The More You Code: Codecademy

Computers have always intimidated me.

Frustrated Computer

Not in the way that I can’t use them or have extreme difficulty navigating their interfaces, more so in the way that I don’t know what is happening behind the surface of them.

I wouldn’t say that I am afraid of computers – I just don’t trust them.

In films only the “techie nerds” are able to hack a computer system, reprogram confidential software and override a security breach to save the day. The rest of the team just trusts that the “techie” can clear the way before they send the main heroes in. This type of media in addition to societal influence, I have always assumed that I was not gifted with the “techie” part of my brain that would let me be the undercover hero. Because somewhere along the long I associated my intelligence and competence with technology and decided that I didn’t make the geek squad.

That is why I loved working with Codecademy.

Without any of this sounding too much like an infomercial I will explain my experience.

It was simple, easy to use software that enabled as opposed to disabled. You can easily go back and look over different skills if you get stuck on a task or unit. The program is forcing you to learn and engage with technology but I never felt like I was stupid – or lacked the intelligence to learn. After almost completing a unit on web design, I can honestly say that I have a much better grasp of the going on behind the screen and am even on my way to building my own!  Sure, of course there are people that will pick it up faster and easier that others, but that’s the same for every skill that you learn. The speed in which you learn something does not determine your competence of the subject. In the case of coding, you are learning a new language and the syntax that comes with it from scratch. How can you expect yourself to be an expert when it has taken you years to speak the English language? Give yourself a break and trust your intelligence, future coders.

Once you have all those tools, it is up to the creativity of the individual to build new and innovative materials.

But this software is meant to give the skills to anyone (provided you have access to a computer and the internet) It doesn’t matter gender, age, demographic or previous experiences. Anyone can proceed in an environment they are comfortable learning in. So yes the interface is good, and skill building is good and the pacing, layout and language is all good, but this is more than just earning badges (although look at all my badges)…

 

 

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 12.25.50 PM

This is about empowering everybody to engage with technology. In the words of Justin Trudeau – this is 2015. And in 2015 we are all techies. We just need to believe that our intelligence is not limited by stereotypes but the mindset we project. Coding is not reserved for the smartest people in the room. Coding is for anyone who has the ambition and time to learn.

Digitally yours,
BG
Digital Guru

 

 

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So You Want to Appeal to the Masses, eh?

Everything online is always crafted. The sender makes specific choices  during the process to persuade and communicate a specific message to the mass audience. Although this can take many forms, we can evaluate it through at least 5 different characteristics; colour, clothing, camera angle, edits and cuts and visible entities. Let’s look at these characteristics by using Hillary Clinton’s most recent campaign video as an example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N708P-A45D0

Colour:

From the colour of the wallpaper to the shade of a person’s hair – colour is always purposeful.

For example – looking at Hillary Clinton’s most recent campaign video. The colour of her clothing is red and blue and her air is blonde-ish white. Subliminally these colours together, evoke feelings of patriotism making the audience  nationalistic when analyzing Hillary as a candidate.

Clothing:

Everyday when we get dressed in the morning, we intentionally choose clothing that reflects our mood and occasion. However, we are also unintentionally showing our social class and personality.

Now look at all the people in the videos. We have blue collared workers who are… literally wearing blue collared shirt (creative). Hillary is wearing her classic jacket that makes her look powerful and conservative. It is a clever way to craft an identity without the person having to say a word.

Visible entities:

Ensuring that every member of the audience can find something relatable in the message means that media has to make sure they include something tangible for each group.

 This commercial attempts to hit on people from all different walks of life. It represents getting ready for retirement, starting a family, members of the LGBTQ community and many others. This of course to make Hillary Clinton – a upper middle class woman and previous first lady – more relatable to the middle class American. That’s why the majority of the video is of other Americans as opposed to her.

 Edits and Cuts:

Edits and cuts can totally change the mood and effect of the media towards the masses. If it is one continuous cut or whether it is broken up into different pieces it changes the naturalness and consistency of the piece.

You’ll notice all the cuts that are happening constantly to show all the people it possibly can. Even at the end when Hillary is talking – they cut away from her to show more individuals while she does a voiceover. Makes it appear as if she is looking over them – she is there even if she isn’t.

Camera Angle:

The way that the camera is positioned influences the genre and overall tone of media. It dictates the status of the not only the person watching the media but also the position of the audience.

After looking at all these different types of people, we finally finish on Hillary. The Camera angle is at eye height, making the audience feel like she is their equal. The angle reinforces how relatable she is (even though she really isn’t).

So when you are creating a piece of media for the mass audience and population – make sure that you are aware of all these different aspects so you can expertly craft your message.

Good luck studying all of the class of EID100. We got this.

Digitally yours,
BG
Digital Guru

Filtered Twitter: Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck. An application that allows you to always be “on deck” when it comes to controlling your social media presence.

Tweetdeck is a download that combines all the different sections of Twitter into one accessible interface. This means that you can streamline your newsfeed, notifications, direct messages and activity log. How convenient is that? Well I would say that convenience comes at a cost.

Tweetdeck

If I was an entrepreneur who was running my personal, school and business Twitter accounts – Tweetdeck would sync all the accounts together so the information is in one easily accessible spot. So if I wanted to check out who has posted a new tutorial to their blogs, see if my friend has direct messaged me back or check if my business venture is getting social media attention – I can do it all in one place! No problem!

However, with all this greatness comes some dangers too. Allowing the user to create their own unique Tweetdeck experience might be great BUT it’s also limiting. Tweetdeck allows you to include tweets with certain keywords and accounts and exclude other keywords and accounts. This sounds great of course – but it’s also a little worrying. Doesn’t this just contribute to the filter bubble that social media can force us into?

Just for fun, I did an experiment – including all positive keywords and excluding all negative keywords. I was left with a very happy, sunshine and rainbows newsfeed completely ignorant to any of the tough stuff going on in the world today. If I relied heavily on Twitter as my main source of news I would left totally in the dark only hearing about the 77 year old man who coaching a little league baseball team in a small rural town. Don’t get me wrong that’s great news, but I am missing the global context we live in when I focus on the small town achievements. In society today, ignorance is not bliss it is irresponsible. Making sure that your filters will not leave you purposefully in the dark is crucial to being a contributing member of the online world.
Information curation is a step in the right direction for sorting through mindless junk on social media and monitoring your social media presence but we always have to be careful about how much a filter we create so that all the key data still gets to us.

All hands on deck!

Digitally Yours,

BG
Digital Guru

Information is Beautiful: The Life of an Infographic

Columns and spreadsheets of data can sometimes be very intimidating to digest. The poor aesthetic of the numbers distracts from the original intent of the data.

Enter the infographic!  A way of making even the ugliest information attractive. This way, data can go back to it’s original purpose – to communicate knowledge from the sender to the receiver.

So I set out to test out this new “beautiful” philosophy that is being adopted by blogs, corporations, schools and communities all over the web.  I created a very basic infographic on some of the information covered in the blog Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik on his system of analyzing social media metrics.

(http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/social-media-marketing-success-guide-businesses/#smfb)

 

EID100

By making information beautiful, we are making it more accessible.

I made the infographic on Piktochart which was a great medium! I used one of their templates as a guide and then added my data. It was like using an easier version of Photoshop (which is great when you are still experimenting with design platforms). I really enjoyed the process. Not only did it make my information beautiful, it made beautifying data, a great experience!

Digitally yours,
BG
Digital Guru