Tag Archives: experts

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Media (Part 1) – guest post by Alexander Sheko

I asked my son, Alexander Sheko, (also known as Sasha) to write a post about how he uses social media for his academic and personal pursuits. He is currently in his second year of Master of Urban Planning at The University of Melbourne, and at the stage where his interest in mindful and pro-active involvement in urban and environmental issues have blended his studies, personal life and work. I have recommended the use of social media to him since his later years in secondary school, so it’s interesting for me to note that his use of Twitter and Facebook have taken off at a time when they could serve a real purpose in connecting him with experts/like-minded people and enabling him to organise and promote forums and events. As a teacher librarian with an interest in social media in education, this observation has confirmed for me that students will appreciate and use social media platforms when there is a real world significance – and this is often problematic in schools where the agenda is more about practising for life rather than experiencing life. If nothing else, I hope this post will help educators reflect on possibilities for real life connections made possible for our students using social media. 

Photo by Alexander Sheko

Social media – especially popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter – are often characterised as frivolous time-wasters, manifestations of first-world banality and ennui. They are platforms on which to post cat pictures and selfies, the means of production by which we broadcast the minutiae of our lives to nobody in particular, craving likes, follows and other reassurances.

Certainly, they are often seen as counter to productivity, tools of procrastination. We might switch to another tab when a manager or (not so long ago, for me) a parent enters the room. Of course, there is more than a grain of truth in this perception. When attempting to focus on a set task or meet a deadline, it can be unhelpful to have the ping of a Facebook notification providing an excuse for distraction. And unless one is an academic in the field of communication analysing memes as “nuggets of cultural currency”, it is probably less than productive to spend hours looking at Doge, Dolan, Insanity Wolf and the such.

However, as with all tools, the utility of social media is determined by the user and the manner in which they are used. Contrary to the prejudices discussed above, tools such as Facebook and Twitter can be invaluable in finding information (and new sources thereof), sharing and discussing opinions, and making useful connections with others. Over the past year, having begun studying a postgraduate degree and exploring career opportunities, I have been able to use these tools to considerable benefit.

Finding information is perhaps the most basic way that these tools can be used. I often recommend Twitter to those reluctant to use it as a quick way to receive updates and notifications on topics of interest. For example, following a variety of news sources is a good way to get a large number of headlines and snippets of information that can be followed up (perhaps using a service such as Pocket to save articles for future reading), while following cafes and restaurants in the local area can provide updates on changes to menus or opening hours, special events, etc.

Of course, this one-way communication does not fully utilise the interactive nature of social media; however, it often does make use of social media’s networking effects. By following a particular journalist, politician, musician or writer, you are likely to see who they interact with and what information sources they use. You may also get useful recommendations from the social media platform along the lines of “people who liked X may also like Y”. This is a great way to expand your pool of information sources, providing a greater variety of perspectives.

For example, rather than only reading about sustainable transport (an interest and potential career path of mine) through local mainstream media sources such as The Age, Twitter has helped me find sources providing information and opinion from around the world, covering a more diverse range of topics and a broader set of perspectives. (For those interested, I often read The Atlantic Cities, Sustainable Cities Collective, Next City and Co.Exist, as well as blogs such as those of Mikael Colville-Andersen and Brent Toderian). Of course, whatever your interest or profession, finding and following a few key sources and active individuals will start a cascading network effect that will expose you to an increasing array of information and opinion sources.

I’ve talked mostly about Twitter so far, as I’ve found it the most useful platform for finding information in the ways I’ve discussed. Facebook can also be used for this purpose by following pages of organisations of interest (for example, I “like” the Public Transport Users Association page, which often posts articles and other updates on public transport issues in Melbourne). However, I find it is not as useful due to its more dominant use in socialising with people known in “real life” (friends and family). One aspect of Facebook that I do find quite useful, however, is group pages on particular topics that allow for sharing content and discussion.

For example, I often visit Urban Happiness, a group that was started by a professor from the faculty in which I am studying at the University of Melbourne. This is quite a successful group, with 650 members at time of writing, and frequent activity and interaction on urban-related topics, such as architecture, transport, placemaking, design, environment and policy. The group’s members include students (past and present), teaching staff and other interested people. Members are from a range of backgrounds (planning, architecture, landscape architecture, engineering) and include those employed or active in a variety of professions, sectors and locations. This diversity is incredibly useful in exposure to a broad range of information (when people post information that is relevant to their background or expertise), a variety of perspectives (when various people comment and provide their take on material posted by others) and a diverse pool of knowledge that can be accessed (for example, when posting a question to the group page).

