Social Bookmarking in Plain English (and other wonderfully clear explanations)

Sometimes I find it hard to get the time to explain certain concepts – RSS, for example – which both have enough information and avoid boring to death those who already know things. Thankfully, those folk over at CommonCraft do really, really good introductory explanations of Web2.0-type tools. Here’s their take on social bookmarking:

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After that you’ll also want to check out RSS in Plain English; Wikis in Plain English; Google Docs in Plain English; and Social Networking in Plain English. Watch the show for future useful episodes. I’m sure these clips will find some use in my teaching! 🙂

Virgin Mobile and Creative Commons Sued by US Teen

A couple of months ago I wrote about Virgin Mobile’s controversial use of CC-Licensed images from Flickr in one of their advertising campaigns.  Things have now taken an odd twist, with on of the teenagers features in the photos suing not just Virgin but Creative Commons as well!  As the Sydney Morning Herald reported:

A Texas family has sued Australia’s Virgin Mobile phone company, claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and website advertisements without consent. […] The picture of 16-year-old Chang flashing a peace sign was taken in April by Alison’s youth counsellor, who posted it that day on his Flickr page, according to Alison’s brother, Damon. In the ad, Virgin Mobile printed one of its campaign slogans, “Dump your pen friend,” over Alison’s picture. The ad also says “Free text virgin to virgin” at the bottom. […]

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas late yesterday, names Virgin Mobile USA LLC, its Australian counterpart, and Creative Commons Corp, a Massachusetts nonprofit that licenses sharing of Flickr photos, as defendants. […]

People who post photos on Flickr are asked how they want to license their attribution. The youth counsellor chose a sharing licence from Creative Commons that allows others to reuse work such as photos without violating copyright laws, if they credit the photographer and say where the photo was taken. His Flickr page appears at the bottom of the ad.

Worth reading on this matter are:-

[X] Lawrence Lessig’s post “On the Texas suit against Virgin and Creative Commons” (always thorough, Lessig also links to the actual complaint);
[X] The Slashdot Thread on the lawsuit;
[X] and Joi Ito’s post, in which he notes this complaint is a “very good example of the complexities of copyright and other rights and the necessity of educating the public and ourselves about what copyright exactly is.”

Personally, I find it hard to credit the complaint against Creative Commons.  I think as an organisation, CC have done more to educate people about copyright than almost any other organisation.  While I admit using certain CC licenses leaves the lay-person ignorant about the complexities of model releases and the different international standards (ie you need people in the photos to grant permission for their image or likeness to be used), the fault lies more with copyright law per se than with Creative Commons.  Of course, given this development, it would seem prudent time for a more detailed guide about using CC licenses on Flickr (and other photos) to be developed.

[Cross-posted from my main blog.]

Learning Futures: Day Two Insights

Insight #3: If ePortfolios and other forms of electronic presence are going to be (or are) a core part of the way graduates ‘sell’ themselves to employers, then identity management needs to be taught at all levels of education. Identity management includes those aspects of identity which we intend employers to see, and those we don’t want seen. If a basic search online for someone’s full name reveals drunken party pictures on Flickr or YouTube clips of bullying antics in their youth, then that is just as likely to be viewed by employers as the intended ePortfolios or other material. Identity management clearly is something of a challenge, especially as many educators aren’t fully aware of how much students can put online (or how to temper that), but the Internet never forgets and we need students to be able to understand that for all sorts of reasons, and future employability is clearly one of them.

Insight #4:The unconference model only works when all the participants have a strong sense of what they are intending to pull apart or critique in advance. If half of a conference is populated by people trying to get a basic understanding of something – in this case Web 2.0 – then the unconference model of primarily relying on informed participants leading all the conference sessions themselves, directed by their conversations and thinking, to the exclusion of traditional papers or presentations, is doomed to disappoint a lot of people attending that form of conference. (This, incidentally, is not a personal gripe, but a clearly articulated sense from a number of my fellow conference delegates).

[Cross-posted from my main blog.]

Learning Futures: Day One Insights

I’m at the Learning Futures Symposium today and tomorrow.  I’m not blogging summaries of sessions because, to be fair, that’s often quite dull.  However, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take the conference discussions to springboard some observations or thoughts that occurred during these interactions…

Insight #1: There is a reasonable amount of critical distance in terms of the ‘digital natives/digital immigrants’ rhetoric, but the same critical perspective doesn’t stretch to critiquing the idea of ‘web 2.0’.  Whereas ideas which supposedly encompass an entire generation are easy enough to pull apart, many educators seem wary of software and claims made about software as they acutely feel that this is one of the few areas in which students know more about this area than they do.  I suspect that if the same educators were dipping their toes in a little more they’d realise something commonsensical which seems to have entirely escaped these kind of conversations: that while there are many types of web 2.0 software, there are generic skills to be found in using these tools and platforms.  The reason that people can move from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook so easily, for example, is that at a basic level there is a lot of similarity between the way these platforms operate and the skills needed to use them.  Sure, the rate of new names of software can be overwhelming, but if we remember that a large section of the skills learnt using one social software platform are viable for the next, super-duper, upcoming must-have web 2.0 tool are transferable, that makes taking the time to learn and teach them a whole lot more important and palatable.  And social software platforms are just one example; skills in blogging, using wikis and many other forms of ‘web 2.0’ tools are similarly transferable and, at some level, generic.  Perhaps we should be focusing more on what those skills are.

Insight #2: Often the people in the driving position for educational policy aren’t confident to make decisions about ICT – nor should they be!

[Cross-posted from my main blog.]