Category Archives: Communications trends

Silicon Valley siphons our data like oil. But the deepest drilling has just begun

This article shows how data is used on a mega scale to make counter-intuitive decisions 5-10 years ahead of consumer trends…


With a few simple adjustments – no reason these 10 ways couldn’t improve the culture in businesses too


10 Signs of a 21st Century Classroom/STEM teaching/Patrick Goertz

Illustration of robot

One of my early challenges in coordinating my school’s STEM efforts has been determining exactly what is meant by a STEM school. There are probably as many answers to this question as there are educators, but I have decided to focus on what goes on inside the classroom. Not just in a science or math class, but in all classrooms. There are some activities that have traditionally been done well by the STEM disciplines that can be cross applied to all subjects.

I have narrowed these down to a list of 10 signs of a 21st Century classroom. I have been slowly introducing these concepts to the faculty at my school through informal discussions and incremental training during in-service days.

A few notes:

  • I am sure that there are many similar lists in existence. This one is originally based on a reference I found in the article “Considerations for Teaching Integrated STEM Education”.
  • I have opted to drop the word “STEM” from this list because these ideas, while often associated with science and math fields, are applicable to and indeed seen in all disciplines.
  • Each of the following could fill an article or a book by itself, but I have provided just a few explanatory lines for clarification.

And, in no particular order:

Technology Integration

Rather self-explanatory and covered very well in other sections of this site. It involves more than just use of technology, but students using technology to achieve goals in a different way than was possible before.

Collaborative Environment

Many students prefer to work alone. However, this is an option not often granted in careers. In addition, collaboration fosters the development of new ideas and exposes students to opposing viewpoints.

Opportunities for Creative Expression

This is where many schools will add an ‘A’ to form STEAM. Creative expression not only yields surprising outbursts of understanding, but also builds student confidence.

Inquiry Based Approach

Much could be shared here about the difference between guided inquiry vs. open inquiry. The core idea of students approaching a new topic in the context of answering a question is a cornerstone of the current teaching models.

Justification for Answers

The largest problem that I encounter in my students reasoning is an almost complete lack of it. Fostering an expectation of well-developed thoughts encourages students to approach a problem from a number of angles and discover what they truly believe.

Writing for Reflection

Journal writing is often considered a dying art. This is a shame because as self-reflection goes, so does strong metacognitive reinforcement of learning. If students use a blog for reflection, they may even be surprised to learn that others are interested in their thoughts.

Use of a Problem Solving Methodology

Problem solving goes well beyond engineering classrooms. Having a go-to method of approaching new difficulties can aid students through writing a short story or solving an economics challenge.

Hands-on Learning

Long a staple of science courses, labs provide a wonderful opportunity to provide students with another anchor for learning. But it doesn’t stop there. Any opportunity to connect to the outside world is a chance to enhance student achievement.

Teacher as Facilitator

Modern realization of best practice in education no longer supports the idea of the teacher as an authoritarian figure standing in the front of the room scrawling on a chalkboard. As educators, our role can be reshaped so that we work beside students providing support and encouragement for their personal journey.

Transparent Assessment

Students perform better and form stronger connections with material if they are able to understand what demonstration of knowledge will be expected of them. Portfolios, rubrics, and formative assessments can help meet this goal.

I’d be interested in hearing the ideas of others who have introduced an integrated STEM approach at their schools.


How Business Technology is paving the way for Creativity/from

We are creative beings by nature. We’re always looking for new ways of self-expression to define ourselves and find meaning and purpose through our work. Content marketing has gained momentum, and the marketplace now offers business technology solutions that give organizations and the creative community a new space for collaboration.

Concept of a multitasking businessman at workIt has been a fascinating experience to witness the evolution of the Skyword Platform in the past 18 months, as well as the development of the brands and writers we work with. Content marketing is both art and science, and the same applies to innovation. When we discovered this passion for storytelling, we realized that technology would be the cornerstone to offering our users the best content creation experience. Technology and creativity complement each other at a powerful level; more specifically, the convergence of technology and marketing gives way to new opportunities to stay ahead of the competition.

