Sunday, May 22, 2011

Who'll present the first "Instagram in Education?"

Have not posted in a year and a half, after having been on Blogger 5 years. Not enough hours in the day, the week, the month, my life! recreational social software activities have migrated from RSS feeds and blogs, to Facebook, then Twitter, and now Instagram. Have not checked my RSS in over a month, and hardly ever read blogs any more. Maybe I'm too tired when I come home to deal with more technology, or the novelty of all those venues has worn off. I check into Facebook once a day, at the most, then for only 5-10 minutes. No way can I follow the 80 FB friends I have (tried hard to keep the number down). I also check into Twitter no more than once or twice a day now for 5-10 minutes, not enough to look at the hundreds of tweets from the 66 I follow. Also kept these number low as I could not keep up with more, given the great URLs to link to, even when I was on Twitter an hour or more a night.
I became intrigued with Instagram about 6 weeks ago. Here I could take a picture with my iPod Touch (4G) or pull it in from my Photos library, crop and tweak it, upload it, and share it with thousands! Not sure why this hooked me more than Flickr, maybe it was the structure of its "social graph." Simple and fun, the way social software should be.
For now Istagram works only on iOS: iPod Touch 4G, iPad 2, and iPhone. Its beauty is the simplicity and ease of workflow. It reminds me of the early days of graphics computing using software like Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, and even MS Word! Yes, there were years when Word fit on one 800K floppy (with Utilities on another) and using all that software was actually fun, not a new learning curve every time a revision came out. Scanner drivers used to fit on a floppy also. Anyone notice the HP scanner "drivers" now take up more than 120 obese megabytes? It's discouraging how bloated software has become. It's not fun any more.

Intagram is kind of a reverse Twitter, you post your image, then your comments if you have any. It is totally visually oriented. People can "like" the image, post their own comments, and can follow (subscribe to) others. No groups or privacy, everything is open. You can hashtag an image and moderate comments on your own posts. You can flag inappropriate images (no porn), and the developers have a down-home twitter feed here.

Having been to many conventions where presenters talked about using social software such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. to enhance teaching and learning, I'm waiting for the first presentation on how Instagraph was used!

If you are interested, here are some sources to get you started, aside from actually using the app, for which there is no substitute.
Teaching with Instagram (very minimal, but one of the few references I have seen)
Webstagram web viewer, link to popular tags
Using Instagram in Android, info on other web viewers and API
Searching in Google is naturally a way to go deeper.

A New Genre of Art?
One thing one soon notices is that many photographs in Instagram are heavily edited. There is an entire growing cottage industry of iOS apps that allow you to apply various filters to process images on its mobile devices. This begs the question of what kind of art is this? Below are some examples...
From tonydetroit

From barnel02
From kareni

from rcoleman
And from me

Clever manipulation of processes in one app, then exporting, importing into another editing app for more processing, etc.. makes the activity a lot less "canned" and creatively challenging. It's often impossible to determine which app or combination of apps was used to create heavily edited images. These apps take processing to a much deeper and more powerful level than available in current desktop tools like Photoshop. It's the digital equivalent of using a number of hand tools, paints, shellacks, and surfacing compounds to create physical objects.

The images are meant to be viewed on the iPod's or iPhone's small screens, so I consider them the "miniatures" of the digital imaging world. If you have an iOS device, have some fun with
Maybe you'll be intrigued enough to find a valid, justifiable use for it, with filters or no filters, in teaching or learning. Then you can give the first presentation about Instagram at an educational conference!