Glimpse the Future with Amy Webb @amywebb (Thanks @TWiT)

The last couple days I’ve been listening to the latest TWiT podcast, hosted by Leo LaPorte (@leolaporte) and featuring guests Amy Webb (@amywebb) and Greg Ferro (@etherealmind). Wow have I ever loved their conversation and the insights they shared on a variety of topics including AI, the ascendency of China, Amazon, EU anti-trust law, and more! I highly recommend this show to you. In this post, I’ll share a few of those insights to (hopefully) clarify my own thinking and encourage you to delve more into these issues and referenced resources.

First, if you are not already, follow Amy Webb (@amywebb) on Twitter. I’ve just purchased her book, “The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream,” and can’t wait to immerse myself in more of her thinking and informed vision of the future. Her next book, which she briefly mentioned on this TWiT podcast episode, is about AI and the 9 companies which are vying to control it globally. That book (which has not even been released yet) is already banned in China (via the rights purchaser who is blocking its sale and distribution) and that fact alone ought to get everyone’s attention. Amy has the pulse of a great deal that matters in our society and with technology, and is a voice anyone with an eye to our collective future should listen to.

Dean Shareski (@shareski) posted a thought-provoking article recently (“Flogging the Dead Horse of RSS”) which brings to mind a question related to the ideas in this TWiT podcast: How did I serendipitously come to find and listen to this show?

The answer is I’m subscribed to the TWiT podcast, along with about 100 other podcasts, using my favorite podcatcher app on my smartphone, PocketCasts (@pocketcasts). I also now love being able to ask one of the Google Home Minis in our house, “Hey Google, play the latest episode of the This Week in Tech podcast,” and have it immediately start playing. Virtually “discovering” or encountering Amy Webb isn’t an act of random serendipity for me, it’s rather the result of intentional and deliberately plotted serendipity. I love to highlight this strategy and others in a conference breakout session I usually title simply, “Discovering Useful Ideas.”

In this podcast, Amy Webb is unequivocal that China is the ascendent nation on our planet, and will be the dominant force economically, politically and culturally in the 21st century. This is a prediction I’ve glimpsed myself in four visits to mainland China dating back to 2007, and as I consider the academic choices of our youngest daughter in high school (whether to continue studying French or to switch over to Chinese) as well as our future / prospective schools to work in as professional educators, this gives me pause. If your school is not offering Chinese as a language choice today in 2018, it should be and that needs to change. If you or your child has an opportunity to study Chinese and potentially become fluent in the Chinese language, definitely give it a try. If you or those you counsel / advise have the opportunity to live, study, and/or work, or at least travel in China, DO IT. Of course ours is a big world, and there are many of pathways to a satisfying and “successful” life which do not involve the Chinese language or China, but increasingly our lives as a globalized society will intersect more. This also makes me consider the importance of translating the books “I have inside me” and want to write and publish in the years ahead into Chinese.

I also found Amy’s points in this TWiT podcast about the short-term thinking (generally) of U.S. society, businesses and government leaders relative to other nations and regions of our planet very provocative and important. I think it is common today for many in the United States to take our global position as economic and hegemonic leader for granted, and assume our status quo will be maintained into the future. This isn’t a safe assumption and warrants reconsideration on multiple levels.

One of the blog posts which I’ve been thinking about writing for several months now would address things I’ll likely term, “Our Grand Challenges.” As a society in the United States and more broadly on our planet, we’ve got some important things to figure out and change.

  1. How are we going to provide for the health and medical needs of ALL our citizens? (Hint: It’s not by continuing to let insurance and pharmaceutical companies write the legislation which becomes our laws.)
  2. How are we going to fundamentally change our political culture, so elected officials in Washington D.C. don’t have to spend most of their time fundraising and pandering to wealthy donors, and instead can learn about issues, listen to each other, and seek political compromises on a wide variety of important issues?
  3. How are we going to change our behavior to sustainably care for and “serve as stewards” of our planet, rather promote the short-term interests of corporations and investors?
  4. How are we going to manage our information and media landscape, so the voices of extremists and actions of “bad actors” do not dominate our collective attention and exercise such out-of-balance influence over our shared political agendas?

I could go on (and likely will when I finally write that post), but I’ll stop and note that Amy’s analysis in this TWiT podcast got me thinking even more about the importance of LONG TERM thinking and strategies for our society and institutions. We need more long term and “long game” thinkers and leaders. This can and should start and be fueled by conversations in our classrooms tomorrow.

Finally, Amy’s commentary in this TWiT podcast got me thinking (as I often do) about the importance of understanding technology, understanding code, and embracing rather than fearing the challenges as well as opportunities which are presented to us today in 2018. I’m reminded of Virginia Postrel’s (@vpostrel) outstanding 2011 book, “The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress.”

We need more “dynamists” (rather than “statists”) in our communities and households, as well as more informed optimists like Amy Webb. I won’t pretend to have a picture perfect view of the future through my own metaphorical palantir, but I definitely feel like I’m seeing further than I could before after listening to Amy. I’ve added her to my Twitter list of “yodas” I follow via Flipboard. You should too!

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Understanding the Weaponization of News Media with danah boyd

We live in dynamic times, and it can be extremely valuable as well as thought provoking to have an opportunity to listen to an insightful scholar share analysis about our evolving information landscape. This evening, thanks to a tweet from Jackie Gerstein, I watched an hour long lecture presented by danah boyd (@zephoria) recently in Detroit focusing on “The Future of Information.” To understand our present and future, danah related (among other things) stories of how troll culture has emerged and become a significant part of our media environment which confuses many and leaves people wondering who to trust.

Among her many provocative points and stories, I found danah’s exhortation for us to consider how we can “re-network our society” timely and important. We seem, often, to feel “distanced and distracted,” and mainstream media feeds into these emotions as they emphasize spectacle and stories which tend to divide rather than unite us as human beings. We need to find more ways to connect, both face-to-face and online, with others and (in danah’s words) “hold them.”

I also found danah’s assertion that “trust comes from experience” important. She said if people do not know someone personally involved in the production of the news today, they are much less likely to trust the news. The same thing goes for politics in government: If you do not personally know someone in government, you’re unlikely to trust government. She cited a quotation from George Washington, when he said democracy can’t survive if elected officials represent more than 30,000 people. Today, of of course, many represent far more.

I compare the informed and fast paced analysis of danah, along with her storytelling and anecdote sharing style, with Clay Shirky, author of one of my favorite books from 2008, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.” His presentation at Harvard from March 2008 on key ideas from that book remains one of my favorites of all time.

danah’s recent talk in Detroit is helpful because it stitches together names and events which demonstrate how fringe Internet society (4chan, for example) has been amplified by conspiracy theorists, who have gamified SEO (search engine optimization) on Google and other search engines, and also hijacked mainstream media coverage in multiple circumstances through social media. She talked about how many people (including many youth today) are “destabilized,” and the ways in which extremist groups are using the Internet and social media to “take these destabilized people down rabbit holes” and radicalize them. Yes we have state actors like Russia acting to sow discord, division, and mistrust in our U.S. society, but we also have other groups who have seized the digital reins of the keyboard to powerfully alter and shift individual as well as public perception of events and “truth” writ large.

danah also highlighted the important ethical choices of media agencies in covering the news and events, like the suicides of famous people. Somehow (and I’m not sure if this is possible) we need our news media to embrace again ethical standards on this issue and others. See ReportingOnSuicide.org for more.

I highly commend this lecture by danah boyd to you. I look forward to reading and learning more from her in the weeks and months ahead, as I seek to better understand our information landscape and the roles we can play as educators, parents, community leaders, and netizens to constructively shape it.

danah boyd by Joi, on Flickr
danah boyd” (CC BY 2.0) by Joi

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

Podcast462: Inspired by Tricia Fuglestad and Make Media Camp Lessons Learned

Welcome to Episode 462 of Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcasts, a now-wildly irregular podcast by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer) focusing on digital creativity, media literacy, digital literacy and instructional technology. This episode includes two segments. The first is an interview with Megan Thompson (@seeingnewshapes), our elementary art teacher at Casady School in Oklahoma City. This past spring, Megan had an opportunity to travel to the Chicago area and spend part of a day with Tricia Fuglestad (@fuglefun). Tricia is an amazing elementary art teacher and utilizes a wide variety of technologies in her classroom to encourage creativity and empower student expression. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) and Wes interviewed Megan about her experiences, observations and takeaways from her time with Tricia in early June, 2018. The second segment of this podcast is a conversation between Shelly and Wes about their two recent Make Media Camp workshops (@MakeMediaCamp) with teachers in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. They highlight a variety of lessons learned and changes they’ve made to this one day media experience which introduces teachers to six different media projects and classroom activities: narrated images, photo collages, class radio shows / podcasts, paper-slide videos, Goose Chase mobile media scavenger hunts, and multimedia eBooks. Learn more about Make Media Camps on www.MakeMediaCamp.com, and access all workshop curricula from these workshops on the Archives link under Resources. Check out the shownotes for this podcast for links to additionally referenced resources.