There are many advantages of collaborative marketing technology, but here are the three I believe are most significant:

1. Improved Business Processes

Any organization trying to achieve sustainability will also be looking to improve the efficiency of its business processes by cutting down on time and money spent. Business technology and automation systems have streamlined many of those processes, making communication and collaboration channels more effective. The real challenge for companies is to embrace change and take risks. The results may not be immediately apparent, but as self-development author Brian Tracy says, “to achieve something you’ve never achieved before, you must do something you have never done before.”

2. Creation of Virtual Cross-Functional Teams

We are no longer separated by time and space. Personal interaction has expanded to include virtual one-on-one communication and is no longer limited to in-person interactions. Whether over the phone, via email, or through social media, it’s easier for people to interact and collaborate than ever before. In content marketing, technology supports effective collaboration models in which writers, editors, strategists, and marketers can work together toward a unified goal—no matter where they are. All barriers have been lifted.

3. Development of Talent and Creativity

Once all systems, processes, and teams are in place, it’s just a matter of applying your talents and letting your creativity run wild to create something unique. Marketers can then focus on planning, analyzing data, and coming up with an original strategy to entice potential customers; this gives writers more time to combat creative blocks, identify moments of inspiration, and even learn to activate the side of the brain better suited for writing or editing. Collaboration enables us to reach new levels of creativity and productivity.

The sole purpose of technology is to improve our lives. Many of the routine tasks that have historically taken up a lot of our time have become automated, leaving us with more time to engage in meaningful activities and experiences that lead to greater creativity. At Skyword, we’ve designed and created our business technology to assist our brands and writers in reaching their creative potential. Innovation is an ongoing process, and we’ll continue developing the right systems and tools to improve our users’ experience. As Skyword CEO Tom Gerace would say, “We’re just getting started.”





IN THE EARLY 1990s, Xerox Parc researchers showed off a futuristic concept they called the Digital Desk. It looked like any other metal workstation, aside from the unusual setup that hovered overhead. Two video cameras hung from a rig above the desk, capturing the every movement of the person sitting at it. Next to the cameras, a projector cast the glowing screen of a computer onto the furniture’s surface.

Using Xerox’s desk, people could do crazy things like highlight paragraphs of text on a book and drag the words onto an electronic word document. Filing expenses was as easy as touching a stylus to a receipt and dragging the numbers into a digital spreadsheet. Suddenly, the lines between the physical world and digital one were blurred. People no longer needed a keyboard, mouse, and screen to harness a computer’s power; all they had to do was sit down and the computer would appear in front of them.

Despite its novelty—or maybe because of it—the Digital Desk never took off. Technology moved in the opposite direction; towards the glassy, self-contained boxes of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. But researchers never gave up on the vision, and now more than 35 years later, these half-digital, half-physical workspaces might actually make sense.

“I really want to break interaction out of the small screens we use today and bring it out onto the world around us,” says Robert Xiao, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose most recent project, Desktopography, brings the Digital Desk concept into the modern day.



Like Digital Desk, Desktopography projects digital applications—like your calendar, map, or Google Docs—onto a desk where people can pinch, swipe, and tap. But Desktopography works better than Xerox could’ve ever dreamed of thanks to decades worth of technological advancements. Using a depth camera and pocket projector, Xiao built a small unit that people can screw directly into a standard lightbulb socket.

The depth camera creates a constantly updated 3-D map of the desktop, noting when objects move and when hands enter the scene. This information is then passed along to the rig’s brains, which Xiao’s team programmed to distinguish between fingers and, say, a dry erase marker. This distinction is important since Desktopography works like an oversized touchscreen. “You want interface to escape from physical objects not escape from your hands,” says Chris Harrison, director of CMU’s Human Computer Interaction Institute.

That gets to the biggest problem with projecting digital applications onto a physical desk: Workspace tend to be messy. Xiao’s tool uses algorithms to identify things like books, papers, and coffee mugs, and then plans the best possible location to project your calendar or Excel sheet. Desktopography gives preference to flat, clear backgrounds, but in the case of a cluttered desk, it’ll project onto the next best available spot. If you move a newspaper or tape recorder, the algorithm can automatically reorganize and resize the applications on your desk to accommodate for more or less free space. “It’ll find the best available fit,” says Harrison. “It might be on top of a book, but it’s better than putting it between two objects or underneath a mug.”

