Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Disruptive technologies--exemplified by the ability to publish at will in text, audio, video formats or any combination of those--enhance our freedom of speech, freedom to assemble in virtual communities. Social networking tools like MySpace (or Facebook and Bebo) and YouTube grant freedom of speech and assembly to the masses in a way that the American Revolution never could. For this reason, disruptive technologies that connect people to each other are the greatest threat to the powerful who have traditionally controlled the means of publication. Unfortunately, that includes our schools.A while back a friend of mine asked that I read "Disrupting Class" by Clayton Christensen. Having read the expert above brought me back to the thought of this book, so I guess I will make this one of my readings for 2009. (podcast)
What this concept of disruption says to me is that the "few majority," the "leaders," and the "selected few," are no longer dictating what gets desiminated down to the learners. That being said, average joe's are creating their own content and publishing. Just take one look at the iPhone Apps store. Many of those are being developed by small mom and pop shops or individuals who have purchased the developers kit and have created amazing offerings. Still large companies offer their own apps, but for the most part, disruptive technologies have opened the door for fresh and new ideas from folks like you and me. The same can be said for classrooms, teachers and students. Much of what is to be learned, students can find on their on online and probably using YouTube in a video format. However, schools still spend millions on text book adoptions from large publishers. Yet, the pioneers and disruptive teachers and students, find ways to create engaging projects and instructional content using much of the Web 2.0 tools that are available at no cost. Not to long ago, I followed a 4th grade class sharing a science disection project via Ustream. The students were sharing information with their virtual audience and their classmates. It was very disruptive and very powerful.
It is my opinion that although schools will filter and prevent certain social media and Web 2.0 tools to pass through their district firewalls, students and teachers will still make available these types of learning tools for their students and colleagues. My guess is that it will not be an institutional adoption, but rather a learning opportunity that extends beyond the school day and beyond school technology tools. I haven't read the book yet, so that will be my first reading of 09, but I would venture to state that a disruptive class will not be the same as a disruptive classroom. Rather, a disrupting class will be a text message from one student to another, a YouTube video to share a history assignment, a MySpace post asking fellow students for their thought process on solving a math equation or a Twitter post to share a link to their digital storybook.
I will be interested to follow how teachers embrace and utilize new technologies and new disruptive Web 2.0 resources in and outside of the "classroom." I have sat through so many sessions where pioneer bloggers and tech savvy techie-types have had colorful discussions and arguments about opening up the floodgates or at least allowing their classrooms to access Ning communities and YouTube content, only to be confronted with a resounding no due to all the obvious reasons - student safety, privacy protection, access to inappropriate materials, and the list goes on. Members of Classroom 2.0 have embraced this disruptive notion, but I think it will be embraced by even more teachers that simply search, browse and check email.
I predict that 2009 will be the narrowing of more practical Web 2.0 resources for teachers and learners. I also believe that teachers will embrace them more readily, not just the early adoptors. I also predict that there will also be a larger mass of educators flocking to social communities, particularly Facebook and (WeAreTeachers) to connect and gather. Okay, maybe not WAT, but this was a shameless plug to try and make that happen :-)
Again, I don't think this will happen institutionally, but rather by way of disruptive behavior, hence creating a disruptive class with disruptive technologies.
The future is now. Class is in session.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
12. Boot Camp
Memorable, but not so sure I would say great. This summer I decided I would start working out for the first time in almost 15 years. Okay more like 20. Man was it a tough. I started going to a boot camp not too far from the house. I continue to go on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays @ 5AM. That's right. Getting up that early in the morning really surprises America. I believe that's half the battle. 50 pounds lighter and biceps that even Arnold Schwarzenegger would envy are still yet to be seen. I've also started bike riding on the trail and basketball on Monday nights. Other than weak knees, no drastic changes yet.
What's not to like about Twitter? Like everyone else, initially my reaction was "I don't get it?" But now, I just get so much content and connections out of it. I always learn something new and find great resources and information. Twitter has been a new find/tool for me in 08.
140 million users on Facebook. Need I say more. I am one of the oldies, parents, others, whatever you wan to call us who have also joined the Facebook phenomena. I'm also my daughter's facebook friend, which I'm sure she regrets adding. Recently we added an application on Facebook titled, I Am Teacher. It's an app that connects teachers around the world.
9. Wii - America's Bday present
This year America turned (can't say) and all she asked for on her birthday was a Wii. Okay, maybe the kids and I really wanted it more.
Looks like I wasn't the only one excited about my wife's birthday gift.