Shownotes:

  1. Subscribe to Moving at the Speed of Creativity Podcasts
  2. Tricia Fuglestad (@fuglefun) Dryden Art – Fugleblog and Fugleflicks
  3. Megan Thompson (@seeingnewshapes) – Classroom website
  4. Shelly Fryer (@sfryer) – Blog and Classroom website
  5. Follow Wes Fryer on Twitter: @wfryer
  6. Udall Foundation – Parks in Focus
  7. Book: How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith
  8. Movie: The Music of Strangers (2015)
  9. Odyssey Leadership Academy – Oklahoma City
  10. Book: Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education by Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher
  11. GoodNotes4 app for iOS
  12. Make Media Camp (@MakeMediaCamp)
  13. Make Media Intro Video (created with Adobe Spark Video for iPad)
  14. Seesaw Learning Journals
  15. How Do I use Activities in Seesaw?
  16. Make Media Camp Pedagogy (paper slide video from Make Media Camp)
  17. Ideas for Building Classroom Community (paper slide video from Make Media Camp)
  18. EdTech Situation Room (@edtechSR)
  19. Email Mail Merge Custom PDF Certificates with autoCrat for Google (March 2016 blog post about using autoCrat)

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?

8 Months of Android: Lessons Learned (Part 2)

In November 2017, I shocked my family and many friends by switching from an iPhone to an Android smartphone. Ten of the reasons why I switched are detailed in this post, but the main four were:

  1. Travel Security
  2. Lower Cost
  3. Extended Battery Life
  4. Google AI Technology in the Google Assistant

It’s been a good experiment, but I’ve been missing iOS and an iPhone for multiple reasons. Later today I’m throwing in the towel and purchasing a used iPhone 6+ for $120 from a relative. If it was possible to purchase a used, high end Android phone for less than $400 (like a Google Pixel 2) I’d definitely go that direction, but the finances of smartphones have brought me to the point where I view smartphones a lot like cars. Sure it’s wonderful to buy a new one, but who really needs a new one when a used one can offer you so much function and lifespan for a fraction of the cost? (That’s a big reason our family loves CarMax, btw.)

So, as I anticipate the return of iOS to my pocket, here are some of my key lessons learned from the past eight months of exclusively using and carrying an Android OS smartphone.

Basic Functions Harder: Phone Answering, Pocket Calls, Voicemail

A smartphone is a computer, but it’s also supposed to be a phone. Unfortunately, my Android phone has been comparatively more difficult when it comes to the basic phone functions of a smartphone. Yes, I have a low-end Android phone (Moto E4 Plus), but it’s not unreasonable to expect phone functions to work smoothly. Throughout my Android phone experience, I had a comparatively harder time answering calls, switching between calls, and even working with Voicemail which wouldn’t load as quickly or smoothly than it does on iOS. Early on, I also had a lot of trouble making pocket calls on my phone. These experiences were frustrating, and while tolerable, not something I expected for such a basic phone feature.

No OS Updates on Many Handsets

I was aware of the Android OS fragmentation issue, where most users don’t run the latest available operating system (OS), but until being an Android user I didn’t fully comprehend the “why” of this situation. With my Moto E4 Plus smartphone, I technically can’t upgrade my Android OS. There are two barriers standing in the way: My handset manufacturer (Motorola / Lenovo) as well as carrier (TMobile) would have to certify my device for an OS upgrade. They are NOT doing this. In fact, Motorola announced for next E5 line of smartphones, they’re not planning to let customers upgrade either. As an iOS user, this is almost incomprehensible and incredibly frustrating. I’ve learned with iOS to generally not upgrade RIGHT away, since there have been (especially lately) some bugs with new operating system updates, but generally after a few weeks these are worked out and if your iPhone model is certified for the update, it runs better and with more features after the update. Not so with Android.

I am thankful that my Android phone model didn’t come stuffed with tons of carrier bloatware, as many models do, but I have still been held hostage to the manufacturer as well as carrier for updates. The solution to this would be to purchase a smartphone directly from Google or another handset manufacturer which pledges support for updates, but as previously mentioned, those smartphones are not yet available with steep discounts as used devices.

