made the news.

To republish the list would be illegal, so newspapers such as the Guardian printed the numerical stats on line-art maps. Far from breaking the law, it was crowdsourcing that came up with a better solution, both allowing us to see how many BNP-ers are on our doorstep without revealing their names and exact locations. Cue the anonymous, but powerful, BNP member Google Heatmap, which has since allowed our Government ministers to realise the pockets where local politics lets people down.

These are some of the subversive uses of technology that keep an eye on money and power that we are keen to support further through 4iP. We've got a few on the boil, so keep your eyes peeled for them.

Thanks to Stuart on the 38minutes blog for highlighting it.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

Ewan’s education keynotes & MasterClasses

Module Masterclass

Do you worry that your school or district could better harness its people, digital technology or physical space? Do you want some actionable inspiration, a mentor for a learning journey with your staff?

In a keynote or masterclass we can give them concrete ideas based on experience, enthusiasm fired by a vision of what can be, and backup before and after to make it happen for them.

Recent Posts

    Archives

    More...