Things to Come

Every once in a while, I go back, in my head, to earlier times, and I try to think forward.  Maybe we all do this.  Maybe it’s the years I spent as a history teacher.  But I try to put myself in my earlier head and rethink what I might have thought back then.

Image from HP CommericalThis morning, I was reminded of all the times that I looked forward at the future, amazed at what was to come, especially with regard to information and communication technologies (ICT).  It’s pretty easy for me to imagine what I must have thought might follow my first TRS-80s, Vic-20, my first Mac (Macintosh plus).  The thing is that I actually had a pretty good sense of where this was going, as did many people.  Yet, it seemed far more distant than it actually turned out to be.

I saw it again, this morning when I ran across this HP commercial for their Touchsmart PC.  Here’s another one.  What I realize now, is that what we’re seeing today, and even what we’re imagining today — well, it’s just not the same future we use to know.  The future will be happening long “LONG” before your first graders graduate in 2020.

Will they be learning on one of these..

..before the graduate.

PicLens Video...I almost guarantee it!

Interestingly, I ran across this video, while scratching through the new features in PicLens, a 3D image browser.  See a video demo here.

Of course…
“Anything I can do with my finger, I can still do with my mouse!” — conference booth representative

Is This Something We Should be Paying More Attention To?

Geek Index: about 8

It’s one of my favorite blogs, John Musser’s ProgrammableWeb.  But his site is much more than that.  It is a directory of mashups (3,331) and APIs (907), the DNA that makes them work.

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it is a function or procedure that can be used to extract or otherwise work the content of a web site.  For instance, Technorati, the blog search engine, has a number of APIs for tying into their search engine.  Their Tag Query API provides a URL that reads:[apikey]&tag=[tag]&format=rss

Many APIs require a key, which is a string of characters that represent and label your web site to serving site.  You can register for and receive your own Technorati API key here.

So your key would replace the [apikey].  Then you might type the blog tag you are looking for, say, “learn2cn,” the tag for the Learning 2.008 conference.  In your own web page, the Technorati API address below would result in an RSS feed[myapikey]&tag=learn2cn&format=rss

Plugged into Alan Levine’s very useful Feed2JS tool, you get a java script that can be plugged into many different kinds of web environments, such as a Moodle block, producing something like this:

…a list of the latest 10 blog posts tagged for the Learning 2.008 Conference in Shanghai this month.

This is not rocket science. But it’s also not using a word processor. But, I think that we are increasingly realizing that literacy today is much more than just reading, writing, and basic math — that its the ability to work information to accomplish goals. If this is true, then thinking about things like APIs might be something that we, some of us, should be doing, and introducing to students, some of them.

What do you think?