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Posts Tagged ‘geotag

In what seems like a previous life as a hiker and trekker, I was led by this adage:

Leave nothing but footprints
Take nothing but photos
Kill nothing but time

But the more I explored or led groups to the outdoors, the more I realised that even leaving footprints was harmful.

When people wander off track or create unsanctioned paths, they destroy the substrate. This is why some national parks install board walks — to minimise the harm.

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More recently, there seems to be a movement to strip geotags from photos. Unlike celluloid photos of old, digital photos contain metadata like shutter speed, aperture, and location.

So even “take nothing but photos” needs moderation. This is to prevent pristine locations from being invaded by Instagram hoards who care for like but spare no thought for the environment.

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Sometimes boring stretches at conferences can be productive. At the woefully tedious mass sessions at CGI2010 on Wednesday, I thought of one way to bridge Web 2.0 and 3.0.

Web 2.0 is marked by user-generated content, lots and lots of it, not particularly well-organized even when tagged by users. We still have to fish for information, be it archived or in real time. If Web 3.0 is the semantic web, then relevant information comes to us based on our context: Who we are, what we are doing, what we like, etc.

Location-based technologies might be a bridge between Web 2.0 and 3.0. If you tweet, take and upload a photo, or make a query, you can geotag your location. You are either manually inputting where you are or allowing a tool to register your whereabouts. When that happens, other people and their devices can find you and provide you with information or a service.

Here’s an example. As I was at the conference, I received email, SMSes and phone calls. Wouldn’t it be great if the people trying to contact me were notified of where I was, that I was not available and that I was bored out of my mind?

Of course I have a shared online calendar, but not many would refer to that as they may not have a handy link to it. Even if they did, it would require effort on their part to look.

But let’s say I tweeted where I was, embedded a photo in the tweet and mentioned how I felt (all of which I did). Then one or more tools that might not exist yet could then simultaneously update my calendar, my Facebook wall, my phone and email auto responses, etc.

So as I generate content about one event, people around me automatically get information that is relevant to them. The information could be “Where is Ashley and what is he doing?” or “What do you think of this session?”

When others generate content about the same event, with say a Twitter hashtag #boringconference,  I get that information relayed to me. I might then connect with others who think and feel the same way. We might then initiate an unconference on the fly!

This is not a pipe dream because I know this is happening with numerous but still separate tools today. But what really excites me is how this might provide opportunities for meaningful teaching and learning.

Imagine teachers gathering by common needs (e.g., how to deal with difficult parents) or interests (e.g., how to create the next generation of e-book), not because they looked for one another, but because  technology “match made” them. Imagine students with similar projects being connect with one another, content experts, and relevant resources.

The technology does what it does best: The nitty-gritty, tedious and low level tasks. It frees the user to analyze, evaluate and synthesize. No, the pipe dream is not what the technology will do. It is whether people will take advantage of such opportunities.

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