Friday, 2 August 2013

Adobe, MOOCS and Our Identity

Yesterday proved to be fascinating in a range of ways for me, lets see if I can pick out a few things from the notes I took on the Galaxy Note 8 and then sum up.

Adobe Create Now Roadshow

The travelling Adobe event is generally pretty entertaining as we get product 'evangelists' showing us the bigger and smaller bits that have been added to various products across the suite of apps that is now the Creative Cloud. Quite some time was spent on the benefits of CC still, dispelling myths and generally trying to get us enthusiastic about the file sharing etc. There was lots of attention given to the integration of Behance into the lineup for promoting and sharing work done with all these groovy apps (a closer look another day).
The biggest trend in what Adobe showed us was HTML5 and CSS3 doing a double act where so many of the software packages now generate code for use on the web or devices supporting these technologies. So we saw creation of CSS from Illustrator and Photoshop, SVG support, responsive design apps, code inspection, multi-device testing, non-flash animation, app integration to workflows and more.

Bits I liked most...
Photoshop smart sharpen, noise removal and web output. Illustrator new kerning tool (gorgeous). Premiere stabilisation and smart masking and rotoscoping. Web responsive design and CSS integration across many tools. There were some stunning video samples shown, gorgeous filming and postwork in the video tools.

Bits I didnt like so much...
Almost everything was Apple-centric (Mac and iPad) with the other platforms feeling very down-trodden. Even when they briefly showed a Surface Pro running Illustrator it was in the vain of 'look how quirky this is and our software can run on it'. Without being silly, they could easily have approached the Surface Pro as a mobile Cintiq tablet and a really exciting development in the use of their software with the real stylus and the real apps. But that isnt what they did because it wasnt Apple kit...
Same goes for the mobile app space where it was all about IOS with only passing reference to the other platforms except when they mentioned open standards like HTML5 and CSS3. They even gave a backhanded slap to powerpoint even though they were using keynote for the presentation.
Lots of attention on responsive design which used the horizontal pixel count as the measure of site break points - I am still confused how this might work with higher-res tiny devices but am happy to be convinced.

MOOC Forum

The What MOOCs mean for Universities - Revolution or Evolution forum and panel discussion last night saw Geoff Garret (Dean, ASB, UNSW) moderate a panel consisting of Daphne Koller (co-founder of Coursera), Fred Hilmer (VC, UNSW) and Andrew Stevens (Managing Director, IBM AU NZ) on all things MOOCy.
Again I took some digital notes, my favourite quotes from the night were both from Daphne who said "The lecture is an extremely outdated mechanism" and "we have uncovered a deep hunger for education".
Themes around the transformative nature of MOOCs for education as a whole were strong, esp from Andrew whose potent examples hopefully pushed home just how disruptive this change is going to be. The analogy of Amazon was used a few times showing how the old model of book stores, publishing and even hard-copies has been blown away. The music sales industry was another popular example with iTunes etc. The comment was made that it is easier to see the coming impact of these large changes in other industries than your own and that the change will be big, transformative.
Andrew said quite plainly that Universities cannot see this as an evolution, that evolution will be too slow to keep up with the revolution that this change will bring. Is this change really going to be this big, or might it be more of an expansion/enrichment thing??

Some more snippets:
There are winners and losers when a new technology enters and industry.
Data from all the participants being used to improve quality - moreso than unis do today.
Is this change going to be like other 'winner takes all' transformations.
Access, Quality and Revenue models discussed openly.
Using typing verification as a digital verification of who is completing tasks.
Coursera now has 1.25 million students and growing.
Completion rates for people who intended to complete or paid are high (70% and 88%)
Lots of Uncertainty (Fred said this alot)
Universities need to identify their value proposition - community engagement as well.
Research Teaching Nexus - what do MOOCs mean in this space.
MOOCs are an early phase of a larger transformation in education.
Newer students now expecting digital means as the primary mode of interaction.
Current demographics - career enhancement, mind enhancement.

So with UNSW joining Coursera that will mean a good platform to launch forward into MOOCland.
Was good to see people in attendance from USyd, TAFE and a host of business and industry reps.

This is a most exciting time in our industry = good sentiment.

