130 posts categorized "Photography"

May 05, 2008

Ben Saunders' Purple Haze a real inspiration to young people


In my final few hours in the tent, waiting for the helicopter and staring into the abyss of self-pity, I had a wonderfully apt text message on my satphone from a dear friend, Oli Barrett. “Stories about journeys”, he wrote, “are always better than ones about arrivals.” So this, then, is a story about a journey but not an arrival. At least not where I expected to end up, anway.

Ben Saunders came up against it in his high-speed attempt to cross to the North Pole. His journey, though, has not been in vain, not from his perspective of having tried to do something no-one had done quite as quickly yet, and not from the perspective of some students who picked up his trail after reading about the race against the clock on this blog.

Lorraine Leo, who I bumped into on a cruise around Boston Harbour last year, has been using real-life adventurers in her classroom for years, namely Skipper Rich Wilson, the solo global sailor. Having left a comment on Ben's blog, and emailed several others from students, each with their own inspired takeaway, Ben responded within ten minutes to them, with his own personal message of thanks.

The thing is, from both perspectives - Ben's, alone somewhere on the ice, and the students, inspired and amazed by this one man's nerve - the exchange was a winner. And nothing like this could have happened without the whole combination of technologies bringing text (the blog), photography (Flickr) and video.

May 03, 2008

Meet my friend Noel: global explorer and NYC cabbie

Noels_cab When you've spent nearly a year traveling the world, to every continent, who wouldn't want to be a NYC cab driver?

Noel "noneck" Hidalgo is a bit of an enigma, and I was lucky enough to work with him earlier this year in the preparation for the LIFT08 Open Stage. At that point he had just come back from his On The Luck Of Seven project:

for seven months, he will traverse the seven continents, dive into the seven oceans, and attempt to visit the seven ancient wonders of the world.

He used a variety of social media to capture his adventures: video and audio podcasts, and amazing Flickr photo feed, a wiki to coordinate his travels, couchsurfing to coordinate his bed/sofa/floor arrangements, Dopplr to let his friends know he was coming, Twitter to keep his news up-to-date, and Facebook to pull it all together.

Well, he's at it again, life-blogging, filming and Flickring his weird and wonderful life as a newbie New York cab driver, from shaving off his fine mane of hair for the job, learning the ropes and taking the test, the hidden costs, and heading out for his first day in his first cab. You can listen to him interviewed on NPR's Bryant Park, too.

For me, it's a great example of the interest that's in everyone's daily lives, when you look carefully enough. Would your students know how to write interestingly about what might be considered 'mundane'? And why do companies still persist in telling me that most of their business is not 'of interest' to customers, and therefore not for blogging/filming/recording, when most people would have said that a taxi driver's life wasn't of interest to them when they were trying to get from A-Z?

Noel's just finished his first week on the job and is discovering just how much cabbies make - about $10 per hour. He's certainly changed my tipping patterns:

now the road journey begins. over the next few months, i will continue to push myself to do things i've never done - see things i would never dream - fulfill the promise made to family and friends from around the world - and figure out a way to worship the all mighty dollar in ways only a hard working capitalist can. "welcome to my cab. where would you like to go?"

Well, Noel, if you're able to pick me up from JFK on July 6th for the Empire, I'll bring the Leica... ;-)

April 10, 2008

Viewfinder links Google Earth and Flickr pictures

Google Earth is great, but doesn't give the best feel for a place. Flickr pictures are great, but it's hard to place them in geographical context beyond a pink dot on a map. The gang at Viewfinder are linking the two systems together in one of the most exciting mashups I've ever seen, allowing you to see Flickr pictures in location, tilted to just the right angle, offering a snapshot within a snapshot. The photos could also be historical, allowing you to flick back in time in that location.

Take a look at their video, above, to see how it might work, and follow their progress as they develop something that will help more of us understand the cultural, historical, linguistic and geopolitical worlds we are living in.

April 09, 2008

Art students put to work. For real

Whuffie A marketer is on the verge of publishing her first book and is agonising about her cover. Most would let the publisher - the experts in all this - take the lead. You'd trust them. If the book didn't sell it would be the cover's fault, and therefore the publisher's fault. Not Tara Hunt.

I met Tara a few years ago in Paris in a rather swanky rooftop bar, and ever since have kept an eye on what she's up to. Seeing this post on her blog made me smile, since it shows how a mixture of ambient intimacy in the form of a Twitter post, a publishing space with a large appeal and an ingenious teacher-facilitator led to a whole group of art students putting their ideas forward to Tara as legitimate potential covers for her book - click the links in this long Flickr comments section. To say she was overwhelmed would be an understatement.

What I love about this is the real brief, against a short deadline, with the slightest chance that your cover design could make it, and be displayed around the world and on Amazon.

The let down in this story? I think the publishers have gone for another design, by Cindy Li, a pro designer who also jumped to the call for action from the original Twitter message. Next time, guys, next time...

March 27, 2008

Get that image moving: filmmaking, animation, enterprise

Atholecurry Moving image is the most powerful medium in the world: mobile phone cameras, YouTube, embeddable video on your blog.
However, in schools we still tend to forget that, to get the most out of the world's most powerful medium, we need to teach and learn critically about it. We need to learn through, with and about moving image media. We do need more creative citizens who can contribute to society. So said Bernard McCloskey, Head of Education, Northern Ireland Screen, at a Moving Image Summit this week in Glenrothes.

Also present was Athole, pictured. After eleven years of going our separate ways from Student newspaper at Edinburgh University, Athole McLauchlan and I ended up serendipitously meeting each other, as fellow teachers, at a Moving Image Summit this week in Glenrothes.

Athole's my kind of teacher. We've spent about six months in an ambient friendship on Facebook, getting to know each other's work through our respective blogs. He told us in his show-and-tell of great film and animation that he only got the job in his current school because he, and no-one else in the job interview, used the word 'fun'. He is a fun teacher, and passionate about making sure kids are equipped to be creative with their media, not just amateur consumers of it.

Making films brings the enterprising attitudes that we seek from young people: self-organisation, role allocations, creativity, planning, execution, coming up with those moments of genius that 'make' the film, a product that's cut together as well as possible with a particular audience in mind. Athole goes even further, having students draw up marketing plans, find real cinema venues to premiere the students' work, get them organising kiosks, posters and press releases.

Getting animation or film-making off the ground in your school isn't always easy, so Athole suggests starting with something simple and progressing. He often begins by getting the storyboard to a potential film to become the film: scan in the students' ideas for each shot, add to Photo Story 3 or Jumpcut.com and add your narrative orally. Maybe you get into photography, so instead of using pictures drawn by students you get them framing shots to tell a story (the kind of thing I talk about in my 1000 words workshops on how to get more out of Flickr et al). They might even tell a story in photographs using plasticine characters that could, potentially later, be used in an animation. Eventually you might find the time and moment to get students animating.

Some of the projects people end up doing are the DVD Yearbook, starting a film club, running film festivals for both commercial and students' films, or creating lunchtime TV programmes, covering a mock election in school.

Animation in class time remains a struggle, and so Athole has created after-school clubs. He suggests that theming animation around real-life competitions might be another "good sell": you could have students design a music trailer for Radiohead.

It also helps to have simple well-designed themes for animations or photostories. Drawing on Wendy Ewald's ideas for photography with children, he concentrates on open-ended themes such as self portrait, family, community, dreams... He also takes advantage of any free toolsets out there to make life easy: I've brought them together here.

So many great ideas. Yet I feel cheated. Athole heads off in ten days for a well-earned career break, traveling the world. I just hope he creates a film and photostory or two that he can premiere at his local Odeon.

February 02, 2008

Some updates on writing through gaming, digital images and podcasting

In the light of some more work being done as a result of workshops elsewhere, I'm happy to have been able to update my previous blog posts on:

December 30, 2007

2007's Top Five Photos in Review

Dean has set me one of the toughest end-of-year-navel-gazing-but-jolly-good-fun tasks: my favourite five photos. I could spend a long time on this, so I've also used Flickr's interestingess and stats, too, along with my personal prefs to find the five ones that mean the most:

Firefoxscreensnapz016The most beautiful baby on the planet, my number one choice for a photo (though not taken by me). Amongst the memorable times, her first aeroplane trip to New Zealand - 26,000 miles at six weeks.


One of my cheeky shots at BLC07 this year of Will, it's indicative of the thrill and fun I had meeting old friends and meeting old online friends for the first time. Our evening on the ship, with raucous laughter and far too much of Christian Long's favourite brandy, made all this blogging stuff worthwhile! [more pics]


This was a pivotal moment for me: the people (and beer) that made me decide to go self-employed. Steve Moore, left, is one person to whom I am eternally grateful, for his confidence-boosting and considerable recommendations that have led to many an interesting rencontre. Euan Semple helped me work out how much ($) and how much (:-) I was worth. This scene is from Reboot in Copenhagen, a conference/unconference based around the theme of Human?, at which I talked without meaning to, and had confirmation from those outside education that education was doing lots of things right. [more pics]


The stats say you love this one: the kilos of kit required to keep online conferences on the road (and this RSS/Flickr/unconference junkie in one piece). I've since upped my insurance cover... This particular bunch of kit was for something else I loved, but didn't have enough photos for: TeachMeet.


Mike Coulter decided at the beginning of 2007 that anyone interested in social media in Edinburgh needed a place to wax lyrical: Edinburgh Coffee Morning was born. The off-white tables at Centotre have been the stage for many a discovery, a talk-through, an idea-bounce, a new friendship. Thanks to Mike for starting it all, and all the lads and lasses who've made it along on those early morns this year. [more pics]

November 27, 2007

User Generated Amsterdam

Moeders I'm traveling out to Amsterdam tomorrow to keynote the national languages conference there. I'm glad on so many levels, from the friends I'll see again to rediscovering one of my favourite cities with la famille in tow.

It's quite nice, then, to see that my own pic from the last time I was here is being used to promote Amsterdam's best Dutch cuisine restaurant, Moeders. Schmap create content based on users' material, scouring sites like Flickr and blogs to gain the upper hand on slower print editions.

November 19, 2007

Six billion others

6millionothers French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand, who took those breathtaking aerial shots of our planet, has been undertaking a long-term large-scale project interviewing some of the 6 billion souls on this planet about their cultures, hopes and fears.

Fascinating stuff, both from a global citizenship side as well as a French, Modern Foreign Languages reading and viewing point of view, you simply click on the face of the person who you want to hear speak about love, war, peace, fear, politics, desert, tundra...

November 15, 2007

Ewan in Derbyshire on Media Lit, Visual Storytelling

I've been reading the superb Henry Jenkins and some of his wonderful points in a recent paper, if not a little too complex to get across in one small talk, were included in this teacher's small talk this morning - and contributed to my wee overrun (wrist duly slapped).

The main thrust of what I was saying can be seen in video from my New Zealand conference appearance, with accompanying links and notes here, and the gaming for visual storytelling is fairly well summed up in a previous post, too.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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