Despite early predictions that 2008 would be the year Sony regained momentum in the bitter video game console wars, it turned out to be false hope. Industry leader Nintendo stayed ahead of the pack all year, thoroughly dominating both the home console and handheld hardware markets with their Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS systems, respectively.According to NPD Group, Nintendo flat-out owned the all-important month of November by selling over 2 million Wiis, better than twice as much as the next closest competitor, Microsoft's Xbox 360 (836,000).
Another great Web 2.0 resource that I went crazy with this year. I really like Flickr on the go. I can take pictures all day long with my phone and upload them automatically to my Flickr account. Check out my 2008 photos @ www.flickr.com/jcostilla.
7. AC graduation from 8th grade / High School
This in and of itself was a major accomplishments. To say that 8th grade was a challenge for us is an understatement. Needless today, he finished 8th grade and is on to high school and doing really well. Enjoy the brief recap of AC in 08.
6. Gab's senior year - 18 years old
We didn't see much of Gab this year as much of her senior year has been spent at the Texas Academy of Math & Science (TAMS). Our oldest is officially 18 years and I guess you could say "independent." She still comes home on closed weekends and asks if mom can bake her some cookies. Although she is in college taking sophomore classes, next year, she officially leaves home to pursue her college dreams for real. Here's a brief recap of her "somewhat surprise" birthday party. Thanks to her two friends who showed up, late I might add.
5. Caroline's Littlest Pet Shop Craze
Caroline turned 8 this year and all the buzz in 08 was definitely "all things Littlest Pet Shop." We celebrated her birthday with a LPS birthday extravaganza. This year mom decided to home school her and she is doing great.
4. John M's broken arm experience
Definitely a 2008 memorable experience - John broke his arm. We were so worried about him and fearful that he would panic about the needs, cast, doctors, etc. In the end, all his screaming was because he wanted to see the doctors poke the needle in his arm. Turns out he's rough around the edges and is very tough skinned. He definitely got himself into a lot of tough situations this year.
3. Grace's independence
Finally, our littlest critter turned 2. This was a year of much growth and exploration. She definitely tested her limits and our patience.
2. My iPhone - The gift that almost was
I might add that this list is in no particular order. Items 3, 4, 5, & 6 definitely would come before #2. However, my iPhone was an absolute plus to my 2008. This year my brothers and sisters decided to pitch in to get me an iPhone for my birthday, but the way the went about it was absolutely painful. This by far makes up for all the past bad Christmas gifts. The navigation / maps feature alone has saved me more times than I can count.
1. Turning 40
This would have to be the biggest milestone for me in 2008. Someone told me that 40 was the new 30. I have to disagree, 40 is definitely the new 40. I definitely feel older, heavier, weaker and everything "er." But this year, I have decided to embrace it head on by being more active and more healthier... at least for the beginning of my New Year's resolution. In 2009, all I have to say is... Bring it on 41.
I'm looking forward to all the new and memorable experiences that 2009 brings about. I hope your 2008 was one with cherished memories and lots of laughter. From my family to yours, we wish you a prosperous New Year and one that is filled with many blessings.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I attached the blog post from WIRED blog sharing just how mainstream it is to be an Apple fan these days.
So is it hip to wear leg warmers again, yet...?
Remember when Apple customers felt hip?
There was a time when a glowing Apple logo symbolized radical nonconformity. Being part of a miniature customer base was, to Mac users, like being a member of a holier-than-thou, secret society — a "Cult of Mac," if you will. But when Apple's ecosystem grew beyond notebooks and desktops to phones and internet services, that era came to an end.
Apple's ubiquitous presence in pop culture, news headlines and even politics prove that it's no longer special to be a member of the Mac cult.
Here's a list of examples showing just how mainstream Apple products have become. As you read along, take a look to your left and to your right and get the attention of the Apple customers around you. Now, raise a glass of Steve Jobs' favorite nonalcoholic grape juice and drink a toast to being the same as everyone else. Repeat after me: We are all individuals!
Macs are big in Hollywood
It seems practically every computer used in a movie is a Mac. It's a little sickening, but it makes sense: The damn things are just so pretty, and if Hollywood stars have to be good-looking, their gadgets should, too. The new Pixar film Wall-E took Mac product placement to new heights: Whenever the miniature robot booted up, he played the Mac start-up chime. And his robot lover EVE even had a white, utilitarian design that epitomizes the Apple aesthetic. (Then again, it's no coincidence that Jobs used to be CEO of Pixar.)