I wonder if a possible future is that students will sign up for degrees or education with providers that broker univeristy courses for them, package them up into degrees even. Could you get a Bachelor of Commerce or Architecture from Coursera that includes accredited components from universities around the world and that are recognised by local bodies...

Our Identity Thinking

One key idea that I am trying to formulate in my mind that resonated with both these events was around our individual identities and particularly our online ones. Here at UNSW, as with most organisations, provide local identities and attached services for members, in this case staff and students. What I am thinking through is how these identities really should work in relation to an existing identity that people have. Can people have their identities and then link up relationships with work, study and other service providers instead...

Maybe examples will help. Adobe flaunted their Creative Cloud file syncing, settings syncing, Behance portfolios and more that are tied to your AdobeID. Alas when you start talking about CC-Teams or CC-Enterprise these features start failing as the user is no longer themselves but an organisation's version of you. Yes, Adobe can weave some manual magic to link things if you need them to - but that isnt the point. What should this model really be like - how can I stay being ME, but gain a relationship with a company through these services...
Should Universities actually provide students with email, or should students just provide the uni with the email account they already have? When email was new and shiny it made sense for unis to provide it, does it still? Is it more complex for staff, do we need that separation of work, other work, home, public, something? Not sure myself, but if we think about the MOOC example - will we end up just wanting a Coursera identity and not a UNSW or Stanford etc one?
If we think about me having ALL my files safely in the cloud somewhere, how should that be done? Do I have my media files in Creative Cloud, my documents in Office365, my email attachments in GMail, my photos in Flickr and my music in iTunes or is there a way to consolidate? Then as soon as I have another identity with an employer or an educator I get even more places and identities - zoinks.

On that note I think I will go and try out some other note taking thingoes...

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Sketching away on the Note 8

I have had my Galaxy Note 8 for a few weeks now I think (time flies) and one of the apps I use most is the Galaxy Note version of Sketchbook. The joy of having this light, portable and functional device is still strong, It is my Kindle reader, occasional Comixology reader, browser, note taker, game designer, sketcher and more. Definitely my favourite piece of technology at the moment.

Here are some simple compilations of the more recent sketches done in Sketchbook while hanging on the couch (currently working our way through the X-Files). I still have plenty to learn about using the tools effectively, but I am enjoying using the software instead of the paper A5 sketchbook.
You will see lots of LochMaiden concepts here, definitely fun to explore those ideas with the new toy.

I want to just throw this pic in here as well (even if Cybele kills me) - she threw this together just having a play with the device - lovely work. One of the gripes we have is the touch buttons at the bottom for the 'return' and 'context menu' are easy to hit when sketching for unexpected results. Using the device upside down means covering the light sensor - oh well.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

First Year Architecture and CryEngine

Here at Built Environment UNSW, thanks largely to Russell Lowe's innovative approach to the first session first year Architectural Design Course, we have a rich source of real-time explorations into design ideas. There is something so obvious about developing up a design idea digitally, then being able to move around those spaces as a person would, seeing how the light and textures work, how movement through the different areas feels and more. CryEngine has been a powerful tool in this regard as it delivers some gorgeous visuals without students needing to spend lots of time in the learning or the crafting.

I wish this concept of virtually realising a design was more entrenched in education and practice. Thankfully this ARCH1101 class uses Blogger, with each tutor and student presenting their work for us all to see. In actuality there is too much to look through in the end, but below are some examples from the recently completed course, remember these are first year students taking on a game engine in a course about design principles.

[Student work from ARCH1101 S1 2013]

Monday, 29 July 2013

Live Workshop

I love a video tutorial, my hours engrossed in my Digital Tutors subscription testify to that, but seeing talented people actually going about their craft is a wonderful new window into the complexity of our creative tools and how to use them effectively.
So now we have The Live Workshop which features live streaming artists working away as well as recordings of such things for less synchronous. I enjoyed seeing the detailed work of creating cloth folds for one of the DOTA2 models live, with the chat and questions etc. There are only a small set of recordings which makes it tricky if we aren't able to watch when the stream is going - wishing for more. It is certainly very cool seeing actual production workflows in action at the speed it really takes!
Seeing the low poly modelling, UVing, texturing etc that is up as video is pretty cool - check these out: