While I was in northern Illinois, I attended the Digital Media Learning conference in Chicago. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but since The Sprout Fund offered to cover the conference fee I decided to dive in. It was three action-packed days and I’m definitely glad I went!The keynote was given by Ethan Zuckerman on the topic of Democratic Futures with examples of how 21st century technology can be strategically used to create social change. He presented two axes that create four quadrants: thin vs thick; symbolic vs impactful. For example, “slacktivism” would fall in the thin and symbolic quadrant. Thin participation is minimal such as “like us on Facebook” or “click here to donate to the Red Cross” whereas thick participation engages people to come up with solutions – it’s a more complicated and sometimes risky, such as the Anonymous campaign about the Steubenville rape case. Ethan gave several examples around the world where social media is making people take notice, for example getting affordable mobile calling cards in Myanmar and an online community message board in Russia where people can post a problem (e.g. a flat tire) that someone nearby can help with instead of relying on slow-to-act social infrastructure. Overall, it set a tone of immediacy and encouragement.
The buzzword of the conference was HOMAGO, which is actually an acronym that stands for Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out. This is a relatively new look at how young people learn new media skills in a continuum of unstructured to structured/in depth activities based on the book of the same name. HOMAGO spaces are popping up in libraries, museums, and other spaces and have different approaches for how to nurture teens to explore a variety of topics such as 3D animation, music mixing, fashion design, coding, and much more!
“If schools look the same in ten years as they do now then we’re in trouble”
I learned a lot about “Third Spaces,” which is a space that is not the home nor school, so it’s pretty open-ended.
Mapstory.org particularly intrigued me. From the website:
MapStory is an infrastructure for enabling “MapStorytelling” as a means of communicating important issues to a global audience. The goal is to enable any student, teacher or practitioner on Earth to tap the power of this new mode of conveying one’s stories, arrayed across geography and as they unfold over time. MapStory will become the convening point where MapStorytellers of all kinds come to publish their expressions, and to critique each others’ MapStories, leading to a consistently accumulating and improving global body of knowledge about global dynamics, worldwide, over the course of history.
Think Wikipedia with maps and place history. Where Wikipedia is built on wikis, MapStory is build on geonodes. There’s a special project called MapStory Local where archived maps are digitized to show the change over time in a specific town or city. Pretty soon people will be able to add audio and video files to the map layers as well. It would be super cool to do this for Martins Ferry since it is the oldest settlement in Ohio!
The last day of the conference was the day the Chicago River was dyed green for St Patrick’s Day and I happened to mosey into the thicket of the green crowd on my way to the conference hotel. I never imagined the green would be so fluorescent!