When I can, I like to share some sort of time-wasting distraction on Fridays. It’s Friday, and it’s summer – why concentrate? This was actually sent to me, so I thought I’d follow up and post it, no matter how odd it might seem. And folks, Spicy Town is odd.
Spicy Town, accessed from SpicySide.com, is a virtual world created by Slim Jim. First you create your avatar using your own photo, which is then morphed into a hairier, tougher, bizarro version of you. Don’t worry – you look like all the other residents of Spicy Town. You also are given a name. I’m “Bizarre Michelle,” but only after I passed on “Immoral Michelle” and a few others.
Once you have an avatar, you can waste all sorts of time by wandering through Spicy Town, “rumbling” with other residents, kicking mailboxes, creating grafitti, talking “smack”, and performing odd dance-like moves. It’s addicting because it is so odd, I think. I prefer to just explore. The other residents sort of frighten me.
Of course, this is also a game. You can collect Slim Jims and earn points, which gain you bragging rights on the Spicy Town leaderboard.
So there you are. Check out your, um, spicy side in Spicy Town.
Cheers! – Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.
– There’s a lot of discussion happening right now about Nick Carr’s controversial article in The Atlantic Monthly: Is Google Making Us Stupid?
In addition to Carr, there are other voices chiming in, including Maggie Jackson (Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age) and Rick Shenkman (Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter). I heard these two speak, in particular about how the Information Age is really an “ignorant age” on the Diane Rehm show on Tuesday.
I take issue. I think we’re getting smarter.
I work a lot in instructional design and eLearning. The world of adult learning is changing. We learn faster and can take in more types of information – we have access to more types of information. It’s a fascinating time to work in the industry.
There’s a buzzphrase you hear now at all the eLearning conferences: informal learning. I call it watercooler learning. People have all this information about their jobs tucked away inside their heads. With Web 2.0 tools and content sharing, we can not only get people to share that information, we’ve got people willing to teach each other in an informal setting. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to tap that previously hidden knowledge.
There is a lot of reference in the article, and in other supporting articles, to a lack of picking up a book and reading. I still read. In fact, I try to devour a new work of fiction every other weekend. It’s an escape mechanism for me. I will never stop loving the feel of the traditional, paper-bound book. No Kindle for me, thanks. I want to smell musty pages and turn the crunchy paper. I love it. I can’t imagine wanting to read less. I would go so far as to say that I now have easier access to things like the NY Times Book Review, as well as Amazon.com, which I wouldn’t have without the Internet. Those two sites, in particular, often guide me to new books.
Is my attention span shorter? I don’t know if it was ever long. Growing up, Sesame Street (you know, the TV) was my babysitter. I’m of the TV generation – I don’t know life without it and it was the dominant technology of my youth. Do I now skim web pages to grab relevant information? Yes! Because I’m smart enough to be able to pull out the relevant information. If an article really grabs me, I’ll read the whole thing. Do I twitter constantly? Yes! But it has actually improved my technical writing, helping me better condense relevant information into short concise sentences. Not everything you read needs to be lovely prose, after all. Not only that, Twitter has introduced me to a whole community of people, many of whom I’ve gone out of my way to meet in person and then carry on in-person, intelligent communication.
I don’t disagree that there is now a plethora of information out there. For the last two weeks I’ve only managed about one post a day on this blog because I’m suffering from a bit of information overload – or maybe information fatigue. I’m almost bored with the idea that there is a new startup every day. You’ve got to really dazzle me now, I guess. But times like this ebb and flow. Whether my mind is a bit jaded or not does not mean that “Google” has made me stupid. It means I need to work harder at separating the signal from the noise.
I’m a big fan of Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You. I honestly believe that the strategic thinking employed in video games is a useful type of learning. I believe that honing my research skills both in a library and online is a good use of my time. And I believe that although we are learning differently now, and parsing information differently, that difference isn’t a bad thing. It’s evolution of information, and thinking. And I enjoy it.
Sigh. My response is very simple. I read constantly. I write constantly. I also work in images and multimedia. If Google is making me stupid, then I am forced to conclude that without Google I would have been some kind of super Einstein or something.
– Events, news, apps, and more – let me know at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net, via Twitter, or via Pownce.