Desktopography works a lot like the touchscreen on your phone or tablet. Xiao designed a few new interactions, like tapping with five fingers to surface an application launcher, or lifting a hand to exit an app. But for the most part, Desktopography applications still rely on tapping, pinching, and swiping. Smartly, the researchers designed a feature that makes digital apps to snap to hard edges on laptops or phones, which could allow projected interfaces to act like an augmentation of physical objects like keyboards. “We want to put the digital and physical in the same environment so we can eventually look at merging these things together in a very intelligent way,” Xiao says.

The CMU lab has plans to integrate the camera and projection technology into a regular LED light bulb, which will make ubiquitous computing more accessible for the average consumer. Today it costs around $1,000 to build a one-off research unit, but eventually Harrison believes that mass manufacturing could get a unit down to around $50. “That’s an expensive light bulb,” he says. “But it’s a cheap tablet.”

Randal Dobbs

The Cell // 28 Helwick St

Wanaka. 9305. NZ

Mob: +64 21 973 043
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Arrogant TVNZ doing itself no favours

Excellent article about a “supplier” (TVNZ) being totally unable to cope with customer-focused competitor (Netflix)

Cheers…Randal Dobbs
(021) 973 043
Sent from Gmail iPad
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As Ad Blocker Use Grows, Publishers Face New Challenges Evolving strategies for dealing with this innovation/eMarketer

Advertisers and publishers are under constant pressure to better target, deliver and track their messages to consumers. But many consumers feel bombarded by the ad experience.

More than a quarter of US internet users will block ads this year, eMarketer estimates, up from just under 16% in 2014. That’s a sizeable chunk of internet users, though growth is slowing down. eMarketer defines an ad blocking user as an internet user who goes online at least once a month on a device with an ad blocker installed.

US Ad Blocking User Penetration, 2014-2018 (% of internet users)

“For now, the vast majority of those devices are still desktop and laptop computers, at least in the US—though that’s beginning to shift,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin, author of a new report, “Facing Up to Ad Blocking: How Publishers, Advertisers and Their Digital Media Partners Are Responding.”

(Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Nonsubscribers can purchase the report here.)

Just under nine in 10 ad blocking users block ads via desktop or laptop, which translates to 24.0% of US internet users. By the end of this year, more than a third of US ad blockers will block on their smartphone, translating to 9.5% of internet users.

Publishers are using a variety of strategies to fight ad blocking, from trying to convince users to stop doing it to focusing on improving the poor user experiences that led to it in the first place.

Appeals to readers’ conscience, goodwill and sense of economics could be considered the lowest level of direct confrontation of ad blocking.

Publishers set up technology that allows them to detect whether a visitor has an ad blocker enabled—the tech is not perfect, but it’s good. The publishers then serve a message to those users in hopes of guilting them to either turn off their ad blocker entirely or at least whitelist that publisher. These messages appeal to consumers’ sense of fairness and their understanding that ads are how publishers pay the bills.

There’s little data on the effectiveness of such appeals, but research suggests users are willing to turn off ad blockers or whitelist sites under some circumstances. For example, 18% of the ad blocking users in the US, UK, Germany and France surveyed by HubSpot and Adblock Plus in June 2016 said they whitelisted sites that served what they considered a “reasonable and appropriate” ad experience.

A stronger step some publishers are taking is to set up ad block walls, which start out like appeals. But instead of pleading with users to stop blocking ads, walls notify users that unless they do whitelist the site, they won’t be able to access any of its content.

Ad blocking users have noticed more of these walls popping up around the web, which may indicate that they are working for publishers. But research suggests most people simply go elsewhere when faced with the barriers. PageFair, which is a provider of anti-ad-blocking solutions that include ad block walls and appeals, found that 74% of US ad blocking users polled in November 2016 leave websites when faced with an ad block wall. Perhaps surprisingly, younger respondents were much less likely than older ones to be turned away by walls.


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