A toolkit for fact checkers

Update: See this post (with screencasts!) Mike Caulfield’s Digital Polarization Initiative (DigiPo) is a template for a course that will lead students through exercises to analyze and fact-check news stories. The pedagogical approach Mike describes here is evolving; in parallel I’ve been evolving a toolkit to help students research and organize the raw materials of … Continue reading “A toolkit for fact checkers”

How Thali could make the Smallest Federated Wiki even smaller

Thanks to my friend Mike Caulfield, an educational technologist who’s been digging into Ward Cunningham’s Smallest Federated Wiki, I’ve now got a much clearer idea of how SFW and Thali could play together and why they should. Mike’s recent series on SFW is the best review and analysis of Ward’s newest creation that I’ve seen: … Continue reading “How Thali could make the Smallest Federated Wiki even smaller”

Using sparkcasts to enhance step-by-step instructions

A non-profit organization chartered to promote arts and culture within its community will be curating a new elmcity hub. The curator plans to invite dozens of member organizations to contribute to the hub — that is, to manage their public schedules using calendar applications, and to convey the URLs of their calendar feeds to the … Continue reading “Using sparkcasts to enhance step-by-step instructions”

To PIP (picture-in-picture video) or not to PIP?

I’m just wrapped up a screencast about the elmcity project. It’ll stand in for me at an upcoming event I can’t attend, and serve as an explanation I can point others too. This is the first screencast I’ve worked on in ages, and also the first in which I appear as a picture-in-picture talking head. … Continue reading “To PIP (picture-in-picture video) or not to PIP?”

How to create a Pivot visualization of a WordPress blog

I’ve posted the Python script I used to make the Pivot visualization of this blog. I need to set it aside for now and do other things, but here’s a snapshot of the process for my future self and for anyone else who’s interested. Using deepzoom.py to create Deep Zoom images and collections I’m using … Continue reading “How to create a Pivot visualization of a WordPress blog”

Freebase Gridworks: A power tool for data scrubbers

I’ve had many conversations with Stefano Mazzocchi and David Huynh [1, 2, 3] about the data magic they performed at MIT’s Project Simile and now perform at Metaweb. If you’re somebody who values clean data and has wrestled with the dirty stuff, these screencasts about a forthcoming product called Freebase Gridworks will make you weep … Continue reading “Freebase Gridworks: A power tool for data scrubbers”

Talking with Sal Khan about YouTube tutoring as guerilla public service

My guest for this week’s Innovators show is Sal Khan. He’s the creator of http://khanacademy.org, a catalog of more than 1000 YouTube video lessons in math, physics, biology, chemistry, and economics. All of these videos are made by Sal himself, in an engagingly personal style, using simple screencasting tools. When I first got interested in … Continue reading “Talking with Sal Khan about YouTube tutoring as guerilla public service”

A conversation with Jean-Claude Bradley about open notebook science and the educational uses of Second Life

On this week’s ITConversations show I finally got to meet Jean-Claude Bradley, the Drexel chemistry professor who coined the phrase open notebook science and who champions the principles behind it. There were a couple of surprises for me. First, I was intrigued to learn about Jean-Claude’s vision for mechanized research. I’ve always thought of open … Continue reading “A conversation with Jean-Claude Bradley about open notebook science and the educational uses of Second Life”

Serious uses for YouTube’s new popup video feature

I’m loving YouTube’s new video annotation feature, which Phil Shapiro alerted me to. Lots of people are going to have lots of fun with that. If you remember when MTV first started doing popup video, you’ll have some idea how much fun. But from Phil’s perspective and mine, this is a seriously useful tool as … Continue reading “Serious uses for YouTube’s new popup video feature”

Perspectives, a new interview series, launches today

Today I’m launching a new Microsoft-oriented interview series called Perspectives. The show will touch on a variety of topics including robotics, digital identity, e-science, and social software. I’ll be speaking mostly with passionate Microsoft innovators, and sometimes also with key partners from academia and industry. The format is an audio podcast and a blog, where … Continue reading “Perspectives, a new interview series, launches today”

From screencasting to automation

I was pleased to see the announcement that Novell and Microsoft are collaborating on the User Interface Automation (UIA) stuff. My mom can use all the help she can get. But as I discussed in Automation and accessibility, beefing up our ability to automate software in a consistent way can give us huge leverage in … Continue reading “From screencasting to automation”

