Block hot and recommended

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Hot and Recommended content in Google+. This video explains how to prevent content not generated by those from your circles appearing in your content stream.


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What is hot and recommended?

Google – I thought the idea of Google+ circles was to allow uses of Google+ to allow users to control the individuals with whom they would interact. The inclusion of “What is hot and recommended” posts contradicts what I thought was the original philosophy and often seems to focus on political posts that are inflammatory and the comments on these posts which are worse. By reversing the original plan, you have encouraged this type of unpleasantness. I appreciate productive controversy, but this is not what you have created and I would prefer to use a service that allows me to debate with those I know will not resort to name calling and profanity.

You can change the default that displays these posts.┬áSelect the “explore” heading. You should then find a page with the label “Explore Google” and within this box a “What’s hot” link. The what’s hot link will reveal another box with the label “Whats hot”. The header for this box should include a gear icon. Selecting the gear icon should reveal a check box for “show posts in home stream”. Uncheck. Wasn’t that easy (he said sarcastically)?

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YouTube Cards

I have created a few YouTube videos which I intended as demonstrations to be embedded in our book resource pages. I found that the videos were being viewed more frequently directly from YouTube than from within the web pages. I would like educators to explore the web resources. YouTube cards may be the way to encourage viewers to explore our web resources.

YouTube cards appear as a button “on top” of a video. One category of card allows access to a web page. This is exactly what I want to offer.




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RSS Aggregation

I have this eerie feeling that many educators rely on Twitter for the discover process. If the title for this post befuddled you, you are probably one such person. I do think Twitter is a way to discover new resources, but it is very hit and miss. My old school mentality still places value on RSS aggregation of the content produced by valued bloggers.

Translated, if necessary, this means I use an RSS reader to follow multiple bloggers. The reader lets me know when something new surfaces. By using the aggregator rather than visiting each blog, the process of following 20-30 bloggers is very efficient. I can scan all blogs in a few minutes to identify new posts I want to read.

My present choice in an aggregator is Reeder 2. This software is not a freebie. I have abandoned free services if I rely on the service and I know there is a backend the company must continue to service and support. In other words, if I think the company must continue to spend money after I purchase a product for that product to continue to work for me I want to know that the company either received a reasonable payment for the service or charges an on-going fee. Reeder 2 costs $10 for the Mac. The iOS version is less expensive.

I have written a tutorial on setting up and using Reeder 2. The process of using RSS feeds is easier than it used to be and worth the trouble if following multiple bloggers is part of your routine.

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Kahn on the web

Kahn Academy has a new series of videos that explain the web and how it works. In addition to basic information, the series features an interactive capability that allows learners to author web pages (using HTML tags) and see the corresponding page displayed in real time).


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YouTube Kids

If you are a parent or grandparent and own touch controlled technology, you have likely learned that there may be no minimum age at which a child is not interested in exploring the device. The touch reaction seems instinctual and the swipe motion is quickly learned by observation.

Google has finally responded to this reality by customizing YouTube for children (other opportunities may follow). The product, YouTube Kids, offers selected videos, a search feature allowing exploration of a larger collection of appropriate videos, and some parental controls (a way to limit time spent).

youtubekidMy two youngest grandsons are really big Thomas fans. I lean toward the clever humor of Sesame Street. When viewing together, I do allow the younger viewers take control.


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It is National Reading Month. In playing off this theme, there are many lists of books intended to serve as suggestions.

I now read nearly everything in a digital format. This has been the case for a couple of years. I find it convenient and cost effective. My reading and writing are interconnected. I still visit book stores, but this is mainly to drink coffee while I read.

I can offer some suggestions for this interested in the intersection of education, technology, and politics. I would argue educators need to read in all areas. I am unable to share my Audible book collection, but I can offer suggestions via Kindle. I make my notes and highlights public and the titles and my annotations may serve to raise interest in books you may not have considered.

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Bourdain and Nemtsov

I have a personal interest in Russia because my wife has spent time there professionally, formed friends as a consequence, and I have then had the opportunity to visit.


Because of this interest, I am attracted to books and video on the country. Some time ago, I viewed the Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episode on Russia (season 3 episode 5). You can access at no cost if you have Amazon Prime or Netflix. I watch many of the episodes, but I have a reason for singling out the episode from Russia.

The reason I bring this up is that the episode contains a meal during which Bourdain’s Russian host introduces Bourdain to critic Nemtsov. Watch this episode recognizing the context of this past week. To my knowledge, you cannot access the third season without going though Hulu, Netflix, etc.

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50,000 Songs

The Google Music service now allows users to stream up to 50000 of your songs. I pretty much have stopped purchasing music and have switched to a couple of paid streaming services. I thought streaming in combination with the 8000 songs of my own I can access would pretty much satisfy my needs. Anyone with collection of 50000 songs has a substantial collection.


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Levels of online social engagement

I encourage your reading of “Micro engagement is killing our edublogging community” from The Curious Creative. The post does a great job of expressing some of the growing frustration I have felt for some time (e.g., Finally, a positive way to understand edchats). The key point I take from the Curious Creative’s post is that what we describe as online social interaction tends not to be that social and not that interactive (my translation). The author offers an interesting chart illustrating levels of engagement. Production is the lowest level.

If viewing the issue a little differently (the goal of personal learning), I would modify the chart a bit. I would place Tweets below blog posts and probably reading other tweets. I value the integrative experience of writing an extended post over reception experiences, but I recognize few posts originate purely from thought without external inputs.

Perhaps the author is encouraging what I would describe as a SAMR model. I don’t in general regard SAMR as that profound as the notion of proposing a task analysis, determining where you are, and working toward the next step if fairly universal. What is interesting in cases where the sequence is not obvious is the model. Curious Creative proposes that writing posts in response to posts offers the pinnacle of opportunity for the community (and I would add for the self).

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