Got Social?

Online Free Voice Recording Tool

I have a faculty member who teaches a language and she would like her students to have a conversation in the target language while recording it and then be able to send it to her.

We talked about Skype, and there is a great PC tool called Pamela that can record Skype, for free, under 15 minutes, and then the resulting file can be sent to someone.

We also talked about whether the students had smart phones.  My iPhone has an iTalk app that lets you record something and then email the file.

What we’re really looking for, thought, is a web-based app that two students, in different locations, can sign-in to, record a short conversation, and then have a file created that could be sent to the instructor.

If you can think of a tool like that, please leave the name in Comments below or email it to me.  If you don’t have my email address, you can find out how to contact me here.

Introducing my new look

Since moving blogs over to my own domain I’ve been using the default theme until I found one I liked.  I’ve posted to my social networks a couple of times to see if I could get some recommendations, to no avail.

The Emerging & Instructional Technology Lab, of which I am the Director, is moving its web presence from a wiki to a workpress site.  As part of the process, one of our talented student assistants searched out some themes for the new site.  Although for now we’ve decided on a different theme for that blog, there was one I like a lot and decided to make it the theme for my own blog.  Thanks Kevin!

Feel free to let me know what you think.

iPad Apps

A friend posted something to Facebook about her musing over buying a Kindle or an iPad.  Given the two are so totally different, it was easy to advise her:  If you want a device to read something on, and that’s pretty much about it, go with the Kindle.  If you want to do more, via apps, then the iPad is the choice.  An interesting discussion among her friends ensued hashing around on some finer points, but mostly everyone who responded agreed that she should probably invest in the iPad.

[soapbox]

I don’t see tablets as toys.  I see that many people use them that way, but many also do not.  So, let’s try to agree that the iPad is a device, nothing more, how you USE the device depends on how it would be categorized to you (and others who use it in similar ways).  A parent gets one for email, web, movies or shows, but to keep mini-me happy, sometimes you open a game app and let them play (like, in the car).  Its a device.

[/soapbox]

I promised my friend I would post to my blog what apps I have on my 1st Generation iPad Wifi.  Quick history, I got mine on day 1, which JUST SO happened to be my birthday (define providence?)  I bought the smallest drive and not on 3G.  I do not currently own a laptop and so I use my iPad for a few things at work but it is my mobile technology of choice for my doctoral work at NYU.  I do have a desktop, and I do use that a lot, but for mobile devices, its my iPad.

Two main apps for schoolwork: DocsToGo Premium and iAnnotatePDF.  DocsToGo lets me interact with documents (create, edit, etc…) and iAnnotatePDF does exactly what you’d think from the name, plus much more.

I have foursquare, HootSuite, Facebook, Ping.fm, Twitter, LinkedIN, Flickit, Echofon, and Google+ in a folder called Social.  I’ve stopped using foursquare (grew bored of it), use HootSuite for all the Twitter accounts, Don’t usually do Facebook on the iPad or my iPhone, but I use the app when I do (meh – expected more from the app), don’t use the Twitter app, don’t usually connect to LinkedIn on the iPad or iPhone, used to use Flickit to upload pictures, have stopped uploading so …, Use Echophone when I only want to see @aj_kelton, don’t use the Google+ app often.

In a folder called Travel I have: Weatherbug, and TWC (they use different station points), Maps, which is an awesome tool for finding things (and built into the iPad OS), Boingo’s Wi-Finder (I subscribe to Boingo, don’t use it often but it pays for itself every time I do.), and an AWESOME traffic app called INRIX.  I have the free version.  I find it especially helpful in the NY/NJ tri-state area and in the City.  Its usually spot-on accurate and, its freaking free!  How cool is that?  :-)

In a folder called Utilities I have: Calculator XL, BatteryLife, Find iPhone, Translator, Convertor, iHandy Level, Flashilight, and Speed Test.  Most are self explanatory, and there may be other apps that do the same thing that you like better.  I find BatteryLife  particularly useful on my phone, don’t really use it on the iPad.  If you subscribe to me.com (transitioning to iCloud), you could have a tracking service for the iPad and iPhone.  It works quite well.  iHandy Level is free, and a good thing to have when you need it.  I find it more useful on my phone.  Speed Test is also handy, if you can what your upload/download speed are and how long a ping takes.

I do have a folder called Games.  I don’t consider myself a gamer, so I very rarely use any of these.  Some I prefer to play on my iPhone.  So, for games I have: GF All-Stars, Jenga HD, WTD, BClassicLite, Morocco, Magic8ball, Cubes Lite, Anaconda, Dragon’s Lair, Mirror’s Edge, AngryBirds Lite, Robot Rampage, Tree Planter, Cut the Rope, HornetSmash, Blimp, and Time Killer.  Nearly all of them I downloaded because someone suggested I do\.  I play Anaconda a lot, and I’ve gotten addicted to Robot Rampage, thanks to my advisor {shakes fist at Chris], I was mildly into Mirror’s Edge for a very short time, but then I got stuck and just don’t have the time to invest.  The most interesting one to me is The TimeKiller, by SAS.  Read the story here. Its fun.

In my Entertainment folder I have: Pandora, Shazam, IMDb, iTunes (Store), YouTube, Music (my iTunes), Videos, Starbucks, and Urbanspoon.  No surprises here.

Under Communications I have: Skype, LucyPhone, Dragon Dictation, NumberGuru, Tungle, Messages, MagicJack, Flipboard, Contacts, and a delete duplicate contacts app.  I rarely use Skype from the iPad, NumberGuru does reverse look up on a phone number.  Very cool app, and free.  Tungle I use because my advisor uses it, so that’s how I book time with him.  Its fine, its a good program, and it does sync to my gCal.  The MagicJack app is worth having.  Just like Magic Jack, it lets you talk free across the country.  Flipboard I don’t use, but I know people who do and like it.  Contacts is contacts but, a word of warning, if you have the iCloud service (or me.com) and you sync over multiple devices, if you don’t have the settings just right, you WILL get duplicates.  I had way too many of them.  Had to get a duplicate contact deleting program.  It worked as it said it might, but I was disappointed in the end.

Under Gadgets I have GiantTimer (very cool, useful, and free), iBannerHD (also useful but not frequently), Mappiness, which I don’t do anymore, and a QR app, which is useless to me since I have a 1st Gen, so no camera, but I have my apps synced and so it came over from the phone.

In Finance I have Bank of America, Capital One, an app called CheckPlease (for dividing the tab or figuring the tip) and a very cool program called GroceryIQ.  I use it mostly on my iPhone but its great for keeping a shopping list, you can scan in the bar code and it will add it, a number of options, and I think it was free.

Under Productivity I have Blackboard Mobile Learn (yuck!), Kindle (love it), iBooks, Dropbox (could not live without this cloud service.  If you don’t have an account, they are free up to 2GB I think, use this link http://db.tt/BRaYbsL and get 250MB of extra space for free (and I get 500MB), Evernote (never use but know folks who do), Wiggio (tried, meh), ShowMe (cool app, was in beta, think its out now, no use for me but I could see it big in some types of courses or levels), Keynote (much prefer over Powerpoint, but Mac only except on the iPad), WordPress (all of my blogs are WP (the one you’re reading now, and this, this, this, this, and especially this), so this gets used a lot), Inkling (interesting, will be awesome as the library grows), Eventbrite (used for ELD11 and will use again for ELD12 – one of the best designed apps I’ve ever seen), RememberTheMilk (still the best to-do list out there, I think, even though I’m not using it for a shopping list anymore, ironically), and BookMyne, an app I can use to interact with the MSU library.  Its a great app, very helpful.

I have the mail program to read my main Google email account, to which all of my other accounts are forwarded.  There are some things that can’t be done on the iPad that can on a computer, but it is good enough for 99% of the use cases.  I also use Safari as the web browser.

whew [wipes brow]

Theme

Since moving this blog over to my own domain, I’ve been using the default theme.  I plan to take some time soon (probably this week) to hunt down an appropriate theme, but I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion.  If so, feel free to leave it in Comments.  The theme should match (or reflect, or capture, or…) the content in some way.

