The Web is a Creativity Generator generating a Culture of Creativity

Photo by Tabea Dibou, from Flickr

We can see more people creating more works than ever before in history. And it’s because of the web and because the web is social. On the web, much is possible. Whether you are finding the right beautiful photo (with the right Creative Commons license) to illustrate metaphorically the connectivity and the beauty of the internet for a blog post, or whether you are playing with a web app (Skitch –  http://skitch.com/) to draw

or to explain something

The web is a space where people want to make, to create. I’m creating this blog post, because it’s FUN! And easy. The phrase “user-friendly” developed with the personal computer. Web apps are aimed at being user-friendly to entice and encourage people to use them, to be creative.The social aspect of the web, the possibility of being seen/heard/recognized, even if only by a very few others, encourages people’s creativity. I might not have composed this blog post if the one I created yesterday hadn’t been re-tweeted, and got  a comment. That thrill of recognition is energizing. So people are playing on computers and posting their creativity on the web. As we get responses ourselves, and even if we just see others get responses, we are encouraged to join in the play. And playfulness spreads.

So serious people who sell cars and race cars become part of the crowd playing:

Two typographers ( Pierre & Damien / plmd.me ) and a pro race pilot (Stef van Campenhoudt) collaborated to design a font with a car.
The car movements were tracked using a custom software, designed by interactive artist Zachary Lieberman. ( openframeworks.cc )
Which I downloaded – nl.toyota.be/iqfont and played with.

Art, play, creativity – that’s how we humans learn and that’s what makes us happy and healthy. And the web is our creativity playground.

Twitter Means Business

I’m ambivalent about my title because I use Twitter mainly for learning, communication, and entertainment. I recognize, however, that business is becoming increasingly a part of Twitter. I recently posted a picture on TwitPic …

Like a Liberty Print
Like a Liberty Print

and commented that it reminded me of a Liberty print.

(I have fond memories of a dress made from material I got at Liberty’s in London, and several scarves I treasure, including one my husband discovered in a second-hand store and bought for me. I haven’t shopped there for years because I haven’t been in London for years.)

What happened next was this –

Libertys of London Tweet
Libertys of London Tweet

plus an invitation to follow them. I looked at their site and saw that they had a number of people tweeting using the business name plus the (I assume) first name of the person posting the tweets, which strikes me as a good way to display a business and keep the personal touch so important a part of Twitter.

LibertyDaniel
LibertyDaniel

I didn’t chose to follow them, because I live a continent away and because my prime interest is people I know, web businesses that can have an impact on what I want to do, and people I can learn from. (I love the freedom of not following back without feeling rude. So different from invitations in symetrical social sites.)

I found it very interesting that my casual mention of their business brought them directly to me; they are obviously monitoring Twitter, which I didn’t expect from such an old and traditional company – which shows me I should be careful about stereotyping. ;->

Today, in a Google Group I am part of, Gloria Hildebrandt –  http://ohouse.ca/ – linked to this site –

Business & Twitter
Business & Twitter

It is clear to me that even businesses not directly connected to the web and social networking are seeing the business possibilities that Twitter offers.

So while I keep on enjoying the learning and entertainment that Twitter provides me, I also recognize that it has many uses beyond the purely personal.

MagNet Presentation on Researching Using the Web


I’ve noticed that when I speak, I have my deepest focus on what I’m saying and trying to communicate, but that I pay substantial subsidiary attention to the audience’s reaction. If they don’t respond, it doesn’t matter how good my material is and my intentions are, I feel like I’m tanking. So, yesterday, when I presented, I automatically checked the audience’s reaction.

Before I fill you in on what happened, let me describe the set up. There was a big screen at the front of the third of the ballroom we had, in the middle. I project well, but I couldn’t be heard without a microphone. I was using a PowerPoint (because I suspected the wifi would fail. It did.) so I was tied to my laptop, especially since the remote that worked before and after the session didn’t work IN the session. My laptop was on a podium, on a platform on the audiences’ right at the front of the room.

Let me clarify, My podium was in line with the edge of the audience seats on one side, the screen was in the middle of this wide room, and the audience stretched out in a slight curving layout beyond the screen. There were only a few rows, but it stretched 20 feet, maybe more, across. My over 3 feet high platform had my podium on it and a six foot table, with at least another six feet across the floor to the screen, and, as I said, the audience ranged beyond that. It was the most bizarre set up for a speaker I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been in some clumsy ones.

Then there was the beginning as the IT guy tried to make the wifi worked. I tried to speak while I was re-starting (wifi still didn’t work) and re-setting up myPowerPont program. Not smooth. Finally I started, only to be interrupted by audience members and coached on how to position my head so the mic would work. I kept on going, only somewhat daunted.

During my talks, I usually throw out little bits of humour to get a sense of the audience. I did this to the MagNet audience a few times, and nobody laughed. Whoops. I kept going, but noticed subliminally that I was feeling disconcerted. Looked out at the audience and noted that a substantial number were highly focussed on taking notes. Decided that must be a good sign, and, anyhow, the show had to go on.

I got several positive comments after I finished, but I won’t know until I get the formal feedback, what most of the audience thought.

