Monday, June 29, 2009

The World Continues to Shrink

Yesterday afternoon, I began a new endeavor called Webtopia. Webtopia is a weekly series on UStream that investigates and demonstrates live new and exciting Web 2.0 applications. You can find it every Sunday at 1:00 PM on: http://ustream.tv/channel/webtopia If you happen to miss a session, you can visit the site at any time and view old episodes.

Now why you ask, would I start such a show? Well the answer is simple. As the world of technology expands and new sites crop up (sometimes hundreds a day), it gets harder to find the sites that make a difference. On Webtopia, I add some clarity to the sometimes dark cloud of the web for folks who are afraid to jump right into the deep end! I guide you through the process of signing up, setting up your profile and getting into the nuts and bolts of how to use the sites with specific examples of how they can be used in an educational setting.

OK, so now that you have the background. Let me share an amazing story!

Just before I went live I tweeted that I would be reviewing two websites on the first episode: Start.io and Mapvivo.com (incidentally you can follow me @JMGUBBINS on Twitter). Within hours after the episode aired, I received an e-mail from Peter Vidani who works for Tumblr (one of my favorite applications on the web - though I haven't used it much lately) and is a co-founder of Start.io! First off, let me say that I was thrilled to have a developer of the site I had reviewed interested in my project. Second, he was kind enough to point out that some of the difficulties I was having may have been do to Internet Explorer. And I couldn't agree more. Whilst IE is not my browser of choice, it is what most of my users are comfortable with, so it is what it is.
Part of being an educator is learning to roll with some difficulties. As I often preach, "Technology is a mindset, not a skillset!" So, I went to bed last night thinking "that was cool" and feeling like I was swiming in the deep end of the tech pool!
Well, I almost drowned this morning when I opened my g-mail and found a message from Tom Sieroń one of the co-founders of Mapvivo! After coming up for air, I re-read the e-mail and wqas pleased that he was happy with my review. Again, I had a bit of difficulty. This time with my my registration and came to find out that Tom noticed I forgot part of my own e-mail address (I'm such a nerd). Anyway, he expressed his appreciation for my review, insight on educational applications and was kind enough to share that they are currently working on edu.mapvivo.com! Wow! If this doesn't make a ed tech geeks day nothing does!

So lessons learned from Episode 1 of Webtopia?
  1. It may be time to buy a better method for screencasting. Currently I use a combination of ManyCam and SuperWebcam. It seems to be ok, but the actual how comes out extremely pixelated. Could also be my upstream connection...but I need to make the show better if it's going to be a success (so far I have had 23 viewers of the first episode!)
  2. I think the show will need to be just a little less "off the cuff". While it's fine to make small blunders when you are sharing with a small audience, once developers are paying attention you don't want to be making foolish mistakes. Had I signed up for an account the night before the Mapvivo portion may have gone a little smoother. Kinda like the cooking shows where they already have a finished product to pull out of the oven 10 seconds after they are set to 450 degrees
  3. Finally, the world is shrinking. One tweet about a new show and the developers of the sites being reviewed are all over it. Again demonstrating the power of social networking and collaboration. And while webtopia is not yet viral, I am well on my way!
On a personal level, I would like to state my appreciation once again to Peter Vidani and Tom Sieroń for making this Ed Tech Geek feel like a slightly bigger fish in an ever increasing (yet somehow shrinking) pond!
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