Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Thursday, September 15, 2005
A few updates
1. The iPod nano continues to behave beautifully (and Maria's ordered hers now, in white), though my Apple In-Ear Headphones have mysteriously given up the ghost. Actually it's even more mysterious than that, as they seem to have lost all power, producing about 20% of their usual volume levels. Surely both ears couldn't have become identically blocked at precisely the same moment, and my ears aren't that waxy. A trip to the Genius Bar tomorrow, methinks.
2. The New Researchers Day at which I presented yesterday threw up a few useful things, including an excellent session from textile designer & fashion lecturer Zoe Hillyard which focused on hand knitting in Peru. Zoe recently spent 3 weeks in Andean villages and has some real insights into how traditional producers work without the centralised structured networks of the UK industry and without anything resembling a precise pattern for the garment. A conference on emerging models for networks and e-commerce would bite her hand off to get this stuff onstage, and I'm going to be coaxing her to chat on Radio Usergland.
3. Fellow presenter David Osbaldestin continues to update the Business As Usual project; the gallery has some excellent new submissions, and David's published the properly-formatted version of the Ronnie Chance article which I authored (plus the mysteriously-added paragraph, but you can't have everything). That you probably need to be some sort of designer to participate is a problem which remains, and I'm keen for David to do something about that soon. I might even lend a hand.
4. Amongst everything else tomorrow (breakfast meeting with DO, check in my headphones at the Apple Store, catch up on a number of outstanding emails, attempt to catch Wolf Creek at the cinema, collect daughter from school) I really want to pin down what I'll be offering to final year Undergraduate students this year. I'm intending it to be two linked 16-week programmes connecting some of the dots between areas like transformative technologies, virtual environments, digital products, community and social networks. Already the map is turning into a sprawl, and I'm feeling like a low-rent Buckminster Fuller. I'll see if I can shape it up tomorrow.
[UPDATE: While the cause of my In-Ear Heaphones losing volume remains a mystery, I'm delighted by the service at the Apple Store. They didn't even test them, simply trusted me that I wasn't going mad and replaced them with shiny new ones. This is why they're doing so well, and why some third-party resellers are whining their way towards bankruptcy.]
Monday, September 12, 2005
One weekend with the iPod nano
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Hybrid composite ghost-written article online
Friday, September 09, 2005
We'll always have Paris
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Long Tail Education
Gartenberg on the iPod Nano
This chimes with the way I see it too. In the conversations I've been able to have about the iPod nano so far a few things stand out: The move to the iPod signature look and (almost) full-feature set is hugely significant, and will make this device connect with the those who aspire to own the iconic player; the miniaturisation is stunning, and plays to Apple's strengths in getting this stuff right before the competition have figured it out; the price is $50-75 more than many people would have hoped – in other words it's spot on (remember the mini was the same, and they sold as many as they could manufacture, dropping the price a little when demand settled. In all, I'll miss you iPod mini; you've been a great little (silver) bulge in my pocket, but I'm greatly looking forward to meeting your highly-evolved descendant. My podcasts, latest music purchases, a few photos, notes and calendars, all in a (black) package that I don't even notice carrying. 3 days to shipping is just too long to wait. Can I cancel my order and buy it retail this weekend?
I had a chance to chat with Steve Jobs about the decision to drop the mini and go with the shuffle and I believe its a pretty wise move. With mini competitors like the Dell DJ and Creative Zen Micro, it was getting hard for the mini to stand out of the crowd. Apple could have done the expected and upped the capacity of the shuffle to 2gb and tweaked the mini but instead chose to take the road less traveled, to kill a successful product at the peak of success and create a brand new family of product. But making decisions like that is how you make all the difference.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
From a traditional educational perspective this is still pretty transformative stuff, and while academics widely acknowledge the need for curriculums which take account of learning styles they often seem to do so, at least in my experience, in a way which minimises the effect that this model has on their own planning and delivery. This notion of a process in which we commit to learning in detail about our students and their individual needs, preferences, abilities and challenges is far easier to accept if the resulting learning methods, curriculum, and assessment strategies are in pretty much line with the sort of thing we can deliver. We're unlikely to embrace something that indicates our approach is redundant.
One of the ways this manifests itself is that we appear to believe that this process of matching provision to requirements can be frozen and captured in a traditional course document. Indeed our usual interpretation of the validation process appears to actually require this, and there's no doubt that it encourages it. In truth, the process implied by Tomlinson suggests a dynamic which reacts on a student-by-student basis and continues throughout the course. Some of our work with Personal Development Planning moves in this direction, but it would seem to have little chance of making a real difference if the curriculum itself is static. Some aspects of such a dynamic curriculum can be treated as 'snapshots' and reused, but in light of an accelerating rate of change this itself will very soon become outmoded, and the 'survival time' of our strategies will begin to approach zero.
If you think this sounds like negativist carping, you'd probably be right. I'm a keen advocate of transformative change in curriculum design, and the idea of absolute personalisation just really rocks my boat. I'm developing a paper on next-generation electronic learning which is bound to incorporate some of these notions (I'll post the abstract at the very least here soon) and I'll try to develop some of them here in more detail over the coming weeks.
Monday, September 05, 2005
A good part of me hopes Dan comes back to Birmingham for a while, as it'll be interesting having him around, but much of our conversation centered on more interesting places to be (such as Berlin, from where Dan's architect girlfriend Catha hails), and how the concept of graduate retention in the city (which government types view as highly desirable) increasingly rubs up against the goal of creative education being a springboard to lots of possibilities. Students I've worked with at BIAD are now scattered globally, some returning to their home territories (Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Japan, Norway, France..), others venture outside of what they've known after coming into contact with a much broader cultural base at university (studying for Masters degrees in Paris, teaching English through multimedia in Osaka, web design in New York).
The broadening and cultural enrichment is only part of the equation too; students are attracted and excited by courses that leave them with a global rolodex and a plethora of potential destinations. The counter-argument says that in order to create a culturally-rich city we need to be able to offer graduates employment right here. This is of course partially true, but it's a landscape far more likely to emerge from a fluctuating diverse population of creative individuals attracted to the city as a means of prototyping their future life/work vectors than it is to come from pouring money into ill-advised exercises in cultural parochialism.