by Stephen Downes
Jan 21, 2016
Why IBM is buying Ustream: Cloud, marketing, analytics
I don't usually cover acquisition stories, but because live streaming is so central to education, and because options are so limited, I felt this acquisition should be noted. It's fairly easy to see why IBM would be interested in UStream. I was a bit surprised, though, to find UStream valued so lightly - though I guess a lot of people did what I did, and opted for Google Hangout On Air instead, even though it is flakey and fickle, because UStream always seemed to have bandwidth issues. UStream, though will make a good acquisition if IBM wants to look at learning more deeply. "UStream has tools that enable marketers to collect and automate leads and manage broadcasts. UStream also has an internal communications version called Align as well as live video streaming at scale." Of course, not everyone thinks acquisitions like this can help IBM.
Why isn't there more diversity in ranks of social media A-listers? It's because platform-builders are often advised to focus on theoir own niche first, and the A-listers "were simply talented people who were early to the platform, and often were chosen by the platform as 'featured users'" picked out of that handful of friends and family who joined the platform. And as Dash wrote in You Can’t Start the Revolution from the Country Club, "the most common reaction from many networks once they’ve birthed a few featured stars, is generally to remove the ability for others to follow in their footsteps." That's why the launch of Google+ was like a war as writers from places like Gawker and Mashable struggled to be first in line. So now that the social website This. has launched, it has started that process, promoting "featured members and publishers". Lily white children of Silicon Valley and the magazine set, pictured. As long as social media is based on mass, not diversity, the usual set of insiders will be famous, and the rest of us will have nothing but them to read in our inbox.
It’s time to rethink academic conference funding
I'm sympathetic with the points made in this article, I really am. The whole business of paying money to attend an academic conference is a barrier to participation, and this is exaggerated when you're a student or non-permanent staff. Now maybe I'm not the best person to comment, since I don't pay conference fees any more. But looking back at my own presentations it's pretty easy to see what my strategy was when I was young and (literally) hungry. I used my graduate assistantship to pay for attendance at one national graduate conference a year. Everything else was local, sometimes really local. I gave twenty-seven presentations inside Canada (most of them in my own province) before I ever spoke internationally, not counting an online talk I did for UMUC. Being an academic is a lot like being a comedian. Sure, it's great to visit and work Just for Laughs or Comedy Central. But you have to play a lot of local clubs first. Do the work.
Network Development as Leverage for System Change
Interaction Institute for Social Change,
This is subtitled "How focusing on diversity, flow and structure in human networks can be a foundation for great change." I don't think it's quite that simple, though the item caught my eye because I think of food distribution and learning and the economy as networks. Note, though, that I do not think of them as systems. There's an important distinction. And, I would say, if we want our systems to work, we need to make them less like systems, and more like networks. What's the difference? A system is teleological - it is goal directed. It has a purpose, and typically, it was designed. A network, by contrast, is self-organizing. There is no "dominant narrative". Any organization or direction is emergent from the individual actions of the members of the network. Via Jon Husband.
Game Genre Map: The Cognitive Threshold in Strategy Games
Interesting article that maps popular strategy games against a 'gamer motivation model' - on one dimension, the level of strategy involved in the game, and on the other, the pace and excitement of the game. I tend to prefer high-strategy games and my personal favourite, Civilization, ranks third among them. But it's not high excitement. What's interesting is that an entire quadrant of the chart lies empty, corresponding to high strategy and fast pace. This is the 'cognitive threshold', a place where games are no longer fun (presumably there's also a boredom threshold at the lower left of the diagram). The concept described here is the gamers' version of what educators call 'flow'.
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