Flipped Off

So the news of yesterday is that Flip cameras are no more. Well, they may survive the purge, but chances are they are destined to be a forgotten technology like Poloroid instamatics (and film cameras even as processing for film is becoming incredibly scarce). In education, professors really loved these things – small, easy to use, no real technological hurdle to using them, plug and play accessibility but unfortunately, that’s not what the general public wants. Or maybe it’s not what they need. Maybe we’re at a point in our technology where we expect some level of complexity from technology, where there’s an expectation of more than one button simplicity. I think a couple of issues are at play here:

1. Those that can use media in their teaching already used some technology and felt that the Flip would’ve been too simple. I know that the media professionals I worked with all scoffed at the Flip – then we tried it. The quality of the HD image was good, performed fairly well in low light, and frankly did a good job for what it was. I don’t know if we convinced anyone who was already using media as a method of instruction to change from their current methods, but we did introduce five or six instructors to start using video through Flip cameras.

2. The article I linked to says not to blame the iPhone, but I have to think that the multitude of video enabled devices out there as part of smartphones/cellphones may very well have had to do with why people didn’t buy a dedicated device like the Flip at a similar price point as an entry level cellphone. I’d have trouble justifying spending $100 to buy just a digital video camera, when for a few dollars more I can get an entire cellphone (and a monthly bill as well). In addition, departments that are offloading expenses onto students and faculties aren’t going to buy 100 of these things when they’ve been saying that students or faculty have to get their own resources. Never mind that they’re extremely portable and would be easy to disappear if loaned out through some sort of program, which would weigh heavily against them for some departments.

3. The article also touches on Cisco’s brand, which really didn’t scream out “portable media device”. Well, I had forgotten that Cisco made them. I, and I bet everyone else I know thinks of them as “Flip cameras”. I really don’t think Cisco’s brand or lack of brand was a problem.

With all that said, I’m sad to see them go – any time there’s a cheap media device that puts out quality files with little effort, that’s a good device to have at one’s disposal. RIP Flip cameras.

What I Learned This Week

According to the World Internet Usage Statistics, North American Internet use is 15% of the world, and the penetration of the Internet in North America is almost 74%. To contrast, Asian Internet use is 42.2% of the world and the penetration of the Internet in Asia is at 18.5%. Clearly, I interpret this to mean that as Asia grows and becomes more connected, we will see more Chinese, Japanese and Korean language webpages on the internet, meaning the end of English as the dominant language of the Internet. What this means for education is that there’s a huge distance education market growing, and the forward thinking education institutions will be grabbing at those folks.

Mobile video is an emerging technology that is coming into the mainstream. The mobile video ad market is growing (slowly). The reason this has been slow to develop is that fast wireless networks and data plans that weren’t an arm and a leg are relatively new to North America. This will become more mainstream as 3G networks become commonplace. When Microsoft and Ford are beginning to buy ad time with mobile video in mind, you know it’s going to be important. Again, educators need to keep this idea in mind – so that the technology we use isn’t locked into one intended use. I can certainly see that mobile video will be important in developing countries as well – as internet connectivity has skipped over home use and gone directly to cellphones in places where technology is a luxury.

Two interesting things coming out of this Wall Street Journal blog about Wikipedia. The first is that approximately 20% of editors of Wikipedia pages have a Master’s or better. I wonder what that means for the authority boogey man that people trot out everytime someone says that Wikipedia isn’t a good source. I think this means that it is a good source, if you do the leg-work to ensure that it’s correct and are not lazy about fact checking. Secondly, people contribute to Wikipedia for mostly altruistic purposes. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s pleasant to see that people actually are good sometimes. Yes, the fact that Wikipedia users are predominantly men is interesting, but the blog comments by Tara Deck covers it pretty good, and I have nothing to add to her comments.

Also from the WSJ, a blog post about the EFF’s DIY test (called Switzerland) to see if your ISP is blocking packets for peer to peer transactions.