When I present, I love having a slideshow to help me stay on point and keep me going when I talk! It’s a great security blanket when I don’t feel much resonance from the audience, and so it was yesterday. My PowerPoint was there when the wifi wasn’t, and when I felt worried about whether the audience was with me.

I have some observations, I hate under-designed, almost anti-speaker designed venues BUT I can survive them.

Finally, in lieu of handouts, I put my presentation up on SlideShare. This morning I received an email from them telling me it would be up in their News & Politics feature page for 16 to 20 hours, (News & Politics?!?) so that’s an audience reaction I can enjoy ;->

Beyond Google featured on SlideShare
"Beyond Google" featured on SlideShare

WordCamp Toronto 2009

Live Tweeting vs Live Blogging

WordCamp Toronto 2009 May 8, 2009
WordCamp Toronto 2009 May 8, 2009

At the Toronto WordCamp 2008, I live-blogged, and that was fun:

  1. https://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/live-blogging-at-wordcamp-toronto-08/
  2. https://joanvinallcox.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/live-blogging-wordcam-day2/

At WordCamp Toronto, 2009, I Tweeted using the hashtag #wct09, and that was fun, and more social for a couple of reasons.

  1. I was less focussed on getting every piece of wisdom and could relate more f2f with the people around me; and
  2. I could have conversations via Twitter with others at wct09 (if they were using the hashtag) pick up pieces of wisdom from their tweets, and talk f2f with them after meeting on Twitter.

So, for me, with the current social applications, Live Tweeting was a richer experience than Live Blogging, but both were fun.

Learning

I learned from the mix of new information in presentations and conversations around and between the sessions, and my most frequest conversationalists were –

I enjoyed great conversations on shared interests with them – who could ask for anything more?

Sessions

  • James Walker – Your Blog is Your Social Network

There was much more of value there, and others will be blogging about WordCamp Toronto 2009, but this is my contribution for now.

at wct09 - picture from Flickr - Uploaded on May 10, 2009 by LexnGer
at wct09 - picture from Flickr - Uploaded on May 10, 2009 by LexnGer

Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/lexnger/

Oh yeah, and I won:

My Winning EduBlog WordCamp Toronto 2009
My Winning EduBlog WordCamp Toronto 2009

Always Beta, Never Done

The most fascinating thing about the web is that there is no end; there is always more and new.

The most frustrating thing about the web is that there is no end; there is always more and new.

Everything is always changeable. My website – jnthweb.ca – is not the same now as it was a half-hour ago. I just added my most recent brilliant idea,

Currently, I look at Twitter using the third or fourth application I’ve tried. It’s Nambu now; it was TweetDeck, and who knows what I’ll try next. And Twitter is the poster child for constant change, as Tweet after Tweet flips by.

My friend showed me her new laptop today, and I drooled enviously, although mine does everything I want and need and is only a little more than a year old.

I’m behind in my Bloglines again, no, make that still. I never did fully catch up.

Trying to catch up! - via Creative Commons/Flickr
Trying to catch up! - via Creative Commons/Flickr

So I love the web, and I learn so much from what often feels like frittering my time away, but there is no end to  what you can learn to do and learn and do on it. Clay Shirky, in Here Comes Everybody, says in the first 100 years after the invention of the printing press, it broke more than it fixed. I know that the printing press brought endless developments with it from dictionaries to science, from the Enlightenment to romance novels, and more. And here we are in the same early stage with the web, where everything is alway beta, never done!

A Little Learning is …

a dang’rous thing”, at least according to Alexander Pope. He declared that we should “Drink deep or taste not the Pierian Spring.” I, however, think a little learning is a wondrous thing; it can addict you to drinking deep at the Pierian Spring, that is, at wanting to know more and how to do more.

This post is part of a carnival of blog posts hosted at Dave’s Whiteboard. To drink deep at this particular Pierian Spring, check out http://www.daveswhiteboard.com/archives/1724.

Daves Whiteboard / Carnival
Dave's Whiteboard / Carnival

Little Learnings – a Bit at a Time, as Needed

I came to the digital world initially with fear and reluctance at a time when those who knew how the technology worked were seen as the digital specialists. People with a communication background who were enthralled by the communication possibilities offered by the digital world (as I came to be) were invisible to those looking for web expertise. When I was told that part of my writing course would include introducing my students to MSWord, back in the 1990s, I began to look around my college for help because I realized that I couldn’t ask my husband, as I did at home, to come into my classroom (a computer lab) and open and set up the program for me. Besides, he preferred Word Perfect.

So when my college offered half day courses in various computer aspects, I signed up. I took many of the courses, (Word I, II, & III, Web Browser I, II, III, & IV) many times. (My working memory has always been a bit wonky; I need a lot of repetition and/but I get bored easily. Bit of a problem sometimes;->)

I bought books on MSWord and tried to sort out what would be useful for my students. I couldn’t figure out how to figure out stuff in the books. What the @#$%, for example, was this thing that had “Normal” written in it? And why would anyone want to use a “View” called “Outline”? Meanwhile, in my writing classroom where I was ?teaching? students how to use Word for their essays, something interesting was happening. Some of my students were telling their friends, and sometimes even me, some things that could be done using Word. One taught me about Styles and Tables of Content. Wa-HOOOO! (Sometimes translated as “eureka”!)

