The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Digital Storytelling Dorito's Style

I was watching the ABC network national news last night and they had a story on the Doritos Super Bowl commerical competition. There's been over a 1000 entries into the contest with five finalists.

Evidently, the cost of a 30 second SuperBowl spot costs 2.6 million dollars U.S., plus the ad agency fees for developing the commercial. So Frito-Lay, the producer of Doritos, gets this bright idea to tap into the creativity of everyone, everywhere and get some "user-generated content" (the ABC report actually used that terminology-good for them). And the five that they finished with are-in my opinion-as good as I've seen during previous SuperBowls. Here are my favorites:

Live the Flavor:
-Smallest Budget (Total = $12.79)
-Smallest Crew (Cast/Crew = 5 people)
-Shortest Production Time (4 days... including concept development)
-Youngest Crew (age 22 and younger)

jumpcut movie:Live the Flavor

Yes, it cost them $12.79 to make. $12.79! And all are 22 or under. By the way, it's hosted at JumpCut.

A Chip Lover's Dream
41 year old guy spends 150 bucks to make a movie about rock-climbing when he falls with a bag of Doritos, and can only think of eating as many as he can before he pancakes himself. Check out his face as he's falling...

jumpcut movie:A Chip Lovers Dream

And then finally, Check-Out Girl. I'm laughing real hard right now...

jumpcut movie:CHECK OUT GIRL

The NFL has done this successfully this year as well. Here's the winner. Not so good news for Chevrolet, which had a contest backfire about a video contest for an SUV. You can imagine the global warming movies...

But like my last post, this is why we need to teach kids how to tell stories using the technology of their generation.

How long before you see a video letter to the editor of the local newspaper?

technorati tags: video digitalstorytelling video davidjakes

The Video Long Tail

"What if creativity could pay the rent?"

The Chicago Tribune reported in its Tuesday edition (1/30/07) that has plans to pay people for content. The article suggested that because of the extreme competition emerging from video sites that can host content, YouTube wants to attract the best content.
From the article: "almost every big site that focuses on viral video will have a revenue-sharing component to it," said Keith Richman, chief executive of
Two new sites that I've never heard of and have revenue-sharing models already in place. Spymac will pay viewers on the basis of user viewership, regardless of where it is viewed, as long as it was first uploaded to the Spymac site. Spymac is claiming on its site an estimated payout this month of $3437.10, U.S.

Revver will embedd ads in the user-generated content. They even have something called "Hey Kid Take a Hint", that explains a strategy for getting the video to go viral. It involves using any combination of MySpace, Friendster, creating a widget, podcasting, email, iTunes, and and Digg. Wow.

Interestingly, a site called, will feature reviews on restaurants, hotels and other service-based industries, produced by volunteers, as well as by paid writers.

It's my belief that all of this is in it's infancy. I also believe that video is perhaps the hottest technology out there right now.

I had a discussion the other day with one of our English teachers who does digital storytelling projects with his kids-he's worried that this whole video thing has blown away digital storytelling, at least how we do it (we only use still-frame imagery in our DST program, for technical reasons). He's worried about interest-both student and viewer. I disagreed, believing that a quality story is a quality story, and we still need to teach kids how to tell their story properly. They can always graduate to video.

So, all the more reason for having a digital storytelling program in your school. All the more reason to teach kids how to be content creators.

Note: The Tribune article requires registration, so that's why I didn't link to it. The information presented in this post is from the old-school print version, article by Eric Benderoff.

Benderoff, Eric. Web sites want to pay you for videos. (2007 January 30). Chicago Tribune

technorati tags: digitalstorytelling video jakes davidjakes dst

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sight Seen

Have you seen the Tylenol commercial with the teacher lecturing? Complete with kids taking notes, in stadium-style seating in a tired, old classroom, complete with a blackboard with diagrams of DNA drawn on it in chalk.

There's even a closeup of the chalk on the board, with chalk pieces flying as she scribbles DNA notes. (it would have been cooler in slow motion...)

Chalkboard? DNA drawings on a board? Who does that?

That's how they see us...that's the picture of education. 1960's classroom, with a chalkboard.

Where's the digital projector, with resources from Cold Spring Harbor? Download some molecular visualization freeware where you can spin and rotate the DNA molecule. And where's the 1 to 1 initiative? Tablet PC's? At least have an interactive whiteboard...!

My guess is that is how the ad people were taught.

Add a very serious image problem to the list inflicting education. But we knew that didn't we?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Paul Simon-A Prophet?

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
Its a wonderI can think at all
And though my lack of edu---cation
Hasnt hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall

Kodachrome, "There Goes Rhymin' Simon," 1973

I heard this song today and I had to think: Did Paul Simon get it right? Does this still describe education in 2007, even though it was written in 1973? Here's my version, with sincere apologies to Mr. Simon:

When I think back
On all the content I had to memorize in high school
Its a wonder I can think for myself at all
And though my lack of 21st Century edu---cation
Has hurt me in a flat world
I think I can read the writing on the wall...

It still needs some work...

