Post on Facebook. Isn’t that the whole point, though? C’mon… admit it.
There has been a lot of chatter on social media in the past few weeks about Alberta’s new math curriculum. Folks have been arguing in Facebook forums, posting links to angry op-ed tirades on the changes to the “tried and true” system in their tweets, and in hushed conversations over coffees have often suggested that we’re leaping blindly into an “experimental system” that treats students as “guinea pigs” for math education.
It’s simply not the epic failure some are making it out to be.
In fact, it actually seems rationally thought-out and forward-thinking.
For all the opinions and all the rants from both sides, I think the perspective that locked it into place for me came from a principal’s blog called Unraveling New Frontiers, and specifically a post titled: Going “Back to the Basics” or “Discovery Learning” in Mathematics? The Wrong Question to Ask…
I’m not going to re-iterate his points, you can read the post yourself, but I will perhaps just poke at the analogy that clicked it into place for me. Look at it this way. A thought experiment for you:
Imagine that I told you that all the minor sports leagues –y’know, hockey, soccer, baseball, etc– had got together and decided to update their “curriculum” that took young kids and taught them their respective sports. Hockey clubs would focus on skating and stick-handling skills. In baseball they would practice pitching and really knuckle-down and learn all the strategies and rules of the sport. In soccer, it would be all about dribbling and practice shots on goal to make sure kids really understood the objective of the sport. BUT… because it was too abstract, too wishy-washy, too unstructured for kids to really be “learning” anything specific, all those leagues would eliminate actual games until, say, the age of sixteen when kids could prove that they knew enough of the fundamentals of their sports. That’s right: in this imaginary new curriculum, the “fuzzy” learning of actually playing the sport against another team would be deemed too experimental and too unstructured and so… gone.
What would happen? I can tell you right now:
Parents would go ape-shit. Can you even imagine? And, I hate to say it, but probably some of the same parents who are now arguing against updates to the math curriculum would be the most vocal about such a preposterous hypothetical change to sports.
But, sadly, their point would be absolutely polar opposite on these two questions: sport and math. Because from how I understand it (in an analogous sort of way) that is exactly the change –in other words making it more like how we teach sports– that is being made to the math curriculum. New supplementary tools are bringing that “play” into the learning equation, making it real-life applicable and yet game-like-abstract in a way so that learning multiplication tables or memorizing formulas is only setting up the field for the real stuff… the fun stuff, that makes it interesting and applicable and useful for kids.
So, while some folks are getting all up-in-arms when they read the cherry-picked examples of convoluted problem solving techniques, take a step back and compare it, perhaps, to how you’d view the last ten seconds of a minor hockey game: that’s not where the kids are starting their learning but I think we can all agree that it’s the “play” part which makes it the reason they are learning.
The trick in changing up some of the tools for a blog, is finding the right balance between actively pushing stuff out to people (spamming it out to Facebook and Twitter) and passively building up a base of content to draw people in (dribbling it down your own front page.) I’m still looking for that balance, partly because it’s a tough balance to find, but more-so because I have a feeling that I don’t necessarily want to overload my readers with drivel every time I have some to share.
Due 2 blunt force trauma we were forced to replace our point&shoot camera. New: Canon 330HS with #WiFiFun + #CoolFeatures = #CantWaitToPlay
As the summer bleeds into some chilly autumn days, and I spend more and more time refocusing on those upcoming long winter days de-crypting work project requests, I’ve been turning my thoughts back to writing for my quasi-professional blog, the FooBarn — and subsequently doing a little more spouting off on the information management topics I’m paid to espouse. Here’s a sampler.
FooBarn’s Foo Maxim #001 (a cross-post…)
It might not seem so at the start, but implementing technology is almost always easier than building business processes that work effectively.
Or, at least that’s my opinion. The opinion of a a guy who codes a little in his spare time and is usually pretty comfortable around technology. The opinion of a guy who works daily to grok business needs and convert them into technological outcomes. The opinion of a guy who usually ends up adapting his technology “solution” way more times than necessary because the business process that blossomed far too organically later in the design flow didn’t quite line up with what was in the minds that requested said technology far too early.
In business, we design an algorithm — a step-by-step procedure — or a series of the same, that converts a business need into a result. A request is converted into an action. A transaction is converted into a service. A complaint is converted into a fix. And all of these procedures involve many moving parts: people, money, paperwork, and information.
In technology, we tend to design algorithms that convert the same sorts of things: a request into an action, transaction into a sale, et cetera. And good technology isn’t — and here’s the key — a stand-alone element. Good technology, at least in a business setting, is a smaller piece of a larger business process.
That’s all well and good, you say, and we know that… don’t we?
Sure, many people do know this. Many people get it. But even the best managers come to me and say things such as: “We want to have a website for this” or “how can we integrate social media better?”
