I’m still scratching my head to find out exactly why I think this is interesting… I just have that tingly feeling. But as we see ever increasing of interest in virtual worlds, continued explosion of web things, mashups, and mobile technologies, its the connections of them that seem to intrigue me the most.

Although I lack a phone even capable of tis stuff, the things that allow people to connect by mobile devices, share, acquire thing in our every day meanders, or via coordinated efforts seem to be underplayed in education (with notable efforts), especially considering the proliferation of mobile phones in many pockets.

There are many examples of the kind of creative group activities facilitated by phones +/- web +/- geo-location data like you see at the Come Out & Play Festivals. They are simple and elegant in design, and do not call for massive amounts of technology. And they intersect the technical and real world environments.

So it was again that beautiful sense of web serendipity of space baring my way through Google Reader (I don’t care it is cumbersome for D’Arcy, it works for me), I came across Semapedia:

Our goal is to connect the virtual and physical world by bringing the right information from the internet to the relevant place in physical space.

To accomplish this, we invite you to create Semapedia-Tags which are in fact cellphone-readable physical hyperlinks. You can create such Tags easily yourself by choosing and pasting a Wikipedia URL into the form above. Once created, you put the Tags up at their according physical location. You just hyperlinked your world! Others can now use their cellphone to ‘click’ your Tag and access the information you provided them.

So you take a Wikipedia URL that exists, it generates a PDF document with a graphic like code that represents this URL that a mobile phone (equipped with free reader software) and read–

QR Codes’ and are basically cellphone-readable URLs. Basically they are 2D codes when they are standard-compliant with ISO/IEC18004.

So if you re out and about, and you come across a Semapedia code tacked to a wall, a park bench, etc, you can read it with your phone and get the relevant info from Wikipedia.

So it is using mobile technology to link places with content – does that ever happen in a learning environment?

semapedia_strawberry_arizona.jpg
Just for fun, I created one for where I am today, Strawberry Arizona, which is pretty much demographic data in WikiPedia

The Semapedia site then generates a PDF with a bunch of tags I can use to put “out” in the real world (okay, I will bypass the litter concerns)- which if I actually had a decent phone, would render something like http://semapedia.org/w/15236.

And here is proof! My tag was added to recent tags listing:

semapedia-strawberry.jpg

Now putting aside people’s hangups on wikipedia, what might one do with the ability to locate locations, things with information? There is obviously things like reference material, history, but also mapping, perhaps data collecting and analysis.. and then there is the whole other side. If yo had some sort of outdoor, real world activity where you might set up such tags, you would then have a vested interested in perhaps authoring, researching some of the Wikipedia pages you might link to.

And one has some of the nice connections from Semapedia- a mashup with the Semapedia locations and Google Map, a pile of flickr photos showing placement of the “semapedic tags”, a time machine showing the creation of the tags on a timeline (using the very cool MIT SIMILE timeline), and KML data for Google Earth.

And This is one of those ideas that started off as a “what if” exchange by two people via email that really took off- leveraged by the connectivity of the net- read the backstory.

So I saw some shiny tech and conjecture it might have some education usage- but I always need a reality check. The real creativity, I have seen over and over again, is when instructors are able to see a potential and develop an application for their own needs/context. Does this have a “real” use or is it just “something cool” (or not even that)? I dont know and there never is a single answer… but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Linktribution to ed(ge)ucation design :: by Marg

The post "Tagging Your World to Wikipedia – Semapedia" was originally zapped with 10,000 volts and declared "It's ALIVE" by Dr. Frankenstein at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2007/09/semapedia/) on September 21, 2007.

7 Comments

  • Chris L

    A few of us at work are interested in this idea as well… Semapedia, ThingLinks– after hearing Bruce Sterling talk about the Internet of Things a while back I’ve been keeping my ears open for more advances in the merge between life and objects (and second life).

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any evidence that a QR Code tattoo that works is possible– otherwise I’d be tagged already!

  • Well my issues go back to “I lack a phone even capable of tis stuff”.

    While bar codes, 3D bar codes, RFID and NFC are all great ideas and have huge potential for learning the fact that their potential is limited by access to devices that you can use them on is the issue.

    Of all the mobile devices — mobile phones and the mobile web is the most unstable platform because there is non-conformity in operating system and there are too many different mobile web browsers. Eventually one day this platform will stabilise, I hope, and this is when we will see the potential of these applications for learning eventuate. Currently mobile technology is advancing at a rapid pace– what looks like a solution today may not be tomorrow.

    BTW Leonard Low commented on the original article with “To ensure your content is mobile-friendly if you’re thinking of playing with this, consider linking to Wapedia (http://www.wapedia.org/en/) rather than Wikipedia. Wapedia converts Wikipedia articles to a compact, mobile-friendly format. :)”

    So at the moment my vote is cool — but not quite there yet for practical applications.

    Sue
    PS early in morning and I have probably made no sense.

  • Good time for a reality check Alan! You’ve prompted me to write a brief follow-up post… I’m left asking those stratgic-type questions!
    Looking forward to talking more with you when you visit the ACT in Oct!
    Marg

    ps. Sue, standards are always an issue…we learn as we go! I have no trouble with Wikipedia pages rendering on my phone, so obviously the variance is noticeable across phone browsers etc!

  • True Marg – standards are always an issue but if you look at mobile phones and mobile devices they are a very unstable platform if compared to computers. So it is much easier to design and plan for a computer than it is currently for a mobile device especially a mobile phone.

    Sue

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