Tag Archives: 2012/366

17.366 – GarageBand for e-books

If this article at ArsTechnica is right, Apple’s big education and publishing announcement this Thursday will not just be about consuming a better ebook, but about making it yourself.

Apple is slated to announce the fruits of its labor on improving the use of technology in education at its special media event on Thursday, January 19. While speculation has so far centered on digital textbooks, sources close to the matter have confirmed to Ars that Apple will announce tools to help create interactive e-books—the “GarageBand for e-books,” so to speak—and expand its current platform to distribute them to iPhone and iPad users.

If Steve Jobs really did think that textbook publishing was an “$8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction,” then we might be on the lookout for something really revolutionary on Thursday. Forget about Pages finally being able to save an ePub — this should go way beyond that. To me, it sounds a lot like the realization of what Push Pop Press announced when Mike Matas showed the “Our Choice” book/app at last year’s TED, an easy to use tool that will let others make dynamic etexts. I still blow into the microphone on my iPad to see the book’s windmill spin.

I hope this isn’t just geared towards big publishers and that the same tools are available for teachers and students to use. I’d love to see what “Rip. Mix. Burn.” looks like with a classroom of content creators and collaborators.

EDIT: The Wall Street Journal makes it sound like this is really publisher-focused, with at least McGraw-Hill being involved since June.

14.366 – touché


Just as New York Times public editor Arthur S. Brisbane is concerned whether his newspaper is printing lies or the truth, we here at V.F. are looking for reader input on whether and when Vanity Fair should spell “words” correctly in the stories we publish.

Hysterical piece in Vanity Fair that pokes fun at the piece in the Times from the other day. What’s frightening is that not all the commenters got the joke — just as a lot of readers don’t get that there might be less-than-facts sometimes printed in newspaper articles.

13.366 – truthiness in the media

CC-licensed photo by David Weinberger

Yesterday, the New York Times‘ public editor, Arthur Brisbane, asked:

I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.

Uh, what? They’re asking whether the news they report has to be factual? 


But wait… there’s an explanation:


Even if this is true, that the public editor is coming from a point of view outside of the Times‘ reporting and editing structure, there’s still a problem here. If he’s speaking from outside the structure, then that means that that structure isn’t concerned with asking the question — he’s an outsider. How does that even happen? What’s the role of the public editor and what is his/her power to inform the way news is reported for the good of the people, for the public?

I’m really confused as to how truthiness has become the norm, pushing aside a responsibility to tell the truth, full stop. But Jay Rosen explains it well:

Something happened in our press over the last 40 years or so that never got acknowledged and to this day would be denied by a majority of newsroom professionals. Somewhere along the way, truthtelling was surpassed by other priorities the mainstream press felt a stronger duty to. These include such things as “maintaining objectivity,” “not imposing a judgment,” “refusing to take sides” and sticking to what I have called the View from Nowhere

But wait a minute: how can telling the truth ever take a back seat in the serious business of reporting the news? That’s like saying medical doctors no longer put “saving lives” or “the health of the patient” ahead of securing payment from insurance companies. It puts the lie to the entire contraption. It devastates journalism as a public service and honorable profession.

This makes me really really sad when I think of my students’ view of media. We’re studying social media and the prevailing thinking in the class — even after looking at the disparity in the coverage of Occupy Wall Street in social vs. traditional media, even after looking at the role of social media in the Arab Spring — is that traditional media is unbiased and more trustworthy while more informal sources are full of bias and untrustworthy. There is very little middle ground in that discussion.

The fun of all of this is sussing out the truth while surrounded by biased sources — some have big names and some are just hashtags — but it’s a big mess. So it’s clear that I’ve still got some work to do, but (yowza!) so do a lot of other people.

10.366 – zero. zilch. zip.

CC-licensed photo by Tim Green.

I hit inbox zero on Tuesday for the first time in my work email. I suppose there was one other time, when we made a clean cutover from FirstClass to Gmail. (Why, oh why, do schools continue to cling to FirstClass to provide email and collaboration. Besides the fact that it’s so counter-inbox zero, it’s also just bad email. That never helps anything.) But that time doesn’t really count because I still continued to refer to it for a while.

The beginning to this school year was rough, and in December and through the holiday break, I found myself hovering at 275-odd unread emails. I’d gone through them to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything critical, but it was like an anchor hanging around my neck. I also have the habit of not deleting or archiving any messages; my thinking was that if I’m always able to search for something, why does it matter where it is? The unread messages would always be bold.

But it does matter. I had the most nerve-wracking moment when Gmail asked me if I wanted to archive the 22,000 conversations in my inbox. But after I did it, I felt like there was a way out, and an opportunity to think clearly about what I need to do next instead of focusing on my email.

This definitely helps meet my New Year’s resolution of be better. I do think this is a step towards that.