Tag Archives: brightkite

notes on collecting with Brightkite

I’m down for the count today – something upper respiratory – so I’m working from home. But in keeping with my project while staying within the bounds of dry mouth and fatigue caused by the [unnamed maker of cetirizine HCI here], I’m doing something simple, and even simpleminded: reviewing my use of Brightkite as a way into using it for composing and teaching composing.

So: Some Observational Notes

Bemidji State UniversityBrightkite
A few weeks ago I made a mental observation: Keeping up in Brightkite is work. It isn’t really as simple as checking in – and even that takes a few moments. Using Brightkite – and so Twitter or any of the microblogging stuff – means stopping what I’m doing for a few moments to do something else. I can talk and walk, but I can’t easily walk and post to Brightkite.

Stopping to post is probably less an issue when at a desktop or laptop than it is when mobile. What it means is that asking someone to post means giving them time and space to make the post. A tweet or Brightkite post may be short but that doesn’t mean it’s quickly composed, or composed while multitasking.

[I’d guess that a lot of mobile posts are made on the train or bus, or while waiting for a train or bus or something else to happen. To fill time. In public.] That’s often how I use it: as a waiting game. It’s as much a habit as anything because I could simply snap a pic to my phone and work with it later. Instead, I use Brightkite. Perhaps there’s something in the communicative possibility. But this use of Brightkite isn’t really extensive. Others are.

Occasions of use: purpose driven

  • to capture a low-res pic of something interesting and fleeting
  • to capture ditto something I’m figuring others might find curious
  • to signal to others where I’m located
  • to take a visual note I’ll want to use later

Much of this use is also driven by collateral posting of the images to flickr. I don’t simply send to Brightkite for others to see; I also send the image to my own collections to use later. Again, I don’t have to use Brightkite for image collection; I have other apps that upload to flickr. Again, it’s habit more than intentional selection of the right app. Brightkite – and the communicative drive it includes – has been my pencil of choice lately.

I don’t seem to use Brightkite to take or send textual notes. I lean towards the image with Brightkite, but I don’t have to restrict myself to this.

Target Stores: Store InformationCollecting
Part of working with mobile apps is sending local data to the cloud so the sender and others can use it. Images taken with a phone are far more useful, and easier to work with, when they are moved off the phone. On the phone, they can be viewed by the owner and others physically near the owner. Off the phone, they can be manipulated, edited, reused, distributed.

Collecting doesn’t need to be purpose-driven. It can be loosely driven from behind: Just gathering up stuff that might come in handy later. But it helps if collecting is spurred on, driven extrinsically. Grades or fulfilling assignments are the usual way, but not very good for really getting interesting stuff. So, try another way.

Purposes, and Leveraging the Communicative for Collecting
Posting images and notes to a common space (flickr, a wiki, Evernote) serves (as least) two immediate purposes. The post signals that something has happened: it’s a check in, a communicative gesture of bird here or task done. The post also places the image or text in play for other uses. (This is what I’m doing when I post to Brightkite.) The communicative gesture can be a pretty strong motivator; it’s immediate, anyway – especially if the context is set up to allow others in a group (nearby or following) to respond. That is, seeing what others are up to may spur more collection.

What’s next
Try collecting stuff using alternatives to Brightkite. One of the tasks I’m skirting around is the nature of the collecting: immediate or mediated. I’ve been going straight to immediate:

  • immediate: posting directly to flickr, Brightkite
  • mediated: saving to the phone, then vetting and uploading later

Debategraph homeGathering
After that, look gathering the stuff collected. Examples:

  • gathering stuff in a notebook with annotations, decorations, commentary. Get out the moleskines, the PoGo and the ink pens. Individual. A variation this would be creating a place note book or using Diffusion Generator to frame the gathering.
  • gathering stuff in a set (flickr) or group (flickr), on a map (flickr), and by tagging (flickr). Collective. As a set of favorites.
  • how to handle notebook-like gathering on computer or online (Curio is my current fave. Can be posted to web.)
  • and draw distinctions between varieties of gathering: like a scrapbook, like a map, like a categorized list, by tagging or key content word, by time, like a mashup, like a wiki or concept map.