FAQ for podcast (and screencast) interviewees

I spend a lot of time recording and editing audio interviews for two shows: ITConversations and Perspectives. I also do a lot of interview-style screencasts. I’ve been meaning to write up a FAQ for interviewees, so here goes. Preparation As the interviewee, you need not prepare anything. Your life is the preparation. You might, however, … Continue reading “FAQ for podcast (and screencast) interviewees”

First look at Resolver, an IronPython-based spreadsheet

Last month in an item about working with crime data I asked: Will there be a role for IronPython (or IronRuby) here, someday, such that you could use these languages inside Excel? That’d be very cool. Several folks suggested that I should take a look at Resolver, an IronPython-based spreadsheet that deeply unifies Pythonic object-oriented … Continue reading “First look at Resolver, an IronPython-based spreadsheet”

Silverlight for screencasters

I’ve been doing some experiments to find out how the Silverlight plug-in will work as a player for screencasts. On this test page you’ll find four different versions of a 23-second clip. There’s one for Quicktime, one for Windows Media, one for Flash, and one for Silverlight. Some important variables, from a screencaster’s perspective, are: … Continue reading “Silverlight for screencasters”

Appreciating Common Craft’s “paperworks” sketchcasts

I am an immediate fan of Common Craft’s style of concept videos. Their explanations of how and why to use del.icio.us and Google Docs are crisp and entertaining. They convey the essence of these activities more clearly than any other visual explanations I’ve seen, including many of the screencasts I’ve made. The style is called … Continue reading “Appreciating Common Craft’s “paperworks” sketchcasts”

Automation and accessibility

In last week’s item on social scripting, I suggested that CoScripter’s automation strategy — based on simple English instructions that people can easily read, write, and share — could in theory work across the continuum of application styles. And arguably it will need to, because we’re increasingly likely to mix those styles. If you begin … Continue reading “Automation and accessibility”

Chris Gemignani recreates a New York Times infographic in Excel

When I read this story about cancer care in the Sunday New York Times yesterday, I was struck by one particular information graphic which I thought was very nicely done: It turns out that Chris Gemignani was impressed too, and he decided to recreate the image using Excel. Here’s what he came up with: Going … Continue reading “Chris Gemignani recreates a New York Times infographic in Excel”

Behind the scenes: The editing of a screencast

While I was editing today’s screencast I kept a log of my edits, and I’ve included that log below. As is typical when I edit screencasts, this one squeezed down quite a lot: from almost 54 minutes to 34 minutes. The result not only saves the viewer a precious 20 minutes, but also unfolds in … Continue reading “Behind the scenes: The editing of a screencast”

Screencasting for public speakers

While I’m back on the topic of screencasting, I’ve been meaning to mention another important use of the medium. Recently a colleague reported severe trouble trying to present demos that rely on a live connection to the Internet. My solution is a variation of the old joke: Patient: It hurts when I do that. Doctor: … Continue reading “Screencasting for public speakers”

A long-delayed response to Beth Kanter’s questions about screencasting

As part of my re-exploration of the walled-garden social networks, I’ve accepted the entire batch of LinkedIn invitations that had queued up in my dormant account. One of them was a request from Beth Kanter for advice on screencasting. From my point of view, LinkedIn was superfluous in this case because the same request had … Continue reading “A long-delayed response to Beth Kanter’s questions about screencasting”

Direct-to-camcorder screen recording

For several of my screencasts I used an unusual method which I mentioned here. I made my camcorder be the computer’s display, and dubbed the output to tape1. My reasons were twofold. First, I wanted to capture a lot of raw footage without having to wait for the captured data to get written to a … Continue reading “Direct-to-camcorder screen recording”

A screencast about common feeds in Vista

Today’s 4-minute screencast, which explores Vista’s common feed system, serves multiple purposes. First, I wanted to familiarize myself with this stuff, and do so in a way that would elicit responses that help me understand how other folks are reacting to it. I am intensely interested in the reasons why people do or don’t take … Continue reading “A screencast about common feeds in Vista”


Jon Udell is an author, information architect, software developer, and new media innovator. His 1999 book, Practical Internet Groupware, helped lay the foundation for what we now call social software. Udell was formerly a software developer at Lotus, BYTE Magazine’s executive editor and Web maven, and an independent consultant. A hands-on thinker, Udell’s analysis of … Continue reading “about”