Comic Sansis no longer funny
In 1995 Microsoft released the font Comic Sans originally designed forcomic book style talk bubbles containing informational help text. Since thenthe typeface has been used in countless contexts from restaurant signageto school assignments to medical information. These widespread abuses of printed type threaten to erode the very foundations upon which centuries of typographic history are built, according to
Complaints about the font pop up everywhere and jokes abound. “ComicSans walks in to a bar and the bartender says. ‘We don’t serve your type.’”The Ban Comic Sans movement is ten years old and has a mission to eradicate the font and the ‘evilof typographical ignorance’. Despite all efforts, the font is still widespread - even making appearancesin Disney movies.
Newspaperson the way out
There is much discussion these days about how long newspapers can survive. Overseas newspapersare shutting down like banks while others are drastically cutting staff. It is inevitable that muchof what is written in the newspaper warns of such dire predictions and how misleading they couldbe - but of course they would say that as most of the columns would have been written by a journalistwho have some self-interest in ensuring that the newspaper remains in circulation. A circulatingnewspaper is sure to remain, but it is more likely to be in digital format rather than the hard copy
that often stains the ngers and clogs the recycled bin on Monday night. It is still claimed that 40%
of the public read a newspaper at least once a week. One senses though that this readership is not somuch reading news, but rather seeking easy access to reference material(TV guide), activity (crypticcrossword), and opinion (Letters to the editor, and their favourite opiner).
Microsoft Ofce 10
leaked (or is that tested?)
The next generation of Microsoft Ofce, currently in technical pre
-view, has leaked to the web with technical details and screenshots.Weighing in at over 1.4GB for the 32-bit version, it is most certainly
the “chunkiest” version of Ofce to be leaked to date. The 64-bitversion at technical preview stage is over 1.7GB in size, conrming
both versions will obviously be provided on DVD.
Wolfram|Alphacomputational knowledge engine.
W|A promises to more than linking countless websites to a searchterm or phrase. What separates W|A from everything else - includingGoogle - is an ability to interpret complex questions in everydaylanguage and answer those questions by consulting disparate piecesof information. It is designed to interpret data from unrelatedsources and has enough natural language capacity to judge a range
of articles and come back with the best answer. The edgling site is
biased towards the sciences but its ability to infer conclusions fromdata is where the potential lies. The engine sources are vetted byhumans and this is what puts it into a different league from Googleor Wikipedia. Overall, Wolfram/Alpha reads like an encyclopedia. It’s handy at times, but the bigquestion is whether the search engine can break out and display more populous information. Thepresentation is great but the many searches I entered came back with ‘I don’t know what to do withthis’. This was very disappointing.
The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen recordsand linkes to audio what was written via asmall infrared camera behind the nib. Thepen only works with specially designednotepads. Each page is covered intiny dots that act like a graph, recordingeach pen stroke to an internal 1gb or 2gb memory, to be uploaded as text to acomputer
The newKindle DX,Amazon’snewest andmost impres-sive entry intothe electronicpaper arena, was launched last month.
This is nally a seriously good wireless A4
size reading device with a crisp screen and
sufcient storage capacity that can hold up to
3,500 books and periodicals. Books can bedelivered within 60 seconds and the batteryhas a long battery life allowing for readingfor days. It also has a text to speech featureand includes a native pdf reader. Usersneed to order from the Amazon Kindle DXready library - but there are over 275,000titles ready for download. The Kindle DX ispricey and can only be preordered in the US(even the earlier Kindle is still not availablein Australia) but the improved technologydoes appear to be spelling the end of thepaper age. Although the voicing componentmay need some improvement as apparentlythe voice of the Kindle mispronounces twoimportant words that show up often in thepages of newspapers: “Barack” (the devicerhymes it with “black”) and “Obama” (soundslike “Alabama”)
The Prensky File
It was Marc Prensky who rst coined the term ‘digital native’ - the
term that refers to people born in the last 25 years. And the term todescribe people who were born before much of the digital technologycame into being is: digital immigrant. And like many immigrants,we love the new country but still cling to some of the old ways from back‘home’. Like wanting to print things to edit them with a pen, and read ahard copy of book rather than an ebook. According to Prensky, digital natives such as today’s high school gradu-ates have typically spent fewer than 5000 hours readingBut they have also spent around:
• 10,000 hours playing video games• 10,000 hours on mobile phones• 20,000 hours watching TV, and• have seen more than 500,000
advertisements As a group they have downloaded 2 bil-lion ring tones a month, 2 billion songsper month, 6 billion text messages eachday and sent 250 000 emails and instant messages. So it is no wonderstudents aren’t too excited when we tell them to open their text booksand get out their pens when they are more familiar with keyboards andcomputer screens.
