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Friday, February 29, 2008

The Quality of "Many"...

Will Richardson blogged about Chris Jordan today, and it's such an amazing visual treat that I have to share out. It's also a fiercely coincidental koinkidink: Our school is hosting bead artist (don't discount that description because of the words used to compose it) David Chatt's incredible work this month. See a Nashville Tennessean article about that and also his own website.

Chris Jordan's "An American Self-portrait: Running the Numbers" visually depicts the statistics we may not otherwise appreciate. 1,000,000 (the number of plastic cups used on U.S. air flights ever 6 hours), 32,000 Barbie dolls (the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. in 2006), the 2,000,000 plastic beverage bottles used in the U.S. every 5 minutes. Wow.

Curiously enough, Chatt and Jordan are both Seattle artists. Hmmmmmm...

Jordan's two million plastic bottles:

David Chatt's "Portable Pink Parts"

Playing around with flauntr!

Free online image editor. Will the free stuff never end??? :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Lives" -- Kindle Edition Now Available!

Yippee! Not that anyone loves me enough to have gifted me a new Amazon Kindle book reader, but if you're one of the lucky ones who does have anyone who loves you enough to buy you one, my little "pretty good American novel," Lives, is now available not only on in its print edition, and at in both trade paperback and .pdf download formats, but also as an electronic download for your oh-I'm-so-jealous ebook reader.

Here's what the new sales page looks like, and please note the next-to-nothing price. Instant gratification has never been cheaper! Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2008

This Site is "Pornography?"

Part of me is laughing, part of me is steaming mad. I recently posted a call for educators in Second Life to visit ISTE Island there and vote for a blog to be featured at the Blogger's Hut, which I manage for ISTE. A fellow ISTE docent, Sabian Hawks, (Fil Santiago "irl"--"in real life) emailed me from his school in Los Angeles to inform me...well...let's let his email speak:


I received your e-mail regarding the podcast voting and proceeded to click on your Web site. A strange thing happened: our filtration system blocked it and categorized it as ‘pornography’ - strange - thought you might want to check this out, as others may not be able to visit your site from work. (SL--Sabian Hawks)

Fil Santiago

My response to him:

Hey, Fil (SABE!),

I'm not surprised that you couldn't see my site. Sigh. many schools and content blockers disallow blogger and blogspot sites, since there is indeed some objectionable material there. I'm firmly in the camp of Wes Fryer about content filters. How are teachers to begin to learn to take advantage of the powerful networking tools of our age when they have their options limited by paranoid beaurocrats? I hope you'll take the time to visit the site from home if you can.

Thanks for the heads-up. Would you mind my quoting your message in a blog post?


Is there any hope for our public schools? I always prefer to hope, but I most seriously hope that our leaders pull their heads up out of their...addiction to 18th century learning models and open up things before it's too late. Clear expectations in the form of rigorously enforced Acceptable Use policies--for students AND faculty AND adminstration--are all that would be needed to step into the 21st century.

Check out Jamie McKenzie's take today on "Breaking the YouTube Blockade" to allow teachers to use some of the very valuable resources YouTube can provide.

"Science Sites in Second Life" Podcast and "CoverItLive" Online

I posted episode number 68 of Snacks4theBrain! last week, entitled "Science Sites in Second Life!" and I welcome you to go give it a listen. Here, I'm testing out a demo of a new software solution called "CoverItLive" as I enter text at the site and it becomes live and archived in one fell swoop. Let's see how it works:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good Ink for the CSO!

The Nashville Tennessean delivered a very nice spread today about the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. No, I'm not mentioned, but I'm working in the background. Some very capable and dedicated people were, though! Go read!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Academia 2.0 -- Death to the "Lecture?"

Oh, one hopes so, one truly hopes so.

