a tree grows in the blogosphere

29 05 2006

just a quick reference to a site I just ran across.  the picture above is a representation of eelearning’s structure.  you can try it out at websitesasgraphs
you just type in a URL and it creates the tree representing the underlying code of your site.

Key to the color code:

  • black: the HTML tag, the root node
  • green: for the DIV tag
  • blue: for links (the A tag)
  • red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
  • violet: for images (the IMG tag)
  • yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
  • orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
  • gray: all other tags

Be sure to watch your tree being created.  The unfolding of the graph is spectacular! 

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a pandora’s box you’ll want to open

28 05 2006

i just stumbled upon a web 2.0 application that’s been out there since it’s beta began the end of last summer.  pandora is a (juke)box that you should have no fear of opening.  pandora is the access interface to music genome project which is a fascinating project to identify the common threads that run through music regardless of genre.  check out the link for more on the music gnone project.

pandora is, on one level, a simple flash music player interface. but it’s oh so much more. first you get to create each station from the beginning. this is rather easy to do. you simply give pandora the name of an artist or a song. pandora looks up the characteristics of that artist or song and plays a song that matches your request in characteristics (see drawbacks below regarding playing of specific songs). from there, the genome project takes over. it offers you suggested songs from it’s database of over 400,000 songs that match your first selection in form and style. i was impressed by the consistency of the selections that pandora made as it added to new songs and artists to my initial requests to create stations. while some of the selections were predictable (en vogue and aaliyah appearing in my janet jackson station) others were real surprises and often all new artists to me (new order and gentlemen of leisure in my bananarama station).

you can further manipulate the type of music that pandora presents in a station by adding additional desired artists or songs to the station’s list. as songs are played, you can indicated whether you pandora.jpgfeel the song fit with the character of the station or not. pandora then adjust’s the station’s settings to match the new combined settings of your list. you can also add a song to your favorites list. the favorites list that you can create exists primarily as a shopping list of songs you can buy from itunes or amazon.

by clicking on the current track’s name, you can access information regarding the track, including a link to discographic information (usually allmusic.com).

a minor drawback is the inability to play a specific song. if you provide a suggested song to begin a station, pandora plays a similar song because their license which the genome project has with the music industry doesn’t allow for the playback of a designated song. your song will likely be played at some point in the station’s stream, but it’s random. for the same reason, you can’t repeat or play a song that has already been played. also, if you live outside of the united states, their service is "unavailable" due to varying licensing arrangements.  they do promise to offer international service as soon as possible.

all in all, pandora is a powerful tool for music fans. you might be asking why i blogged about it on eelearning. well for a couple of reasons. 1) the database-driven presentation of content based upon selections i the user have initially made is a powerful paradigm that i believe will begin to expand to all types of content, 2) as previously documented here, i believe we are in the midsts of radical revolution that will see the end of text based communication’s dominance. pandora gives us a glimpse of the power to be gained by building our literacy around the depth of communication to be found in audio content and 3) besides it’s my blog and i wanted to write about it. 😉

unworkshops live

18 05 2006

i just got a note from jay cross that along with harold jarche and judy brown, he will be moving forward with the unworkshop project that he and i piloted back in march.  right now, you can sign up for their frist offerings at www.informl.com.

the beta test of the unworkshop was a tremendous experience both for the participants and jay and me.  jay’s dedication to the open and learner focused approach was something to behold.  despite some stumbling out of the blocks, jay finished off the beta in a blaze of glory that truly showed how and why a format that truly expects participants to create their own learning is so powerful.  if you have the opportunity to sign up for an unworkshop, take it.  You’ll have a learning experience that will change the way you think about your own learning.

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they’ll be flocking to flock

15 05 2006

i’ve been playing with flock.  the new browser being built on top of the mozilla code.  this new browser is a leap forward in browser technology.  designed to incorporate social networking capabilities into a browser, flock does much more than let you share ideas and photos with your friends -which it does.  even in a pre-release version they call a developer preview, flock blows internet explorer, firefox, opera, and netscape out of the water. 

i’m still discovering features but the mega-feature is the top bar.   it takes the favorites bar that all browsers currently have feeds it some steroids and then sends it into hyperdrive! 

first, you are able to switch the content of the favorites bar to any collection of your favorites you have created.  (one flaw i’ve found thus far is that you can’t create sub-collections.)  highlighting the collection in the dropdown menu changes the top bar to list only those favorites in that collection.

the second section, at the bottom of the dropdown menu, is the real blow you away concept.  these are functional mini-programs within flock.  i’m guessing that the list will eventually be customizeable with add-ins and plug-ins you choose.  For now, the list is fun and impressive:

maps: you can drag and drop an address from a website and yahoo maps will find it and let you label it for future storage.