Social Media Experiment – 2 days of observation

At 4:25pm on Saturday I posted about a change I’m making in my approach to the use of Facebook.  For all the details, click here.

I currently have 249 friends. I added three today, more on that in a moment.  So that means I had 246 at the time I made the original posting.  Since that time:

  • 8 responded to the original post - 25% only left a comment, 38% only “liked” it, and 25% both liked and commented on it (so, overall 63% “liked” it and 50% commented on it).  One only sent me a direct message.  The 8 responses represent a 3.3% response rate.
  • 14 have responded to something else that I’ve posted since then, but did not respond to the post mentioned above.  That’s 5.7%
  • The combination of the two represent a current response rate, over the last 50 hours, of 8.9% (the difference is accounted for due to my calculator rounding up lol).
Something just dawned on me.  Is what I am doing “research”?  My results are being published – here, in my blog.  I’m posting a link to these blog entries to my social networks.  Its not juried or reviewed, but it IS open for a type of review (read: comments).  Its not “scholarly”, exactly, but it is a type of scholarship, I guess.  Would (should) I have to go to everyone on my Friends list and “inform” them that they are each “subjects” in my  ”research”.  Do I, at the least, need to post something to my wall that says I’m doing this.  I’m not planning to publish this in an academic journal.  I’m writing this entry, and have posted publicly about it in the past.  Does that qualify as notification?  Where are these lines?
Anyway, in keeping the experiment moving forward I’ve decided to open up my rather closed mentality of my “friends” list.  I’ll still apply the “standards” to the noobs, interaction or – pow – you’re off the island!.  :-)  LOL  But if I want interaction to be the core value of my Facebook social footprint, why not expand the “hive”? Facebook has been the most productive for input, why not grow it instead of restricting it?
Yes, I have a problem with Facebook’s approach to our privacy.  I could be wrong, but the image in my mind is that they do the very minimum they think they can get away with for the least amount of “damage”.  Yes, minimize risk and maximize return is a good thing, when you are investing one’s money, and I assure you a ton of money is changing hands on this information nearly-all-you-can-eat buffet.  But at what point does a corporation, or an individual, become responsible for acting publicly responsible? Profit is important, but there are some important non-tangible things that portions of the corporate world have not embraced due to its greed.
But I digress…

Rethinking the rethinking

So, as you all know ([bonk bonk] is this thing on? [bonk bonk]), I’ve been reassessing my social media footprint for some time.  I actually think its makes sense to rethink it constantly, as the social media market is constantly changing.  For instance, I tired of Foursquare and quit playing.  I’m not sure why, 100%, but that’s for another post.  Right now, I’m talking about reassessing, again, which is what I’ve been doing, again.

Facebook.  Ugh.  I wish they had a soul, because I could SO love using them.  Anyway, I’m finding it hard to quit completely for two reasons.  One, I don’t “want” to.  I mean, I do want to, because they f*#k us in the privacy department, make no bones about it, kinda actually taut it in our face and say “ha ha, where ya gonna go?  Huh?  Huh? Right! So now shut up!”.  How many of you reading this couldn’t imagine Mark Zuckerberg totally saying that.  Now, I don’t know the man personally, and I’m sure he’s very nice, and he probably wouldn’t really say that, but for some reason, my image of him, is that I could totally hear him saying that.  Anyway, I digress…

So, I don’t really WANT to leave Facebook, but I’ve been reducing my exposure.  This, as part of trying to find a place for each social network I’m in, even though I post nearly the same content to all of them.  Sometimes I post something only to a specific network, when its only appropriate for that network, but generally, my posts are not so much personal. But, I do like to keep, for instance, LinkedIn to professional contacts, and Facebook, I’ve tried narrowing to close friends and family.  But…

… and you knew there had to be a but …

but, there are some people I like having in my stream on Facebook (don’t know what I mean by “stream”? Check here, and see toward the end).  And for some, Facebook is the ONLY way I will be able to keep in touch with them and I don’t want to lose those contacts.  Finally, and pretty importantly, I use Facebook for professional reasons, such as the VWER and the College accounts.  So, I really CAN’T pick up and leave.

