Ilse's weblog of random thoughts


Unfriend is in

Like every year, the New Oxford American Dictionary announces the Word of the year in November, and this year the honour goes to ‘unfriend’:

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook
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The return of the headless horseman

Now that even in World of Warcraft Hallow’s End has returned, and I’m once again busy doing lots of tasks (aka as achievements) for the one and only reason that they’ll get Kany another dragon,  I thought it was appropiate to read some ghost stories around this time of the year. Continue reading this entry »


How a jeweler censored Twitter

On his blog, Flemish Koen Delvaux tells the story about how a jeweler threatened to bring him to court unless he deleted a twitter message. A few days later, the story is becoming a hit on Twitter, and numerous people are retweeting the original – now deleted – message or posting a link to the above mentioned blog post. The story is even picked by foreign newspapers like De Telegraaf. Continue reading this entry »


Dig in!

The last weeks, numerous new ruins and artefacts have been discovered. In Rome, they recently found Nero’s rotating banqueting hall. Close by, at ancient Rome’s port of Ostia, a British research team excavated a mini-colosseum. Meanwhile, other British archaeologists unearthed a new stone circle close to Stonehenge, which they named ‘Bluehenge’, after the hue of the 25 stones which form the circle.

Closer at home, excavations at a  new building site in Antwerp revealed several Gallo-Roman graves.

Despite the world wide crisis, I’m glad to see there is still plenty of work these days for archaeologists all over the world!


Will Google Wave kill learning management systems?

Lately, everyone is buzzing with excitement about Google Wave. Some are enjoying testing it, others are desperately hoping that someone tosses them an invite (including me *waves her arms at anyone who can invite*). Google Wave is said to be a mail killer, but these last days, people are even suggesting it could also replace learning management systems.

Google Wave combines instant messaging with wiki and document sharing functionalities.And since many institutions are already using Google mail and docs on campus, it’s not hard to imagine seeing them take an extra step by using Google Wave in their classrooms. However, The Wired Campus’ journalist Jeff Young still thinks most institutions will continue to use Blackboard or some other LMS as a core system.

Other bloggers are also hesitant about the immediate integration of Goog Wave on campuses. David Middleton writes: ‘From my experience working with Faculty on online course development, as well as with technology for its purposeful uses in the classroom and for hybrid and online learning, it seems to me that this is a few years off. Strategies for best practices, management, support, training and then managing the culture shift for faculty and students alike will need to be planned, piloted and investigated before we dub Google Wave a “Course Management System” killer.

I agree with Cole Camplese, who argues that although Google Wave sure has some potentials, it seems to lack many features teachers rely upon in an LMS, like roster management, group pages, assignment tool or dropbox functionality. On the other hand, our current course management systems are not the strongest in the field of real time collaboration and open publishing space, unlike Google and other web 2.0 tools.

Want to make up your own mind about Google Wave but haven’t got an invite (yet)? Have a look at this one-hour demo!


Saving old books

Cambridge University Press has posted an interesting video to demonstrate their worflow to digitalise numerous of old books in the Cambridge libraries. First, they determine whether the books are in the public domain or whether Cambridge Press holds the copyright. Then, the works are scanned very carefully, and the resulting electronic versions are post-processed, and  made available as e-book. They can also be printed on demand. This way, a book should never go out of print again.

More or less the same as Google is doing with Google Books and the Espresso printing machines of OnDemandBooks, although the Google project received lots of negative response lately due to the extent of the Google Books settlement and the consequences for writers and books all over the world. Lots has been written lately about the Settlement. For those who want to follow up on it, the Google Book Settlement site gives lots of info for the library community. They have a nice 2-page overview of the Settlement and the consequences, for ‘those of us with no time ro read’.


Spore to the rescue

Darwin is a hot topic this year in education, but how do you interest children for his evolution theory? Jeroen Venderickx, from the Natural History Museum in Brussels, uses the free Creature Creator part of the game ‘Spore‘ to make student groups who visit the museum experience first hand how evolution works. His method proves to be very succesful, as classes are currently on a waiting list for this interactive museum visit.

In ‘Spore’, one can create and guide a creature through different steps of evolution.  In the museum, children are asked to create a creature that can keep safe against flying predatures. It’s inteersting to see how they each use different solutions, like putting spikes on the back of their creature, or giving it eyes that look up to the sky. This way, they actively think about evolution.

Another fine example of how (commercial) games can be very educational!


Chicks rule the (social) web!

Statistics on Brian Solis’s website regarding the most popular social network sites, reveal that women outnumber men in most web 2.0 tools. A few tools, like LinkedIn, Del.icio.us and YouTube have an equal share of male and female users, but on most social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Ning and MySpace, women are far more present than men (up to 64% on MySpace). There seems to be one exception to this rule, and that is the content sharing site Digg. For a more visual overview of the figures, check out Information is Beautiful.


Happy birthday Mr. Smiley

27 years ago, Scott Fahlman used the smiley 🙂 for the first time in an electronic message board! But emoticons are in fact much older. It seems there existed a morse code for ‘love and kisses’ in the middle of the 19th century, and a smiling mouth, typed like \__/, followed by an exclamation mark, was used in satirical writings by the end of the same century.

Everyone knows the common emoticons like 🙂 and :-(, which have to be read by turning your face to the left, but there is also another style of smileys, commonly used in Asia, buy also in gaming, and although they usually take up more characters, they can be read normally. I have to admit that it took me awhile before realising that the ^_^ that sometimes appear in the chat messages of pick up groups in WoW, are kind of abbreviations of the Asian style smiling emoticon (^_^). Well, I guess that proves I’m a noob after all ;).


Run! It’s the swine flu!

These last weeks, people seem to get more and more tensed about the swine flu. Experts predicted a huge increase in the number of contaminated people and deceases, when children would return to school (on 1st of September in Belgium) and everywhere one is taking the necessary precautions. These measures have proven to be very effectic, cause now one predicts that this winter, even less people will die because of the flu than during normal winters, despite of the threat of the swine flu. However, there have also been a number of very inventive, sometimes even funny or just plain ridiculous rules and guidelines.

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