I’ve published this despite the fact that it is only a portion of what Sasha had intended to write. When his life is less hectic, I hope to convince him to complete his post, or perhaps take part in an interview-style post. 

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Filed under Social media, Uncategorized

Seeing things in a new way. Suddenly we are all librarians

Photo source thanks to John

Much has been said about Pinterest. Has it? I’m sure it has. Like other forms of social media, you can always find a broad range in terms of quality. It’s so easy to use and it looks great.  In case you haven’t checked it out, Pinterest allows you to easily ‘pin’ pictures (and videos) to a board. Unlike Scoop.it, you can collect any number of boards which can be named and renamed, and which look great at a glance. So easy to find stuff. Of course, I have too many boards but, hey – many people have even more. But wait! there’s more. As with any form of social media, the best part is finding people and following them, repinning what they’ve collected, and finding more awesome people and resources by looking through whom they follow. But a word of warning – it’s addictive. I mean seriously addictive, particularly if you have a weakness for the visual as I do. Do not, do not, start browsing late at night because you might not get much sleep.

Social media platforms like Scoop.it and Pinterest have given a new look to the curation of resources. Visual layouts are engaging and easy to scan for what you need. The key word is sharing – love it! As a teacher librarian, I’m a finder of sorts, and so these networks are invaluable for me. And enjoyable. My job is to fossick and mine for the jewels amongst an overabundance of mediocre or irrelevant resources, and Pinterest makes it easy to do that.

No longer can librarians boast about their classification skills. So many people are willingly spending enormous amounts of time finding, selecting and classifying images and videos into Pinterest boards for the picking.

Recently I’ve been focusing on images to support the teaching and learning of the Visual Arts, and more specifically, VCE Visual Communication Design. I’ve spent an obscene amount of time doing this so, as a form of justification, I’d like to share these with you. Eventually my goal is to nicely embed these into a Libguide or two but in the meantime I’ll share the links. I’ve chosen people who are experts in the Visual Arts. Some of these are teachers but most work within the field.  My selections are only some of what these people have shared.

Toshio Miyake (graphic designer)
Kent Loven

Marc Sublet (graphic designer)

U Soma (design, branding, communication)

Marcus Hay (Director of Creativity, Styling and Interiors)

Steven Vandenplas (graphic designer)

Dubbu (design, film, collage)

Seeke (illustration, typography, art)

silja p (designer)

Hege Vestbo Saetre (design)

Chris Dangtran (design, typography, photography, products)

Ben Serbutt (designer, art director, illustrator, typography)

Ya-Ting Maggie Kuo (design, infographics, typography)

Johnson Yung (mixed media, abstract, photography, animation)

Joao Henriques (typography, design, packaging, infographics)

(collage, photography, design)

Masayuki Nakazawa (director of photography, Tokyo)

Maja Moden (Swedish illustrator)

Folkert Hengeveld (Creative Director at Amsterdam based design firm Formlab)

DOMO-A (graphic design, typography)

Rhian Edwards (graphic design)

Jorge Heilbron (design)

Kazuya Arakawa (graphic design, typography)

Ale casinelli (graphic design)

Zachi Diner (designer)

Frederic Chollet (photography)

Silja p (designer)

Emma Fexeus (designer)

Design Boom – home of design, architecture and art culture

Sayuri Maeda (graphic design)

Galen Lowe (graphic design, architecture, photography)

Robert Melotte (Urban Photographer. Architecture and photography, abstraction of graphic architecture. Melbourne-based)

Maria Rufus (graphic design)

Fernando Baeza Ponsoda (architecture)

Archibald Woo (architect)

Griffen Lim (graphics, architecture, interiors) Melbourne-based

Fosco Lucarelli (architecture, design)

MoMA Design Store

Ryutaro Kishi (graphic design, product design, fashion, photography, typography)

Architizer (everything architecture and design)

Arslog (Contemporary Art, Science, Technology)

Emanuela Marcu (a bit of everything)

Astrid Trobro (art director and web designer)

Paul Waltz (architect, sustainable initiatives)

