Tag: media

Does the iPad = 1960?

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A friend recently asked me whether they thought an iPad or a laptop was better for their child.

If you thought I would have said “iPad” straight away – you’re right. After all, seeing a child interact with a tablet makes you marvel at how intuitive and accessible it really is compared to a laptop which seems ancient in comparison. Besides, I love my iPad but the more I thought about it, the more my answer started shifting towards a laptop.

Escaping technology bias

apple devices are multiplying

They're multiplying

With minimal start-up time, convenient size and beautiful screen, it is clear that tablets are biased towards consumption over creation.  However, since reading Douglas Rushkoff’s book Program or be Programmed I’ve become far more aware of the importance of recognising and not giving in to the natural bias of technology.

In a media environment that is becoming increasingly participatory, stories and mythology are no longer told but co-created. As the rise of social networks, blogs, podcasts and online video has shown, digital media is biased towards creation by enabling everyone to write and publish. We are no longer resigned to being passive consumers of media – as was the case when traditional mass media was the only player in town – but active participants with real influence and the power to shape communications.

When you look at it through this lens, tablets are almost a throwback to the past as it discourages longer, meaningful creation. It’s well suited for short bursts of content creation such as a tweet or a status update, but not so flash at long emails or blog posts (as Prakky opines).

Learning to create

The long and short of it is that although there are apps for creating – word processing, spreadsheets, photo editing, etc. – they are shallow compared to the same thing on a laptop. At this point in time, touchscreens are yet to offer a depth of interaction that a keyboard and mouse offers.

Much like the argument that Google bypasses critical thinking, so too have tablets removed the need to understand how software and hardware works, offering up instant solutions. For this reason, while I think there’s a place for both, for children who are just starting out, it is vital that they explore, question and test the limits of technology without restriction.

What do you think? Are iPad’s and tablets better learning devices for children or is there still a place for laptops?

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9 Characteristics of Great Blogs

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With over 156 million blogs in existence, it’s safe to say a fair whack of those are rubbish. Of the remainder, most are ok, some are good and a rare few could be considered great.

I was recently invited by The University of Adelaide, Discipline of Media to talk to first year students about what makes a great blog. This is what I came up with:

Great blogs…

  1. Have a voice
    They are not anonymous. They reflect the profile, personality and passion of the author.
  2. Are focused
    What they are about is clear. There is no confusion from readers what they are going to get when they read this blog.
  3. Use compelling headlines
    Time is precious. Although I subscribe to a few dozen blogs, I only have time to read a handful of posts a day. Most of the time, I make a judgment call if I’m going to read something based on the headline and if it excites me or I can instantly see the value from reading it. There’s a reason ‘Top 10…’ posts make great link bait.
  4. Use paragraphs and lists
    The old adage that the web is for scanning and skipping holds true. It’s a lot easier for me to skim through an article and extract something meaningful if it’s broken up into bite-sized chunks than a impenetrable  slab of text. If I quick scan reveals it to be worthy, I might even read the whole thing.
  5. Make good use of video, audio, images
    Depending on the type of blog (and in this case, I’m going to assume it’s an ordinary text blog not a fancy vlog) you don’t want to overdo it. But selective use of interesting videos and images that complement the copy can really add a lot to a post. Having said that, it should never come at the expense of the writing. And if you’re simply not good at sourcing images (like me), don’t break your back trying to do it and focus on the words.
  6. Can be subscribed to
    If I like what you’ve got to say and want to know when you’ve posted something new, don’t force me to visit your blog in the vain hope that there’s something new. Let me subscribe to and RSS feed or a newsletter to be notified when you’ve got some new content.
  7. Can be shared
    By that same token, if I like something make it easy for me to share with my network. Provide easy links to at the very least ‘Like’ and ‘Retweet’
  8. Have a unique POV
    If you want to stand out, you’ve got to be different and unique. Don’t regurgitate someone else’s thinking and link back, bring your viewpoint to the table and tell me why that is. If all you’re reporting is news then how are you telling me something I couldn’t find somewhere else?
  9. Are polarising
    If you’re not making someone mad then you’re not doing it right. You need to have an opinion. Matter of fact with 156 million blogs, you better have an opinion. To be anything but is to be vanilla.

    And despite the title, here’s one more for good measure…

  10. Are consistent
    There are regular posts on a consistent cycle. Whether it’s several times a day, daily or weekly, you know when to expect the next one, thus creating a sense of expectation.

So there you have it. I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments. And if you’re looking for an example of great blogs, look no further than the blog roll.

 

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