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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Free interactive learning software

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve come across a very useful tool while looking at open access fisheries models. The Wolfram Demonstrations Project offers free interactive software for a variety of economic concepts. The software allows the user to play with various models and get an instant visualization. No more guessing economic reasoning about what happens to economic rents; now it only takes a few clicks. In the fisheries model I played with, I could slide a bar to increase price or units of effort.

Their YouTube channel gives a quick peak at over 6000 of their interactive models. Watch 20-second clips of what you can do with the model and then decide which ones to play with. Very effective time-saving! Now if only I can stay focused on my topic instead of playing with this software…

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What’s next for social media?

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

As an economics major, I get to do a lot of forecasting. In a social media context I’ll have to step away from regression analysis and hypothesis testing (which would show an increase in demand for social media, I’m sure) to give you a preview for where I think social media is going.

What I’m looking forward to most about the next stage of social media is what I call virtual shopping. The less exciting, but perhaps equally important change (depending on your interests), is a move to universal computation.

I see virtual shopping as the next step to increasing our productivity. Getting to the mall and spending the hours browsing in stores for our shopping needs will be a thing of the past. It is time-consuming, and hassles such as parking, long lines, and crowds will make shopping from home more attractive. Online shopping is still very primitive compared to what it will be in the future. I foresee a user-tailored shopping experience that lets you preview what clothes will look like on you, will tell you your size, and will make suggestions for you based on your preferences. Shipping charges will go down, and I don’t see virtual shopping as being limited to clothing.

Products for infants, seniors, and busy students will also be successful with this model of social media. Though the joy of in-store shopping will still be prevalent, its time-consuming nature will force it as a thing of the past.

I am looking forward to being able to shop this way.

The less exciting avenue I predict social media will take is a move to universal computation, by which I mean that software will be usable for all devices.  All cell phones will have the same chargers, all media players will use the same file format, and the battle between Mac and PC will work itself out to make everything compatible. Users are getting sick and tired of having to use adapters, different software, and different interfaces to do the same things on different devices. Though the industries behind both “sides” are huge, I foresee a limit of two or three systems, not the many that are in our technology market today.

What does this mean for academia? It means we’ll be able to spend more time studying than shopping, and that we’ll be able to use software more efficiently and effectively. I, for one, can’t wait!

Answering how-to’s with screencasting

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Have you ever had trouble with your computer and needed an immediate solution?

Unfortunately, most “help” files aren’t helpful at all when you don’t have the time or patience to read them. Screencasting offers a solution to this frustrating problem.

Often containing narration, screencasts are videos recording a computer screen. How-to’s are answered most effectively in this way.

Check out this screencast about how to use Stumble Upon, a user-tailored search engine that finds the best of the web, according to your preferences:

Can you think of other screencasts that are useful to academic research? Are you an expert in a software tool that you could make a screencast for?

The best software for making a screencast is Camtasia, which is easy to use and incorporates voice and video of the creator (optional) to enhance the learning experience for the user.

Whether you need help answering a computer-related problem or are offering a solution, screencasts are the best tool for the job.

Podcasting: Time to crack open your shell

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

It takes a confident voice and an interesting message to make a good podcast. You might be trying to appeal to an audience that listens to podcasts at the gym, while commuting, or while doing household chores. Whatever they’re doing, you want your podcast to distract them from it.

What can you offer with your voice? Think about your message and practice inflections that will be interesting. No one wants to listen to a monotone lecturer, and the “next” button is at their fingertips. Luckily, you can enhance your voice with software like Garage Band and even add background noises too.

The important thing to remember, as with all forms of social media, is your auidence and purpose. What actions do you want your audience to take, if any? Why should they care about what you have to say?

Podcasting is a great way to get your messgage across, and you don’t need to be a techonology expert to make one. Check out this link to get started!

Categories: Social Media, Technology

Computers to-go: Onward to mobile computing

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

What if you need to know what time the next bus is, NOW?

What if you need to know where the nearest grocery store is, NOW?

What if you’re waiting for an important email and can’t be at your computer, NOW?

The increasing demand for having things NOW has made mobile computing a popular solution to immediacy problems.

Cell phones and other hand-held mobile devices are inexpensive compared to traditional desktop computers, and much more portable than laptops.

Staying connected with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter is easy-peasy with any smartphone or similar device. For instant solutions to everyday problems or questions, having the answers literally in the palm of your hand is empowering. Can you think of uses for academic research?