Monthly Archive: November 2009

get to the point!

After thinking a great deal about the way in which I write, and the sequence of ideas that precede the manner in which I put words to “paper,” I have come to the conclusion that I need to work harder on how I write.  I think that I need to focus on getting to the point right off the bat, rather than leading up with a whole bunch of qualifying statements.

In other words, I need to get to the darn point faster.

I have noticed a really bad tendency in my e-mails of late.  I start off with all of these qualifying comments – considering that I don’t know this, having look at various options, etc.  What I need to do is just start off with the point of my message, and then add in the reasons why I’m writing later.

This is my “almost done with the year” resolution.  To get to the point.

what is a “disruptive technology?”

The other night and throughout Educause, people have been talking about “disruptive technologies.”  Because I’m getting my MBA, I think back to disruptive technologies in terms of products and markets.

For instance, the transistor was a disruptive technology.  However, many manufacturers of radios considered it a process change – they put them in their existing, big radios rather than tubes.  But other manufacturers (Sony, with the Walkman), used it to create a whole new market.  The actual disruptive technology is the transistor, but the innovation was how it was used.

And it is always about how it is used.  How something is put together to create something new.  Google Wave, for instance (yes, I am still trying to get my head around it), combines several items that aren’t really all that disruptive anymore, if you think about it.  Instant-message style communication?  That’s old.  Threaded discussion?  Been there, done that.  Multi-contributors?  Well, a mailing list is a communication “stream” with lots of people contributing, too.

Does combining them all together make it disruptive?  Honestly, in this case, I don’t know.  I don’t see this as creating a new market, for instance, at least in terms of education (I think it does for project management, btw, though it needs to be combined with other tools like document management and calendars, etc (you listening, google?!?!?).

Are there other disruptive technologies out there?  Twitter is massively disruptive (I’d still get in on the VC funding for that (with strong liquidation preferences) if I could).  Wikis are/were, too, but they have not evolved as much as I would have thought.

I have found it useful to take a business approach to a lot of these topics at Educause.  Anyway.

google apps…and what the heck is wave?

So far, after just 1 day at Educause (and pre-conference day, actually), there has been quite a bit of talk about campuses that have gone with Google Apps for Education, and about their latest product, Google Wave.

The talks about Google Apps have gone in 2 parts, it seems.

1 – migration to e-mail was not terrible, technically.  Programmatically, it takes some effort to get buy-in, but ultimately if it makes sense, then it’ll work and it’ll happen and it’s not a big deal.

2 – students are in fact using the other apps, especially Google Docs.  They even write collaboratively.  However, they still save out to Word and send that to faculty (electronically – they could just send the URL to the Google Doc).

I find this second point very interesting.  To me, outsourcing email to Google isn’t a big deal (well, privacy, etc is a big deal, but in a less FERPA-y kind of way, it’s straightforward).  But I seriously wonder whether students are getting the extra advantage of all the collaboration tools.  Signs point towards yes, which is great

What stinks, though, is that it’s so hard to collaborate on Google Apps.  Yes, it’s easy to share a doc and write together.  Recently, however, I wanted to set up some items for my final MBA class.  In order to meet my needs, I did:

  1. Create a Google Group.  Invite people to that
  2. Create a Google Calendar.  Invite same people to that
  3. Create a folder in Google Docs.  Invite…same people to that.

Thank goodness I can at least share folders rather than having to have a document first.  But why can’t Google let us create a site that would have all of these things, available to a set list of people?  An actual collaboration space?  Kind of ridiculous, IMO.

Then there is Google Wave.  I am pretty sure I can figure out how to use it, especially for projects.  But I honestly don’t know how I’d explain it to faculty, or develop a good use case for pedagogy.  Someone suggested that it’s

  1. a new communication paradigm
  2. wiki meets gmail meets IM

So, first, I’m not 100% sure it’s a new paradigm.  I guess definitely a new construct.  Not sure about a new paradigm.

I’m also not sure about the wiki part.  We aren’t creating a cohesive page, after all, with a wave.  More like a stream of messages.

Which does mean that gmail meets IM makes some sense.  But how do I explain what that means to faculty and students?  Especially without Google Docs integration?

the oppression of the iPhone

Here at Educause 2009 in Denver, I’m finding myself once again feeling left out because I don’t have an iPhone.  An application with all of the program information (you don’t have to pick up one of the paper booklets, perhaps) is available, and everyone I talk to just keeps asking me if I have an iPhone.

No, I don’t, and I don’t think I should keep getting left out even by Eduause, of all groups, because of it.

Please note that I in no way think that Educause is doing this purposely – the iPhone is an extremely common platform and it makes a tremendous amount of sense to build an app for that.  And I have yet to run into anyone that has asked me “do you have an iPhone?” or “are you using the iPhone app?” that has had a hint of judgment upon hearing my answer.

But there is an almost oppressive emphasis on using the iPhone at this conference.

I mean, I can use twitter (search, post, etc – va uberTwitter), post to facebook, tag people in photos, etc with my Blackberry.  If mine had a camera (it’s a “business” model), then I could even doing twitpic, too.  Or post to FB’s mobile uploads.  I am more connected to my university’s systems with my Blackberry than I ever could be with an iPhone (due to our infrastructure).

So why I do feel diminished in some way here, at this great sharing of knowledge and ideas, because I don’t have a particular phone?