Blog or Project Log: Selling disruptive tools on the inside

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/24

Jay Cross has a great post this AM about the need to find compelling language that can drive experimentation and adoption of blog, podcast, and wiki types of tools inside of organizations ––

It’s time for us to come up with a vocabulary that’s not an obstacle to installing learning technology. Take the word blog. For some people, the word sets off alarm bells. They envision amateurs, threatening hackers, neo-nazis, the Drudge Report, people obsessed with kittens, semi-literates, unverifiable nonsense, spammers, porno freaks, political extremists, teen age confessionals, MySpace flirts, people who are out of control and lawsuits waiting to happen.

It’s enough to give disruptive technology a bad name.

So let’s not speak of blogs or slimeheads. Let’s talk about Project Logs. Or Collaborative Project Documentation. Or Knowledge Logs. Or professional journals.

<bagoftricks>Project log –– hmm, that could work.</bagoftricks>

 



Current style in web design

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/17

Web Design from Scratch has a nice rundown of current wed design trends and why they are effective. Nice roundup of examples.

I’m glad to say that web design in 2006 is better than ever. And it’s not just because there are more web sites out there, so more good stuff to look at. There’s still an awful lot of crud too. I just think that more web designers know more about how to design than ever before.

The examples below (which I’ll roll over time) show excellent modern graphic design technique. They all look good, and are clear and easy to use.



Teens self organize a learning experience in Second Life

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/09

Just heard about via the Second Life Education Mailing List –– teens have self organized a learning experience on creating awareness about Child Sex Trafficking. Happened in an area of second life called the Teen Grid.

Looks like they created a maze that users would move through, digest facts, answer questions in exchange for Second Life stuff, and were given the opportunity to donate Second Life dollars at the end.

Pretty inventive and striking in it’s informality and self organization.

Here’s some details from the Global Kids blog entry.

On the effectiveness of the design ––

The thing I found interesting about this was how, by trying to address teenagers from a route which many are more comfortable in, and spend quite a bit of time in, they’re also managing to educate them, quite willingly in most places. As I went round the maze I saw many people stopping at each of the case studies and fact cards and reading them.

On the self organizing nature of it ––

Also evident throughout second life are members educating themselves or each other. For example, a lot of items are created by the members, who have had to learn how to build them, then learn programming for more interactive elements. Many of the kids on Teen grid didn’t know how to programme when they first arrived, however, through tutorials and people willing to help each other, they have learnt enough to complete items they are building, or have learnt where to go to find out more so they can continue to educate themselves.

On the inventiveness of their methodology ––

Raising money was also another part of the event that seemed to be working quite well. It can often be hard to get teenagers to donate money, however, within the virtual world they were a lot more willing. The one donation box had raised about L$6500 within a few hours, which is about $22. Although it does not seem that much, If the same people had passed a donation box in the street for the same cause, would so much have been donated?

 



Article: ‘e-learning 2.0 – How Web technologies are shaping education’

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/09

Great article this AM from the folks over at Read/Write Web on emerging Web 2.0 (yeah, I know, but we gotta call it something) trends in eLearning.

Article is titled ‘e-learning 2.0 – how Web technologies are shaping education’. Here’s an excerpt –– 

The traditional approach to e-learning has been to employ the use of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), software that is often cumbersome and expensive – and which tends to be structured around courses, timetables, and testing. That is an approach that is too often driven by the needs of the institution rather than the individual learner.

In contrast, e-learning 2.0 (as coined by Stephen Downes) takes a ‘small pieces, loosely joined’ approach that combines the use of discrete but complementary tools and web services – such as blogs, wikis, and other social software – to support the creation of ad-hoc learning communities.

This is the heart of what I will be going into detail on in ‘Blogs and Screencasts in the Quest for Training Attention’ for my Cerner Health Conference 2006 presentation in Orlando this October.



Chris Pirillo says TechMeme has been hacked

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/30

Chris Pirillo says TechMeme has been hacked.

Who knew?



Interviewed on blogs and podcasting in the corporate environment

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/14

Caught up with Stuart Maxwell of the Seattle Podcasting Network (SPN) a few weeks ago at the Seattle TechCrunch party.

We talked about the challenges of using blogs, podcasting and new media tools in the corporate environment — great chat.

I cover some of the ins and outs of spreading the vision for these types of projects in healthcare (and other non-tech-industry) organizations (like the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford where I currently work).

Stuart recorded our conversation and has posted it to the as ‘SPN Podcast – TechCrunch Party Interviews: Part Two’.

Part 1 is also available from the SPN site.



University of Calgary chooses Drupal as CMS

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/12

The University of Calgary chose Drupal last week as their CMS. Details are on D’Arcy Norman’s blog.

One reason?? —

The longer term goal is to take advantage of some of the more social/community-oriented features, and open it up to individuals on campus.

I think we’re going to continue to see decisions like this as folks from all sorts of enterprise organizations realize the economic and productivity benefits that social and community features bring.



Pandora TechCrunch Seattle

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/01

Dropped in on a couple of very cool back to back geek events in Seattle last night. First was a Pandora town hall at the EMP — hosted by Pandora founder Tim Westergren.

Met my friend Steve Kaiser from QPass at the EMP and we enjoyed a nice 2 hour forum with Tim as he told the story of Pandora’s start and path toward innovation along the way.

Didn’t realize how lo-fi their engine really is — they use much less ‘wisdom of crowds’ data than I would have suspected — most of the genome is a strict taxonomy of 400 musical traits that trained musicians fill out for each song — at about 20 minutes per song.

Other interesting thing was the feature request QA with 150 very passionate users — lots of feature set requests that only a geek would love — all seemed to center around ‘I want to know why you recommended that song to me’ — which, is kinda their trade secret — interesting.

