Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Tricks Online--Scribd and Issuu

We tried last year to present the DSU magazine, New Tricks, in an online, smart-phone friendly format.  Here's the result on Scribd, which works okay . . .
New Tricks 2010
and Issuu, which leaves something to be desired. I think, with a little reworking the original, that it will be okay.

We're Midwesterners. No Tweeting!

A report from 9 Clouds indicates that not many of us are Tweeting.  To be exact, about .35%.  That's POINT 35 percent.  Not 35.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Social Media and Authors

From the article Social Media for Authors, in the latest issue of Poets and Writers:
When I work on a publicity campaign, I view my objective as twofold: to persuade someone to buy the author’s book—as opposed to all the other books competing for attention—and, more essentially, to speed up that sale and persuade her to do it now. In order to achieve this, an author needs that ever-elusive buzz. But what exactly is buzz, where does it come from, and how do you get it?
The article, by Lauren Cerand, describes her gradual move to using social media to promote literary work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cell Phones and Researchers

This video, from the Wall Street Journal, suggests how the data from smart and cell phone usage is being used by researchers to explore human behavior.  Not just for commercial interests, the research explores new ways of examining how human beings interact and move.  The illustrations from various sources visually demonstrate how the collected data tells us something about our moods, movements, and interaction.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marshal McLuhan and the Internet

I've been reading some about the great media critic, Marshall McLuhan, considering the centrality of his four questions as a way of thinking about technology as a way to extend the reach of human beings.  There is always something lost when something's gained, he says, as we add tools (in this case, media) to reach out further. 

Key here is that McLuhan doesn't key on content, but rather on the medium itself.  Not the medium.  The message.   In Understanding Media, with its subtitle "Extensions of Man," he offers up some of the key questions that continue to provide a key for understanding media.  

Question 1:   "What does it (the medium or technology) extend?"  What in the human being is enhanced by the medium?  

Question 2:   "What does it make obsolete?" With this medium introduced, what does it "crowd out" or render unnecessary?

Question 3: "What is retrieved?" What element of humans is brought back to life as a result of the medium?

Question 4: "What does the technology reverse into if it is over-extended?"   If the medium reaches too far, becomes too important, makes too big a footprint, then what do people do to retrieve what they lost

Making Data Palatable

I'm intrigued by the NY Times story about the ways in which companies and individuals are making raw data into new and different things, making the numbers into something visual and compelling.  My favorite quote in the story:
“Statistics,” says Dr. Hans Rosling, a professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, “is now the sexiest subject around.”
Dr. Hans Rosling
Now that's worth paying attention to.

Rosling's attention to data has been a part of Gapminder, a group dedicated to illustrating the gaps between the haves and the have-nots.

The Hive Group has a data-driven visualization of the top 100 iTunes songs, among other things.

The most impressive of these is the Youtube video in which Rosling discusses his method and gives a demonstration on the connection between wealth and health.