And the confused looks I get…
And the confused looks I get when the “web guy” asks them why exactly they need a website, or what benefit they are hoping to get from using a discussion forum, or what message are they hoping to put out on Twitter that warrants the quantity of work required to do so — those looks get me every time.
See, technology is usually the easy part. If the business process is well understood, then building the technology is a matter of finding an algorithm that converts one thing into another thing. A website might be “required” when a business is trying to provide authoritative information, structured data, or access to downloadable forms to users. A discussion forum might be highly useful when the business process calls for a clear need for providing informal interactive support and discussion between customers and the business. And despite my almost uniform reluctance to recommend it, social media platforms do have a clear place in business for things like clear-headed and balanced reaction to quickly moving or controversial topics of interest to clients and customers.
Novel technology is a challenge, of course, but it’s a challenge that is almost always supported, direct, and manageable if the person implementing that technology understands the exact need — the starting point and ending point for what that technology is trying to accomplish — before the technology is designed to begin with.
Trying to wrap a business process around the vague desire to include an existing technology, on the other hand: can anyone say “square peg into a round hole?”
Here we are in the last weeks of June… Summer has officially arrived, school is out for the season, the days grow a little more lazy and for the second year in a row I continue partaking in my daily blogging exercise, marginally focused along a question-and-answer theme I’ve simply called Those 30 posts in June. Still no planning. Still no writing of these words days in advance. Still just this: each day a meanderingly vague prompt drives a meanderingly vague post… and today that post just happens to be:
June 23rd // Something You Want To Read
Despite raving the other day about “Feeling: Social” I must admit I have something of an irrational hate-on for most social networking sites. Okay, sure I’ve been playing nice with Google Plus and Twitter lately. But many of my feeps on Facebook will notice that I don’t really participate on that site much anymore.
Frankly, I don’t have a good reason besides this: I’m a social media snob. Yeah, that’s right. I fully admit it. I’ve come to conclude that after four years, the likes of Facebook and its ilk has left me nothing of digital worth. It’s vapor. It’s nothingness. It’s lost data.
Let’s compare; I’ve been writing this blog for eleven years, give or take. Whether or not YOU’ve been reading for any significant portion of that time, I can pretty much guarantee you that I have been present for all of it. And, despite my sporadic participation currently, I will lay claim to the fact that my early forays into Facebook were pretty much in the realm of a last wave of early adopters. I think I have a good idea what I’m talking about.
So, I dig through my archives on all my social sharing sites, this blog being the primary site, and what do I find? Hmmm… Facebook, is a linear collection of my stream-of-consciousness drivel. Twitter is short and even more drivel-esque. Google Plus is still pretty recent, but mostly more drivel. And then — to keep this simple because I could list about thirty more sites here — my blog is a fairly neat and orderly collection of some very well fleshed out… well, drivel.
It’s all drivel. But my best drivel is on my blog. And the rest? If it disappeared tomorrow I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.
But the problem isn’t that it’s lower grade drivel. The problem is that everyone has fallen into that drivel trap. Sure, there are a few people posting moderate quality stuff on social media, but — look deeply into the mirror and admit it to yourself — you’re probably not one of those people. You’re writing drivel, too. And you’re plus-one-ing, liking, or retweeting everyone else’s drivel. And… ug!
So, I’m left with a bunch of people who have interesting lives and interesting things to say about their lives swirling around my various social circles and most — too many — of those folks are dumping fragmented pieces of their thoughts into the net as Facebook drivel or Twitter drivel instead of taking advantage of some AMAZING communications technology to write and share and think aloud in a vast international space.
I’m trying to set an example here.
And every so often I kind wish more people were writing more stuff, rather than just brain-farting into the vapid social media spaces, and ultimately doing little more than feeding the corporate content giants getting rich of your mind gas. I set an example because I really do want to read your stuff. You just need to write it first.
Ah, June… Summer is at our doorstep, the days are (almost all of them) seeming to get a little bit longer, and for the second year in a row I am partaking in my daily blogging exercise, marginally focused along a theme I’ve simply called Those 30 posts in June. No planning. No writing stuff days ahead. Just this: each day a meanderingly vague prompt drives a meanderingly vague post… and today that post just happens to be:
June 20th // Something You Are Feeling
I’ll tell you a secret… I’m an introvert. No, really. As negative a connotation as that has in our modern society — what with type-A, fast-talking, energetic-party-people being the gold standard by which most are judged in western culture — I’m not completely afraid of admitting that. Most anyone who knows me — personally, I mean — knows this fact. It probably wouldn’t surprise too many others.
But I’ve been lingering in the public sphere more and more these days.
I’ve been tweeting, plus-one…ing, and generally posting a crap-load of content to various blogs, galleries, and content collections. I’ve been feeling very social lately.
And this collides in a epic explosion of sparks and data with my — ahem — introverted personality. I’m just not used to being public.
