Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I May be Lazy, but this just sounds more efficient...

First off, I’ll start with an admission – I’m crazy about Google and Wikipedia. image courtesy of

Some guys read up on cars. Some people collect stamps or taste wines and cheeses like their lives depend on it; I’m a Google/Wiki geek.

What makes me crazy about them is what has made them so popular, community and interface. They’re really easy to use, and there are a ton of people using them.

Google allows people across the world to chat on Google Groups, and its multi-media perspective (Google Video, Gmail, Google Desktop, Blogger) is awesomely easy. A single account connects you to everything.

Wikipedia takes it one step further though with opensource technology. True, there’s specific entries that are guarded with gatekeepers, but most everything else is open. That’s a good thing.

Long intro – I know, and not journalistically sound.

Anyways. So what?

Well, I was perusing the SJSU website today, trying to find out when people are coming to give guest lectures so I could podcast them (my digital voice recorder is in the mail, Ryan), when I realized that I not only had to go to SJSU’s website, I had to go to the library’s website.

That’s right, the library which is located on San Jose State’s campus!

Well, the lazy computer geek in me instantly rejected the notion that I should have to go two places to find everything I need. I mean, this is the information age, so why aren’t we using it. I’m lazy for Pete’s sake!

Enter Google Calendar.

Google Calendar would allow the University to post all events occurring on campus and in the library in one convenient place where students could check.

A general password and username could be given to students, and (enter Wikipedia’s concept) even students could post events of importance to them. Frats, clubs, sports, theatre – all of which are disconnected, could suddenly be connected and opensourced.

Pretty cool concept.

Then, Gmail could send students reminders about upcoming events, give notes/prices/times, and links to Google Groups that are talking about it.

Friends, classmates, and random strangers would suddenly have the advantage of knowing what is going on.

Lastly, a simply set of links could be placed on the frontpage of the SJSU website – one to Google Calendar, and one to each of the other free Google products they might want to download.

ie.Gmail Notifier – to allow students to have reminders emailed to them.

ie.Google Video – in case they want to post vids of events and later post link in Google Groups.

ie.Google Talk– to call friends they meet on Google Groups.

ie.Google Groups – to they can bla bla bla bla all they want on Usenet.

Isn’t this where technology and business are going anyway? It seems a waste of programming and students’ time not to integrate these systems.

What’do you think?

Monday, April 24, 2006


Ryan Sholin's blog yesterday about e-paper struck me.

Not because it's such a revolutionary concept or technology - the idea is engrained in much science fiction, as the New York Times article about the Belgian business paper going hi-tech said today.

image courtesy of

What's significant about e-paper is the possibility for massive convergences. For those of you not total geeks, I'm talking about the coming together of a whole bunch of mediums and technologies to make life more interactive - and open.

Sound far-fetched? Think again.

Imagine a world where wireless networks update citizens' (and students', ahem...ahem...Knight Ridder... *cough*cough* Spartan Daily) e-papers automatically, where
citizens can submit updates, modifications and fact-checks to the papers instantly as they read with pens like those used on palm pilots.

Citizen Journalism would take on a whole new meaning. Collectively channeling the brainpower of the readership would also cut the number of actual writers needed, increasing the newspaper'$ profitability.

This would lead to an expansion in the actual number of newspapers that operate independantly.

Plus, local news would become much more in-depth, detailed, and accurate - with comment sections and links only the web could provide.

image courtesy of The New York Times

This same principal was applied to Wikipedia and Craigslist, which both became hugely successful and largely accurate. Not to mention Blogger, which I'm currently publishing on.

Tim O'Reilly of the tech magazine MAKE recently spoke about this phenomenon in a podcast on IT Conversations. The podcast is definitely worth the listen. Technologies that incorporate opensource and mass-cooperation, he says in the podcast, are the future.

I see e-paper as having these possibilities and potential, worthy of notice by the University.

Bush in San Jose

(first published as a comment on The Spartan Daily website by Andrew Venegas)

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The Spartan Daily: media content by Daniel Esch

The President visited SJSU yesterday to talk about the need for math and science education to enable the U.S. to compete in a global economy.

This visit comes at a choice time for the President; while his domestic policies are waning and his presidency seems hopelessly tied to his troubles in Iraq, small strides towards recovering the still ailing economy shine through as his only hope at stalling his plummeting approval ratings.

Well Well... That's All Right and Good, But -

Unfortunately, the use of a San Jose State student seems more of a political photo-op than concrete evidence that the President means to increase education spending in Washington.

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The Spartan Daily: media content by Daniel Esch

The very notion seems absurd with wartime spending spiraling out of control, and the largest national debt in history continuing to grow.

Even if the President were serious about focusing on education, the Republican Congress has lost much of the political capital they had to recent scandals, and are now scurrying to secure their base of voters for the upcoming Senate elections.

An increase in spending for these Senators would be unwise.