The December 2017 HowToGeek article, “Why Your Android Phone Isn’t Getting Operating System Updates and What You Can Do About It,” has more background on this issue. I’ll go so far as to say if you’re going to buy an Android phone, in most cases you shouldn’t consider a model unless the manufacturer has publicly promised support for updates. The low cost of an Android phone like mine ($140 open box from Amazon) can make it a great travel or “burner phone” (if you really need one – which you might), so this advice is not for everyone. It’s critical to keep in mind that as smartphone manufacturers continue to want to promote “churn in the channel” (customers continually upgrading and purchasing new devices) this “feature limitation” is actually a sales strategy.

Not only is that strategy frustrating from a customer standpoint, wanting to take advantage of new OS features, it’s also dangerous from a security standpoint. Like all computing devices, smartphones need regular updates. Sadly, that’s not available for my Moto E4 Plus.

Missing Good Microphone and Speakers

I love to use my smartphone to CREATE media as well as consume it, so the comparatively poor quality microphone on my Android phone has been a big drawback. I like recording podcast interviews with my devices, but since the Moto E4 has such a poor quality microphone I’ve had to use my iPad for audio recording. I haven’t posted to my personal sounds blog in awhile, but if I’d had a better microphone I probably would have during our recent family holiday to Seattle and Mount Rainier. I migrated my 200+ short, eclectic audio recordings from AudioBoom to Anchor in the past year, and when I’m armed with an iPhone again I’m planning to resume my periodic posts there.

Apple Music for Android Works Well

One of the nice surprises during my Android smartphone experiment was learning that Apple Music is available for Android and works pretty well. The app isn’t as feature-filled as the iOS version, but it provides the core features I’m most interested in: All iTunes Match songs are available, playlists sync, you can like / not like songs, and family Apple Music subscriptions work. I considered giving Google Play Music a try, or YouTube Red, but since I’m so “digitally invested” in iTunes and Apple Music it wasn’t worth it. I’m glad Apple has decided to make Apple Music available for Android. If I was going to stick with Android long-term, I would consider migrating to Spotify or Google Play Music. We have 4 “Google Home Minis” at our house, and the fact that they don’t support Apple Music is a bummer. I enjoy and use Pandora for music, however, which IS supported on Google Home devices, and also listen to podcasts… so this isn’t a huge issue at this point for me as a music and podcast listener.

5000 mAh Battery is Awesome

The best thing about the Moto E4 Plus smartphone is its 5000 mAh battery. For comparison sake, my previous iPhone 6S had a 1,715 mAh battery. This meant I tripled my smartphone battery capacity when I went Android. Wow was this ever a big deal. Like many folks, I rely on my smartphone during the day at work to receive and send both messages and calls. Unless I charged during the day, with my iPhone 6S I would regularly run out of juice by 5 pm each day. My Android phone has so much battery, I can literally work for 2 straight days without a supplementary charge. On vacation, using Uber and Google Maps extensively, my battery life isn’t nearly that long, but it has been HUGELY better than my iPhone.

One advantage of moving to an iPhone 6 Plus (versus other iPhone models) is that it’s battery is 2,915 mAh. That’s about 5% larger than the 2,750 mAh in the iPhone 6S Plus. I’m expecting the processor of the iPhone 6 Plus to feel snappier than my inexpensive Moto E4 Plus. I learned to keep my location services off entirely on my Android phone if it wasn’t needed, more-so than I’d done with my iPhones, so if I keep up that battery management discipline I’m hopeful I’ll still find this battery experience to be better than what I had on my iPhone 6S.

What’s App Good for Secure Messaging

One of many helpful things I learned traveling to Egypt last year was that the free, encrypted messaging app “What’s App” is fantastic. I not only used it for text messaging with family back home, but also for videoconferencing since FaceTime isn’t available for Android users. (I was even able to videoconference with my wife and youngest daughter from the pyramids… Probably my coolest videoconference moment to date.)

Cross-platform software functionality matters. Yes I know Apple would like everyone in the world to use iOS and the iPhone, but that’s just not going to happen. The lower cost, adequate function, and open licensing model of Android OS mean lots of folks will continue to use “other platforms” besides iOS. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to need a cross-platform videoconferencing solution and to “discover” (personally) the benefits of using  “What’s App.”

On the security front, I think people generally are far too ignorant about the dangers of unencrypted messaging. This is something I’m going to take on with our family and our own messaging, in part to educate our kids (as well as ourselves) about alternatives and the benefits which come with encrypted messaging. This is something we’ll do no matter what smartphone platform any of us are using today or choose to use tomorrow.