And it seems that sphere is growing. I mean, not only are new and interesting (and moderately influential) people connecting with me in these broad social networks every day, following me on Twitter or Circling me in Google Plus, but I wandered over to Klout the other day — you know, just to see — and discovered that my klout score was in the high forties. No, really. Screenshot attached. And for whatever that is worth, I suppose.
And of course all that circling and tweeting and klouting means that more people are reading the junk I write and more people are looking at the photos I take and more people are offering feedback and insight into ideas I hang out there in the digital spaces of the world.
Being social, frankly, is not in my nature. Being social is this effort that I need to push through to participate in a way that my rational mind tells me is fair reciprocation for those who are putting that effort back in my direction.
And it’s exhausting. No, really. I go out for ten kilometer runs to take a break from social media… THAT’S how exhausting.
I’ve moved up a step in the social universe of the internet, it would seem. Not much… just a nudge, a step, an incremental bit higher. Barely worth mentioning. I don’t know when or why, actually. But… well, I’ve suddenly and unexpectedly become someone people follow and circle and more people are doing those trivial-yet-deliberate actions each day. And it is weird for me, this feeling so… social.
As I continue to (inadvertently) turn this blog into a series of “special feature” articles, I introduce yet another new series here on this, my lunch hour: Five Topics, also known as five posts I hope YOU write.
Five blog idea starters. Five topics to get you rolling. Five blog article prompts and kickers to get you tapping stories into your keyboard. Write. Post. Share. Then let me know in the comments, by way of a link-back or via an automated trackback and not only do you get two free links — one in my complementary, same-topicked post AND another here in this post — but my also imfamously-fleeting gratitude.
1. My Epic Sunshine and Fun Soundtrack, Defined — When I was in high school we made mix-tapes. Then a few years later while in University we burned CDs. Now I have an iPod (or five) and I have every song I’ve ever heard in my pocket. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get into a groove for the summer and dwell on a very small collection of those songs. If you had to pick ten songs right now for your summer playlist, what would they be and why?
2. Three Things I (Sadly) Leave Behind in Summer-Time — Each summer as the days get longer and the snow melts, I reluctantly hang up my videogame controllers, wind down my gaming time, and replace it all with yard tools and garden care… or, at least I try to. That’s just one of my seasonal leave-behinds. What’s yours? [ My Post ]
3. Crazy Bug Stories — Everyone has one of these anecdotes: That time you swallowed a fly on your bicycle, the hike ruined by mosquitos, or the spider that moved into your barbecue and you didn’t notice until it was the size of your fist. Summer brings them out, so now’s your chance to
fight write back.
4. How I Spent My (Best) Summer Vacation — With a four (AND A HALF, DADDY!) year-old depending on me to make the best of her youthful summers — filling her days with memorable trips and experiences — it’s about that time to dig up some old memories and try and recall what made my lazy days so great. Do you have a stick-out memory that defines some good times from back in the day?
5. Creative Uses for Social Media in the Great Outdoors — I haven’t quite bought into the ever-steady update of Tweets and Check-ins, and I’ll probably get all old and fuddy-duddy and just end up keeping to my blog, but I think with all the device-enabled mobility of the net these days, there must be some interesting ways we could use this social tech to enhance our outdoor experience. Pick one — or a few — and elaborate.
I don’t claim to have a real good sense of the value of social networks. For introverted folks like myself, I prefer the information-core of the Internet over the social-core. But, I do use tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ to share links and update those people who do love the social-core and rely on it for their daily doses of updates. Google+, just yesterday, launched the “Pages” feature for their users. As of right now, the advantage to a page (versus a basic user) is unclear. From my perspective it just seems as if I’d be starting over gathering users and followers on new page profile after having spent recent months cultivating a small following on my personal profile. But hey, maybe it will pay off in the long run. In the meantime, you can connect to my 8r4d Google+ Page at the link. I’ll automatically circle anyone who circles me — and try and post updates from the blog and gallery there as regularly as I can. And maybe I can figure out how to get that truly automated… any advice?
… words actually.
I just noticed that at some point in the previous post this blog strolled casually across the half million word mark (according to my super-official word counter-upper plugin.) It only took 3,812 days, too.
The word was “this” — it doesn’t getting any more mundane than this, folks
That said, I find it particularly interesting in light of the whole discussion rolling around the webs this week (presumably following some suspicious, maybe even dick-ish, moves by Facebook in further slapping down their users with their Open Graph, Open Mawed gobbling of every bit of data possible on YOU, of YOU, in order to sell YOU to their hungry customers — who is, this time, not YOU.) The discussion seems to be rolling along the lines of the real social structure of the web, who owns what, the rights of users with respect to owners versus tenants (digitally speaking, of course) and who’s really winning when you rent communications space via massive third party vendors like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Google Plus, and any other site that is happy to have you playing by their rules, on their domain, whilst consuming every word you write and every click you make.
Just saying: it’s nice to have my own little private piece of digital real estate in that context is all. And half a million piddly little words to boot.