Communicating Visually in the 21st Century

I’ve seen quite a few posts coming through my aggregator lately about video, and the potential of this medium on many different levels. That, coupled with my interest in digital storytelling, prompted me to create a series of belief statements about communicating visually in the 21st Century. So, here they are:

There is a biological basis for visual communication.
The auditory nerve transmits sound to the brain and is composed of about 30,000 fibers. Contrast that with the optic nerve which sends visual signals to the brain through 1 million fibers (Burmark 2002). Basically, you’ve got a dial-up connection from the ear to the brain and broadband from the eye to the brain. Teach kids to take advantage of the connectivity, and then teach them that…

Emotion, depicted through visual means, sells the message.
Students must learn how to convey meaning emotionally. That’s why digital storytelling, when done right, can be such a powerful learning experience. Anyone that has recently seen 4 Generations: The Water Buffalo Movie can attest to that. How many of you wanted to pony up $250 after viewing that? And take the recent video obituary (called the Final Word) of Art Buchwald at the New York Times where he says “Hi, I’m Art Buchwald and I just died” and they go on to tell his life story. Bizarre, yet powerful because of the emotion. Then teach them that…

The most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, it's you.
Digital cameras, cell phone cameras, citizen journalism, photos of the London subway bombings, of Saddam Hussein’s execution, of the sinking of the container ship MSC Napoli and 368,533,947 million photos at Flickr attest to the capability and absolute raw power of the individual to produce visual material and bring the world home. But simply producing this is not enough, because…

Individuals must be capable of working in multiple mediums to create visual messages, in accordance with the principals of visual literacy.
They have do something with that visual imagery and it has to be done the right way. Create. Remix. Mashup. Post to YouTube. Or use online content creation systems like JumpCut or Mogopop to create or distribute visual messages. Why is this necessary? Because….

Visuals, when combined with other multimedia, provide individuals with a competitive voice. One that can be heard. One that can be measured. One that says “here I am, and here’s what I think, here is what I have to contribute. Now what do you think?” Check out the three guys who did the AP Psychology Report on YouTube (via Will Richardson). How many teachers would be comfortable with this kind of product? And what would you give these kids as a grade? And producing videos like this becomes even more powerful, because…

Networks for sharing and collaboration extend that voice.
When one says something, all have the potential to hear. It’s about amplification. Make it go viral. Look at this video (one of my favorites), Where the Hell is Matt?. It’s 3:42 minutes of uplifting dancing by one guy, all over the world, and its been viewed 395,736 times. Could our students have that type of impact? So..the upshot?

Being visually literate is just as important as reading and writing and should be considered a fundamental literacy of a 21st Century education.

Would you add or change anything?”

Burmark, Lynell. Visual Literacy: Learn to See. See to Learn. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2002.

Posted also at the blog

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Life as PowerPoint

Don't miss this one. Via Presentation Zen, this movie from Clemens Kogler and Karo Szmit, called Le Grand Content explores the major issues of life by creatively and seductively portraying them visually with the graphics and symbols one might associate with PowerPoint presentations. If you are into visual literacy, spend the time and give this a watch-it is worth it.

Aerial Photographs, Coverage and Assessment

I just found myself hyperlinked out into the blogosphere via one of Wes Fryer's posts to this post on Assessment vs. Engagement from Tech Chick Tips.

This stopped me in my tracks: "We spend so much time on assessment that I wonder if we really cover content."

There are a couple of things that bother me with this statement-covering content and spending too much time on assessment.

Lets begin with the notion of covering content. When I was a student teacher, my cooperating teacher used to take anyone to task for uttering those words. I can just hear him: "cover the content, what, are you going to fly over it and take aerial photographs?"

Did you cover the content or did they learn it? How do you know?

The answer: assessment

In most classrooms, teachers do not spend enough time with assessment. That's right, more assessment is needed in most classrooms. Not only more-but the right kind. That's the problem-not enough quality assessment FOR learning opportunities that provide students with appropriate and timely feedback and teachers with the necessary data to help them understand the impact of their teaching, what needs to be corrected, and whether or not students actually learned the content-and that it was not just covered.

How many times have I heard this at finals time (the summative experience)? I don't understand why all these kids got this question wrong. We covered it in class."

Well, you covered it but they didn't learn it.

Let me be the first to call for a world-wide ban on covering content.

Consider the typical high school classroom assessment tools: the worksheet, the quiz, and the scantron test. Throw in an occasional essay, and some project work and you're good.

Pass out the worksheet to three classes of 25 kids. Let's say there are 10 questions. That's 750 questions that the teacher has to read. In my work, I see teachers huddled over stacks of worksheets grading and grading and grading. These get passed back four days later and its much too late for that assignment (note that I didn't use the word assessment) to do any good, in terms of providing useful feedback to the learner and the teacher.

Let me be the first to call for a world-wide ban on the use of worksheets.

Teachers complain about the lack of time they have-and its true. But how much is wasted on ineffective and time-consuming "assessments." It's a real problem...

Anyway, do we really spend too much time on assessment? The original point being made in the post at Tech Chick Tips was focused on standardized testing as assessment. I don't think we spend too much time on that kind of assessment, we spend too much time teaching the wrong way, the way that hasn't worked for so long now, and that includes teaching too much content!