Apple is skipping Macworld
corporation won't be attending Macworld Expo, the trade show that revolves around all things Apple. The message was essentially, "We're so big and popular that we don't need a trade show full of Apple-worshiping losers to advertise our products." That comes off as a little cocky, but hey — it's true. Apple's secret product campaign generates so much buzz, the corporation might as well slice Macworld from its budget. Heck, a Harvard professor estimated bloggers drummed up $400 million worth of free advertising on the iPhone. Yeesh.
Some guy with a mullet is Apple's public face
Steve Jobs won't be throwing on his artsy turtleneck and delivering his famous Macworld keynote in January. Instead, some guy named Phil Schiller, who looks like the star of King of Queens with a Swayze-esque mullet, is emceeing Macworld. Sure, mullets were hip — in the 1990s.
Apple is abandoning FireWire
Mac loyalists are still pissed about Apple's omission of FireWire on the latest MacBooks. The corporation invented FireWire; devices were made with FireWire ports just to connect to Mac machines. How could Apple do such a thing? Answer: Apple is more interested in appealing to the mainstream than its loyal fan base, and ditching FireWire in favor of slimmer, sexy aluminum MacBooks (and the more ubiquitous USB standard) seemed like a good idea. And Apple loves consistency, so don't be surprised if future Macs leave out that connection port, too.
The Simpsons mocks Apple
Appearing in an episode of The Simpsons is like passing a cultural litmus test that screams, "You've broken into the mainstream!" A recent Simpsons episode hurled prickly jokes at the cult of Apple — everything from iPhones to overpriced Mac computers. Heck, Bart even goes as far as to tease Steve Jobs, saying he pees on every iPod. How dare he insult our fearless leader?
Walmart is selling the iPhone
You know the iPhone's pretty damn trendy if you can pick one up along with a bag of socks, a box of rifle bullets and some discounted Halloween candy — at none other than Walmart, one of the world's largest retail arms. And Walmart is even selling the iPhone at a special low price of $197 — a whopping $2 less than the normal price tag.
The President-elect uses a Mac
Windows PC owners always pull the "Macs aren't compatible with any decent software" card when bashing Apple. But that insult is clearly outdated if Barack Obama was able to win the U.S. presidency with a Mac as his computing weapon (while using iChat to stay in touch with his family, no less). And wait — there's one more thing: Obama has his own official iPhone application! Can we all "think different" if we're all using the same trendy gadgets?
Apple stories = Digg bait
Apple headlines are deeply, thoroughly and affectionately Dugg on Digg.com, the most popular headline aggregator on the web. Check out the top technology headlines on Digg, and without a doubt you'll see at least one story with the word(s) "Mac," "Apple" or "iPhone." Don't see one? Then the world is probably coming to an end.
With Facebook up to more than 140 million users, having a few more Santa's can't hurt. The question that I have is "what's next?" Soon the Easter bunndy, the Groundhog and Old Man Winter will have Facebook profile, if they don't already. Is Facebook becoming the new AOL of days gone by. Will Facebook become even more mainstream that those who first joined in will look to something more unique or "next gen?" I remember when we all stumbled upon the Internet, we quickly jumped to get our 300 baud modem and phone line connected so that we could all dial in and here the "you've got mail" notice. Then came the 2400 baud modem, then DSL, then fiber. Pretty soon everyone had their own AOL account and a few of us ventured off into other services like NetZero for free because we didn't want to pay the monthly fees and then everyone else joined the free banner driven dial-up providers. Soon we moved on to faster connectivity with DSL and ISP providers that were as far away from AOL as possible because AOL was for our parents so that they could easily get their email and online without all of the clicks and confusion of the world wide web. And so today, we access our web via mobile phones, netbooks and other devices we'll get for Christmas.
So will Facebook become the new AOL? Where will those college kids who pioneered Facebook go next. What will the next "social community" or application be for those early adopters that have now decided they are moving on because they want something that is there own or want to go somewhere their parents aren't hanging out at? Not to mention all of the snowballs, pokes, and requests to join a group or see how alike I am.
For now, I am a part of the AOL generation now on Facebook and I will friend my daughters friends to find out what's going on out there. Happy Holidays Santa.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
1. The App Store
The real upgrade to the iPhone this year wasn't the iPhone 3G but the accompanying App Store. Launched just five months ago, the store now offers over 10,000 third-party apps, and Apple has seen over 300 million downloads. Part of that success can be attributed to the way in which the iPhone as a platform has galvanized developers; a second major factor is the simplicity of the App Store itself. As a result, lots of our other favorite digital lifestyle-related products and services wound up on the iPhone and iPod Touch, such as Pandora and Last.fm (digital music), Joost (Internet TV), Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter (social web), as well as location-based services, games, remotes (VLC Player and Sonos), and much, much more.