Have you noticed that there are a lot blogs, this one included, that pull Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr for their blog posts? Most of the photographers behind those photos aren’t even aware that their work is being used, let alone what content the photos might be illustrating.
Photrade aims to change the situation and protect the photographer, whether a hobbyist or a professional. Photrade still allows you to share your photos, just as you can on the other photo sites out there, but it also lets you monetize your photos and protect them.
When you first log into Photrade, there is an easy to use – and speedy – uploader that does not require any desktop installation. Once your photos are uploaded, you can apply a custom watermark to your images, assign different levels of permissions, and of course, share with your friends and family. In addition, you can monetize your photos with everything from turning them into Amazon ads to making money from printing the photos.
Photrade lets you share photos, acquire friends, and uses a modified ShareThis link to easily post directly to your blog or email. Perhaps my favorite feature is the custom watermark. If I could host my photos on Photrade to acquire that watermark, and then somehow share them out to Flickr as well, where my friends currently are, I’d be in heaven – or if I could just get all my friends over to Photrade. The Custom Watermark feature, located in the Preferences panel, is incredibly easy to use.
Photrade lets you set your own prices for sales of your photos. If someone wants an 8×10 print of your photo, you can set the percentage over the Photrade minimum price. Not good with this sort of thing or just want to sell to your family/friends? That’s fine too. Photrade helps you out with a minimum and recommended price, which you can then modify. Photrade also offers an advertising network, which allows you to use your photos as part of an Amazon.com link.
Like Flickr, Photrade will be offering a pro level and a free level, with the cost of the pro level around $25. Both levels have the same functionality, however the number of uploads will be limited. Bub.blicio.us readers can get this free, with the invite code “cincinnati.”
I know that the folks at Photrade have a lot of passion. When they start talking about their application, they become very animated and excited, and that’s fantastic. They really believe there is a need for this (and stories such as this attest to that need). They don’t want to hold your photos hostage. They don’t even want to convince you to monetize your photos. But they do believe that whether it’s a photo of your kid or of the Grand Canyon, your photo should be protected and shared.
PhoTrade has some great ideas that will be implemented within the next few months, and it’s a really exciting time for them. Like with ShareThis, I had a hard time convincing all the coolness into one post.
I know you want to go play around with Photrade. They’re currently in private beta, but they are issuing invites. We’re thrilled they’ve given some to bub.blicio.us. When registering, use the invite code “cincinnati” to get not just access to the site, but a free 1-year pro level membership.
I love visiting the offices of a startup. Last week, I was lucky enough to visit the offices of ShareThis and of PhoTrade. Both are based in Cincinnati, OH, and in both offices, the excitement was palpable. Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about PhoTrade; today I want to share ShareThis.
ShareThis functions on the basis that the main mechanism of communication today is sharing, but everyone isn’t on a social network. I know, unbelievable, right? I forget sometimes that I’m an avid and early adopter. So are a lot of you. But is your mom? That’s why I like ShareThis – they have created a product that caters to the early adopters who are publishers but is truly meant for the average people like your mom and your Uncle Jim.
In fact, ShareThis CEO Tim Schigel informed me that email trumps everything. Despite articles citing the death of email with the millennial generation, it’s still the primary means of electronic communication. When Uncle Jim wants to share a nifty article with your mom, he cuts and pastes the URL into an email. I was initially aghast at this – email?! But I do it everyday. My husband and I constantly exchange links via email. Looking at buying a new Mac, my biggest concern was not switching from a PC, but switching from Outlook. ShareThis takes email into account.
At the bottom of a blog post, or even just an article or web page, you’ll see a ShareThis link. Click the button, and a pop-up window displays. From here, you can share your find to any of the social networks out there. Don’t see the one you’re looking for? Chances are it’s under the more button.
The Post tab lets you post directly to your blog. I was so surprised I hadn’t noticed it until Tim pointed it out. From a blogging perspective, this is brilliant, as I love things that make it easier for me to gather my information together. (This also includes the fantastic option of saving as a draft to your blog.)
The option that makes ShareThis extra user-friendly is the Send/Email tab. Choose this and you can enter an email address[es] and send it off to your friends. This helps quiet the noise. You’ll check emails from your friends probably before you even read your daily blog feeds.