With the NewCardigan GLAM Blog Club theme for July being ‘Digital’, I thought this the perfect opportunity to share with you all some of my favourite (mostly free) digital tools. May of these tools I use for teaching, however they have a wide variety of uses. I will try to categories them in some sort of logical order:Read More »
In the wake of the ‘Facebook data scandal‘ it seems a pertinent time to write a blog post I’ve been thinking about for a while – sharing my tips and experiences for controlling my online data and privacy.
Some people may not have thought much about this until the news broke that Facebook had shared and used people’s data in some dubious ways (shock horror!), however, many librarians and people in the information services industries have been harping on about these risks for years.
So, if you haven’t already, what are some simple things you can do to get on top of your data and maintain your privacy online?
I read an interesting article recently about using technology to enhance learning: Putting Learning First With New Tech Tools (in Edutopia).
Too often, I have been told to add a video to my content, simply because it is showing that we’re using technology. People want to look like they’re keeping up with advancements with technology, so throwing in a few videos gives that appearance.
But many times, the videos are too long, or don’t really add anything to the content. The learning in that instance isn’t really enhanced by having a video. Using technology in your teaching isn’t as simple as throwing in a video. It has to be carefully sculpted and considered, and used to support and enhance what you are already doing. It is ideally interactive and thought-provoking, helping students to make connections between concepts and solidify their understanding. It must ADD VALUE.
Do you publish blogs, or maybe a Library guide? Or make posters and marketing materials for your Library? Or maybe you are just doing a PowerPoint presentation and need some images to jazz it up a bit?
As many Librarians would be aware, you can’t just go and take any old image from Google Images, because these are usually under copyright and not free to use. Too many times I have seen images with watermarks being used without permission – and the user doesn’t realise that this is what the watermark signifies!
So what images can you use for free?
An interesting article by Janne Hukkinen in Wired has introduced me to a new concept, peer review conducted by artificial intelligence!
The article argues it is risky business, and I agree. While it can streamline the process and lead to faster publishing, I seriously doubt an algorithm could review a paper to the same quality as a human expert. Nuances would be missed. As the author states it would fail to consider values, “such as ranking two scientifically equal texts on the basis of their social relevance”. Hukkinen also tells a story akin to Hal in 2001: a Space Odyssey, where a rogue program sent “terse letters” without the knowledge of the company.
Clearly there is space for computer assistance, searching for plagiarism and obvious errors for one. It can immediately discount some manuscripts based on particular criteria. But peer review done solely by AI? I am sceptical. Of course, I suppose people are sceptical of every new technological development. Perhaps in the future it will simply be accepted as the norm.
The article poses some interesting questions for the future of publishing and science, and is well worth a read. The possibilities really are endless…
As part of my course at Charles Sturt University, I have just learnt something simple yet amazing – which file format to use for images and when!
I had always wondered what the difference was between a PNG, JPG and GIF, and when I should use each of these file types. If you are making eLearning content, webpages or printing posters with images, then you should know the difference between these files types. To summarise what I have learnt:
Continuing on from my earlier post about Facial Recognition, let’s talk about machine learning. This is a type of artificial intelligence that lets machines ‘learn’. So just as facial recognition software is able to ‘learn’ by building templates of faces, other machines can learn a vast array of useful information.
For example, a company called Jigsaw has recently announced a new technology to help identify trolls and inappropriate comments on websites (via Engadget). These types of systems are usually given a data bank of typical examples of the content they are learning. Here, the machine (known as ‘Perspective’) was given a huge amount of comments labelled as ‘toxic’ by human reviewers. It can then use these as templates to identify more similar comments. Each time it is correct, or incorrect, it becomes more accurate.
Another example, which is a whole lot of fun, is Google’s ‘Quick, Draw‘ game. Simply press play, and you’ll be given 20 seconds to draw a simple item. These doodles are then saved to “the world’s largest doodle data set” to help with machine learning research in the future. As you draw, you can see the machine recognising your pictures (or not) in comparison to other pictures people have drawn of the same item. Give it a go, it’s very addictive!
Other examples include algorithms that recognise and filter email spam, provide you with ‘you may also like’ suggestions and targeting advertisements at you.
So what does this mean for us humans? Is this the beginning of the end a la Terminator movies? Hopefully not. These systems still need a lot of human guidance, but every new development is truly amazing. And if it simplifies my life and work, I’m all for it!
Oh excitement! If you are a list-maker, than this is the application for you!
Using this program makes me very happy, because I love to be organised.
You can download it onto your phone and other devices and sync all your lists, as well as just using it as a webpage on your desktop.
The premise is pretty simple. Create a category, such as ‘work’, ‘groceries’ or ‘packing’ and then create each item in the list. You can set dates, email reminders and star important items. You can even share lists with other people.
The best part – when you tick something off as completed, you get a very satisfying ‘ding’!
I definitely recommend downloading this to anyone who usually has a thousand post-it notes and scrappy lists lying around. It’s definitely my new favourite thing!! 🙂
I have to say – I love Lego. When I was a kid and now as an adult, it really is the best. Fun, creative and practical, I could/can spend hours constructing new creations, or following plans to make a model. Even the Lego movie was amazing!
And I have just seen some of their new products, bringing together traditional Lego with high-tech robotics!! So. Cool.
And of course, these would be great for Maker spaces.
Lego Mindstorms aimed at young adults can be seen here, including a video demo.
Lego Boost, aimed at kids (7+), comes with a companion app to teach coding. Check it out here.
Even as an adult, these funky little robots look like so much fun to build and play with! I hope I can find an excuse to give these a go soon 🙂
Continuing on a similar thread from the past few posts this year – let’s chat quickly about facial recognition.
It’s pretty freaky when you upload a photo to social media and the image is automatically tagged with the people in it. Very accurately too. According to the article ‘Is Facebook’s Facial-Scanning Technology Invading Your Privacy Rights?‘ Facebook’s DeepFace recognition software has “an accuracy rate of 97.35 percent compared with 97.5 percent for humans”
I don’t ever remember being given a notification or option to ‘opt out’ of having my face recognised by this technology, and thus this is another example of our privacy potentially being invaded without us even thinking about it. Think how useful this type of information could be to an identity thief. Because you cannot change your face (unless you are willing to go super sci-fi and try out a ‘Face Off’ style scenario) this type of ‘biometric identifier’ can be used to link all sorts of information about you.