What on Earth is a Flash Mob?

A lone cellist gets the music started.

A lone cellist gets the music started.

When a group of people gets together suddenly and unexpectedly for a purpose (sensible or not) that group may be called a flash mob. These gatherings, appearing to come out of nowhere, have gained some notoriety in the connected digital world — it’s just so easy to arrange them via communication tools and via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Most often when I hear people talk about flash mobs, it has to do with crime. A large group of people descends on a small store, for instance, and clears off the shelves. Several countries have gone so far as to make flash mobs illegal. But most of these crowd events have nothing to do with crime or criminal behavior.

After a few more musicians join in the conductor arrives.

After a few more musicians join in the conductor arrives.

Most of the flash mobs today are for fun, and may even offer surprised audiences the opportunity to learn something. Interesting “mobs” may include dancers, music, improvisational theatre, poetry readers, or social protesters. Now, as experience with flash mobs expands, another purpose of these gatherings is to promote products

Sometimes a flash mob occurs and the event has nothing to do with digital communication. It becomes a performance  — not at all related to the social media-inspired gatherings encouraged by Twitter or Facebook.

In December 2013, a few of the visitors at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum were surprised by a single musician, a cellist, who came in and began playing Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring in the huge main atrium. Continue reading

Embedding a YouTube Video – Getting Started

The other day a parent asked me to review the steps for embedding a YouTube video on a blog or in PowerPoint. It’s easy to do. It’s also useful for parents to know a bit about using videos because, in the coming years, your child will likely be using YouTube videos as a part of reports and presentations.

As an example I am using the Mayo Clinic’s video guide to social media. Mayo produced this in-house movie to serve as a teaching tool for members of the medical community, informing staff about social media user responsibilities. The video is a model for any organization that wants to help employees learn more about using social media as well as other digital issues in professional life.

Once you discover a YouTube video that you want to share or embed and know where you want to put it (blogs, PowerPoint, etc.), scroll down so you can see the words just below the video. Click on the word share.

embed video 2

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Introduction to Digital Footprints Via Google Dashboard

dashboard footprintSo many of our daily activities leave multiple digital footprints, little records of our work and whereabouts. At a time when privacy is taken less seriously and more and more people make copies of what we do and say — whether friends or in some official capacity — digital footprints multiply quickly.

Phones, utilities, credit card purchases, cars, movie downloads, online purchases, and all of our social networking activities leave little bits of code — each recording some aspect of our activities. Many of these digital footprints are fairly obvious parts of daily life, easily accessible to us. Others, however, come from our association with people and web locations  — site registrations, tagged digital photos, and comments we leave here and there. Sometimes we don’t even think much about signing up for a site —  we just log in and then rarely use it again. We create a slew of less obvious digital and supposedly confidential footprints via our medical and bank records,and social security — in theory more private.

Check out this digital dossier video from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

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YouTube: Quick Support for Parents

YouTube Safety Mode

Click to view Google’s YouTube  safety mode video.

Last week an acquaintance asked me how a parent can insulate digital children, at least a bit, from some of the more inappropriate content that YouTube may present to kids. My friend had just finished the February 2013 Washington Post article, Kids Are Three Clicks Away from Adult Content on YouTube.

Like so much in the social media world, YouTube is fun to use and filled with amazing and seemingly unlimited content, and it offers massive resources for 21st Century learners and their parents. Lots of YouTube help material is available on the web, but the best guides are parents and teachers who are also confident and knowledgeable users. The trick is for you to learn to use YouTube well and model your skills with your children.

But good help documents are available.      Continue reading