All said, the President's visit smells of political window-dressing - lacking of true

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Google Earth

I was reading the official Google Blog today, when I came across a post SJSU teachers unsure about the importance of emerging technologies will be on education should read.

image courtesy of Google Earth

Google Earth has lessons and links to help teach students about environmental issues for Earth day - allowing students to "fly" to areas around the planet, "learn[ing] about local and worldwide environmental issues, and communicate with others students and teachers around the country."

Usenet ties the students together, and outside organizations like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace offer further education.

Why isn't there more emphasis on this sort of hands-on organization and use of emerging technologies at SJSU?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Getting it straight...

John McManus guest lectured in my Journalism 132A class yesterday, speaking about the current and possible future decline of print journalism due to the rise of internet technology and market idealism in the newsroom - instead of journalistic values.

image courtesy of the San Fransisco Chronicle

As the class listened intentively, taking notes for possible quotes or jotting down the highlights, I sat back in my chair and let my webcam do most of the work. While I did jot down some quotes and questions, I was able to be more attentive knowing I could always revisit the speech.

And this is the genius of video/podcasting.

After I got home from my classes, I simply uploaded the speech onto Google video, filled out a page of submission information, and whala! The speech is online!

All you need to do to find it is type in "Andrew Venegas" or "John McManus", and it comes up.

image courtesy of

A student in my class even asked me when the video would be ready so she could check her quotes.

Anyone Out There?

This leads me to my point. Video/Podcasting - whatever you want to call it, is a tool that can enhance education, and journalism, not hamper or stop it. It empowers individuals to gather information more directly.

Whereas journalists used to have to "paint the picture" for their audience, bloggers can now show the audience just as easily with webcams and cameraphones.
image taken from

Gone are the days of "telling" in journalism - bloggers and individual citizens can audioblog from their phones or computer mics.

!Viva la revolucion!

Welcome to Journalism 2.0, where in depth analysis of the stories must expand. Let Backfence and private bloggers take care of school board meetings and everyday stories - newspapers and TV network journalists must cut the number of staff writers and go even farther.

Go farther, you say - cut staff... are you crazy?!

No offense to my fellow journalists out there - but the old paradigms simply won't work on the new business models. Someone call Dean Singleton, this baby's comin' down.

image courtesy of

Public programming like NPR, PBS, and non-profit newsrooms will hafta pick up the slack when the current big fish collapse or divest. And Americans will have to get it out of their heads that for-profit newspapers can always be trusted - because they won't, at least not for a while.

As the markets expand, it'll take time for guilds to go global. Until they do, business will have a significant advantage in telling them what they can and cannot print.

I am optimistic though, and all is not for not.

Wired for Life...

I remember teachers who used to tell me that in the future, everything would be wired - well the future is finally here.

Individuals, able to remain anonymus online, can delve into local news gathering without fear of retaliation.

Students can reach materials unimaginable ten years ago and connect to both professors and students.

image courtesy of

We can communicate better - learn faster - and compete more efficiently - now more than ever before in human history.

I hope someone on faculty is listening out there.

It's a brave new world, and the faster the University catches up, the better prepared students will be to meet the new challenges.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Housing and the Gripe

Back in Full Throttle (Gripe Included)

It's been quite a while since I've posted; the play has kept me pretty darned busy. Yes, that's right, I'm in SJSU's production of "Our Town" , which runs
April 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 at 7pm, with a matinee on April 26 th at 11 am.(Tickets can be bought here).

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Image from SJSU website

Ok, that's my blatant plug; hope it wasn't too painful.

Whateva'! What's going on?

In other news on campus, University Housing is allowing students to break their year-long apartment contracts for $50, which it generously takes out of the security desposit they've already paid.

Sounds a little fishy to me though...

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image from SJSU University website

Why would the University set up year-long contracts with students at a college known for being a commuter campus in the first place - unless they simply wanted greater profit margins.

It seems obvious that a high number of students would not wish to stay through the summer.

Sadly for the University, it is because of its increasing profits, or rather the escalating costs to students, that some students are opting to live off campus - which doesn't promote University growth or pride.

What's that One Site Online that Does that Apartment Thing?

No wonder Craigslist is booming. It offers students a highly competitive alternative to campus living.

While the University is upping the price of housing next year and dinging students with fees on contracts that should never have been created in the first place, off-campus housing is sometimes up to $200 cheaper for the same amount of space - just a block away.

So What?

Now, it doesn't take an Einstein to see the long-term effects that this could have.

As word gets out about off-campus housing, money will be pulled away from the University, worsening the school's financial situation - something horrible to phathom as it is already working on a shoe-string budget.

So what's the Solution?
image from Google Images

Well it's already too late for the students who've been dinged for breaking their contracts to move out in May of this year.

But next year, the University can start by matching market prices. In order to run an efficient and profitable business, you need to be competitive.

This means
9 month leases (revolutionary!), and more programs that reach out to student in Campus Village and connect them with their neighbors - even if this means students must pay for things like electricity.

Keep the students happy, don't leech them for an extra buck, and then advertise for free online (linking through the rest of the campus websites) with comparisons to offcampus housing.

The number of students living on campus will increase, and in the long run, it'll be time and money well spent.