my blogs: you can set the preferences in this section to publish to just about any blog publishing platform.  if you have multiple blogs you can set all of them up and choose from a drop down menu to determine which blog you publish to.  very nifty when combined with using some of the other topbars.  it draws upon your blog’s catagories and let’s you add technorati tags as well.

photo browser: opens up your public stream of images from flickr.  you can then drag and drop an image from flickr into your blog.

photo uploader: allows you to drag and drop images from your desktop to flock to be uploaded to flickr.

shelf:  this is the coolest of the topbars so far.  You can grab just about anything you’d like from a webpage (image, text, url, etc.) drag and drop it to the shelf and then switch to my blog and drag and drop it right into your blog entry.  awesome!

technorati: supposedly it will track the conversations generated by blog posts and report them back when you drop the URL for the post onto the topbar.  but i’ve yet to find a post that has a conversation that technorati recognizes.

the user’s guide is already a great resource as they have been building it along with the application.  looking at some of the features being built in for the May beta, this tool is already the best browser available.  check it out either now, or when the beta is released in the next few weeks.

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podzinger – searching audio and video

14 05 2006

in another affirmation that audio and video are overtaking the written word for communication comes podzinger. a search engine that searches through audio and video podcasts for your typed in (yes, written text isn’t dead quite yet) search queries.

to test it out i  tried to come up with something that is newsworthy but maybe a little bit obscure.   I came up with the cleveland cavaliers.   most people wouldn’t think of the  my cavs (i grew up  45 minutes west of cleveland ), but they are in the the nba playoffs – which is in the news.

well, in a matter of 0.83 seconds, podzinger found  240 snippets of video and audio which contain "cleveland cavaliers."   i’m impressed.  i haven’t explored their sight to see if they detail out how the technology parses things, but the snippets are amazing for how close to the query term they start (ie, you don’t have to wait forever to hear "cleveland cavaliers" in the snippet).  but it seems that the search is also intelligent enough to start and stop at comfortable moments.  in the several dozen snippets i listened to or watched, i never felt like it started or stopped in mid-sentence or other awkward points of the dialogue.  But you aren’t dependent on podzinger’s choice of where to cut out snippets.  you can click on any of the text presented and the snippet will cue to that point in the video or audio.

the podzinger interface is very familiar not straying from the general format of google, yahoo-esque search results.  results are listed by source if there are more than one result per source.  you can sort either by date or relevance to your search string.   your search terms are highlighted in the transcript.  the player is simple to use and allows you to download the file, get the rss feed or subscribe to the channel in either itunes or yahoo!

(click on the image to the right to see the full size image.)

a few negatives that I can see.  the transcript does a good job, but isn’t 100% accurate.  it had a heck of a time with cavaliers’ star lebron james’ first name.   ‘brawn’ and ‘the brand’ where the common best guesses.  One of the funnier was "may be a sign a medal" instead of "may be a sentimental."  the other negative i’d point to is that i i’d prefer to have one universal player for all for the snippets, instead of an individual player for each source.

overall, podzinger is a great step forward in the advancement of video literacy.

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i’m back

2 05 2006

so, how could i have let almost a month go by without posting.  well part of it’s been work related as i’ve ramped up to a new job and, at the same time, prepared much of my client company’s activities for the nab2006 convention (nab = national association of broadcasters for those unfamiliar).  it was a new conference for me.  it was amazing.  sure the 105,000 attendees and 1600+ exhibitors were impressive.  some of the exhibits were so expansive and so over the top.  i have dreams that i’m still trying to find my way out of the avid metroplex!  and the way las vegas took this gargantuan gathering without a visible flex to it’s infrastructure was truly astounding. 

above all of these things though was the amazing transformation that the 100,000+ people involved in the conference were and are diligently working toward.   from companies like my current client who are creating appliances to enable just about anyone to create and distribute full rich media content, fully indexed and synchronized with the push of a button to apple with their ipod and sony and the others with their "me too" players.  and the companies demonstrating their work in 3d.  yes, jim, the holodeck is not a matter of if, but only a matter of when. 

and to the attendees, these things weren’t way out there.   it’s more now, than tomorrow.  in the four days in vegas i realized that i can mark #4 off on my predictions for 2006. this year is the tipping point for when text will begin to take a back seat to video, audio and images as our major means of communication.

a hot new 2.0 application

2 05 2006

this may well be the ajax, 2.0 application to end all others.  i found it to be spot on in it’s analysis of e e learning and the social network of thinkers i most likely belong to.  give blogfinder.net (beta) a try.  and don’t forget to come back here and give us your reaction.

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