Beneficial to Merge AppleID and Google Contacts

Saved digital contacts can be a mess. My own contacts, prior to my Android smartphone experiment, were a fragmented mess shared between my AppleID, my primary personal Gmail account, and my school Gmail account. In migrating to an Android phone, I learned to export my AppleID contacts as vCard files, and then import them into my Google contacts. When I move back to an iPhone today, I’m going to keep my AppleID contacts OFF and just enable Google contacts. Hopefully that will help down the road if I ever choose to move (temporarily or more permanently) to another non-iOS smartphone platform.

More Regular Restarts Required with Android

All computers need to be restarted periodically, but I found my Android smartphone needed to be restarted more often than my iPhone. With my iPhone I might only restart once every 2 or 3 weeks. With Android, I had to restart at least once per week. Things would get slow and sluggish on the Droid after 5-7 days, and a restart would get everything working snappier again. Not sure if this is true of all handsets, but it definitely was for my Moto E4 Plus.

Google Assistant: Good but not Spectacular

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to give Android a try was my perception that Google is leading and will win the race to an amazing smart assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI). I do like the Google Assistant and use it every day at home with our Google Home Mini devices, but I found the response time on my Android phone to be less than spectacular. As with other performance issues, this may be largely attributable to the low-end hardware specs of my phone. I was expecting to use and love using the Google Assistant more on my Android phone than I did… and I think this technology just needs to continue to mature further.

I love the “broadcast” feature of Google Home devices, which turns them into one-way paging devices, and am thankful that functionality can work from an iOS device / iPhone just as it does from an Android phone. The Google Assistant works differently on different devices, but thankfully that function appears to be universal / not device-dependent.

Miss AirDrop and AirPlay on Android

As the lone Android user in our family, I have missed being about to AirDrop photos to and from family members, especially on our recent vacation. I’ve also missed the ability to readily mirror my iPhone to my computer or to an AppleTV at school using AirPlay. I will need to do this in August when I lead back-to-school workshops for our faculty and staff, getting up to speed on the features of our new cloud-hosted Jive phone system.

AirDrop and AirPlay are two technologies with which Apple continues to have BIG superiority over other competing platforms. AirDroid is an Android application with similar functionality, but it doesn’t enable the ready-sharing of photos and files between different Android devices the way you can with AirDrop for iOS. At our recent family reunion, we showed some of our relatives how to AirDrop contacts between their iPhone and someone else’s, and you’d have thought we were Houdini’s apprentices showing off his latest magic trick!

I’m looking forward to having my AirDrop and AirPlay powers restored to my smartphone!

Conclusions

Overall, I’m happy and thankful I’ve been able to “live” an Android smartphone experiment for the past eight months. As I said at the outset, the two most likely outcomes were that I would either love it and want to stick with Android, or I’d become much more knowledgeable and aware of the relative limitations as well as benefits of iOS versus Android.  For part 1 of this blog post series, see my November 2017 post, “Why I’m Switching from iPhone to Android (Part 1).”

Throughout this process, I’ve tried to help members of my own family understand that “Android is not the dark side” and I’m not a traitor to some unwritten family code of conduct by using something other than an iPhone as my primary smartphone. I’m glad we’re an Apple family, but as an educator and an educational technologist I think I have an ethical obligation to remain open to new changes and innovations in computing hardware, both at school and in my personal life. I definitely have a deeper understanding and appreciation for Android OS, and look forward to continued iteration and improvements in it as Google (and other companies) keep pushing our digital communications revolution forward. For now, however, I’m glad to be returning to the ranks of iPhone users. 🙂

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, consider subscribing to Wes’ free, weekly newsletter. Generally Wes shares a new edition on Monday mornings, and it includes a TIP, a TOOL, a TEXT (article to read) and a TUTORIAL video. You can also check out past editions of Wes’ newsletter online free!


Did you know Wes has published several eBooks and “eBook singles?” 1 of them is available free! Check them out! Also visit Wes’ subscription-based tutorial VIDEO library supporting technology integrating teachers worldwide!

MORE WAYS TO LEARN WITH WES: Do you use a smartphone or tablet? Subscribe to Wes’ free magazine “iReading” on Flipboard! Follow Dr. Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also “like” Wes’ Facebook page for “Speed of Creativity Learning“. Don’t miss Wesley’s latest technology integration project, “Show With Media: What Do You Want to CREATE Today?