And then, after that, start looking at other apps and materials for mashup gathering in multiple media: concept maps, Wordle, and delicious tag clouds.

three educational uses for Brightkite: some notes

If you have to look for uses for an app, is it really useful? Or are you just making it up? We have to make it up at first to see the possibilities.

Back when the web was just getting going, early users had a sense of what it could be used for, a sense of the potential, even while the actual use at the time struck others as trivial.

You can link to anything. Anything. Like text to an image.

So? What’s the point of that?

You can connect chunk of text to other chunks. Read along paths.

And so?

So go read Vannevar Bush.

Who?

Brightkite allows users to send a notification of where the user is geographically and post a note that can be read by friends, or by people nearby, or by anyone on a public feed. With a mobile camera phone, the user can send an image along with the note.

So, outside of locating people or being located, what’s the point of that? What’s the educational point of that?

Brightkite casts its primary affordance as placestreaming:

Placestreaming, as in the stream of content originating from a specific place. We think this really captures what Brightkite is all about. We enable location based conversations. And location based conversations, in aggregate, are placestreams.

While there’s something of the buzzword in placestreaming (along with Eventstreaming and Lifestreaming), its a useful concept to start with.

A list of three

– As on twitter, Brightkite users can follow each other, seeing where others are physically, as well as what each other is doing. That can build community between users. That’s can not will. The quality of the posting is going to be a variable. But there’s something of the game of tag or geocaching in checking in on Brightkite and monitoring who’s nearby.

– The Brightkite.com site runs a web app called The Wall. The Wall can be set up to see who’s in a vicinity, and lets non-Brightkite users post using their mobiles. See How the Mattress Factory Art Museum uses the Brightkite Wall. At the Mattress Factory, the Wall itself becomes a performance as people come and go – a little like Flickervision and Twittervision. But run The Wall in a classroom, or as a teacher, or as a member of a Brightkite-linked group. Members can see what others are doing, whenever they choose to check in. So, a professor can send students into the field, monitor The Wall, and gain periodical updates on what’s happening. All the students can see what others in the group are doing. If they are nearby, they can meet up. If they need help, they can ask anyone in the group. As they work, they can post results as notes or images.

– Landscape marking. I’m interested in how we can virtually annotate or tag the physical world, layering virtual observations. On the marketing / daily grind side, it can work like this:

So, I can be visiting a place like St. Petersburg, Florida, and I can check in. I might take a snap of the hotel where I’m staying, and I might add a note like “the coffee here is horrible, but there’s a Dunkin Donuts a few blocks west.”

Someone else in the area who is using the same application might now see this update and realize two things (depending on my privacy settings): 1.) I’m nearby. 2.) That the coffee at the hotel stinks. In both cases, this information is only available through the use of this software.

On the extensive side, Brightkite is an input for place tagging, but (as far as I can tell) the tags aren’t persistent to the geo-location of the place. If you’re not listening in when a place note is posted, you’ll miss it. What’s needed is a way of posting checkins, notes, and images to a more permanent, centralized space on a wiki or blog, or something delicious-like. (The iPhone app graffiti does this, but it’s a mess). This mashup might already exist. I’ll have look for it.

Other links along the way

Why I Use Brightkite, Amanita.net.
5 Uses For Brightkite, andrew hyde
The BrightKite That I Hope To See…, SheGeeks
Using Social Media to Get Out of Your House, SheGeeks

Next or soon: the misery of using Brightkite. Checking in takes effort.

rough notes on personal learning environments or how i spent my xmas vacation

PLEI spent most of my semester break messing with looking at some social networking apps and how to link them up. I was familiar with a few of them already and had been using them regularly: flickr, delicious, facebook (not so regularly), tumblr, twitter. I added brightkite, friendfeed, and ping.fm. Righ away, brightkite and friendfeed struck me as useful for what I wanted to do, and ping.fm less so. Brightkite fuses image and text and geotags them both. Friendfeed aggregates feeds to a common stream and allows connecting those feeds with others.

On the browser side, I tinkered with Flock for a day, but went back to Firefox and installed add-ons to coordinate some of my feeds; I wanted to put them in the same app if not the same frame. I’m currently working with Flickerfox, Sage-Too for rss feeds, TumblrPost, and Twitbin. I’m watching for a Brighkite add-on, but Sage-too makes it possible to put an rss Friendfeed stream in the sidebar.