Anyway, all this is a long way of saying, I’m reconsidering my Facebook friends, yet again.  I think I only want to be connected to people on Facebook who contribute in some way.  I mean, they don’t have to comment on every post, or even on ANY of them, but a Like once in a while, would be great, something to let me know they are actually paying attention or even care.

So, I think I’m going to try an experiment.  I think, once I week, I’m going to post to Facebook “If you are reading this, please LIKE – unless you’ve already liked a post like this from me in the past”.  Same text.  Once a week.  And I’ll do it for, lets say, 3 months.  I’ll keep track of everyone who, at the very least, Likes a post I make, commenting counts, too.  And then anyone, after 3 months, those who has not even Liked something I’ve posted I’ll drop.  If they’re not paying attention, they’ll hardly notice.  Is that a fair amount of time, 3 months?  Is it even fair to use interaction as a barometer? Leave your thoughts in the comments, I’m still open on this.

It’s not the content, stupid

A while back I posted about response rates in the three major social networks I’m a part of – Twitter, Facebook, and Google +

The actual point of that post was my trying to come to terms with how I interacted with LinkedIn.  I can report that, after that blog, I decided that LinkedIn had changed since I first time I signed up and also that social networking had changed.  I couldn’t find any reference on the LinkedIn site about being able to vouch for the people in your LI network, so I’ve decided to selectively start accepting request there from people I have not worked with.  I’m still selective of who I’m saying yes to, but I’ve begun to broaden that circle.

But I digress…

As I mentioned in the previous post, I will, from time to time, run the same type of experiment where I toss an inquiry out to all three networks and quantify the response.  The grenade this time had to do with a presentation I’m making in my Narrative, Digital Media, and Learning class.  I’m doing a presentation on Game-based learning and narrative, from a pedagogical approach.  On our opening slide I wanted to include a few iconic images from games.  I choose a Playstation controller, a playing card (the “suicide” king [king of hearts]) and a Monopoly playing token.  I choose the thimble but wanted to see what others thought was the most recognizable.  I ask all three networks “What is the most recognizable Monopoly playing piece”

  • Five people from Facebook responded.  I have 256 friends, so that’s 2%
  • Three people from Twitter responded.  I have 895 people who follow me, so that’s 0.3%
  • Two people from Google + responded.  I have 161 people in circles, so that’s 1.2%

Now, there are a few things to unpack here aside from the numbers.  First off, in the last post, I speculate that my question may have been too complex for Twitter’s short responses.  Clearly that should not be the case here, as this is a short answer – potentially as short as one word.  I also speculated that the content might be to blame, that people who don’t use LinkedIn wouldn’t care.  Well, I’d wager that the vast majority of people in my networks have at lease played Monopoly once, so they could at least relate to that, taking that issue off the table.

So the question becomes, why such a low response rate.  Could it be that The Stream just goes by so quickly that people don’t see it?  I don’t know, but I think the numbers show a telling story.

Facebook was fairly consistent.  I have four less “friends” than the last time.  Although one or two have been added, I’m also weaning off some folks who I’d originally said yes to but I really want to keep FB to very close personal friends and family (and the occasional totally awesome person from work or school).  The FB response, which was 1.2% last time was 2% this time.  So even though I have fewer people in my network, I had a net increase of .8%.  Not a lot – it’s an increase, but its negligible.  This gets Facebook the Consistency Award.

Twitter was actually the big winner, sorta, kinda, but not really.  I have 24 more followers since the last time, for a total of 895, and the response rate went up by 50%!  The response rate last time was a meager .2% (not 2%, 2/10ths of a percent) and it went all the way up to .3% (3/10ths of a percent).  Yes, this is a decent increase, percentage-wise, but the anemic response rate in total still leads me to believe that Twitter is an echo chamber where more people (not all, more) are there to be voyeurs instead of active participants.  If The Stream has an effect anyplace it’s here.  So many people follow so many other people that The Stream just flies by.  If it weren’t for Lists, I’d miss stuff I wanted to catch.

The big loser in all of this was Google +.  Although I have 2 more followers in my circles than the last time, the response rate dropped by nearly half!  The last time I had a response rate of 2.5% and this time it dropped in half to only 1.2%.  This could mean that more people are following others and The Stream is going by too fast or fewer people are paying attention to Google +.  In either event, this is a negative development.

It’ll be interesting to see how these number change, if they change, the next time I try this.

[UPDATE] I forgot to add this to the original post and wanted to.  Hasbro, the company that owns Monopoly, did a survey in 1998 of the most recognizable playing piece.  The results can be found here, but the winner was the Racing Car with 18% of the vote (followed not far by the Dog (16%) and the cannon (14%).

LinkedIn and my social media experiment

So, I used a recent shout out to try to accomplish two things.

First, for the last year, or a bit more, I’ve been having a constant battle with how to deal with LinkedIn, specifically with regard to connection requests.  I’ve been getting requests from people I do not personally know, or know well.  Now, I have no reason to believe they are not nice people, that’s not my concern – my understanding of LinkedIn has been is that its supposed to be people you could “vouch for” from having worked with them.  Now, I combed their site for that language and I no longer see it.  If you can find it, feel free to comment it here.  So maybe they have changed their pitch, but when I signed up (a million years ago) it very specifically indicated this.

Even though I don’t know someone right now doesn’t mean I might not want to know them – that’s called “meeting new people” and we do that in professional situations all the time.  So, has LinkedIn turned into the online equivalent of the professional cocktail party?  I guess it can be whatever I want it to be, for me, but I did want to find out what others said and I’ll get to that in a moment.

The other thing I used this for was to test how each of my networks would respond.  I posted my though via ping.fm to Facebook and Twitter (and LinkedIn, Plurk, and a few others I’ve long forgotten but opened to test them out), and I also posted it to Google+.  The wording was exactly the same on all three.  Now, Google+ surprised me.  I’ve  not been impressed with its adoption.  I like it, but I haven’t found much value in checking it regularly.  I’ve created circles, but I monitor my main stream.  Its interesting, it’s just not been sticky for me and I’m not sure why.

Now, I posted my “grenade” at 7:19am on Monday, October 24th.  When I say grenade, I mean a digital blip that I retreat from and wait to see the reaction.  Like, posting “Who is on LinkedIn and how do you decide who to accept into your network?”

So its been roughly 50 hours that its been out there.  The Stream has gone by fast enough that most of the people who will reply have probably done so.  ”The Stream’ is what I refer to as the input from all of my feeds – Twitter, Facebook, RSS, I think even email to some extent, but mostly the first two – the very active and constantly moving stream of digital existence that I’m tapped into.

Anyway, here are the numbers

  • Twitter:  Two people replied.  I have 871 followers, so that is 0.2%
  • Facebook: Three people (other than myself) involved in conversation.  I have 260 friends, so that is 1.2%
  • Google + : Four people responded.  I’m not sure how many people saw it, since I posted it to my circles, my extended circles, and publicly, but I have 159 people in my circles (and 209 people who have added me) and all four people who responded are in a circle of mine.  That means their G+ response is 2.5%, more than twice that of Facebook and WAY more than Twitter.

One main caveat is that it could have been the content of the question.  Clearly, this response rate has everything to do with whether or not the people seeing the post felt compelled to respond.  I know that, but the above is comparing the three networks based on the same exact input.  What needs to happen next is, another post but of a different topic.   I’ll wait a while, since now “the cats out of the bag” that I’m looking at this, so it could have an impact on people responding, one way or the other.

The actual content of the responses is also quite interesting.  On Twitter, although there were two responses, one of them was a spambot, so there was really only one response.  No matter how you look at it, that’s a pathetic response rate.  Now, this says something about me, my relationship with Twitter, the people who follow me, the relationship I have with them, and the medium itself.  Good, bad, or indifferent, the response says something about the relationships; it has to, by design.

The person who responded via Twitter said she’d accept a response from anyone.  Knowing the responder, I’m sure she’d look at the profile first and as long as the person wasn’t a stalker creep, she meant anyone.  So, 100% of Twitter respondents indicated they did not need to know the person personally or have worked with them.  Yes, 100%, how amazing is that Mr. Disreali?

