The sky over Flagstaff Arizona today was actually crystal clear, but if you had appropriate x-ray glasses on you may have spotted some tag clouds, sprinkled with some Canadian flair. Is that too vague an opening blog post?
Okay, today I had the sheer pleasure and honor to co-present, and that verb is used loosely, because it was really more of a free form “jam” with my colleague Brian Lamb at the Northern Arizona University E-Learning Institute. We were asked to brig on the “social software firehose”. Brian and I invariably have much fun in this process, mostly because we generally cook up something novel and new (and partially risky).
Brian landed in Phoenix yesterday, and after a critical planing meeting at my favorite New Mexican style lunch spot in Scottsdale, we chugged up the I-17 hill (well I did show the back road around New River) to Flagstaff, idly catching up, dodging lane changing 18-wheelers. In the evening we were treated to a discussive dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery with our host Don Carter and colleague Shelley Henson form Utah State and the local Irish Red AND seeing the Suns win Game 1…. and there was a little bit of late night wiki-del.icio.us bashing for today’s sessions.
And the morning prep was enhanced by a trip to the greatest coffee shop in the region (there are lots of referential photos, but uploading them to flickr via the 24 kbs dial-up connection from our cabin would take way too long).
Okay, that was 4 paragraphs of stalling without any links to the work we supposedly did today. Our first morning session was a hands on session on Rip, Mix, Feed – Reloaded: Social Software and Learning which has several remixes of past work. But this was our plan to have participants get some quick and direct experience in the realm of social bookmarking and photosharing using 1 and 2 of our long standing social software apps.
The wiki link above was not the “show” at all; it was more as the link repository for folks to come back to… our “cunning plan” was a bit different and revealed as a tag cloud now seen after the fact at http://cogdogblog.com/stuff/nau06/workshop.html — the cloud here was produced by participants tag activity using a shared account we created at http://del.icio.us/naukeynote/. The activity was really a quick launch into del.icio.us and asking the crowd to lock and load tag any sites they could find or remember related to their interests in social software. The exercise was more the have them do some tagging and using the rendered tag view (thanks to the cool template from Brian’s team at UBC, some time ago I had mis-commented on Brians’s blog wondering why it was different from delicious’s own tool, but once I clicked on a tag it hit me in the face.)
The tags and sites tagged were accumulated by the activity of the 25-25 participants- they caught on quickly. We riffed a bit more on how this can be sued in in an academic realm. Gears were shifted quickly, and we had to move more quickly through the flickr activity. Here we had them log on to another demo flickr account (5 bonus points to anyone who can find the presentation used first for this account). It was a breeze through of flickr tags, comments, pools, annotations, and the golden virtue of the Creative Commons flickr pool. Then we had them use the uber cool flikcrlilli search to find an interesting photo (note to world- this site does not work in Internet Explorer and is case example number 1543 in “Why Would Anyone Actually Use Such an INferior, Bug Holed POS?” But I digress).
Whew! But wait, there was more– as the final crushing blow, we tossed it all into SuprGlu http://haukeynote.suprglu.com
And that was the morning. After a break we moved into our plenary session on this mouthful… “Connected Learners – Leveraging the Power of Social Software Used Outside of Formal Learning (Wikis, Blogs, and Other Online Collaboration Tools)”… this presentation was another one we tried to steer via a tag cloud generated in less than 24 hours– http://cogdogblog.com/stuff/nau06/keynote.html. I am blog-tired to do a recap, but we did cover a lot of goovy ground. Our plan for this one was to open wot a blank wiki page, and say, “how do you like our presentation?” The plan was to have one of us steer and talk from the set of resources under the tag cloud, while the other fill out the wiki with notes, but it was a bit much to stay up on the latter, so what was filled was about 1/3 of the show.
It was a great gig, and ended up taken some spontaneous turns, which was the intension. There were good questions we likely partially answered at best, but this audience was engaged and motivated (or had plenty of coffee for the last day of a conference).
But now that Brian and I are done, and relaxing at Strawberry (and late for headed out to the local pub), I must say what a powerful and humbling thing it is to have an opportunity to work with great colleagues and to get asked to come up with these crazy ideas (I think that is what you asked for Don, right? eh?).
So a fitting close was this flickr image blogged from the morning session: