Thursday, October 29, 2009

Got 15 minutes?

Star Guitar music video.

Music by The Chemical Brothers. Video directed by Michel Gondry.

Ever since this video blew my mind when I first watched it, I've wondered how it was made. Turns out Gondry tested the concept out on a sidewalk with oranges, shoes, videotapes, and drinking glasses. Alas, the making of doesn't cover the three months of post production required by the finished product, although the video isn't completely digital as you might expect...

The video is based on DV footage Gondry shot while on vacation in France. They shot the train ride 10 different times during the day to get different light gradients.

From Jason Kottke

Teach a kid to programme

It may be intimidating at first, but it's well worth the challenge. Besides, it can be very creative, fun and useful.

A wiki on WIRED with a useful list of links and programming languages for kids.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beat a Path

Derek Powazek on Search Engine Optimization

... The One True Way
Which brings us, finally, to the One True Way to get a lot of traffic on the web. It’s pretty simple, and I’m going to give it to you here, for free:

Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again.

That’s it. Make something you believe in. Make it beautiful, confident, and real. Sweat every detail. If it’s not getting traffic, maybe it wasn’t good enough. Try again.

Then tell people about it. Start with your friends. Send them a personal note – not an automated blast from a spam cannon. Post it to your Twitter feed, email list, personal blog. (Don’t have those things? Start them.) Tell people who give a shit – not strangers. Tell them why it matters to you. Find the places where your community congregates online and participate. Connect with them like a person, not a corporation. Engage. Be real.

Then do it again. And again. You’ll build a reputation for doing good work, meaning what you say, and building trust.

It’ll take time. A lot of time. But it works. And it’s the only thing that does.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why iLife sucks

If your dad is a builder, when he buys you a tool for your birthday, he buys a real tool, a real hammer, or plane, or chisel, not a toy one. (Grandma does that.) Same if dad is a plumber or a graphic designer. Or mum. Real tools.

The Inuit give their toddlers real knives, real sharp knives, and expect them to use them, appropriately and safely. They model it for them. Just like the plumber or builder or designer.

So why do we give kids iLife - applications that no real filmmaker, web designer, musician, or photographer, would use?

And iLife has got worse in recent versions, more like someone from Microsoft designed it, with more automated features and more templates. The problem with these features is that they diminish the learning rather than enhance it. They mean you never have to learn to do stuff, rather than promote learning. If you make something for dummies, all you get is dummies. A real tool insists that you learn, it doesn't prevent learning.

When teachers know and use real tools themselves they can see the advantages of using them with students and they see the deficits in using the toys. I think we should stop behaving like Grandma and start giving students real tools to make videos, music or websites.

There is also a difference between using a template and providing scaffolding. A template excuses the user from thinking - chooses for the user - while scaffolding supports the learner's own thinking, own choices, and reinforces the learning. Also, in the end, the automatic template is less satisfying for the user because he knows he didn't do it. A cake mix cake always tastes like a cake mix, looks like cake mix. So do iWeb pages, or iMovie credits, or iDVD menus.

So, Creative Suite, Final Cut, Logic Studio, here we come.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

At the end of the day...

Don't you get sick of all this talk about ICT, new frontiers, paradigm shifts, digital this and that?

The thing is, at the end of the day, you have to do something. Computers are only a tool, you have to build something with them.

So what is it that you should do? What is worthwhile doing, on this laptop?

Gary Stager gives a list of ten things. Here's my ten (some the same or similar).

Make a newspaper: Newspapers use a whole range of really worthwhile skills and knowledge in a real context: Interviewing, using primary sources, questioning, thinking, learning about current events, writing, layout, newspaper conventions, photography, illustration, design, graphics, deadlines, editing, proofing, printing, advertising, distribution. So DON'T write a novel, contribute to a newspaper. In a team, in school.

Make a website: Make it about something local, real, interesting. Use all those skills above. Learn some html. A good website is just a faster newspaper. It could also be a blog, or Tumblr.

Take a photo every day and post it. Learn how to take good ones.

Write a iPhone app (or a video game).

Design and make something with Ponoko or on a digital making network.

Build a robot. Programme it.

Interview someone on video (not one of your friends). Edit it.

Follow several internet blogs, at least daily. Make regular connections to new blogs.

Collect some raw data. Analyse it, interpret it. Present it graphically.

Set up a video network at school. Broadcast weekly. Only good stuff.

Take up an issue and run with it, using all of the above.

Maurice Sendak on Spike Jonze's new film

Sendak: "If they can't handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like."