Toronto teen uses app to give visually-impaired a new look at the world | Toronto Star

Mass Media technology creates opportunities and can fill social needs  when appropriate problem solving is applied to daily living conditions to the whole  range of society.

Anmol Tukrel, a 17-year-old grade 12 student at Holy Trinity School in Richmond Hill, has created an app that helps visually impaired people identify objects and text. Tukrel’s free iPhone app, iDentifi, allows users to take a photo of virtually any object, and then describes that item in great detail back to the user. People can also take photos of text and have it read back to them, in one of 27 languages. Tukrel hopes it makes every day tasks — like picking out the can of pop you want — easier for people who are visually impaired.

Source: Toronto teen uses app to give visually-impaired a new look at the world | Toronto Star


Volkswagen Devil Logo – What Stays in the Dog Park


volkswagen devil logo

An ironic logo combines with a pet owner’s  bumper sticker ( I spotted this while on a family outing ) to make a social commentary about the Volkswagen Emission Standards Software Scandal.  As that little devil says, “what happens in the dog park, stays in the dog park”.  Unfortunately, the company’s dog-poo has come  back with a vengeance.

VW Sham

Meanwhile, “A new website called is selling magnetic bumper stickers bearing anti-VW slogans, such as “Another VW? No tanks,” “VW took me for a ride,” and “VW. German for FU.” Each magnet costs $7.50, with 5% of sales going to the International Council for Clean Transportation, according to the site.” ( Source Link )

Besides the impact this scandal will have on Volkswagen, the German economy and general attitudes towards vehicle technology, this revelation demonstrates how our culture, and the economy that sustains it, is all about information and controlling it. 

Volkswagen designed and used software to manipulate data. It sought to control information to enhance the marketability of their products. When this came to light it creates a wave of distrust that taints not only the information it provided to its target audience, but also information coming from other sources, companies and independent agencies. This is not dissimilar to the public’s distrust of government agencies and political messages; all become tarred with the same brush.

Notice it is  a company that aligns itself with the aggrieved consumer, giving them a way of communicating their frustrations and sense of betrayal, that attempts to capitalize on the scandal.  Recognizing that giving  the target audience a means to express themselves in such a way that the consumer’s personal message is directly connected to the product causing the frustration ( devaluing the consumer’s self-image) is very effective understanding of an information & messaging mass media dominant culture.

It will be interesting to see how Volkswagen, the car industry and other stakeholders try to  control the flow of information and how the public with respond to these attempts. In the meantime, those who understand the cultural need to interact and express ideas & feelings through various mass media platforms have an opportunity capitalize financially/socially.


Elemental: Power of Communication & Media History


This video effectively uses  sound and images to covey the power of communication and how it drives the development of Media both as art and technology. It suggests the elemental power and need to communicate through the metaphor of Classical Four Elements, Earth, Fire, Water and Air..

The use of cuts and animation work with the tempo o of the music and sound to drive the visual narrative of progress and transformation of Mass media technology.  All beautifully executed .

Note that all Mass Media have business interests. What is implied message at the very end of the video ? What are the emotional and historical connections being made at this final moment ?

New Media ……. New School Year !

As the the new school year approaches items on new media and media technology in the classrooms start to increase. Of course for some parents, teachers and the news media outlets  the term new media can be a potential anxiety inducing bogey-man. Reminds of when I was in grade eight and everyone was getting cranked up over ” The New Math ” .  -Please stop calculating how old that makes me, I’m older. – Anyway, the word new can generate a lot of excitement. That’s why they use it in advertising and government announcements .  Advertisers use it with the word improved and governments use it with the word initiative.  Because many people have trouble defining or explaining what the word media means, attaching new to it can really increase interest levels, excitement, and anxiety. For a really good set of videos on new media check out this post: New Media Douchebags Explained. Don’t let the title  put you off , the videos are entertaining and informative.

Now for some media and education news and resources from the CBC. First up, the CBC news site is devoting a section to School and education., Back To School . Included on this page is an article Education in the digital age

The article includes an interview with  Don Tapscott  author of  the books Growing up Digital (1997) and Grown up Digital (2009). Here is a video posted with the article:

Some of Mr. Tapscott’s observations and comments:

I see little difference between K-12 and university. The methodology is much the same: It is the industrial model of student mass production, where the teacher is the broadcaster. A broadcast is by definition the transmission of information from transmitter to receiver in a one-way, linear fashion. The teacher is the transmitter and [the] student is a receptor in the learning process.

The formula goes like this: “I’m a professor and I have knowledge. You’re a student you’re an empty vessel and you don’t. Get ready, here it comes. Your goal is to take this data into your short-term memory and through practice and repetition build deeper cognitive structures so you can recall it to me when I test you.”

The Industrial Age model of education is hard to change. New paradigms cause dislocation, disruption, confusion, and uncertainty. They are nearly always received with coolness or hostility. Vested interests fight change, and leaders of old paradigms are often the last to embrace the new.

Sitting mutely in front of a TV set — or a professor — doesn’t appeal to or work for this generation. They learn best through non-sequential, interactive, asynchronous, multi-tasked and collaborative activities.

Now for some technological paranoia ! Ont. teachers reject Wi-Fi ban Ont. school board won’t turn off Wi-Fi

This all started with a parents group  in Simcoe County wanting the board to remove/turn off all WI-Fi networks for fear that they were physically harming the students.  The parents became concerned when  “they realized their children were displaying the same sorts of symptoms and that the problems cleared up on weekends and holidays when kids weren’t in school,… .” The  parents were ” reporting similar problems among kids at 14 different schools in Simcoe County.”

This in turn  increased anxiety and led to the following:

“A resolution aiming to get Wi-Fi out of classrooms, put forward by teachers in the Niagara region, was soundly defeated at the annual general meeting of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.”

Now here are some of the things to consider:

  1. From a cost perspective it is now cheaper for many school boards to install a WI-Fi network than a wired one.  Older school building do not take kindly to computer networks. I  know this has been a problem in our secondary school in Northern Ontario
  2. Wi-Fi networks mean that lap-top computers, electronic notebooks and tablets can be used anywhere in the school. Each classroom can become a potential computer lab and computer capabilities can be incorporated in any classroom activity.
  3. Depending on whether the student receives a computer or supplies their own, can now mean that the hardware costs go down for the school board.
  4. Wi-Fi networks opens the door to textbooks as software. The textbook is published and used as digital text.  Again costs for textbooks will go down considerably.
  5. Are the students’ symptoms the result of the WI-Fi network itself or the result of how the computers are being used?  Could eyestrain from looking at improperly lit screens, lighting in rooms reflecting on screens,or  sitting too long or improperly with the computer be causing the headaches and nausea ? What are the volume setting on the computers and how is audio being used ?
  6. No accurate collection of data in regards to the students’ age, gender, specific schools, classes, and symptoms has been properly documented.