When Netflix starting talking up plans to deliver its online streaming service, Watch Instantly, to "Internet-connected high-definition DVD players, Internet-connected game consoles, and dedicated Internet set-top boxes," we were a little skeptical, especially of the time frame. However, the company really delivered in 2008: Netflix streaming is now available on TiVo, the XBox 360, Internet-connected DVD players from LG and Samsung, along with the Roku Netflix Player set-top box.
Our initial review of the first Google phone, T-Mobile's G1, was mixed, but the Android OS had us pretty excited. "Without a doubt, the Android operating system is spectacular," last100's Daniel Langendorf wrote at the time. "It's fast, with little or no lag time. It's responsive, fun to use, and full of promise." A few months on and we're still impressed. In particular, Android's mobile web browser is the best post-iPhone one yet. And likewise, the Android Market does a great job of copying the iPhone's App Store. Of course, the best thing about Android is that it's open source; as a result, we'll see it powering numerous new smartphones next year, along with other hardware, such as set-top boxes, MIDs, and GPS devices.
4. Nokia E71
In our extensive review, we described Nokia's E71 as our favorite smartphone yet. So, admittedly, this one is a very personal choice. The E71 is roughly the same size as the iPhone but has a completely different form-factor, omitting touch for a more traditional user interface and with enough room to pack in a compact but very usable QWERTY keyboard. Other pluses are the device's overall responsiveness, bundled applications, and a number of welcome improvements to the S60 line's user interface, along with decent web browsing and media playback, superb call quality, and extremely good battery life.
Although online video site Hulu was available in private beta in 2007, it didn't launch publicly until March of this year. Our initial verdict was mixed, but since then the Fox and NBC joint venture has become the third biggest video destination in the U.S., according to Nielsen. Perhaps a testament to that success, a number of device makers have released set-top boxes marketed on their ability to put Hulu content on the TV, such as ZeeVee's recently announced PC-to-TV solution, the ZvBox, and the Neuros LINK. Now, if only Hulu would release an iPhone app or, like Netflix, form official partnerships with consumer electronics companies.
6. BBC iPlayer
Hulu could certainly learn a thing or two from the iPlayer, the BBC's TV catch-up service (UK only). Since its controversial Windows launch, when the public broadcaster was accused of getting too close to Microsoft, the iPlayer has added streaming for the Mac and Linux, a version for the iPhone and iPod Touch, numerous other portable media players, and support for the latest phones running Windows Mobile. There's also an iPlayer application for select Nokia phones and a browser-based version optimized for the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.
7. PlayStation 3
Sony's PlayStation 3 wasn't launched in 2008, but it certainly came of age this year. The company has always pitched the PS3 as a device that goes far beyond gaming. Instead, like Microsoft's XBox 360, it's designed to be a trojan horse in the living room, delivering a range of non-gaming content and services through the television. On that front, Sony made significant progress in 2008 by winning the next-generation format war with Blu-ray, adding DVR functionality in the UK with PlayTV, launching a video download store in the U.S., adding support for DivX video, and, finally, rolling out its own virtual world called Home.
After being in development for two years, the open-source desktop music player Songbird reached its 1.0 release this month. What sets Songbird apart from the likes of iTunes is the array of available plug-ins that extend the app's functionality. For example, mashTape, one of six default add-ons, let's you delve into artist info, discography, links, and news and scroll through Flickr photos and YouTube videos. Other add-on services that ship with the player out of the box are Last.fm, Concerts, and SHOUTcast radio. With these installed, you can sync your tracks to Last.fm's online service, check out upcoming concerts in the area, and stream music over the Internet using the player. As of publication, there are over 70 plug-ins available for Songbird.
See also: ReadWriteWeb's full Songbird review.
9. Wii Fit
Nintendo has long contended that "everyone's a gamer," and now the console giant wants everyone to get fit. Announced last year but released in 2008, the Wii Fit aims to improve the health of family members through the kind of active play first seen in Wii Sports. The "game" comes with a balance board that assists with aerobic, toning, and balancing activities. A neat feature is that household members can review each other's progress on a new Wii channel.
10. The Netbook
This isn't an individual product but a whole new product category that has really taken off in 2008. Initially targeted to the education market and those wanting a third machine, netbooks are resonating with a much broader market -- and not just because of their lower price point compared to more traditional, higher spec'ed sub-notebooks. Despite years of industry propaganda, consumers are wising up to the fact that they don't have to step on the processor upgrade treadmill. Instead, in an age when more and more of our applications and data reside in the cloud (on remote servers, rather than local computers), a machine with Internet connectivity and powerful enough to run a modern web browser (a netbook, in other words) is often all we need.