Another video from Kansas State University, via the Best Practices for eLearning Ning, (by way of the Teaching College Math Technology blog)this 10 minute thought-provoker. A gift to you, fellow teacher or learner...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Howard Rheingold's New Collaboration Message

I follow Howard Rheingold nearly every day, each time I get a minute to log into Twitter, the 140-character-per-message personal networking tool that lets us "follow" social and professional "tweets" to collaborate by means of those short messages, learning from one another and sometimes just trading jibes or comments. Howard, a busy man, doesn't follow me, so our relationship is not mutual, at least not yet, but I do get to check his ongoing thoughts whenever he gets his own minute to twitter. At present I have 75 followers--many of them very prominent technology thinkers and innovators--and I follow 46, so there's some of that non-reciprocal tweeting going on with me, too. I'm a busy man in my own small ways.

Occasionally I check my followers and add a few of them to my "following" list and thereby enrich the conversation (perhaps our boy Howard will do the same with my contributions one day). If someone's thoughts don't enrich, I simply stop following them. The result is a constant montage of thinking and human activity.

All this is a long way of saying that twitter itself is a clear example of what Rheingold's talking about in the talk hosted at TED Talks, another place I learn.

Everybody knows I am a Web 2.0 junkie. Howard's talk helps explain why. It's about cooperation. The new collaborative technologies, I believe, will enable an age of human development and cooperation that we are only just beginning to envision. I'll join in with @hrheingold to ask you to help get the "Cooperation Project" going. Watch:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two New Videos Up Today AND Classroom 2.0 Live Meetups!

Amidst all kinds of crisis at school, with major network problems and our internet connectivity knocked out completely yesterday and only just spotty today, I did manage to upload one post to the SLeducation video ning and one to a new site for me, SchoolTube.

The former is a brief SLutorial about how to work the voting station at the Blogger's Hut on ISTE's ISTE Island in Second Life. I manage the Blogger's Hut and I'm working to make it as interactive as possible. The latter is some footage I took during our school's first Theatrelink IVC with Teacher Artist Joe White from the Manhattan Theatre Club. Pick your poison:

1) SLeducation SL video at
2) USN and Manhattan Theatre Club Theatrelink Session 1

I also want to call attention to friend Steve Hargadon's new online meetups about Classroom 2.0. Go see the schedule of upcoming meetups (using and, soon, Elluminate) and drop in on one soon!

So much to learn!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Globalization of Higher Education

I knew I did something right when I nominated the "Teaching College Math Technology Blog" for the March featured RSS feed in the Blogger's Hut in Second Life. Don't worry, you don't really have to understand any of the foregoing. Just know that if you are interested in teaching or learning, be it math or not, Maria H. Anderson's blog is well worth adding to your list of favorites.

This entry will point you not just to another blog, not just to an entertaining post by a thoughtful educator, not just to her description of an insightful (and maybe inciteful) presentation, but finally to the presentation itself. After you read Maria's armchair review, you'll want to visit YouTube to pick up the 5 part video of the complete (30 minute or so) presentation. I know I want to do that, and it's on my list of things to do in the early morning, before I start shaking the kids out of bed for the school day.

The presentation is called "Exiting the Educational Silo, Entering the Global Freeway." It was shared by Mike Lively (hmmmm, wonder if he knows the Kid-Web diva, Gail Lovely?) in Washington, DC (Maria doesn't say where), and is loaded up with interesting takes on the survival of our current models of technology in education, as well as their relationship to the size and scope of institutions. I won't spoil the joy of reading Maria's descriptive article for you, but I will mention my agreement with Lively's (along with co-presenters Sam Zachary and Kevin Corcoran) position that we don't have to have a faculty comprised of what he calls "Uber Instructors," (pic from her blog) but rather a faculty willing to innovate with a support team of knowledgeable and innovative designers "supporting their technological desires for improving pedagogy."

I am looking forward eagerly to seeing the first-hand delivery of Lively's "shot at the present day LMS leaders with this slide 'Why Present Day Learning Management Systems Will Fail.'" Go on, you know you want to see this slide and read the article, and then you know you want to view the presentation. Spoil yourself, just "doit."