2009 Version of MS Words Styles
2009 Version of MS Word's Styles

While I didn’t totally depend on the kindnesses of students, I was encouraging social learning in my classrooms, not just because it was a trendy pedagogical approach, but because it helped me where I worked! I was learning from my students that the trendy pedagogical approach of group work was highly effective for teaching writing and computer use, and that it was highly effective for my own learning. They learned how to use a word-processor to make their own writing easier to revise and edit; I learned various aspects of word-processing that I was responsible for teaching, and that I could also use in my own writing tasks.

I was shanghaied onto a PD committee to introduce other professors to the web and other things digital. I knew that I didn’t know enough to be on it, but I was crafty enough to know there would be people on it I could learn from. I attended religiously. There was a woman my age, (shall we say “mature”) who taught humanities subjects and was not a computer programmer or technician, but knew so much about the web’s technical aspects! She had her own website hosted on our college’s server. I was filled with admiration for the way she dressed, and for her knowledge and ability in the digital world. I decided (unconsciously) to take her as my role model. After all, she wasn’t young, male, or a computer programmer, so maybe I could learn more digital stuff and be more like her.

When I tried to learn more, for example HTML code, so I could have my very own website, (hosted on my college’s sever) I was frustrated. I heard about “WYSIWYG” software for creating websites and I was intrigued. A little learning (people can put up websites without learning HTML code because there’s software that lets you do it based on how it looks!) made me hungry to learn how to do this thing that was easier than learning HTML code. (Although I had memorized <b>bold</b> and its companion <i>italics</i>.)

I took weekend courses in this WYSIWYG software, where we followed detailed instructions so we all could produce identical web sites, presumably based on the learning theory that if we followed instructions once, we would know how to use the software. (Did I mention my wonky working memory?) I learned enough to go out searching for easier WYSIWYG software and found Netscapes’s Composer. I was thrilled and excited; I could figure out (with the help of a website put up by a female professor whose name is lost in the mists of my memory) how to put together a web site, and I did, individual link by individual link.

My First Website, made with Netscapes Composer
My First Website, made with Netscapes Composer

A little

  • employment-forced,
  • employment-aided, and
  • social

learning had moved me along, and also taught me how much more there was to learn, and started a dangerous ;-> addiction.

(A young writer I coach likes to say, in square brackets, at points in her novel draft, “much happens here”.)

[MUCH HAPPENS HERE]

So my awareness of

  • how much I am a social learner and
  • how manuals and books only work for me after I already know something and
  • how important the web is to human communication (more than the printing press, even!)

has led me to

  • blog and
  • join Facebook and
  • Twitter.

Through blogging and Bloglines I have encountered some people repeatedly, most of whom I’ve never met f2f, but I feel like I know them. Some of them have commented on some of my blog posts and/or “friended” me on Facebook and occasional messages between us – usually connected with education and the web – have made them feel like colleagues – and I need colleagues now that I teach only part-time, and yet still hunger for fellow learners in this rapidly changing communications world. Many of these colleagues I follow on Twitter, and recognize their icons.

Ah Twitter, that time-sink and/or valuable resource, that place for sharing treasures, over-sharing quotidian detritus, and just plain bitching complaining!

So I was again searching for the perfect WordPress template for my edublog (this one) and I found it, except that the body was in serif font! I can’t stand serif font, except on paper, and even there, not so much. I NEED Lucida Grande, or at least some kind of sans serif. (Good audience-aware web design, IMHO, requires sans serif on screens because it’s easier on our eyes.) I poked around and figured out that for U.S. $15.00, I could get an upgrade that would allow me to alter the CSS. (Did I mention how little I know about HTML? Even more about CSS.) I had poked around on Google and found out the definition of CSS and it sounded … interesting. So I used PayPal and got the upgrade. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I tried. I searched and found out more. I even read the FAQs and tutorials. For a break, I opened my TweetDeck and  … complained.

I got a direct message from one of my web colleagues inviting a phone call, called, talked for a long time with both of us looking at both our blogs’ backends (really – not a rude thing at all;->). Eventually, after much help from the phone call  and another book (WordPress for Dummies) I got the sans serif font I wanted in the body of my blog – as you can see!

When I boasted in a later Tweet, I got the kind of feedback I most value –

Feedback on Using CSS to Change My Font
Feedback on Using CSS to Change My Font

Thanks so much Dave!

And when I later got a request for a post for Dave’s Carnival –

Daves Carnival
Dave's Carnival

I was delighted for this inspiration, this opportunity to look at the cascading impact of each bit of little learning, and the generosity of digital colleagues!

So, what’s my point? My point is that real tasks and social colleagues, whether coffee line-up or digitally based, move a little learning into into a deep enough draught at the Pierian Spring, so that we

behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise!

The more we learn, the more we see there is yet more to learn, one small real task and consequent social encounter at a time.