Archive for July, 2006

Kubuntu as a primary desktop

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Today I moved back to Linux. I’ve been using Linux since 1998 as a primary desktop until the last few years, when I’ve been running Windows XP and Linux Ubuntu under VMWare emulalation.

My current laptop is an Asus M5Ae (Z33A in US) with 1GB RAM. It’s very small, lightweight and it looks great. In the past I had problems with Linux support on it so I decided not to run Linux as a primary operation system. When my Windows XP started to act weirdly I decided to try a migration.

The result is a great success considering the alien hardware I’m working with. I lost some hairs with external monitor support, sleep mode, audio and wireless connectivity but now everything seems to be fine.

I run Kubuntu (Dapper) with a lot of small improvements. I like the user experience a lot more than my last FlyakiteOSX experiment under Windows XP. I can see that Linux on the Desktop has gone forward in giant leaps compared to the situation a few years ago. In the past I used RedHat, Slackware, Debian, Mandrake and SuSE. Each setup had their benefits but my custom Kubuntu is much better in all fronts.

You can see a screenshot of my KDE desktop here:

snapshot11 Kubuntu as a primary desktop

What doesn’t work is higher resolution than 1024x on an external monitor. In Windows it closes the built-in LCD when switching to higher resolution on the external monitor. This doesn’t seem to work under Linux. Also, sleep mode doesn’t work if I run the drivers for my Ricoh SD memory card reader, so I have to disable it for now.

I run some nice KDE applications to make my desktop look better, including kooldock, kbfx and dekorator. Theme is Active Heart, icon theme is Nuvola, window style Lipstik, color theme Paper (ink), sound theme Borealis, cursor theme ComiX and a few custom background images were used here and there.

TED talks online, finally

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference has posted podcasts and vodcasts online, presenting ideas from the conference to the outside public for the first time.

I watched a good chunk of them and Sir Ken Robinson (talking about what’s wrong with the educational system) and Hans Rosling (illustrating economic changes in the world) were the ones that provided most substance (with good humor) to my interests. David Pogue provided a very good presentation as well on computer usability.

The original presentation by Al Gore on global climate crisis was not there. The follow-up talk is online, but doesn’t include the interesting data we will see in his upcoming movie, the Inconvenient Truth.

Social web + informal learning presentation online

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

182423539 f466ef32ed m Social web + informal learning presentation online

Ok, I just created a screencast of my presentation by syncing the slides with my audio recording. The 25min presentation (+10min discussion) I gave at the EU eLearning 2006 conference in Espoo, Finland entitled “Social web in support of informal learning” is below in various formats. I recommend the Screencast version, as my presentation is very much visual:

Screencast [FLASH, 16MB]
Podcast [MP3, 16MB]
Slides [PDF, 3.2MB]

The commenters were at least Dr. Joe Cullen, Esko Kilpi and Dr. Vittorio Midoro.

The presentation is a dedicated to all the people who have influenced my thinking during the past few years and made me a better informal learner. Especially those who are somehow directly related to the ideas in this presentation including Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Scott Wilson, Esko Kilpi, Helen Barrett, Teemu Leinonen and Joi Ito.

My “social web in support of informal learning” soon online

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Several people already asked for the slides and recording of my talk at EU eLearning 2006 conference in session “Lifelong Learning promoting inclusion” with the title “social web in support of informal learning“. It seems it was well taken, that’s great icon smile My “social web in support of informal learning” soon online

My audio podcast as an MP3 and slides will be online in 24 hours, so check back later in this space.

EU eLearning 2006 conference 1st day

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

182319853 db11479270 m EU eLearning 2006 conference 1st day

I’m here at the EU eLearning 2006 conference in Espoo, Finland. This time around I’m helping them to organize the social web aspect of the conference. There is great potential in Social Software to increase conversation before, during and after a conference.

To support interaction through the social web, the participants can upload photos to Flickr, post links to del.icio.us and write blog posts with the tag euel06. Our conference aggregator will catch content from the social web. Participants can also edit the conference wiki, which has proven to be useful. Frappr map was used to display where people are coming from to attend the conference.

I arrived late to the conference, just missing the opening plenary. Fortunately the session was recorded and is online for viewing (just looked through, the last presentation was very good I think).

The various topics covered at the conference were interesting but the content lacked substance, at least in the sessions I participated in. I saw a lot of buzzword-filled slides with references to things like service oriented architecture, blogs, wikis, folksonomies, tagging and informal learning but practically not much was said. Overloading slides with bullet-points full of empty words just doesn’t cut it for me. How are these things related to the topic of the conference (learning) remained a mystery in the middle of all the political-latin I was hearing.

I consider the conversational social web, shifts in industrial production logic and post-industrial knowledge work practices as important issues in understanding what is going on and to take us from vision to practice. Unfortunately it seems a lot of people are still clueless on how emerging practices (new literacies in the social web among people of my age) will affect learning in the future. They see the vision of what needs to be supported (for example digital literacy) but not what it includes.

One session gave me reasons to blog about and that was the “Digital literacy for all” session in the afternoon.

Prof. Tapio Varis (Chair of Media Education, Finland) presented some of the trends in how the world is changing around us and affected by new technology and how these are promoting new social media with new practical skills and literacies. He emphasized collaborative development rather than “providers” and passive “users. No one wants to be a passive user, but rather an active participant. He talked about something he calls the new renaissance of education: His point was that study of complexity has bought science closer than ever to art. Art deals with the sensual world (media as extension of senses) and the holistic concept of human being. Knowledge has gone from non-specialism to specialism and back to interdiscplinarity, even transdisciplinarity.

Euan Semple was 21 years in senior position at BBC. He gave a presentation on how BBC grew to include 16,000 staff using online forums, 2,500 wikis, RSS, social networking and hundreds of weblogs.

I recorded the talk, the MP3 is here:

Euan Semple on social computing at BBC [MP3, 24min, 11,1MB]

He started his talk by referencing to Cluetrain manifesto and how there is a global network of person to person conversations.

To support these conversations inside BBC, they implemented online discussion forums (I see RSS icons as well). The forums provided a great platform for intercourse. First time ever they had a tool to collect the conversation. He have an example of how the conversation helped to shape conflicting points of view.

Connect.gateway was created for people to find other people. It was built around profiles and interest groups (communities). He points out that people formed the communities themselves and managing them was the last thing they would do.

Then came blogs. Euan explains well what a blog is: how is it structured and how it provides a rich linking environment resulting in rich patterns. Commenting possibilities turn passive sites into active ones. His example is Richard Sambrook’s Global news blog (he works as the director of the BBC Global News Division). Blogs gave power to the individual voice. They even had four members of the management staff as bloggers.

Wikis was the next thing big thing. He explains that wiki enables the wisdom of the crowds to emerge (there is a good book by the same name written by James Surowiecki). Their wiki provided a space to explore leadership and management within the BBC and it was totally structured by their users. When the content grew, people took different roles: some people were writing, some were editing and some were organizing the wiki. RSS was adopted to filter the massive number of sources and handle the information flow.

He ends his talk by explaining user-generated metadata (folksonomies) and how tagging works in Flickr and del.icio.us.

He left BBC in february. Part of the reason was that old media business models don’t go very well together with the new social media. In his blog he writes that it’s scary that most people who really understood the web have already left the BBC. Just in time when they plan to clone MySpace…

On the 2nd conference day I will talk about how the social web supports informal learning, so I will revisit some of these topics.

 [:UPDATE:]

A good transcript of Euan Semple’s talk is here