"Songs for Alaska" CD Sales Income to Go Toward Tornado Relief Efforts

Hey, all,

Just a quick post to let you know that until further notice all income from digital sales of my cd, "Scott Merrick's Songs for Alaska Featuring the Last Frontier Band" will be donated to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, earmarked expressly for aid to families struggling to recover from the loss and damage created by the recent tornadoes in their communities. Search for the cd title in iTunes and remember to make your purchases digitally. This way 1) you get the music immediately and 2) I can get the income to the CFMT fast. You can also click on the cd image in the toolbar to the right to get to iTunes quick-like-a-bunny. Don't use iTunes? Try one of the other sites that distributes the cd digitally!


If you're in Second Life, tp on over to my little storefront in Mare to get more info (picture above).

Read an initial news account of the extensive damage.

Here's a link to the fund, in case you're inclined to simply donate or already have the music!:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy 60th Birthday to My Brother Ed!!!

Today is the 60th birthday of my brother Ed, of whom I'm justifiably quite proud. Ed's a successful cutting-edge industrial safety consultant with a Masters degree in Metallurgical Engineering, and founder/CEO of the Augustus Group (website build in progress).

My son Colin and our cat Ruby, along with a (posthumous) guest star who's one of our faves, just concocted a little happy birthday song for me bro'.

Listen hear

May you have manymanymany more, brother mine!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008! Blogging Text with a Cell Phone Voice Call!

Weeeeeeeeee! From twitter friend David Jakes "@djakes," came a little post about, a new beta tool that allows one to post to blog, post to twitter, and post to a myriad of other platforms, such as Google Calendar, using your voice on a free 1-866 number call. The excellent voice recognition translates it to text and posts automatically. I'll have to train myself to talk like I want to write (my longstanding argument against the possibility of voice recognition rendering keyboarding skills obsolete) but this looks like a fun and easy way to, for example, create a google calendar event on the fly. MySpace isn't an option...yet.
To check the voice-to-text, listen to the audio file (also posted automatically, if that option is set up for your target site) and read along. Jott didn't like "Alrighty then," but I can live with that! There's also an option to
Already there, I am blogging to with Jott at at Wonder what's that ground(?) noises [...] I'm in a computer lab full of 3rd graders. OK, that's all for now, this has been a test from Scott Merrick at listen

Very groovy. The website is full of examples and suggestions for using the service, like shopping at with a voice call to Jott. Here's a list of suggested searches that will email you (not text, thanks be) you the 5 top returns on your search:

Helpful Jott to Amazon Tips
The more specific you are with the item, the more accurate your results will be
In the off chance that you do not receive search results in the email from the item you were searching for, please try sending a Jott to Amazon again with more specific terms.
Only say the product name, or item. Starting with “I want” or “I would like to get” will return no search results.
Use key words to direct your search to a certain category. Including:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

NCLB Rant!

No, it's not me: it's our boy Wes Fryer launching off on a grade-A-number-1 rant after the State of the Union address. Wes, an educational advocate I admire and follow, wonders how many of our elected politicians actually send their children to the public schools they've subjected to NCLB...:

"Would those parents and grandparents (our elected officials) want to send their own offspring to schools where recess has been cancelled after second grade, because there is no time for recess amidst the constant environment of test preparation? Do our elected representatives send their own precious children and grandchildren into classrooms where students have been normatively valued predominantly by the test scores which they can or cannot produce for the school’s aggregate statistical rating, rather than for the ideas and unique contributions which they can and want to make to their communities? We are living in an increasingly immoral educational and political culture, and the assumptions which are presented as "facts" by our political leaders regarding a "quality education" should both offend and enrage our population."

(Fanning myself.) That's only part of what Wesley Fryer has to say. Is it that those of us in the discussion fall out into either the affective or the effective camps? The effective being those who seek to quantify what is essentially qualitative? Sheesh, it's all too much for me, but go read Wes's thoughts, and weigh in, at the Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog.


Gus by Scott Gardner Merrick  I wear these navy slacks I found behind O'Shaugnessy's, in the dumpster there. And they'r...