Ginny Christensen (Director of Digital Arts, California)

Sylvie Wibaut (illustration, photography, graphics, furniture)

Janna Gougeon  (Line, pattern, symmetry)

Doris Cook (photography, mixed media, illustration, diagrams, graphic design, street art and more)

Lelle Laflamme

David Schultz (creative director)

Natalie Lowry (graphic design student)

Art teachers on Pinterest –

Donald Peters

Patricia Schappler (drawing in different media, printmaking and so many more)

Youtube on the Arts (Pinterest board)

Some of the design styles I’ve been looking for (so many people have these categories)

Art Deco
More Art Deco

Art Nouveau

Digital art

Typography by Japanese art director and graphic designer “c ktnon”

There are so many more resources on Pinterest to inspire, and to support teaching and learning in different areas. Here are my Diigo bookmarks for a start, but go ahead and search for your own area of interest.

Concerned about copyright and Pinterest’s terms of service? Here is an article I posted earlier. Who is still unhappy with Pinterest’s terms of service? I’d be interested in hearing from you.

I’ve shared my Pinterest boards before but here they are again.

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Filed under Curation, Social media

What do you know about vodka and Matryosha dolls?

The origin of words and the culture and history behind them are fascinating. Jenny Luca sent me to the Words of the World website today and I’ve been having fun learning about my Russian cultural background.

From Nazi to Chocolate, words play a vital role in our lives.

And each word has its own story.

But where do they come from? What do they mean? How do they change?

The University of Nottingham School of Languages and Cultures does a brilliant job of unpacking words in a very engaging way. It’s difficult not to go through all the videos in one sitting when the experts present their knowledge in such an accessible way. It makes me want to study at Nottingham University. So much more interesting for students to learn in video form, I think, and learning from experts in this way would be something which could entice reluctant learners or just bring knowledge through a face and voice, whetting the appetite for more.

Check out the YouTube channel, join the Facebook group, follow @wordsnottingham on Twitter, or follow the blog of the creator, film-maker Brady Haran.

My question is – will the word bank increase? I hope so because this learning site is very addictive.

Ever wondered about the history of Russian nesting dolls?

You might also like to have a look at The University of Nottingham’s YouTube channel.

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Filed under 21st century learning, language

TED talks wiki

If you enjoy TED talks on video, feast your eyes on the TED talks wiki, which is like a cornucopia of TED, an overabundance of these tantalising talks.  Getting through these all might take you – lets see, say about …. a year!

The talks are searchable by speaker, or you can search by first name of speaker alphabetically.

Since I’ve just blogged about Howard Rheingold, I thought I’d use him as an example of the quality of these talks. His talk, Way-new collaboration, is about the coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action — and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group.

The TED talks site also gives you a summary of the speaker’s biography as well as a link to more details. Here is Howard Rheingold’s bio:

Writer, artist and designer, theorist and community builder, Howard Rheingold is one of the driving minds behind our net-enabled, open, collaborative life.  

The site also lists other talks in the series or on the same theme, as well as related theme, and related tags. Altogether, it’s an excellent way to hear experts and inspirational speakers talk about a large variety of topics. It’s also an excellent way to discover interesting people. It’s easy to keep up with the latest talks; you can subscribe to the TED newsletter, or subscribe to RSS feeds.

It’s wonderful how much variety there is within a theme. Tales of invention includes the following topics and more:

Legendary designer Philippe Starck‘s lively ruminations on his own creative process suggest how the patterns of a civilization might affect, say, the design of a citrus juicer. Jan Chipchase investigates the worldwide impact of mobile phones — and the impact of culture on next-generation mobile technology. Explorer and adventurer Bill Stone, meanwhile, fires up a rapt audience with his ambitious plan to harvest energy from the moon.

Copyright lawyer Larry Lessig gives a brief history of creative freedom and copyright, and talks about how contemporary copyright law could strangle future artistic invention and interpretation. William Kamkwamba tells how he built a windmill from scrap metal when he was 14 years old. And Amy Smith shares her transformative low-tech tools for saving life in the developing world.

As usual, the comments are an interesting continuation of the conversation.

I’ll leave you with Larry Lessig, one of our foremost authorities on copyright issues, with a vision for reconciling creative freedom with marketplace competition.

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Filed under 21st century learning