I haven’t added browser-based notes, however. I’m still using the browser mainly for access to content and working with other apps like Evernote and DevonThink for collection and text production.

This catalog of web apps, social apps, and plug-ins looks geeky, I know, put there’s a point to it.

Spurred on in part by using an iPhone more and more, I started to get interested in how to pull the apps together in some kind of more or less coherent set. I got interested in creating an informal PLE.

Gloss from Wikipedia

Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to

* set their own learning goals

* manage their learning; managing both content and process

* communicate with others in the process of learning

and thereby achieve learning goals.

A PLE may be composed of one or more subsystems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services.

Roughly, a PLE is a more or less hacked together system or space to work in – and that’s a pretty good idea of it, for me, for right now. My wife has a PLE for her work. It’s her studio. Al Gore has one. It’s called his office.

But PLEs extend beyond office and studio walls to include sites and sources, the devices used to access those sites and sources, and the devices used to manipulate the content of those sites and sources. Desktop computer, laptop, iPhone, mobile, digital camera … You get the idea. Hardware, software, people, content, places.

The memex was an early conception of a PLE. Englebart’s Study for the Development of Human Augmentation Techniques a 1968 overview of the idea. And his mother of all demos is an early demo of one: hardware, software, people, content, and places.

Martin Weller has a lot more to say on the matter than I do right now. Brian Lamb has posted on PLEs recently. And he’s picking up on comments made by Stephen Downes.  A Collection of PLE diagrams presents a range of visualizations about PLEs.

To my mind, proboscis.org is experimenting with informal PLEs. In their work, streets and parks and buildings become part of the PLE, which also includes other people, both present and past. Their work emphasizes the material in the environment, where learning takes place by creating and manipulating maps and boxes, and by physically and virtually annotating physical spaces. See Social Tapestries, for instance.

Creating or using a PLE of any complexity is going to demand some fluency in transliteracy.

I made some remarks on PLEs from a side angle in Wikis, Blogs, and eFolio: How wikis and weblogs trump eportfolios and No One Stop Shop. My sense of PLEs is the learner mashup rather than the prepackaged OfficeMax D2L. Having just reread these drafts and notes, it looks like the PLE is a common thread in my thinking, one that might open into a more extensive article.

More notes

I’m a late-comer to the PLE party, so a review is in order:

A PLE – VLE continuum

on the PLE

A Collection of PLE diagrams

E-learning 2.0, Stephen Downes

More later.

bird *here*

I’m starting to pull things together for the E-Rhetoric course that starts in January, so a twitter from Anne that Brightkite was in open beta came at the right moment.

I’m a latercomer to the service, so much of this has been said before. At root, Brightkite is like Twitter but centered on location information: the where just as much as the what. Less bird here than bird here. When a user checks in, they make their location available to others nearby. And that allows for face to face contact and flash mobbing.

The service also has built-in photo sharing, which opens the message up to more than 160 characters. That visual channel makes a difference.

It’s integrated with Twitter, so that posting to Brightkite will also post a location and a link to the photo to the twitterstream. Need to be careful with that feature; it can create a lot of noise on Twitter. (Of course, Brightkite also has a Twitter account, so you can follow them.)

It has the usual friends network set up, and will send notifications vie email or text.

Some older mentions:

lauren’s library blog » brightkite and twitter

Brightkite: Twitter + Maps + Photos – Joe Lazarus

Matt Thommes / Customize Brightkite-to-Twitter updates

Hands on with Brightkite: real-world social networking

A Peek At Brightkite For the iPhone

and of course

Brightkite Wants to Win the Mobile Social Network Battle

One interesting marketing feature is the Brightkite Wall. It streams Brightkite activity to a browser that can be set as full screen. The persuasive element is the banner encouraging viewers to send text messages that will appear on the wall – without having to register.

brightkite.com.jpg

But there are some prosaic uses for all this in mobile learning. Students out exploring can trace where they’ve been and where they are, which makes it possible to focus content sent to them. And the wall allows everyone in a cohort see where everyone else is. That says flash mob gorilla theater.

So far, I’m finding Brightkite more interesting to play with than Twitter. Pulling together act, place, and image is pretty compelling. I’ll run it past the E-Rhetoric students and see what they can come up with.