Facebook was interesting in that it was a conversation.  Someone posted a response, then someone else did, agreeing with what the first person posted.  I responded to both of them and asked a clarifying question.  A third person joined in and then the second person responded to the clarification. There was one final post by me, about 2 hours after the initial posting.  So the Facebook stream has a 2 hour window, at these with these four people.

Three of the four respondents to the Facebook posting said they needed to know the person personally, professionally, and/or have worked with them. The fourth said that it was a professional network, but that he also used it to keep and maintain professional connections, especially with those doing the same job he does.

As I said above, Goole + is the one that surprised me.  Normally I see far more constructive content in Facebook, but clearly Google+ schooled Facebook with over twice the response rate.  The four Google + respondents work in Academia.  In the Facebook response, one was in higher ed, one worked in higher ed in the past, on the IT side of the house, and the third works for a company that does a lot of business with higher ed.  All four higher education professionals (Google + response) said that they either needed to know the person, have personally met them, or have a close association with them in the digital world (worked on something, same organization, etc…).

So, the final tally is…

  • Need to know them personally or have a working virtual relationship with them. 7 (78%)
  • Do not need to know them personally or have a working relationship with them. 2 (22%)

I’m not really clear what all this says in-and-of itself.  I mean, there is interesting information in all this, but until I get a chance to run a second experiment, this means little in isolation.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Facebook has changed its format – again.

Just when I was getting used to the last set of changes I didn’t like, Facebook goes and changes their layout again.

I’m not going to jump on the “I Hate Facebook Changes” bandwagon – again – because it does no good, it will have no impact and will change nothing.

But I think I’m reaching the saturation point with Facebook as a personal social medium.  I don’t plan to quit, I have too many groups, keep in contact with too many people through those groups, and make use of their Events (although it still baffles me why Events don’t have time zone support).  But I may not pay as much attention to it anymore.

I keep Facebook open on a second monitor.  It’s not my main monitor, so its background chatter for me, but I think I’ll minimize it into the tool tray and only open it when I need to add or update an event.  I rarely post something specifically to FB, anyway  Usually, I post to Ping.fm, which posts to all my networks at once.  So I might try minimizing this and see exactly what I’m missing by not having it open.

Has Facebook jumped the shark?

What’s good for the goose…

For some time now we’ve been hearing about grade school administrations that have been holding students accountable for things they post to social network sites when they are not at school.  There have been numerous stories of students who have been suspended, kept from their prom or graduation, etc. because of something they posted to Facebook, or some other social media.

Well, apparently its ok to punish students for doing that but when a teacher does it, then its free speech.

This high school teacher from Florida recently went on a rant on Facebook about New York approving gay marriage.  He certainly has a right to his own opinion, although I’m not sure why he cares so much about what goes on in a state he doesn’t live in, but I digress.  According to this article http://huff.to/pzCUp0 the teacher

“wrote on his Facebook page that he “almost threw up” when he was having dinner and news came on of New York’s decision to allow same-sex marriage showed up July 25.

“If they want to call it a union, go ahead,” Buell wrote, according to ClickOrlando.com. ”But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

Now, this guy has over 700 friends on Facebook, so this isn’t really a “private” matter, or just his opinion, he’s got a bit of a pulpit there and he is using it.  Ok, fine, his choice.  Although some of his friends did push back (and he promptly told them to unfriend him if they didn’t like what he wrote), but still others started a Facebook page to support him.  All of that is their right, I guess, sort of, until it become hate speech, then…not so much anymore.  Substitute the idea of “blacks” or “jews” or [insert any other minority group name here] and we’re talking prejudice, the kind that land people in some big trouble.

Well, according to the tweet that directed me to this article, the teacher was suspended but has since been reinstated.  According to the HuffPo article, this teacher claims “everything was done on a personal basis: on his own time and personal computer at home.” [note: the quote is from the author of the article and not necessarily an attribution to the teacher]

Wait – hold on one second.  Lets roll back to the beginning of my blog post here.  Schools are holding students accountable for the things they say on social networks when they are not at school, on their own time, and not using school equipment.  But according to this guy, its ok for him to spout anti-gay sentiments because, as he told The Sentinel that’s his “way I interpret things” and he was doing it not at work, on his own time, and not using school equipment.

Hmmmm.