Definitely left with even more respect for their product than I had before — hard to imagine, but true.

Tim is really personable and has a compelling vision for using Pandora’s technology to create a “musician middle class” to help more folks make a living wage as musicians.

Also didn’t realize that their project is over 6 years old — he had some very seasoned startup stories.


At 9, we headed over to the Seattle TechCrunch meetup — what a blast.

Ran into a bunch of geek friends from around town —

Keith Robinson and Brian Fling from Blue Flavor both used to work at Children’s Hospital in Seattle (my old stomping ground) — was good to hear about their design firm taking off — sounds like lots of interesting work is in the que.

Then chatted with Brian Dorsey of Vulcan who I knew indirectly from Seattle Mind Camp — was great to get to know him a bit better (never had time at Mind Camp) — he ran sets of 5 minute lightning rounds as a session at Mind Camp 2.0 that was similar to the session Scott Berkun and I facilitated — both were really well received in the camp debriefs

Brian introduced me to Lars Liden of TeachTown — they make software that helps kids with autism (and similar special needs) – it connects kids, their families, and their doctors with one another — touches on everything from teaching to data collection for treatment and research — very cool.

Finally got to meet the legendary Ryan Stewart (now blogging on Flex and RIA for ZDnet) — we missed each other at Mind Camp 2.0 but got connected last night — talked Flex, flash, and Seattle tech with him and Hans Omli (who recently evoked a “one-click” response out of non-other than Tim O’Reilly himself on the whole ‘Web 2.0’ is mine fiasco) – great conversation

Last, but not least, I got to catch up with Stuart Maxwell of the Seattle Podcasting Network (yes, another Mind camp connection — can you sense a theme — he’s one of the Mind Camp organizers).

Stuart was grabbing audio interviews all night for a podcast of the event.

We ended up in a cool conversation about shared interest in getting blog/screencast/podcast types of projects going inside the firewall of non-tech centric companies — ways to champion the cause, etc. — lots of fun.

Here’s a photo of my namebadge (on my Hawaiian shirt, thank you very much)

techcrunch-name-tag-bryan-zug



Yahoo! makes it easy to do the right CSS thing

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/11

Yesterday Yahoo! released another in its series of open source CSS/AJAX framework resources. This one includes a pretty cool Grids CSS library that will take the headache out of trying to do CSS layout.

For quick reference, take a look at the examples of their available templates and grids.

As someone who’s been trying to make the jump to CSS layout for a while, dealing with the necessary browser quirks has been a bit too much for me to make the full jump — most of the projects where I’ve tried to go full CSS have been too short for me to really get my head around things.

Standardized libraries like this make it easy.

This is where I think that Yahoo! really understands web developers and Microsoft just doesn’t.

I was at the Real World AJAX Seminar a couple of weeks ago in San Jose and got to hear Eric Miraglia from Yahoo! Presentation Platform Engineering present on why/what Yahoo! is making freely available with these libraries.

They have basically made these libraries free (even to their competitors) to make it easier for developers to increase the quality of user experience on the web — that makes me happy as a developer because they are making it easier for me to do the right thing (CSS layout, cross browsers support, etc).

Conversely, at the same conference, I got to see some of the Atlas platform from Microsoft that is supposed to do the same kind of thing — it was cool, but when MS keeps rolling out products that don’t support other browsers — well, it’s not a bridge builder for a developer like me.

With these two very different ways of doing business, it becomes clear, very quickly, that MS and I do not hold the same things dear — and that’s where they are losing this race with developers like me every single day.



Formatting Default Dialogue Text in Firefly

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/10

UPDATE: The tricks used here for formatting are no longer necessary as of version 4.2.25 of Firefly (released 7/18/2006) which added richer text formatting to the default dialogs. This is a real compliment to the Firefly development team — they are very quick to incorporate customer feedback.


I am in the midst of laying the groundwork for a new eLearning initiative at Lucile Packard Children’s Hopsital at Stanford. Very excited about it because I’m using a new tool to create our eLearning simulations.

It’s called Firefly (by Knowledge Planet) and it’s really robust — very easy to create sophisticated sims (can you say multiple correct paths with every object in a screenshot being interactive? All in, literally, a few screen clicks?).

My initial impressions of it are that, the things it does well, it does really well.

Yet, as goes with learning a new tool, there are a few ins and outs to discover. My plan is to document some of these as I go so that I can 1) remember points for future references, and 2) share the knowledge.

First up is the formatting of default dialogue text within a simulation.

At first glance, while Firefly will allow you to customize the verbiage of some of it’s default dialogues, there is no obvious way to customize the size and face of the fonts.

A few attempts to throw some formatting in finally met success when I put in some old school HTML font tags. So, under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab) >> *WISH_DEMO”, I modified the default to this –

<font size="5">Do you want me to show you?</font>

And now my dialogue comes in a nice, big, inviting text size — so very Web 2.0.

One very big hazard to note — if you mess with the text under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab)”, you can easily corrupt your install of Firefly – I know, it shouldn’t be that easy, but it is.

One of the things I tried first was putting in a <b></b> tag to see if it would accept some basic HTML formatting. When I did that, the entire “Customize Text” tab became un-editable — not sure if I forgot to close the tag correctly or what.

Fished around the Firefly install on my tablet and found that this text is stored in an XML file named “StringTable.xml” in Firefly’s program directory. Path for this is –

C:\Program Files\KnowledgePlanet\Firefly 4.1\system\ StringTable.xml

Noticed that this file was empty on my problem machine. Restored that file and everything came back up.

Kinda obscure, but thought I’d share the knowledge – in case I do it again and forget what I did to restore it. So — before you go messing with this Firefly file, back it up — you’ve been warned.



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