Are all Young People Digital Natives?
This is a good question and it is worth reminding ourselves that no, notall students are digital natives. While we identify digital natives as ageneration ‘born digital,’ not all youth are digital natives. Digital natives
share a common global culture that is dened not by age, strictly, butby certain attributes and experiences. These are in part dened by their
experience growing up immersed in the digital technology, and theimpact of this upon how they interact with information technologies,information itself, one another, and other people and institutions. Thosewho were not ‘born digital’ can be just as connected, if not more so, thantheir younger counterparts. And not everyone born since, say, 1982,happens to be a digital native.
Can anyone become a Digital Native?
While today’s children are born digital, many of them are making theirparents ‘native’. No matter what age we are it is possible to become a‘digital native’ by living simultaneously on and off line with the help of technological aids such as BlackBerrys or social-networking sites likeMySpace that give us a full time on-line presenceOne of the digital native’s primary traits is an extensive on-line persona.Identity is expressed through both off-line and on-line media. And there’snot much of a distinction in the digital native’s mind between these two.Digital natives pick photographs for their on-line personas on social-networking sites with the same care with which they pick their clotheseach morning. They go on line to reveal rather than conceal themselves. And it’s the extent to which they reveal themselves online that bothers the‘immigrants’, most of whom would never think of publishing their phonenumbers or home addresses on the Internet. Even the digital native willacknowledge the danger their openness may pose in attracting predators,they are nowhere near as aware of the transference of data sent about
them across companies. Native or not, nobody reads the ne print. The
amount that somebody is going to be able to know about somebody borntoday, 30 years from now, is immense. And, because storage is plentifuland cheap and the information never decays,those records are unlikely to disappear.
But keeping children off line would stie the
creativity that is springing up all over theWeb. In amateur videos on YouTube and inblogs there is a type of ‘semiotic democracy’emerging. This means that with all the Digital tools available anyone witha digital camera can make their own content.So to make effective judgements about the digital world we need to engagewith that world and understand how young people behave in it. Forinstance, it is unlikely that any digital native commencing some research
on a topic would rst step in to a library. Students, of course would rst
type their topic into Google, scroll down to the references in Wikipedia,read the entry, and then follow the links to learn more. And digital natives do eventually become creators of on-line content,rather than simply consumers. Shooting and posting a video, or writinga comment on a message board is a way of reaching out to an audience
that potentially numbers in the millions. They will nd that it is quite an
impactful medium and an active form of democratic participation.
5 ICT tools
to take in to anyclassroom
Free onlinesurveymaker fora variety of purposes
This man hascreated a new ‘an-swer engine’ - theWofram|Alpha.Do you have anyquestions?
THE BEST AND MOST RELEVANT OF ALL THE ICT INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO SCHOOLSwww.computercoordinator.com.au
Marc Prenskyis a speaker, writer, consultant, and game designerin the areas of education and learning. He is the author of DigitalGame-Based Learning (McGraw-Hill, 2001), founder and CEO of Games2train, a game-based learning company, and founder of TheDigital Multiplier, an organisation dedicated to eliminating the digitaldivide in learning worldwide. He is also the creator of the sites
. More of his writings can befound at
“Raised on MTV, video games, e-mail, theWeb and instant messaging, Digital Nativeshave developed cognitive thinking patternsthat differ from previous generations.”
Mr Stephen Wolfram
INFORMATION FOR THE COMPUTER CLASSROOMSince 2000, $7.95
Vol 10, No. 3, June 2009