On my first day of classes on Tuesday, I had 51 students in attendance out of a possible 60 in three classes. That number will change, it invariably does. But, for one moment, I was able to get the students to help me take a technological snapshot of their gadgetry.
I can not make a claim to any science in this, but this information will shape the classes I teach in online journalism (JRNL80) for upperclassmen and journalism tools (J10), one of the first courses a major takes.
I created a survey using Google Docs spreadsheet application, which has a form module, with the results output to a spreadsheet.
Only one student of the 51 surveyed said he had no membership in any social media service and only 1 student participated in MySpace. For the rest, Facebook was overwhelming choice with 50 students , who, as a group, belonged to an average of 2.5 social media services. YouTube was the students’ second choice with 53 percent participating followed by Twitter (39 percent), and LinkedIn and Flickr with 18 percent.
Some form of Blackberry was the most popular smartphone with 12 students listing some form of that device, followed by five students each listing the iPhone or 1 Droid owner.
Over half of students use Verizon as their mobile service provider followed by AT&T (25 percent). A total of seven students use T-Mobile and four use Sprint services.
A total of 23 students said they enjoyed unlimited text and data services, while 17 said they had unlimited text and 10 had text services.
All the students’ phones are capable of taking still photographs while 78 percent can take video and 43 percent have GPS services. Some 19 students (37 percent) said their phones could take still and videos as well as access the Internet and GPS services. A total of 15 students said their phones were incapable of accessing the Internet.
Turning from mobile connectivity to portable devices, the students averaged just over two gadgets each – including 30 point-and-shoot cameras, 8 digital SLRs, 19 video cameras, 24 iPods and 11 touch devices, 13 voice recorders and one Zune. Five students said they owned a Flip camcorder.
These student do know how to relax: 23 have Nintendo Wii consoles, 17 have PlayStation Portable devices and 9 have Microsoft’s Xbox. A total of 5 have Wii and Xboxes and two have Wii, PSPs and Xboxes.
Or, if they aren’t on a game console, they are playing games online like Farmville on Facebook for eight students with a couple dabbling in Facebook’s Petville. Other online games making the survey included Family Fued (we’ll work on that), City of Heroes, Champions Online, Fishville, World of Warcraft, KDice, Bejeweled, Call of Duty and Cafeworld.
Some 36 students, however, answered “no” or “nope” or “I don’t have time” to online games while nine said they had no game devices.
And finally, their computers: 30 students listed PC laptops against 12 Apple laptops while eight had PC desktops against two students with Apple desktops. Two student had netbooks. One student has a Windows desktop and an Apple laptop while five students had combinations of desktop and laptop/netbook. One student claimed a PC desktop and laptop as well as an Apple desktop and laptop. Maybe one set for home, and one for school?
2010 must be a year of innovation in journalism. Innovation isn’t easy though. It requires imagination, bravery, lateral thinking, creativity…and risk. Real innovation is an uphill struggle. Breaking the mould in storytelling, video journalism, interactivity and entrepreneurship requires going against conventional wisdom, going against other people, and going against the voice in your head telling you to give up.
And it’s not easy.
Blaze a trail
So if you need a pick-up, just look outside the window, at the snow. On the pavement, grass or road there’ll be two different paths. One that’s already been trodden, laden with scores of footprints and bicycle tracks.
And another, untrodden path: a blank white canvas.
Listened to a 50-minute podcast of Malcolm Gladwell recently speaking at the New York Public Library. Gladwell told of David and Goliath and of a girls basketball team in Silicon Valley that excelled on the basis of the full-court press, a logical but less-used strategy that opens the whole floor.
According to Gladwell, Davids don’t all the time change strategies, and try to pick up five smooth stones. They rarely do it. Most of the time, Davids pick up a sword and try to fight Goliath with a it even though they must know in their heart of hearts that it isn’t going to work.
"We object to innovation and new ideas because they don’t seem right, because they violate some social code. I think that is a very relevant note to make at this point as so much of what we do is up in the air. We do all kinds of things as a society to keep David in his place. I think we need to ask ourselves whether we do those things for a reason, or whether we do those things because of an entirely irrational attachment for the way things ought to be."
“A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read ‘The Lost Symbol’, by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it.”—
You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s every been built. You don’t start there. You say I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. …. You do that every single day, and soon you have a wall. (~23:00)
I’ve always liked Jeff Veen’s approach of starting from the bottom up in the The Art & Science of Web Design (and I’m paraphrasing liberally):
Start with the doorknob. Once you become a doorknob expert, you can move on to becoming a room expert, a door expert, a window expert. Make connections, and you can become an expert on how public spaces can foster community interaction, or how city design can alleviate congestion.